HEREFORD'S Royal National College for the Blind has been working with Old Market Shopping Centre to make a trip to the shops easier for those with a visual impairment.

With a one-way system now in place at the shopping centre to help with social distancing, it can make life more difficult for those who cannot see the new environment.

Members from the college'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 and the college said it was a good opportunity to offer advice and guidance on the new procedures which have been implemented since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

Richard Cook, Leahana Parry, Kerry Pickering and Tony Hodgson with his guide dog Heidi were taken on a a tour around the site and suggested some changes would could be made.

After the visit on Tuesday (July 21), Leahana Parry said: "What was a chance email enquiring what British Land was doing to help those with a visual impairment 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 visual impairment feel they can mobilise around the Old Market safely and confidently but not just during Covid-19, in the future too.

"It can be very difficult to navigate open spaces if you have a visual impairment 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 visual impairment 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."