Ilford shoppers taken around The Exchange by guide dogs for awareness week

Ilford shoppers experienced what it is like to be blind or partially sighted with guide dog walks in The Exchange yesterday.

The event was part of Guide Dogs Week, which raises awareness of the dogs’ work and the charities training them.

Volunteers were blindfolded and led around the shopping centre by a trainee guide dog.

The Mayor of Redbridge, Cllr Muhammed Javed, said the experience showed the difficulties partially-sighted people face getting around.

He added: “The dog was only half way through its training but what it could do was amazing.

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“You could say forwards or backwards and the dog would go but the guide kept on telling me to relax so the dog could relax.

“People should look out for elderly or partially-sighted people. They don’t stop, they were crossing everywhere.”

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The walks were run by charity Guide Dogs to raise awareness of their work.

Training school manager Barry Cahill said: “We are committed to ensuring that all that blind and partially sighted people can enjoy the same freedom of movement as everybody else.

“But the reality is that they have to overcome extraordinary challenges everyday to do the things that the rest of us take for granted.”

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