Imelda Staunton Presents Living Paintings on BBC Lifeline
24th May 2022
We are thrilled to announce that our BBC Lifeline Appeal is available on BBC iPlayer and will be broadcast on BBC Two on Friday 3rd June at 12.25, hosted by our friend and supporter, Imelda Staunton.
Meet our amazing case studies below and check out some of the behind the scenes pictures!
If you can, please support our appeal and help us bring the visual world to life for more blind children, young people and families across the UK with our very special books.
Alba has been blind since birth. She lives with her fully-sighted husband and two young children in Manchester.
Motherhood has always been a bigger challenge for Alba, but she has never let her blindness hold her back. She has always strived to prove that she is equal to others and being a mum was no exception! But as her oldest son Eliot grew older, she struggled with some of the limitations as he grew more interested in reading and the visual world around him.
Alba said: “When Daddy would come home, they would bring their picture books straight to him and excitedly ask him to read to them. Because he could do that and I couldn’t, it made me think, ‘am I less fun than Daddy?’
Living Paintings has changed this! Now, because of these beautiful books, I can read to Eliot and Amy every evening, enjoying these together. They sit on my lap and listen, and then take my hand and show me the pictures, and we talk about them together.
It’s meant I feel more confident as a Mum, and my world has expanded – and so has theirs. All through these unique books.”
Five-year-old Matilda was born with a severe vision impairment, something she describes as her ‘dancing eyes’. She lives in Cheshire with her sighted parents and two big brothers.
For Matilda’s mum Laura, storytime has always been important in family life. Her two boys have grown up with a love of books and reading – and enjoying these moments as a family was always a special moment that brought them so much joy. But Matilda’s blindness meant she couldn’t fully engage with the visual world of children’s picture books. She showed no interest, which made Laura worry about the impact this could have on her imagination and learning.
When the family found Living Paintings, it opened up a whole new world for Matilda. Our audio and tactile books meant Matilda could fully engage with the words and pictures on the page. Now, Matilda enjoys sharing stories with the whole family.
Laura said: “Living Paintings has inspired a love of reading in Matilda that will last a lifetime. It’s amazing to see her engaging with these special books. They’ve opened her eyes to what a story can be. There are lots of ways that Matilda is different from the other children at school – but she doesn’t have to miss out on storytime with her friends.”
20-year-old Louis is a music student from Bradford. He has been using Living Paintings since he was two years old, after losing his sight due to childhood cancer complications.
Louis has always been trying to prove to others that he is just as capable as everybody else throughout his life. Louis may be blind, but Living Paintings has enabled him to fully engage with the visual world that others may take for granted.
Louis says: “Being blind, sometimes I can struggle to fully understand something because I can’t see it! But Living Paintings’ books bring me moments of clarity and broaden my understanding.
They can often blow my mind. Last week, I was sent their book about music, packed full of people I hugely admire. You can turn the page and then suddenly see what Freddie Mercury looked like for the first time! Moments like this are so powerful.
I think my life would have been very different without Living Paintings. I wouldn’t be as confident or independent. They make me feel included in the visual world.”
Hosted by Imelda Staunton
“When my daughter was young, storytime was always a special moment for us. Not just because of the wonderful words within the pages but also the beautiful illustrations which bring the stories to life for little readers. I know this will be familiar to so many families. The pairing of words and pictures makes children’s books so magical.
I can’t imagine how it would have felt to miss out on those moments. But this is the reality for thousands of families across the UK who are affected by blindness.
That’s why the work Living Paintings do is so important. They don’t see blindness as a barrier to the visual world, and their unique tactile, audio and braille experiences for blind children and young people mean they don’t need to miss out on the things their sighted peers take for granted.
My family and I have been keen supporters of Living Paintings for many years. Myself, my husband Jim, and my daughter Bessie have all volunteered our time over the years to record audio descriptions for these wonderful books.
I hope you can join us and help this fantastic charity continue to provide such a vital service to those that need them.”