We welcome the commitments outlined by our government at the first ever Global Disability Summit held in London last month.
Our own government’s pledge to continue the long process of deinstitutionalisation, towards a progressive community based approach, chimes with RSBC’s core belief that the role of family and community is fundamental in determining the future potential of disabled children. That support should be focused at this level is evidenced in the stories of the blind and partially sighted children we support every day.
In the UK, two in every 1,000 children and young people up to the age of 25 have some form of vision impairment. It's a disability that can have a devastating effect on their lives from an early age. Without the right support, they can face an uncertain future.
Children with sight loss are up to three times more likely to have emotional and behavioural problems than sighted children. They are also less likely than their sighted peers to hold down a long term job or form personal relationships.
Through our frontline services, our staff meet disenfranchised children and teenagers whose confidence and ambition has already been broken, and not by their lack of vision but the emotional toll that their sight loss has taken on their ability to cope out in the world.
Our flagship family support service works hard to help whole families cope with their sight loss as soon as possible after diagnosis. The service can be on hand from the moment parents hear the news to offer practical advice and emotional support so families understand sight loss and build the self-belief that their family can live beyond it and their child can eventually thrive with it.
We work with both children and their parents - in their own homes, schools and communities. This might be through an inclusive sports session, or giving them a safe space to learn a new skill, play and meet friends. This approach works to build independence, self-belief and opens up new possibilities for future goals.
The impact of our work can be life changing for families. Parents move from scared and alone to positive and supported. Children have the confidence to thrive at school, take up new sports and make new friends. They have the opportunity – as all children should - to truly fulfil their potential.
Dr Tom Pey, Chief Executive, Royal Society for Blind Children
Members' voice is an open space for EASPD member organisations to publish their opinion articles on our newsletter. This article does not necessarily reflect the official position of EASPD.