Parliamentary Under-Secretary for the Ministry of Defence, Mark Lancaster MP, along with over 30 MPs and key health and local authority figures, have pledged their support to a national military charity’s call for better signposting to support for the UK’s blind and vision impaired ex-Service men and women…

On Tuesday 23 February, Blind Veterans UK and Rt Hon Keith Simpson MP welcomed key military, political, health and local authority figures to a parliamentary reception at the House of Commons, aimed at encouraging local authorities to join forces with Blind Veterans UK and reach out to more veterans with severe sight loss to ensure they know about the support available to them.

General Sir Peter de la Billière, Air Marshal Sir Baz North, Group Captain Gordon Bettington and Lieutenant-General Sir Andrew Peter Ridgway were amongst the guests at the Blind Veterans UK reception.

Mark Lancaster MP, who is also MP for Milton Keynes North was joined by parliamentary colleagues including Clive Betts MP, the Chair of Communities and Local Government Committee and Julian Brazier MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State and Minister for Reserves along with representatives from local authorities and charities met with beneficiaries and staff of Blind Veterans UK and pledged their support to the charity’s beneficiary recruitment campaign.

Speaking at the event, Mark Lancaster MP said: “As the MP for Milton Keynes North, I am pleased to pledge my support to Blind Veterans UK by helping to ensure that no veterans in my constituency will have to battle blindness alone. It is vital we all work to honour the Armed Forces Covenant and make sure everyone who comes into contact with blind ex-Service men and women signpost them to Blind Veterans UK for free, lifelong support.”

The call for support from local authorities comes after it was found that of the 4000+ veterans Blind Veterans UK currently supports, almost a quarter of these struggled with severe sight loss for six years or more[1] before they found about the support available from the charity. In addition, new research from Blind Veterans UK estimates that currently there are 59,000 Armed Forces and National Service veterans battling severe sight loss most of whom are not currently accessing the free, lifelong support of Blind Veterans UK[2].

The event also saw the launch of Blind Veterans UK’s ‘Acceptance, adjustment, achievement’ report, which provides guidelines of best practice as to how local authorities and Blind Veterans UK can work together to ensure all vision impaired veteran clients can access vital support.

Major General (Rtd) Nick Caplin CB, Blind Veterans UK’s Chief Executive, said: “We are delighted that so many MPs and key representatives from local authorities, together with military and health professionals attended the event and have pledged their support to ensure that blind ex-Service men and women can enjoy a life beyond sight loss.

“We currently support over 4,000 blind ex-Service men and women and their families, but we know there are many more out there who need and deserve our support. This event is crucial in helping us spread the word about Blind Veterans UK. We want as many MPs, local authorities and health networks as possible to work in partnership with us so we can reach out to the many veterans in need of our support.”

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.

[1] January 2015 postal survey of Blind Veterans UK beneficiaries conducted by Clarient Research

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