Blind and partially sighted people across Nottinghamshire feel ‘left out of everyday life’

Mel Griffiths with guide dog Hudson
Mel Griffiths with guide dog Hudson

A new study by charity Guide Dogs reveals that almost half of people across the East Midlands with sight loss feel ‘left out’ of everyday moments.

People who are blind and partially sighted across the East Midlands are being 'shut out of society', according to a new report by charity Guide Dogs.

The new report, called ‘By My Side’, reveals that almost half of people across the East Midlands with sight loss feel they are ‘left out’ of everyday moments that others might take for granted, such as socialising, dating, family life or work.

Mel Griffiths from Nottingham has glaucoma which means she has no sight at all.

Mel, aged 54, works for Guide Dogs in Nottingham as a business support coordinator.

She has an active social life and doesn't let sight loss limit her.

Mel said: "I have been fortunate in that I have social interactions through work, but I can see how social isolation could become a problem.

"Everyone with limited vision misses out on the initial part of making acquaintances, as you don't have that initial eye contact.

" I have a small group of good friends, and you just don't have that initial eye contact in a crowded room.

"Travel can be difficult, but I'm lucky to be in Nottingham, where we have talking buses and trams, which I'd like to see rolled out everywhere."

Mel has a guide partner through Guide Dogs, who takes her guide dog, Hudson, for a regular good run.

This feeling of isolation is compounded as over half of blind or vision impaired people believe that society has ‘little understanding’ of the challenges they face in their daily lives.

Guide Dogs is calling on people from across East Midlands to sign up to My Guide, a guiding service that matches trained sighted volunteers to people with sight loss who need support getting out and about.

The volunteer will help the person with sight loss achieve a goal, such as building confidence, increasing physical fitness, or tackling social isolation.

This year, the charity is hoping to recruit a further 1,200 volunteers to support even more vision impaired people through the scheme.

Jo Milligan, head of volunteer led services at Guide Dogs, said:

“Our report clearly shows that far too many people with sight loss are feeling shut out of everyday life. With the number of people with a vision impairment set to skyrocket in the coming years, we need to make changes.

“We need to work together to understand the realities of life with sight loss and help overcome the challenges that lead to people feeling excluded.”

You can find out more about becoming a My Guide online at - www.guidedogs.org.uk

In the East Midlands, Guide Dogs’ report also reveals:

· Half (50 percent) of blind and partially sighted people feel socially isolated

· Just over a two-thirds (67 percent) of those asked suggested more people could be trained as sighted guides

· Nearly two-fifths (37 percent) of people with sight loss in the East Midlands say travel is their biggest challenge in daily life

· Over half (52 percent) say that the wider community has little understanding of the practicalities of everyday life with sight loss

· Just over a quarter (26 percent) of people with vision impairments say they feel left out from socialising with friends, leaving them feeling on the side lines of life.

· Just over three in ten of people with sight loss (31 percent) feel they have been left out of milestone moments such as births or marriages