As part of our ongoing work to help the Visually Impaired community, Blind Ambition have been in contact with the Secretary of State for DEFRA via local MP, Joy Morrissey.
This is the response from the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Victoria Prentis MP. We fully recognise the issues that blind and partially sighted people face with the current restrictions that have been put in place to control the spread of the virus and the particular challenges that they face with social distancing and their normal routines. We have been working quickly with local authorities and charities to support those who do not fall into the shielded definition and who are struggling to access food and essential goods as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic. We are working closely with local authorities, retailers, food businesses and charities to en-able this vulnerable group to access food through a variety of ways including: volunteers shopping for them, food deliveries from local retailers, wholesalers and food businesses, many of whom will take orders over the phone, as well increasing access to supermarkets for a priority delivery or click and collect slots. The NHS Volunteer Responders programme can be used by people who need to access food and essential supplies. In addition, various sight loss charities are working directly with some of the major supermarkets to take forward some practical initiatives to help people with sight loss to access supermarkets. They can be reached by calling 0808 196 3646 or visiting nhsvolunteerresponders.org.uk.
I then contacted the above telephone number and explained what my needs were and that I needed some shopping collected on Saturday morning, the gentlemen said I would hear from someone between 24-72 hours. At that point I was a little skeptical and thought they wouldn't call back. Also during this call I asked a representative to come on a Zoom webinar to give details about the services they offer and am awaiting to hear back. Surpisingly, I had a call back from a volunteer who lives very close to me within 15 minutes so that was an extremely positive and rapid response so well done to NHS Volunteer Responders for a very swift service. The volunteer will contact me on Friday evening and will collect my shopping.