Dr Philippa Whitford MP talks to a Blind Veterans UK welfare officer

Dr Philippa Whitford MP talks to a Blind Veterans UK welfare officer

A range of key MPs, peers and health figures have backed a national military charity’s call for better signposting for the UK’s blind and vision impaired ex-Service population at a parliamentary reception on 23 February. 

The House of Commons event was hosted by Blind Veterans UK and Rt Hon Keith Simpson MP to raise awareness of the charity and its support for blind and vision impaired ex-Service men and women, with a view to improving the number of referrals to the charity.

Blind Veterans UK is the national charity for blind and vision impaired ex-Service men and women. The charity provides vital practical and emotional support to help veterans adjust to life with sight loss, no matter when they served or how they lost their sight.

MPs and peers including Dr Philippa Whitford MP, member of the Health Select Committee and Mark Lancaster MP, Minister for Defence Personnel and Veterans, along with representatives from the NHS, including National Lead for Military Health, Richard Swarbrick, ‎ and sight loss charities including Vision 2020, RNIB and UK Vision met with beneficiaries and staff of Blind Veterans UK and pledged their support to the charity’s beneficiary recruitment campaign.

Blind Veterans UK estimates that currently there are 59,000 Armed Forces and National Service veterans battling severe sight loss without the free, lifelong support of Blind Veterans UK[1], and asked attendees to make sure that their teams are signposting eligible clients to the charity’s vital support to ensure no one who has served our country has to battle blindness alone.

Speaking at the event, Dr Philippa Whitford MP for Central Ayrshire and member of the Health Committee, said: “Ensuring patients are fully supported right from their sight loss diagnosis is vital and signposting them to organisations, like Blind Veterans UK, can often mean the difference between someone becoming depressed and someone being able to live a full, independent life.

“As health professionals, it is vital that we are committed to ensuring that every blind and vision impaired ex-Service patient knows about the life-changing support available to them from Blind Veterans UK, and how to access this.”

For more information about Blind Veterans UK and the No One Alone campaign, or to refer someone for support, call 0800 389 7979 or visit www.noonealone.org.uk.

[1] Blind Veterans UK’s Survey of the vision impaired ex-Service population, 2015– 40