Helping VI children feel less lonely

Nov 30, 2020

Two sisters watching a laptop for instructions on how to make their mug cakes
chocolate mug in a cake decorated with multi coloured sweets
Supported by BBC Children In Need

14 October 2020

Emergency funding from BBC Children in Need is helping Sight Support Derbyshire ensure visually impaired children do not become isolated from each other during the Covid-19 pandemic.

BBC Children in Need is the main funder of the sight loss charity’s Children and Young People’s Group for visually impaired youngsters, and school holiday club activities. However the group has been unable to meet face-to-face since the beginning of lockdown in March.

In response to the pandemic, the BBC children’s charity launched a Covid-19 Booster Fund to existing grant holders who were in urgent need of top-up funding to help adapt their usual activities.

Support from the fund means that Sight Support Derbyshire has been able to take its activities online, running workshops over Zoom for children, with parents on hand to help if needed. The grant has paid for equipment, staff training in online safety, a Zoom licence and additional staff time, to ensure two staff members are present throughout the meetings to ensure safeguarding.

So far the children have enjoyed a virtual quiz, and made brightly-decorated mug cakes to mark Dress Bright for Sight, which Sight Support Derbyshire runs during National Eye Health Week. For their next session they are holding a scavenger hunt, to find different objects around their homes.

Laura Bennett, Children and Young People’s Project Officer for Sight Support Derbyshire, said: “Visually impaired children and young people are already at risk of feeling lonely and isolated, and Covid-19 has made this worse. Meeting up regularly helps them make friends with children they can relate to, and grow in confidence.

“The children have been very engaged and are coming up with lots of ideas for future sessions. It has been great to see their smiling faces as they’ve met up with their friends again online. The feedback from parents has been brilliant – they’ve mentioned how all the children are enjoying themselves and interacting well online, not to mention how much they loved their chocolate cakes!

“At the moment it’s difficult for us to meet face-to-face. Government regulations aside, going outside the home is difficult for our children as they often rely on touch to get around, or may need to be physical guided. It’s also harder to follow social distancing when you have sight loss. So we’re very grateful to BBC Children in Need for helping us to find a way to still meet up and enjoy the benefits of the Children and Young People’s group.”

Chocolate mug in a cake decorated with pink, white and green sprinkles
Visually impaired girl wearing glasses and a pink T shirt, licking chocolate cake mix off a spoon
Girl wearing red wig and boy wearing glasses standing proudly with their mug cakes