Mobility and Braille Team Collaborate with Hereford’s Old Market Shopping Centre

A socially distant group picture of RNC's mobility team and Alan and Sam from the Old Market. The photo is taken outside at the Old Market. It's a bright sunny day.

On Tuesday 21 July, members of The Royal National College for the Blind’s Mobility and Braille Team met with Alan Alderson and Samantha Williams of the British Land Company, who own and run Hereford’s Old Market shopping centre. 

Three members of the Team have a visual impairment (VI), so it was an opportunity to offer advice and guidance, from both a personal and professional perspective, on the new shopping procedures that have been implemented since lockdown ended.

Alan and Sam took the Team – Richard Cook, Tony Hodgson (with guide dog, Heidi), Leahana Parry (aka Flea) and Kerry Pickering for a tour around the Old Market site and discussed some of the adaptations and minor tweaks that could be made to make life a little easier for the VI community.

Mobility training is an important part of student life at RNC – students have to learn routes around the campus and the local area including the city centre, which, in turn, gives them confidence and independence. Part of the training includes taking students to the Old Market so that they can learn to shop independently during their time studying and living in Hereford.

Flea said:

‘What was a chance email enquiring what British Land was doing to help those with a VI to navigate the Old Market due to Covid-19, has led to two teams joining forces with one common aim – to help those with a VI, feel they can mobilise around the Old Market safely and confidently but not just during Covid-19, in the future too.’

She explained:

‘It can be very difficult to navigate open spaces if you have a VI and even more so when having to social distance. When you can’t see the environment around you and then suddenly have to worry about how close you are to people, it makes everything even harder.’

‘It is an exciting opportunity for us, as RNC’s Mobility and Braille Team, to collaborate with Alan and Sam and we look forward to offering expertise advice and information that can be used, not just in Hereford, but across other sites that British Land have.’

The RNC Team was really impressed with Alan and Sam’s positivity, willingness to listen and take on board some of the issues that face the VI community. They have already accomplished great work at the shopping centre in becoming Autism and Dementia friendly and it is hoped that this new collaboration will lead the way in eradicating some of the challenges met by those with sight loss when shopping.

RNC's Mobility Team in group discussion with Alan and Sam at the Old Market. They are outside at the Old Market and it's a very bright sunny day.
Guide dog, Heidi, gives her input to the group discussion at the Old Market

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