Meg Hillier backs RSBC to provide support to children with sight loss in Hackney

Meg Hillier, MP for Hackney South and Shoreditch, has pledged her support to improve the lives of blind and visually impaired children, young people and their families in Hackney.  This follows a meeting with RSBC who is behind a new campaign to increase awareness of the disproportionate number of families affected by sight loss in this part of the capital.

Local authority figures for 2017 show that there are 245 under 17s registered visually impaired in Hackney. This is almost five times greater than other comparable local authorities in London, such as Tower Hamlets and Waltham Forest.  What’s more, the real figure is likely to be greater still, as many families face barriers to registration. Registration of a child’s visual impairment is important because this is often when families become aware of the support that exists in their community to help them adjust to a diagnosis and understand the practical assistance available to them.  

RSBC, which provides frontline, post diagnosis support to affected families in England and Wales and whose headquarters are in the borough, is very concerned about this prevalence of childhood sight loss, which is closely linked to the high rate of social and economic disadvantage in the area. The charity currently supports 48 families in Hackney and wants more people in the community affected by sight loss to know that help is available.  

Hackney has one of the highest child poverty rates in England according to 2018 figures from the Child Poverty Action Group. Based on its expertise and long history of supporting families affected by sight loss, RSBC has long understood that visually impaired children are more likely to come from a poor background than their sighted peers. However, with rapid and tailored post diagnosis support from its network of Family Support Workers, RSBC can equip families with the knowledge and support to live beyond the diagnosis, which can otherwise leave them feeling isolated and unable to see a future.           

Commenting on her involvement in the campaign, Meg Hillier said, “Early diagnosis and support for blind and visually impaired children is vital. Without this their life chances fall way behind sighted children. I’m delighted that RSBC is now based in Hackney and is supporting so many Hackney children.”

Dr Tom Pey, Chief Executive at RSBC said, “We have a clear goal in Hackney, which is to ensure that every parent, irrespective of their background, social or economic status, knows that we are here to provide tailored support, whether it be to provide emotional support, help with benefit applications, or introducing them to the many life changing activities we run for visually impaired young people. We’re confident that Meg Hillier’s involvement in our campaign will help raise awareness of this little known problem and ultimately improve the life chances of children growing up with sight loss.”

With the backing of Meg Hillier, RSBC wants every blind or visually impaired child in Hackney to get the best possible start in life. Every £500 raised for the charity supports another Hackney family in need.

For more information, please contact Mel.vessey@rsbc.org.uk or tel 07939504646

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