Local blind people left without support

October 2, 2006 2:13 PM
RNIB photo

Tom Brake and RNIB show the need for adaptations in people's homes

At the Liberal Democrat Party Conference in September Tom Brake MP played the Action for Blind People, Guide Dogs and RNIB Gameshow, experiencing first hand some of the challenges that blind and partially sighted people across the UK face on a daily basis.

Wearing a blindfold Tom attempted to make a pancake, do the weekly washing and make the journey from home to the station.

Tom said: "All this had a serious point - that rehabilitation and mobility training, special equipment and community care services are fundamental in giving blind and partially sighted people of all ages the quality of life and independence that most of us take for granted. I experienced at first hand how hard I would find it to cope at home without support if I lost my sight."

In a joint statement the national visual impairment charities said, "Many local authorities are failing to provide for visually impaired people. All over the country, there are thousands of people of all ages with sight loss who are unable to lead independent lives because they are not getting the support they need from their local authority. We are delighted that Tom is working with Action Guide Dogs and RNIB to highlight the case for local health and social care authorities to give greater priority to the needs of blind and partially sighted people. Some authorities provide excellent services. They are however the exception rather than the rule."

• Over 250,000 visually impaired people over the age of 75 receive no help from their local social care services department.

• One in five visually impaired people are never able to go out by themselves.

• 20 per cent of blind and partially sighted people never receive a needs based assessment.

Tom Brake MP said: "I am joining the call for the provision of services for all visually impaired people that meet their needs and allow them to do what most sighted people take for granted - to live independently and safely at home, and travel in the local area for leisure, social and work opportunities.

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