“It hit us like a ton of bricks…” are words we often hear when parents have just found out that their baby is blind. For mum Julie, who you can see in the photo with her son Jack, it was a very painful time. Jack was born four months premature and weighing less than 2lb, and had to fight so hard to survive beyond those early days. When he was diagnosed as blind at three months, Julie felt dazed.
“It just seemed so unfair after everything Jack had been through.”
Like many people Julie had no experience of sight loss and she was worried about what it would mean for Jack’s future.
No child should grow up poor or lonely because they are blind, yet poverty and social exclusion remain real threats to the future lives of children diagnosed with sight loss. If families like Julie’s get the help when they need it most there is much less chance of that happening. That means being there as soon as they are told the devastating news. It means being on hand to support them when they’ve been lying awake all night worrying about how they will cope and how to make life better for their child.
Every day four families like Julie’s are told that their child is blind. We want to be there to help all of them with our new Family Support Service.
Family Engagement Workers can be on call from the moment parents hear the news. They’ll be on hand to offer tailored advice and support to help mum and dad understand their child’s sight condition and, over time, to see the road ahead needn’t be so scary. For new mums like Julie, this can be a lifeline. Unfortunately at the moment there isn’t enough money to ensure that every family has the specialist help they need.
Every family is different. So for every question and worry they want to talk about, a Family Engagement Worker will work with mum and dad to find solutions. Questions may be “how will my baby learn to feed themselves if they can’t see?” or it may mean finding out what might be the best school for their child. The things they discuss and the issues the family face will change over time but each family can be confident that our experts will be there to see them through the worst moments to the best ones.
Julie doesn’t know how she would have faced the future without the support of RSBC. With your help, we can see even more families through the challenges of childhood sight loss.
This year we want to be able to support 390 families in the most urgent need. This will cost £174,000 a year. This is just the start – in the future we want to be there for every family who needs us.
If you are able to send a gift, no matter what size, more families like Jack can begin to see a brighter future.