Government vision to support disabled people outlined at Peterborough charity

The Work and Pensions Secretary visited a charity in Peterborough to outline her vision to support disabled people.

Thursday, 19th December 2019, 6:15 pm
Updated Thursday, 19th December 2019, 6:53 pm

Thérèse Coffey toured the Royal National Institute of Blind People’s office in Midgate House on Thursday morning, where staff provide services supporting blind and partially sighted people across the country.

Ms Coffey met representatives from the charity’s Sight Loss Advice Service, watched documents being translated into braille and learned about its See Christmas Differently campaign, which includes a Letter from Santa scheme that allows children with vision impairment to receive a letter from Father Christmas in a format that they can read – such as braille, large print or audio.

The scheme was established more than 20 years ago to ensure that children with vision impairment do not miss out on the excitement of reading a reply from Santa at Christmas time and is part of the charity’s drive to break down barriers for blind and partially sighted people.

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Thérèse Coffey with Racheal Jarvis, team leader of RNIB’s Newsagent service

Ms Coffey said: “I am passionate that no disabled person should have an obstacle to living to their potential, so this service is invaluable in helping children enjoy a special tradition that others may take for granted.

“This is obviously a service that helps children, but through our campaigns and partnerships like Disability Confident and by creating a Disability Unit at the heart of government, we are making progress with charities and employers.

“We are working to help people from every part of the United Kingdom and our new National Strategy for Disabled People will be an essential part of that.”

Earlier this year, the DWP launched sight loss awareness training for Jobcentre staff as a first step towards tackling the difficulties that some blind and partially sighted people face when accessing benefits. RNIB influenced the content of the training and shared some of its own resources.

David Clarke, director of services at RNIB, said: “We’re pleased that the Secretary of State was able to come and visit our offices to learn about the support RNIB offers and see first-hand the work that we do to create a world without barriers for blind and partially sighted people.

“Much of RNIB’s resources are used assisting blind and partially sighted people to navigate complex and often inaccessible processes to obtain the information, advice, guidance and support needed to live and work. Essential services, like employment support and disability benefits, must be accessible and tailored to meet the needs of blind and partially sighted people to provide a positive impact.

“With the number of people with sight loss set to double by 2050, urgent action is needed and we hope that this visit will help drive real and meaningful progress at the highest level of government.”