Imagine eating out not being able to see your food, dancing the night away without looking at what’s around you, or doing sport with your eyes shut. Later this month, the Royal London Society for Blind People (RLSB) will launch London Without Limits, a month-long festival of awareness-raising events which will encourage you do exactly these things.
The events are all based around activities that young Londoners partake in on a regular basis, such as dining out, gigs or live comedy. At each event guests will be required to wear blindfolds, offering an insight into what it’s like living life in the capital without vision.
At the heart of proceedings are a set of dinners and tastings, designed to show how the inability to see what you’re eating affects your other senses, as well as what eating out is like for blind and vision impaired young Londoners. Included are wine tastings at both Vinoteca in Farringdon and the historic Gordon’s Wine Bar near Embankment, a patisserie tasting at Hampstead’s Maison Blanc, and dinners at Island Grill in Lancaster Gate and Mayfair’s Novikov. Tickets for the events start at just over £20 for the tastings and rise to £70 for the Novikov dinner, with a chunk of proceeds going to RLSB.
“These are the kind of day-to-day activities Londoners enjoy taking part in on a regular basis,” RLSB’s chief executive tells us, “yet by adding the blindfold element we're adding a sensory twist and giving people an insight into how vision impaired young people experience some of these top pastimes”.
While in one respect these events are an important reminder that blind and vision impaired young people spend their time doing a lot of the same things other Londoners do — from eating out to clubbing and taking the tube — they also help raise awareness and funds towards the charity’s work to combat the often negative reality of being young and vision impaired.
RLSB’s statistics tell us that nearly 70% of blind and partially sighted young people are living on the poverty line, that nine out of 10 people who lose their sight in youth will never work for more than six months in their lives, and that one in four vision impaired children under 12 are depressed.
The festival takes place from 25 September to 2 November and tickets are available now. Visit the London Without Limits website for more information, to book or to buy limited edition blindfolds created by designers Giles Deacon, Lisa King and Wayne Hemingway. And should you want to organise your own event to support the charity, you can register for a personalised London Without Limits pack — they'll even supply the blindfolds to equip you.