Praise for Ministers in getting "most important information in a generation" to people with sight loss

Post date: 
Thursday, 11 June 2020

The Royal National Institute of Blind People Northern Ireland (RNIB NI) and Guide Dogs for the Blind have praised the role played by Executive Ministers in getting vital information to blind and partially sighted people at this time. 

Robin Swann, Health Minister, and Deirdre Hargey, Communities Minister, have made distribution channels within their departments available to RNIB and Guide Dogs, meaning thousands more people living with sight loss across Northern Ireland can now connect with important sources of advice and support.

Dr Jackie Witherow, RNIB NI Director, commented: “The coronavirus pandemic has presented our society with the greatest public health challenge of our generation. Since lockdown was announced, along with our colleagues in Guide Dogs, we’ve utilised every avenue possible to ensure people with sight loss get the information they need. However, we want to ensure that we also connect with hard to reach groups such as those not on social media or not online at all.”

Fiona Brown, Guide Dogs NI Head of Operations, continued: “That’s where the support of the Departments and the Health and Social Care Board has been so important. Together, we’ve shaped an advice document, and using the distribution channels at their disposal, we’re  getting information to thousands more blind and partially sighted people. This is a great example of how the statutory and voluntary sector can work together for the benefit of the community and we thank the Ministers and their officials for their invaluable support.

Robin Swann, Health Minister, said: “As we continue the battle against this pandemic one of the most gratifying aspects has been the collective effort made by all strands of society to help save lives and keep their fellow citizens safe and informed. 

“The voluntary sector has come to the fore in this regard and I am delighted that my Department, and those of other Executive colleagues, have been able to assist RNIB and Guide Dogs N. Ireland to provide as much information as possible to their members to help them tackle the particular challenges they face.”

Deirdre Hargey, Communities Minister, said: “The COVID-19 crisis has presented challenges for many people, not least those who are blind or partially sighted.  Throughout the pandemic, my focus has been on providing assistance to those who need it.  As we have worked together to address the issues that COVID-19 has presented, I have been inspired by what we can achieve when government works in partnership with communities.”