NICVA Member Visit to Angel Eyes

22 Jan 2020 Susan Coffey    Last updated: 18 Feb 2020

Sara McCracken, Angel Eyes NI and Susan Coffey, NICVA

In December I met with Sara McCracken at Angel Eyes NI in East Belfast. Angel Eyes NI was set up in 2007 by a group of parents of blind and partially sighted children to provide emotional and practical support for parents in the same position.

Angel Eyes NI run clubs and events throughout Northern Ireland to link parents together for peer support and a safe supported environment where the children can gain new skills and experiences. They also have an Education Advocate to provide advice and guidance to parents to navigate the education system in Northern Ireland.

NICVA originally helped Angel Eyes NI in 2008 when they set up as a constituted group, and they became members of NICVA in 2014. Staff members have attended various training courses and events at NICVA.

Sara highlighted the East Belfast Community Capacity & Leadership Programme which they found particularly useful. The programme provided opportunities to engage with organisations facing similar challenges and they found the bite-size training elements very relevant.

Like so many in the sector, the biggest challenge currently facing for Angel Eyes NI is funding and the need for third sector organisations to secure sustainable income. They have however, some exciting new opportunities coming in 2020. One of which is a ‘Virtual Reality Sight Loss Simulator’, a concept developed by Angel Eyes NI with the assistance of local software companies and funding awarded from the Halifax Foundation to build a prototype. This will be an amazing step forward when fully developed as it will allow parents to experience exactly what their child can see as there are so many variations for the individual.

Another exiting opportunity is that they have devised, in partnership with Ulster University, a Level 4 Classroom Assistant Qualification “How to support a pupil with a visual impairment in Education”.

For further information on the services and support provided by Angel Eyes NI, visit their website.'s picture
by Susan Coffey

PA to Chief Executive

[email protected]

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