Fear and worry for our children’s future and their well-being can leave us physically and mentally exhausted and unable to move forward.

In support of Mental Health Awareness Week, LOOK Parent Support Group is hosting an online panel event with VICTA and RSBC for parent carers of blind or partially sighted children and young people. This session has been designed to give practical advice, support, understanding and hope to parent carers who are feeling overwhelmed and stuck by the systems we are trying to navigate.

The panel will share their first-hand experiences of moving through challenging situations, finding light at the end of the tunnel and how they have learnt to look after themselves.

Meet the Panel

Nicola Vantoch-Wood

Hi there, I’m Nicola Vantoch-Wood and I am the Clinical Lead for RSBC’s Families First service. I am a Counsellor by profession and have worked with children, young people and families for some years, assisting them in exploring family challenges, working to strengthen parent-child (and sibling) relationships and navigating through transitions in life.

Image of Nicola Vantoch-Wood, with dark brown hair, silver earrings with a green stone in, wearing a black top with  a background of green bushes.

I am delighted to be part of this event where we can approach and explore the topic of parental mental health and wellbeing and offer suggestions and opportunities to aid the task of raising parental need higher on that list.

Louise Gough

Lousie is parent carer to Samantha, blind athlete, advocate and influencer.

Image of Samantha in a red off the shoulder dress, her dad in a black tuxedo and her mum Louise in a black v neck dress standing next to a tall table with two wine glasses on it.

Samantha’s accolades included; Goalball European Paralympic Youth Games 2022 bronze winner, Blind Football European Championships silver medallist 2022, Scotlands People Award 2023, winner of the 2023 Outstanding Contribution to Midlothian’s Young People Award to name just a few and in April she was awarded a Champion of Disability Special Recognition Award at the Local Women in Sport Awards 2024.

Louise says, “Samantha is a talented, vibrant confident young woman thanks to our hard work and sheer dedication as her parents. It has been delightful watching her grow but these years have been hard.”

Louise and her husband have helped Samantha through incredibly low periods when she wanted to disappear and as a family they have found a way through for them all.

Louise will be sharing her wisdom and tips on how she got through really difficult times and how life with Samantha (though exhausting at times) is now full of trips abroad, award ceremonies and having amazing experiences together.

Image of Samantha wearing dark jeans a black coat and a black and white stripe scarf with her cane, standing next to her mum wearing a long black puffer jacket and a dark blue check scarf, in the background is a large bridge.

LOOK mentors Calum and Lauren

Both Calum and Lauren work in counselling and psychotherapy. They will be sharing with us the reasons they have chosen to work in this field and the advice they give to their clients who are feeling overwhelmed and burnt out.

Calum says “I would stress that it is okay to not be okay. It is hard, but remember that your children need you just as much as the support you are fighting for them to get. It is so important for everyone that you understand the value of staying connected. Though I really appreciate my parents support and encouragement to do what makes me happy and supporting me to do this. Some of my best memories are spending time with my parents doing things I enjoy, like walking the dog and going camping. As an adult, I do the advocating and I can appreciate how tiring this is, but I have also learned to pick my battles and use my time as best I can. I have also learned the importance of self-care. I am a lot more productive when I find time to do things I enjoy.”

Parent Carer Suzanne

Graduate from the LOOK Healthy Parent Carers course we ran in 2023, will talk about why it is so hard to prioritise taking care of ourselves and the key takeaways she has held on to from the course.

Suzanne says; “ I found the course “woke” up my exhausted and overwhelmed mind, and after the course it has stayed with me, walking alongside my thoughts reminding me what to do on the days things don’t go well and doing a happy dance when it’s a good day, and i’ve done the smallest thing to help my mental health and wellbeing. It’s not that this course is rocket science – it is the way in which it’s delivered that is clever and the reflection and mental tools it provides you with that help you build more resilience and happiness.”

Our priority for this forum is for you to leave the session with strategies to help you cope better with the load you are carrying, top tips and life hacks that enable you to let go of some of your fear and find joy and peace where you can.

To register for the event and ask questions in advance please use this form.