Guide Dogs is making the festive season accessible by launching the UK’s first-ever inclusive Christmas grotto

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Guide Dogs, a charity for the visually impaired, has announced the launch of the UK’s first-ever inclusive Christmas grotto for visually impaired children. Opening its doors on the weekend of December 3 and 4, the Guide Dogs Christmas Grotto was designed in collaboration with visually impaired families and children. The inclusive event aims to create a truly magical and immersive festive experience for all families to enjoy.

During the free 75-minute experience, families will be greeted by the guide dog team before one of Santa’s helpers takes them through the Christmas Grotto. They will have the opportunity to enter Head Elf’s toy workshop where children can touch and smell the different gifts and find out what they will become. They can also get creative with a cookie decorating station, enjoy sensory story time with the big man himself, and warm up with a festive drink at the hot chocolate station.

While the Guide Dog Christmas Grotto is designed to be inclusive for people with VI, all families are welcome with each ticket allowing up to five people.

Alex Pepper, Accessibility Manager at Guide Dogs, said: “The holiday season can be a difficult time for people with visual impairments, with many people feeling left out of activities. When I grew up with partial vision, I was very nervous going to the caves because it was often dark and most of the time I couldn’t use the toy I was given because of my sight.

“We hope our Christmas Grotto and Santa Claus guide dog training will help shine a light on the importance of making things as inclusive as possible and hopefully inspire the world to make their events accessible during the holiday season and throughout the year.”

To further promote inclusivity this Christmas, Guide Dogs has also partnered with the UK’s largest ‘Santa School’, the Department of Entertainment, to equip Santas and elves who will be in the caves at across the country with the tools to make caves more inclusive this year. for those with sight loss.

While the Christmas Grotto will only be open for one weekend in London, Guide Dogs hopes the success of this trial – alongside the formation of Santa’s School – will enable them to extend this offer to future and to inspire other organizations to make their Christmas (and year-round) activities more inclusive and accessible.

Guide Dogs is also encouraging members of the public to sign up for its Guiding Stars campaign this Christmas, which gives an introduction to sighted guiding skills so people can have the confidence to guide someone with sight loss if they have it. requires. More information can be found here: https://www.guidedogs.org.uk/guiding-stars-at-christmas/

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