MP takes blindfolded walk round King’s Lynn to experience street clutter dangers

Blind fold walk King's Lynn Town Centre, MP Henry Bellingham is guided around the town ANL-140410-091503009
Blind fold walk King's Lynn Town Centre, MP Henry Bellingham is guided around the town ANL-140410-091503009
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Streets cluttered with shop signs and cars parked on pavements gave blindfolded dignitaries an insight into the dangers faced by people with sight loss in Lynn.

MP Henry Bellingham, West Norfolk Council leader Nick Daubney and president of West Norfolk Chamber Heather Garrod took part in a guided walk around the town to discover first-hand the challenges those with sight problems face.

They were joined by volunteers and their guide dogs from the Lynn and District branch of Guide Dogs for the Blind and helped around obstacles including advertising boards, cars parked on pavements and scaffolding.

The blindfold walk took place on Friday to raise awareness of national Guide Dogs Week, which runs until Sunday.

Mr Bellingham, MP for North West Norfolk, said: “It was an extraordinary experience. I was behind a blindfold for 20 minutes and if I wasn’t guided by the arm I would have bumped into quite a lot of things.

“It’s given me a greater perception into the issues that blind people face, as originally I was quite dismissive as I thought shops have every reason to put advertising boards out. But the A-boards are particularly hazardous as someone with a stick can push the stick under the board, not realising they are walking into it.”

Guide Dogs for the Blind branch chairman Gill Southgate, who is blind, said the event was a great success and really highlighted the problems those with sight loss face.

She said: “We wanted to give the dignitaries an idea of the sort of problems we face in town on a day-to-day basis, and 
just how many obstacles there are.

“They all said they hadn’t realised how many issues there were, and that it was a very worthwhile experience.

They also said they would try and get more people in the town to take part in a blindfold walk to raise more awareness.”

Mrs Southgate said many people don’t realise how their actions can affect others.

“When people park cars on the pavement they don’t think about who has got to walk along that pavement.

“When I walk to work at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital I can often feel like I’ve done a day’s work by the time I get there as it’s so tiring.”

Branch members will be highlighting the problems people with sight loss face on buses when they guided West Norfolk Mayor Barry Ayres and Richard Pengelly, from the Norfolk Green bus company, on a blindfolded bus ride on Friday.