Sharon pictured here with volunteer puppy walker Sally and her puppy-in-training Joni, and volunteer puppy walker Susan and her puppy-in-training Bianca.
Sharon Hodgson MP was given a star on Guide Dogs’ pavement parking Walk of Fame this week for supporting the charity’s campaign to stop cars parking on pavements.
The charity wants people living with sight loss to feel confident and independent when they are out and about, and believes that vehicles parked on pavements put people living with sight loss in danger.
The event, hosted by Lord Holmes of Richmond, highlighted the problems faced daily by guide dog owners who are being forced to walk into the road to avoid cars blocking their path. MPs heard from one guide dog owner who had even considered giving up his guide dog because of the constant obstructions he faced when out and about.
Pavement parking is already an offence in London, but the rules in the rest of the country are complex and patchy, leaving drivers uncertain of where they can and cannot park. Guide Dogs is calling for the introduction of comprehensive laws across the UK, which will outlaw pavement parking, but allow local councils to grant an exemption in areas where pavement parking is unavoidable.
Speaking after the event Sharon commented: “Listening to all of the evidence and the stories of people’s experiences it is clear that something needs to be done to help people with sight loss. We all need to better understand the challenges people face every day, and whenever we have the ability to make their lives easier and more independent we need to act.”
James White, Campaigns Manager for Guide Dogs, said: "Cars parked on pavements blight the lives of people living with sight loss and other vulnerable road users including wheelchair users and parents with buggies or prams.
"Imagine how frightening it must be to step out into a busy road when you can't see on-coming traffic, or you have your young child with you. We want to stop people from being forced into the road and we call on all parties to support a new law on pavement parking."
The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association: The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association is a British charitable organisation founded in 1931. Guide Dogs provides independence and freedom to thousands of blind and partially-sighted people across the UK through the provision of guide dogs, mobility and other rehabilitation services. It also campaigns passionately for the rights of those with visual impairments. Guide Dogs is working towards a society in which blind and partially sighted people enjoy the same freedom of movement as everyone else.
Short clip of the video shown at the event where guide dog owners Simon and Emma talk about the impact that pavement-parking has on their lives: http://youtu.be/6BNwR521xdY