It is the important that blind and partially sighted people of all ages receive high quality support. If young people affected by sight loss to do not have access to proper support, then they can be left isolated and unable to live independently.
At the General Election I stood on a manifesto which included a commitment to promote the care and educational achievement of our most vulnerable children. I agree that we need to do more to ensure there is adequate support for all children and young people with sight loss. Good quality habilitation support plays an important role in enabling children to do the things that many other children take for granted and in helping children and young people to be able to live independently.
Blind Children UK’s recent report, ‘Time to Move: A Review of Habilitation for Children and Young People with Sight Loss in England’ makes a number of proposals to improve habilitation services. These include funding from central government to support habilitation and ensure that habilitation specialists are trained, and campaigns by the Department for Education and Department of Health to promote habilitation.
During the last Parliament, the Coalition Government made the case that it is up to local authorities and their partner commissioning bodies to decide what services to commission, and that such services could include habilitation and other specialist services.
The current government’s cuts to funding for local councils will make it more difficult for local authorities to provide vital services. As a result, more people will be denied the care they need.
I hope that the government will carefully consider the recommendations and findings in Blind Children UK’s report and set out what further steps can be taken to ensure children and young people with sight loss have access to good habilitation services.