National military charity’s beneficiary recruitment campaign receives backing from top political and NHS figures

1 September 2014 16:00

A special parliamentary reception, held by a national military charity this week, has attracted support from key political and health figures, as they pledged to ensure that veterans in the UK should not have to battle blindness alone.

On Tuesday 2 September, MPs Simon Kirby, Gemma Doyle and Martin Horwood co-hosted an event on behalf of Blind Veterans UK, the national charity for vision impaired veterans, to highlight the need to reach more vision impaired ex-Service men and women who are not current being referred to the charity for support.

Blind Veterans UK provides free, lifelong support to veterans experiencing severe sight loss. It doesn't matter how or when a veteran lost their sight, or when they served, Blind Veterans UK provides specialist services and support to ensure that they can rediscover a life after sight loss.

Over 30 MPs, including Dr Daniel Poulter, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health, Ed Balls MP, and Sir Bob Russell MP, joined key representatives from the NHS and related charities, to meet a number of the Blind Veterans UK beneficiaries and back the charity's campaign.

Speaking at the event, Dr Poulter said: "Blind Veterans UK provides vital support to our Armed Forces community, and by being at this event, we are recognising the excellent work that the charity does to make sure that blind veterans are able to adjust to life with sight loss. We are committed to ensuring that all veterans know about, and have access to the support they need."

Rt Hon Ed Balls MP for Morley and Outwood and Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer said "The work Blind Veterans UK does is vital in supporting veterans in my constituency and right across the UK. No veteran experiencing severe sight loss should have to battle blindness alone. The charity provides some really vital services and I am delighted to pledge my support."

Blind Veterans UK's No One Alone campaign estimates that there are currently more than 68,000 veterans with vision impairment in the UK , who are not aware of the free support available to them.

The event also saw the launch of Blind Veterans UK's 'Living the Pledge' report which set out the current difficulties faced by the veterans' community, and called on MP's, local authorities and NHS healthcare professionals to improve referral pathways to the charity so that veterans are signposted to support as a matter of course, once they are diagnosed with severe sight loss.

Barry Porter, Blind Veterans UK's Interim Chief Executive, said: "It is fantastic that so many MPs and key figures attended the event and have pledged their support to ensure that blind ex-Service men and women can enjoy a life beyond sight loss.

"This event is crucial in helping us spread the word about Blind Veterans UK's vital work. We want every MP, health networks and local authorities in the UK to consider what can be done to improve the way veterans are referred to the charity, so that we can ensure every vision impaired veteran gets the support they need and deserve."

If you are, or know of, a veteran with severe vision impairment and would like more information about Blind Veterans UK's free, lifelong support visit or call freephone 0800 389 7979.