LOCAL authorities have the potential to transform the lives of people with sight loss by making small but significant changes. Often simple, cost-effective, innovative actions make a huge difference.

With local authorities having to look for ways to stretch their resources, the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) calls on councils to do one simple thing when setting their budgets: properly consult and listen to its blind and partially sighted residents.

Last summer RNIB produced a research report which looked at how local authorities could introduce ‘quick wins’ to improve the lives of blind and partially sighted people. One of the main practical, cost-effective solutions was to work in partnership with disabled people, including those living with sight loss.

The RNIB believes that despite the difficult decisions having to be made, local authorities can deliver preventative and rehabilitative services and improve access to information through simple steps such as recording residents’ preferred communications format.

The time is now for local authorities to help build a better future for people with sight loss and avoid them being hit hardest by budget cuts.

For more information please visit rnib.org.uk/quickwins

Peter Bennetts, North East volunteer campaign co-ordinator for the Royal National Institute of Blind People, Parkside House, Elton Street, East Wallsend.


• WITH the chill of winter upon us, Action for Blind People is urging local people to spare a thought for residents with sight loss.

Many blind and partially sighted people find it difficult to get out and about on their own, particularly in crowded places, when it’s frosty and hazardous under foot. They can’t see the obstacles and dangers ahead of them.

We are encouraging anyone who has a blind or partially sighted neighbour to help make sure they’re not isolated by the weather. The majority of people with sight loss are elderly and are particularly vulnerable. You can help by:

• Contacting visually impaired neighbours to make sure they’re okay

• Offering to help them get out and about

• Being their sighted guide around shops or on short journeys to friends or work.

• Guiding them around icy and slippery surfaces

• Simply giving them your phone number in case of emergencies.

Action for Blind People provides a range of services for local visually impaired people of all ages, but if blind and partially sighted people are struggling to get out because of the weather, they might also need some neighbourly support.

For more information about our local services, visit actionforblindpeople.org.uk

Helena Hughes, Area operations manager: Yorkshire and Humber, Action for Blind People Merrion Street, Leeds.