Each week we are going to be saying “Hello” to another organisation in the VI world to learn more about who they are and what they do.

This week, we are chatting to Kevin Satizabal (Communications Officer) and Iain Mitchell (Engagement Manager) from the Sight Loss Council.

So, Hi Kevin and Iain, please can you provide us with an overview of the work of the Sight Loss Councils:

Sight Loss Councils, funded by Thomas Pocklington Trust (TPT), are advocacy groups led by blind and partially sighted people. We are ‘doing groups’, not just talking groups. We influence positive change, tackling issues at a local and national level, by working with businesses and service providers to improve the accessibility of their services.

There are currently nine active Sight Loss Councils (located in Bedfordshire, Birmingham, Black Country, Bristol, Gloucestershire, Greater Manchester, London, Merseyside and Tyne & Wear) with a tenth (located in York) due to launch later this month. Further expansion is planned for the future.

Sight Loss Council members sat around a table, all smiling, at a Sight Loss Council meeting

Each Sight Loss Council is made up of around 10-12 visually impaired members who meet monthly to discuss accessibility issues and plan projects, local to them, that fall under any of our six priority areas of work:

· Education
· Employment
· Health and Social Care
· Sport and Leisure
· Technology
· Transport

And you have two major national campaigns?

Yes, #DistancingBlind and #StreetsForAll.

#DistancingBlind focuses on the challenges of social distancing faced by blind and partially sighted people and has led to the creation of best practice guides for local transport providers and businesses.

#StreetsForAll has two phases. Phase 1 focused on e-scooters and pavement parking. The current campaign focuses on inaccessible street design such as pop-up cycle lanes and street furniture. We are asking local authorities to commit to three pledges.

Photo of an E-Scooter and A Boards on the pavement plus text saying Streets For All Phase 2

We champion these causes through working in partnership and collaboration. By running these as a national campaign has more impact as the issues are raised by more people in more than one place.

How do people get involved with the Sight Loss Councils?

We would like to hear from anyone who:

· Has any issues or priorities for change in their local area.
· Has a story they are happy to share.
· Is interested in becoming a Sight Loss Council member – the time commitment is only between four to eight hours per month including a 2-hour monthly meeting (which is currently taking place online rather than face to face). For younger people aged between 14 and 18 TPT have a ‘Young Voices’ group.

Anela Wood is a member of the Bristol Sight Loss Council and in this short video she talks about how “We’re making a real difference”.

How do people get in touch if they would like more information?

Please complete the Contact Us form on the Sight Loss Councils website or you can get find us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.