Two-thirds of people have never met a blind child

The Royal Society for Blind Children (RSBC) has launched a nationwide appeal to raise awareness of childhood sight loss and generate vital funds to improve the lives of blind and partially sighted children in England and Wales. The appeal, entitled No Blind Child Unseen will launch on 12 October 2017, to coincide with World Sight Day.

The appeal follows charity commissioned research which showed that two thirds of people in the UK have never met a blind child or young person, making clear the need for greater public engagement in the issue. The appeal is the first of its kind for RSBC and it aims to raise £3m in the next three years. The money raised over the course of the appeal will enable RSBC to increase the number of children it supports from 1,500 currently to 11,000 by 2020.

RSBC’s focus is to shine a light on the lives of the 22,000 blind and partially sighted children of England and Wales and raise public awareness of the complex challenges they face. For example, the charity estimates that ninety percent of those who lose their sight in childhood won’t work for more than six months of their lives. Most grow up to face poverty and social exclusion as a direct result of their disability. Yet, the charity knows from its experience that this can be mitigated with early and expert-led emotional and practical support from professionals at RSBC.

Dr. Tom Pey, Group Chief Executive at RSBC, said of the launch; “Research tells us that a staggering two thirds of people have never met a blind or partially sighted child. So there is a real lack of awareness of the appalling prospects for these children and in turn, there are insufficient funds to support them and their parents who very often feel isolated and hopeless. A child who can’t see should have the same opportunities as a child who can. This grim cycle of sight loss, poverty and loneliness has to stop.

This can only be broken if every blind child in the UK, has access to the post diagnosis support we know works, but can only currently offer to a fraction of those who need it. We want everyone who encounters our appeal to get behind it and to help protect the future of these children.”

The highly anticipated centrepiece of No Blind Child Unseen will be a commissioned artwork by British artist Robert Montgomery. The internationally acclaimed artist is best known for his light poems, characterized by his iconic use of illuminated poetic text.

For this piece, Montgomery is taking his inspiration from the experiences of blind and partially sighted children with whom he has collaborated as part of the project. The artwork, which will also include a video installation, will be unveiled on 22 January 2018 and it will subsequently tour the country on a custom designed vehicle. Destinations will include locations where many of the participating children live and so far have been confirmed as Birmingham, Nottingham and Plymouth, with more to follow.

From 12 October 2017 and in the weeks leading up to the unveiling of Montgomery’s artwork, members of the public will be able to pledge their support to RSBC’s appeal, which will be seen across multiple channels and will feature striking portraits of some of the children involved, taken by award winning photographer Spencer Murphy. Members of the public will be able to support RSBC by texting DONATE to 70020 to give £5.

No child in the UK should grow up to be poor or lonely just because they are blind. Find out more about the Royal Society for Blind Children

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