Eastleigh Mayor undertakes blindfold shopping trip on World Sight Day

As part of their promotion of World Sight Day this year, Eastleigh Lions Club provided a display of sight aids which people with limited or no vision can use to help them to stay connected in the world around them.

The charity “Disabled People’s Voice”, represented by Madeline and her blind partner Steve, and assisted by his guide dog Heidi, attended the Flourish Charity shop in Eastleigh’s Swan Centre with a wide range of gadgets, all of which Steve has used at one time or another. 

Eastleigh’s Mayor, Councillor Cynthia Garton was impressed by the adaptability shown in the gadgets, and spent some time chatting to the couple to learn how each device improves their daily life.  She also learned of some of the mistakes made when selecting the right thing.  This has resulted in some interesting combinations at mealtimes!

Following her chat about the aids to living, The Mayor allowed herself to be blindfolded and steered around Tesco’s store in the Swan Centre, with the Lions helping to prevent her colliding with both fixed and movable objects!   In the fruit and vegetable section, it was apparently quite easy to tell the difference between apples and oranges. The Tesco Store Manager, Joe Smith explained that they had staff on the shop floor who were trained to assist disabled (including blind) people. The Lady Mayor discovered that in the cleaning section of the store, a dangerous item such as bleach, sold in a straightforward plastic bottle, had little or no identification of its contents!  To Tesco’s credit, they imprint a set of Braille raised dots on their own brand bleach, which enables blind people to identify the bottle correctly (and not just while shopping)

Apart from the difficulty in being able to accurately identify products, Councillor Garton felt extremely disorientated during the 20 minute blindfold session, even with Lions on hand to help at each elbow, and a running commentary advising her where she was in the shop.  Her relief at being able to discard the blindfold was obvious and she ended the visit with a chat to the manager, Joe. He said he was humbled by the NHS workers approaching the end of an NHS and key workers only session in the shop, who were thanked over the Tannoy for carrying on doing a great job.  These hard pressed key workers immediately raised a cheer and applauded the shop staff as a thank you to them!

The Mayor’s visit ended with a return to the Flourish Shop to thank the couple from Disabled Peoples Voice for their information (and to share some “how do you manage to’s?” with them) and thank the Lions members for all the good work they do around the borough.