Every hour a person goes blind. This was the startling statistic presented to Southlands students when Alan Hughes from the Guide Dogs Association took a seat in the Throne of Words whilst his guide dog Kim entertained with her enthusiasm to explore every inch of the auditorium.
Why the Guide Dogs Association needs support;
- There are currently 180,000 blind or partially sighted people in the UK who rarely leave home alone
- Guide Dogs Association are training over 800 guide dogs each year, but to help meet the demand for new guide dogs they desperately need to create a third more guide dog partnerships by 2020, you can help us do this
- Half of the dogs the Guide Dogs Association train are needed to replace dogs who have retired
- Training a guide dog costs around £35,000 and takes around 24 months
- The guide dog service receives no government funding and they rely solely on donations
Alan explained the emotional difficulties he has had to overcome since he went to sleep and woke up blind. He spoke of his sadness of not being able to see his daughters in their wedding dresses walking down the aisle.
From memory, he can visualise what objects look like. Alan’s stories enlightened students on the emotional impact of being blind and although Alan is fortunate to have the support of family, there are some people who experience depression as a result of their loss of vision.
Visually impaired people endure social manifestations such as higher rates of unemployment and divorce. It is not uncommon for people with visual impairment to report fear and anxiety related to the anticipation of future vision loss or blindness and phobic anxieties, such as fear of open spaces, travelling in crowded areas, and being left alone.
The Guide Dogs can be trained to help with household tasks like collecting dirty washing and they can greatly assist in helping someone with a visual impairment to leave the house to combat feelings of loneliness.
The students thoroughly enjoyed the session by Alan Hughes and they are going to start a fundraising campaign for the Guide Dogs Association.