Bournemouth doctor’s campaign to help those who suffer from face blindess

Bournemouth Echo: Dr Sarah Bate with Tobias Ellwood, MP Dr Sarah Bate with Tobias Ellwood, MP

A PSYCHOLOGY lecturer from Bournemouth is campaigning for greater awareness of a condition which leaves some people unable to recognise their own reflection.

Dr Sarah Bate, a senior psychology lecturer at Bournemouth University, is hoping to raise public and professional awareness of prosopagnosia, also known as face blindness.

Those with the cognitive condition find it difficult to recognise familiar people from their faces.

In some cases people are unable to identify their closest relatives or even their own reflection in the mirror.

Alongside Bournemouth East MP Tobias Ellwood, Dr Bate hosted a Round Table event at the House of Commons in a bid to raise the profile of the condition, which is not formally recognised.

Dr Bate said: “The round table was a fantastic opportunity for us to present our awareness campaign to key influencers, and we are very grateful to Tobias Ellwood for hosting the event.

“We demonstrated what it is like to live with face blindness and why awareness needs to be raised, and are now looking forward to working with the round table attendees to progress our campaign.”

Members of the London Faceblind Group spoke at the event and shared what it’s like to live with the condition.

Hazel Plastow, who has a developmental form of prosopagnosia, said: “The impact is physical, social, emotional – it’s huge.

“But those more formal forms of support aren’t available to people with face blindness.

“Thousands of people are out there struggling on a daily basis, wondering why they find things difficult when other people seem to sail by, so these are the people we need to reach.”

The awareness campaign aims to get a formal classification of prosopagnosia, develop a national face blind organisation and promote awareness in schools, workplaces and the healthcare system.

Throwing his support behind the campaign, Mr Ellwood said: “It is not hard to provide that assistance and make their lives far more simple in terms of education, and understanding and practical guidance.

“But the first thing is to get recognition so those who do have it know what it is and aren’t shy in coming forward about it.”

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