Northampton South MP David Mackintosh got to grips with a guide dog and a white cane as part of a took a blindfolded tour of the town’s marketplace today.
The Conservative politician took the “blindfold challenge” around Market Square in Northampton as part of an event to raise awareness of World Sight Day, being marked globally today (October, 8).
At around 10.30am Mr Mackintosh toured the square with a guide dog courtesy of the National Guide Dogs Association, before attempting a lap of the market with a long white cane to experience what it is like to navigate town centres without sight.
The event was put on by Northamptonshire Association for the Blind, which is running an information stall on Market Place throughout today.
Marketing manager for the Kingsthorpe-based charity, Stefanie Weldon, said: “Today is really about trying to inform people to look after their sight and avoid preventable blindness - it’s also about experiencing a few minutes of being visually impaired.
The key message today, is get your eyes checked and make sure you are looking after your eyes. And it’s saying if you do need support the NAB is here to help.”
And on enlisting former borough council leader Mr Mackintosh to take part in the event, she said: “We try to get officials like David involved to make them aware of community health issues.
“We need our MPs to champion for more funding for visually impaired organisations, we need them to push this up the agenda.”
Every day in the UK about 100 people are diagnosed as having a serious sight problem.
Often this is related to age, but other issues such as diabetes, obesity, cholesterol and glaucoma can lead to loss of sight.
Mr Mackintosh said the blindfold walk “was a real insight into the world visually impaired and blind people face.”
“Obviously I know Market Square very well, but walking it without my sight was very difficult.”
He added: “One of the campaigns I have supported in Parliament is about de-cluttering our streets. Now I know the real impact that can have.”