The Listening Project brings together experiences of blindness

BBC Radio 4’s The Listening Project captures a snapshot of contemporary Britain through one-on-one conversations on all sorts of different topics. On Sunday 5 September, the show hosted a fascinating and heart-warming chat between two people connected by Guide Dogs.

The first was Jaina Mistry, a fitness instructor, nutrition consultant and guide dog owner. Jaina lost her sight following an incredibly rare allergic reaction to a course of antibiotics as a teenager. Nevertheless, she went to university to study complimentary therapies, and even when she felt left behind or out of her depth, she found the strength to stand up for herself and get the support she needed.

The second was Rachel Sutton, whose six-year-old daughter Nell has glaucoma inherited from her dad Paul. Nell has had a visual impairment since birth and has ongoing support from Guide Dogs to develop her mobility and independence in line with her peers.

The women discussed how to break down the barriers that people with sight loss face – from Nell making new friends and surprising new people with her capability and attitude, to Jaina bringing guide dog Laura to her family, who had no experience of being around dogs due to their culture.

With the Paralympics having just finished, Rachel tells Jaina about Nell’s new dream to represent Great Britain in gymnastics. Jaina was a volunteer at London 2012 – the same year she was matched with Laura.

Anything is possible, honestly. It’s just having the will. What Nell has is something special, she’s going to go on to do amazing things.
Jaina Mistry

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