Facilitator: Jane Ring, Parent, carer support officer, LOOK UK.

Panel speakers: Nicola Vantoch-Wood, Clinical Lead for RSBC’s Families First service, Louise Gough, parent carer to Samantha, blind athlete, advocate and influencer, LOOK mentors Calum and Lauren, both of whom work in counselling and psychotherapy, and parent carer Suzanne.

In support of Mental Health Awareness Week, LOOK Parent Support Group hosted an online panel event with VICTA and RSBC for parent carers of blind or partially sighted children and young people.

The session was 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.

Nicola Vantoch-Wood introduced to the group research into the issue of Parent Carer stress and why it is so important we learn to look after ourselves better and start putting ourselves further up the priority list. She also shared with the group a presentation on the physical and emotional health of parent carers and the barriers to parent carers looking after themselves.

Louise parent carer to Samantha, shares her wisdom and tips on how she has worked through difficult situations and how life with Samantha, although at times challenging has also been filled with adventures and fun!

Parent carer Suzanne talks about what she learnt from the LOOK Healthy Parent Carer course and shares her tips for maintaining her mental health and well-being “Put that guilty fairy in your pocket”. 

We also heard from LOOK Mentors Calum and Lauren about their experience of family life as Visually Impaired young people, what motivated them to work in counselling and psychotherapy and the advice they give to their clients who are feeling overwhelmed and burnt out.

Watch

You can watch the original session, here:

“Remember if we take care of our emotional, spiritual, physical and mental needs there is more of us to give to the people we love.” Parent

Top Tips for Parents/carers

  • Take time to grieve for your child and their disability.
  • Try to find your identity again.
  • Practice mindfulness.
  • Nourish the other parts of yourself rather than being a parent.  
  • Find your worth and value not just in the development of your child.  
  • Remember if we take care of our emotional, spiritual, physical and mental needs there is more of us to give to the people we love. 
  • Find your circle of support. 
  • Don’t have too many expectations.
  • You and your family come first.
  • Focus on the things you can change not the things you can’t.
  • Future changes so don’t dwell on the what-ifs.  
  • Try not to live in fear.
  • Take time out in nature. 
  • Connect with people who understand. 
  • Find three things in a day to make you smile.
  • Find joy in the little things.
  • Think where you are on the list, you don’t have to be first but just move up the list. 
  • You can’t pour from an empty cup. 
  • Put your oxygen mask on first.
  • Put that guilty fairy in your pocket. 
  • Watch how you talk to yourself.
  • Break down what you’re anxious about.
  • Find ways to get your anger out.
  • Take up a sport.
  • People feel honoured if you ask them to help.
  • Have a dance in the kitchen. 
  • Take a five-minute nap.
  • Take time for a cup of tea and a stare out of the window.
  • Small bites of time for yourself. 
  • Find your supportive circle of friends. 
  • Short bursts of doing something you enjoy.
  • Commit to some weekly time for yourself.
  • Talk about the small things that worry you not just the big. 
  • Slow down and give yourself time to reflect.
  • Build a practice in the day of three things that have made you smile 
  • Ground yourself by noticing what you hear, taste, smell, see and touch.
  • Time for yourself from parent caring does not negate the joy of being with your child or the love you have for them.

Top Tips for Parents and Your Children

  • Teach them how to understand their emotions.
  • Support them when they need it.
  • Let them make their mistakes. 
  • Stay connected and talk through the tough things.
  • Show them how to practise good mental health. 
  • Be positive and help them navigate.
  • Ask them what they want. 
  • Encourage friendships. 
  • Spend time with people with disabilities and people who get it.  
  • Encourage them to find their tribe. 
  • Let them go, the more you practise it the easier it will become.

Useful Links

Family Support

Wellbeing and Emotional Support for Parent Carers

Mental Health Support for Children and Parents

Education Support

Videos and Books

Links to Samantha Gough media

Samantha Gough introduces herself to the LOOK community

“Time for yourself from parent caring does not negate the joy of being with your child or the love you have for them.” Panel member


The LOOK Parent Support Group is peer-led, hosted by Jane Ring and Jo Lomas, both of whom are parents to a visually impaired child (and Jo has a VI herself). You can find more information about the group here, plus a link to the resources produced from previous panel events: