SHOPPERS in Newport were given the chance to find out what it feels like to be blind yesterday [TH].

Guide Dogs Cymru brought their sensory tunnel to Sainsbury’s car park, in Albany Street, allowing visitors to experience for themselves the challenges and sensations of life without sight.

Nathan Fay, engagement officer for Guide Dogs Cymru, said that, inside the sensory unit, it is dark, as well as participants being blindfolded.

He said: “Inside, you find things that would find in a normal street – such as an iron gate or, my favourite one, a wheelie bin.

“A lot of the time, people leave their wheelie bins in the middle of the road, meaning someone who is visually impaired may have to walk around it. They may have to go on the road, which is dangerous.”

Mr Fay added that, for nearly 85 years, Guide Dogs have been telling people how difficult it is to get out and about for someone with sight loss.

“Some people can’t understand it, so the sensory unit allows them to experience it,” he continued. “It is about making them think about what it is like to have a visually impairment.”

Lisa Middleton, from the Gaer area of Newport, was one of the people to try out the sensory tunnel. The 31-year-old said: “It was very good, it is definitely worth a try.

“It felt a lot bigger than it actually was. You walk cautiously and, when you are inside, your other senses become more important.”

Guide dog owner Hilary Lester, who was at the event, said adults tend to be “scared” when going in the tunnel.

“It can help wake them up to what it is like to have sight loss,” she said. “It also makes them grateful they have their sight.”

There was also the opportunity to meet guide dog Mason, a black Labrador, and to find out more about My Guide, the sighted guiding service which aims to get people out and about in the community.

Steve Kersley, volunteer development consultant for Guide Dogs, said: “Many people with sight loss find the world a frightening place. My Guide gives them the freedom and confidence to get back out into the community.

“We are currently recruiting volunteers in Newport and Cwmbran.”

To find out more, contact Steve Kersley on 07785 907728 or