Community cruises aim to help visually impaired bounce back from pandemic

·2-min read

A boat company in London has partnered with the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) to offer “community cruises” to the visually impaired.

Eco-friendly boat company GoBoat London and the RNIB hope the scheme in Paddington will improve mental health and create opportunities for socialising.

The RNIB found that two-thirds of people with sight loss feel less independent after the Covid-19 pandemic, while GoBoat’s co-founder has experience with sight loss.

“The RNIB is an amazing charity that is close to our hearts as our co-founder, Grant Sweeney’s late mother suffered from sight-loss,” said GoBoat head of marketing, Ryan Price.

“We look forward to working with them and continuing to have them involved in this great initiative.”

A RNIB member going onto a boat, aided by a crew member.
RNIB members going on a boat trip organised by GoBoat (RNIB/GoBoat/PA)

Nanjiba Misbah, who enjoyed one of the cruises, said: “What an amazing experience.

“I’d never even thought about trying to get on to the river so when RNIB told us about this initiative I couldn’t wait.

“The GoBoat staff have been so nice and accommodating and the verbal tour of the canal was so much fun.

“I’m partially sighted so the guide really helped me truly visualise things. I’ll definitely be doing it again.”

Members of the RNIB getting ready to go on a boat trip organised by GoBoat
Members of the RNIB getting ready to go on a boat trip organised by GoBoat (RNIB/GoBoat/PA)

Beki Tolliday, community connection manager at the RNIB, said: “Coronavirus turned everyone’s world upside down but people with sight loss also faced challenges with social distancing and the physical changes made to streets, shop layouts and processes.

“Community Cruises is a fun experience that will allow the blind and partially sighted people on the boat trip to connect with others and enjoy learning about parts of London.”

Every Tuesday for the remainder of the year, GoBoat will be providing free boat trips to any community groups or charities who want to take part.

More details can be found at www.goboat.co.uk.

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