4Sight Vision Support: supporting young people and their families in West Sussex
Grant funding from Thomas Pocklington Trust enabled 4Sight Vision Support to run an outreach programme to support children, young people and their families in West Sussex.
The £19.5K project ran for one year to July 2021. It worked with families and advocated on their behalf, supporting in the areas of education, benefits, employment, as well as organising activities and social events.
Despite the project running during the pandemic, 4Sight Vision Support saw a 25% increase in its client base of children, young people and their families and directly supported 45 clients.
Issues raised were often day-to-day practicalities such as young people being unable to study due to a lack of accessible technology and practices at college. So, as well as supporting the young people, the project also worked to educate the educators.
Kirstie Thomas, Chief Executive at 4Sight Vision Support, said: “Many of our clients have complex disabilities in addition to visual impairment.
“For example, we supported a 17-year old student at catering college who had Downs Syndrome. Although the college understood the limitations created by Downs, it had not appreciated the impact of the student’s vision impairment.
“We supported the student and ran vision awareness training for the college. We educated staff that, although the visual impairment may not be the primary disability, it may be creating the biggest barriers to learning. We provided training on mobility issues, low vision aids, the importance of low vision assessments and how to make learning materials more accessible.
“We were then approached by other colleges and a school where we ran a similar session advising them on how they can best support their blind and partially sighted students.”
Prior to the project, 4Sight Vision Support ran an outreach programme but not specifically for this client group. Kirstie said: “There was a gap in the services offered to children, young people and their families and we have tried to fill it with practical support. This project and the funding from Thomas Pocklington Trust enabled us to do that.”
4Sight Vision Support advised clients on benefits and low vision assessments, accessible technology and low vision aids, and provided work experience support, enabling people to carry out volunteering roles. A key area is working to improve the self-esteem and confidence of the young people.
Kirstie said: “We have had such great feedback from young people and their families. Our project has been very hands on – going into colleges and schools, building relationship with families.”
She shared some of the feedback with us:
‘Thank you so much for all of your help, without you I would still be banging my head against a brick wall.’ – Rachel
‘The volunteer work is going really well. Katie was on the till for 5 hrs yesterday and loved it. She is using the magnifier that you sent and keeps it on a lanyard round her neck which is really handy.’
‘This extra type of support has given me confidence to go out more and try a variety of activities in the wider community.’ Guillermo.
‘We just wanted to say thank you to you and all involved in the Halloween fun today. Nicholas is very quiet in public but talks nonstop after such events and he really enjoyed it!’ Alison
The charity found that children, young people and adults of working age require more time, intervention and often advocacy support than their older clients.
As a result of this project, it has changed the way it delivers its outreach service to all clients. Kirstie explained: “Each case needs in-depth knowledge so we have split out specialities. So rather than one person trying to cover everything, we now have an assistive technology specialist. Other specialisms are education intervention and PIP benefit.”
“We are developing our new service plan around the themes of starting well, living well and aging well and want to continue the momentum of the project.”
For more information on 4Sight Vision Support Support Service for Children, Young People and Families visit: www.4sight.org.uk/vision-support-cypf
About 4Sight Vision Support
4Sight Vision Support makes a positive difference to the lives of people living with sight loss in West Sussex by providing support, advice, advocacy and training to improve their quality of life.
It creates personalised support plans to help people access support and maintain their independence after a sight loss diagnosis. Using a holistic, person-centred approach, it provides advice, accessibility aids and a caring, friendly and inclusive community.
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