Our local MP, Sally-Ann Hart, supports Guide Dogs’ work to ensure families have access to the specialist support they need and last Thursday (December 10) she met online with children with sight loss and their families, to hear about their experiences of education and specialist support at a virtual event hosted by the charity Guide Dogs.
Speaking after the event Sally-Ann said: “I was truly inspired by these dynamic and brave young children, who have fought so hard in the face of adversity to ensure they live fulfilling and engaging lives. The support some children and their families are receiving is fantastic, but it is clear that this support is patchy and more needs to be done to support more children get the access to the assistance they need.
“Guide Dogs charity is doing a brilliant job at raising awareness and I will now be taking this to the Minister to ensure every child with sight loss gets the support they need.”
New research from Guide Dogs has found a decrease in happiness, independence and confidence in children with sight loss over the last 12 years. It also found that more than two thirds of parents felt that there was not enough support to help parents and guardians at the point of their child’s sight loss diagnosis.
Early support is vital
A child who can see, will typically learn through watching and imitating, but a child with a vision impairment instead needs to learn strategies to gain everyday skills such as walking, dressing and navigating.
Guide Dogs knows that with the right support, children and young people with sight loss can achieve anything. Rachel, the mother of five-year-old Nell who spoke at the event, said “The early support is going to help Nell grow up to be an independent adult who is blind, and ultimately I think that is a goal for every parent.”
After hearing from Nell and other young people with sight loss and their parents about the difficulties they have faced in accessing the right support, the MP for Hastings and Rye has pledged to support Guide Dogs’ work on ensuring all children have the support they need to live an independent and active life.
Blanche Shackleton, Head of Policy, Public Affairs and Campaigns at Guide Dogs commented: “Guide Dogs is best known for our work providing life changing dog partnerships, but we also work with children and young people with sight loss to support their development and education.
“We know more needs to be done to better support children and young people with sight loss. This is why next year we will set up a commission made up of young people, parents, professionals and experts to explore the best support for children and young people with sight loss.”
Source: Office of Sally-Ann Hart
Image Credits: UK Parliament https://members.parliament.uk/member/4842/portrait.