Conservative candidates called on to make commitment
Today, Thomas Pocklington Trust has written a letter to both candidates in the contest to become the new Conservative and Unionist Party Leader and the UK’s next Prime Minister.
The letter urges both Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss to take determined action to improve the life experiences of blind and partially sighted people. With the NHS estimating that two million people are living with some form of sight loss, Thomas Pocklington Trust believe that the government should support blind and partially sighted people of all ages to live the life they want to lead.
The letters calls on both candidates to publicly commit to renewed action across six areas:
- Good healthcare services are vital for everyone, but many blind and partially sighted people face long waits to access eye health services, risking a deterioration or onset of preventable sight loss. Half of all sight loss is preventable. It is time for a National Eye Care Strategy to bring together disjointed services, improve value for money and outcomes for patients and service users.
- Employment is a big priority for blind and partially sighted people – both getting a job and staying in employment as their sight deteriorates. Only one in four people who are registered blind or partially sighted are in work and this position hasn’t shifted in a generation. This is an appalling waste of talent that adds to the burden on the benefits system.
- Navigating the streets and built environment and avoiding obstacles like cars parked on pavements, shared pedestrian and active travel spaces and e-scooters is another important issue for visually impaired people. Too many town and city centres are becoming no-go areas due to poor street design. The government needs to give a lead to local communities in delivering safe and accessible built environments.
- Accessible public transport is important in enabling blind and partially sighted people to get around independently. This means train and bus services that are easy to navigate, accessible information on travel times, routes and prices and training for staff and passenger assistance schemes that are reliable and effective. The government needs to make good on the ambitions set out in the National Disability Strategy.
- Education and support for children and young people with visual impairments is key to giving citizens with sight loss the best start in life. Everyone should have the opportunity to thrive in education and that includes getting good support and helping young adults to live independently.
- Good access to social, sport and leisure opportunities is an important part of what makes life worth living. This includes accessible sport and leisure, audio description services on television, cinema and theatre. Too many blind and partially sighted people are shut out of the cultural and sporting life of Britain by inaccessibility or a lack of awareness. That can and must change.
Whoever becomes Prime Minister, Thomas Pocklington Trust is looking forward to working together with them and their government to deliver action on the challenges faced by blind and partially sighted people.
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