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Youth forum for blind and partially sighted people wins £24,000 grant

A campaigning group for young people in Scotland who are blind or partially sighted has been awarded a £24,000 grant over three years from The RS Macdonald Charitable Trust to extend its reach.

Haggeye, the youth forum of national sight loss charity RNIB Scotland, is open to anyone aged 16 to 27 with a visual impairment.

Before the covid crisis, its members could meet up and socialise as well as the campaign on the issues most important to them. These included accessible transport and the need for educational material in formats such as braille and audio.

With restrictions easing, physics student Eilidh Morrison hopes the grant will allow Haggeye to welcome even more young people like her. Eilidh (20), from Aberdeen, has the sight loss conditions retinitis pigmentosa and ocular molar apraxia.

"Haggeye is important, not only because we are campaigning for our rights to be citizens in society, but because of the friendships we make," she says. "Before I joined Haggeye I thought I was the only one with a visual impairment. Then I realised that I wasn’t alone.”

"Our goal within Haggeye is to get equal rights for blind and visually impaired people. The more people understand about visual impairments, the more they can help us feel welcome in society."

James Adams, director of RNIB Scotland, said: "Young people with sight loss can often feel isolated and lack confidence and self-esteem in today's highly visual world of social media and computer games. Haggeye gives them a chance to meet others with similar sight conditions, and a collective voice to speak out on the things that really matter to them.

"This very generous award from The RS Macdonald Charitable Trust will help ensure Haggeye is accessible to even more young people across Scotland. It will fund events and activities both in person in different parts of the country, restrictions allowing, as well as funding assistive technology to allow members to engage online."

Rachel Campbell, director of the RS Macdonald Charitable Trust, said: "We recognise how important it is to encourage all young people to grow in their independence and have their voice heard. We are delighted to be funding Haggeye as it re-establishes itself post-Covid. This will no doubt give young blind and partially sighted people in Scotland new opportunities and experiences, and we look forward to hearing about the benefits of this over the next three years.”

There are estimated to be around 3,000 children and young people living in Scotland with significant sight loss.