Left to right: Trudie Goodwin, Anne Wafula-Strike MBE, MP Emily Thornberry and CBM UK Chief Executive Kirsty Smith

2017 marks the 21st Anniversary of CBM UKthe UK’s leading overseas disability charity. An event was held to mark the occasion, thank UK supporters, and highlight the urgent need for more to be done to tackle disability in the world’s poorest places. Some well-known CBM supporters attended, including Paralympic Wheelchair Racer Anne Wafula-Strike MBE and actress Trudie Goodwin. The Rt Hon Emily Thornberry, Shadow Foreign Secretary and MP for Islington South & Finsbury made a speech at the event.

CBM works in the poorest communities of the world to prevent blindness, improve health and help people with disabilities go to school, earn a living and be active in their communities.  CBM UK was established in 1996. Since then UK doctors, disability experts, volunteers and supporters have played a vital part in delivering life-changing work. CBM UK currently works with local partners to run programs in 14 countries across Africa, Asia and Latin America while also contributing to work in over 60 countries as part of the global CBM federation.  Worldwide CBM helps around 30 million people each year.

CBM UK Chief Executive Kirsty Smith:

“Our 21st birthday is an opportunity to thank our supporters across the UK whose generosity has transformed millions of lives in the world’s poorest places, but also to highlight how much we still need to do. The world has made great strides forward in combating poverty but people with disabilities – 1 in 7 of the world’s population – are being left behind. People still go blind because of conditions that could easily be treated.  Disabled people are still routinely denied the chance to go to school or earn a living and face prejudice and stigma. So while we’re celebrating all that we’ve achieved since 1996, we’re also taking this opportunity to share our ambitious plans for the coming years and to inspire people across the UK to get involved.”

To mark its 21st year, CBM UK is also launching an inspirational booklet named 21 Stories, telling the organisation’s story through the voices of 21 people who have helped shape their work, including medical experts, supporters, volunteers and people with disabilities.

The Rt Hon the Lord Blunkett has written a foreword to the book and is also urging peolple to support CBM UK’s vital work:

“Too many people with disabilities in developing countries are unable to fulfil their potential, held back by lack of access to education or healthcare, basic assistive devices like wheelchairs or hearing aids, and crucially by social attitudes that isolate women, men and children with disabilities and can rob them of self-belief. With a billion disabled people worldwide, it’s a devastating waste of opportunity, not just for individuals but for whole families, communities and societies. Please join me in working with CBM. Together we can transform lives.”

For more information on CMB UK’s work, visit www.cbmuk.org.uk.