Published 22 November 2016
Members of a youth group for blind and visually impaired children and young people in Derbyshire have had a special reason to celebrate with Pudsey this year.
Throughout 2016 the group has been funded by a £9,752 grant from BBC Children in Need, enabling it to grow and offer a range of exciting activities to help the children reach their potential, and make new friends who understand the daily challenges they face.
The group is run by Sight Support Derbyshire, which runs a range of services for blind and visually impaired people in the county, and meets regularly in Derby and Chesterfield. It also offers outings and activities during the school holidays for the whole family.
Members celebrated BBC Children in Need by cooking, and eating, their own lasagne and spotty cakes and biscuits.
Laura Bennett, Sight Support Derbyshire’s Children and Young People’s Project Officer, said: “During the year the children have scaled climbing walls, baked their own pizzas, played cricket and goalball, been cycling and experienced cable cars and narrow boats, to name just a few of their activities.
“All our members are involved in planning what we do, but we encourage them to challenge their own ideas about what they are capable of. Children with a visual impairment often find it hard to find things to do outside school, which means they can miss out on social interaction. Not having the chance to test their own limits can affect their confidence.”
Amy Clapp from Swadlincote now volunteers with the Derby group after seeing a positive change in her daughter Abi, aged 16, who started going to the group in May. Amy said: “When my daughter’s at the youth club she’s like a different person. She’s a lot more confident and she’ll talk to more people. She’s mixing with children who have other health issues as well as a visual impairment, but they all get on. It’s great to see them all giggling together and having a good time. I just think it’s fantastic. It gives the kids something to look forward to and they just go to enjoy themselves.”
Debbie Leech, also from Swadlincote, has also seen the difference in her children Jonathan, aged 15, Kimberley, aged 13, and eight-year-old Hattie, who all have visual impairments. She said: “It’s nice to do more with them in the evenings to get them out of the house. I’m impressed with the way the club is run. I had never left Jonathan with anyone before so it’s nice to be able to trust someone with him, who understands him. I have a friend who picks them up so I get a couple of hours to myself that I don’t get very often.
“The children love it. In the past, when Jonathan’s been to a climbing wall, he’s never got more than ankle high, but when they went to Greenbank Leisure Centre he got right to the top. The girls have made quite a few friends who they look out for when we meet up.
“What’s great about the youth activities is that the kids are accepted just for the way they are, there’s no judgement. I know quite a few of the other parents now too, and we keep in touch. It’s quite social and that’s what’s important with special needs children.”
BBC Children in Need funding relies on the energy and commitment of thousands of fundraisers and supporters across the UK who donate their time and money to support the Appeal. Whether it’s cake sales, wearing pyjamas to school or having a song and dance, every penny of the money raised goes towards supporting projects across the UK.
All grants go to projects working with children and young people living in the UK who may be affected by homelessness, neglect, abuse or poverty, or those who have faced challenges in their lives such as serious illness, disabilities and psychological disorders.
The photos show children from Sight Support Derbyshire’s youth group cooking, and their Thank You sign for Pudsey.