A Sight Loss Council win in Birmingham #StreetsForAll
James Preston, a volunteer for West Midlands Sight Loss Councils walks through Lancaster Circus to get to work everyday with the help of his guide-dog, Nelson. James began to grow concerned that Nelson might become injured due to stepping on significant amounts of debris and broken glass that had begun to steadily accumulate in the area.
“I am passionate about raising awareness about the dangers of broken glass and rubbish on pavements. Broken glass can easily get into my guide-dog’s paws, causing serious harm to my dog. There is also a children’s hospital in this area, and I would hate for anyone to fall over or tread on the glass. I feel that clean streets ensure access for all and reduce environmental concerns. “
James raised the issue at his Sight Loss Council meeting. Birmingham Sight Loss Council then approached Environmental Health Services, bringing awareness to the severity of the problem and its implications to blind and partially sighted pedestrians.
Louise Connop, Senior Engagement Manger, said:
“Broken glass on the ground is dangerous for everyone, especially those with a visual impairment. There’s no contrast for people with some useful vision to be able to see the glass, and guide dogs could easily step on the glass, causing injury to themselves and leaving their owner without any assistance until they heal. This could also make the dog anxious and nervous about working and damage their relationship moving forward. One of our Birmingham Sight Loss Council members brought this to our attention. He worked with Birmingham City Council (BCC) to highlight the problem and work collaboratively to overcome the issue together. We are hopeful that by continuing to work with BCC they can continue to ensure the area remains clean and safe.”
Since, Birmingham Environmental Health Services have promised to send out a team of cleaners to give the area a very deep clean and to do so regularly.
“Nelson (Jame’s guide-dog) is glad to walk around the area without stepping into any glass and cutting his paws.”
On becoming a member of West Midlands Sight Loss Council, James says:
“Becoming a Sight Loss Council member has changed my life in many ways. It has enabled me to grow in confidence and empowered me to advocate for and help other visually impaired individuals to live in a more inclusive world. I feel that the work of Sight Loss Councils can benefit all of us.
Going for a stress-free walk is something many take for granted. But for blind and partially sighted people, the reality is very different.
Want to campaign for more accessible services for blind and partially sighted people in your area? Influence positive change by volunteering for our Sight Loss Council.
Publication date: 10 February 2022