Blind World Magazine

United Kingdom.
National charities launch website to revolutionise community equipment provision.

September 09, 2005.
eGov Monitor, UK.

The Royal National Institute for the Blind (RNIB), RNID, the largest charity representing the UK's nine million deaf and hard of hearing people and the British Red Cross yesterday launched, an online store to help deliver major improvements in the provision of equipment for older people and those with disabilities.

The website acts as a hub for equipment managers and health professionals, allowing them to buy and sell surplus items of adult and children's equipment, thereby improving access to high quality community equipment vital for the UK's 10 million disabled people.

The recycling of goods will reduce costs, free up resources and limit waiting times for much-needed items of equipment. Community equipment providers across the country are being encouraged to make use of the web-based service - which is free to use.

The launch of is the first major initiative from a consortium formed by the three charities. Drawing on their extensive experience in the field of equipment provision, the consortium aims to develop more integrated community equipment services and improve the efficient use of public money to the benefit of disabled and older people.

It intends, for example, to simplify the assessment process for disabled people with complex sensory and physical needs. At least one third of people with a sight problem have an additional disability or serious health problem - currently separate assessments are necessary for each disability. The partnership is developing ways to co-ordinate this into a single assessment.

The charity partnership follows Labour's manifesto pledge that Government will utilise the potential of voluntary sector service delivery on equal terms with the public and private sectors and will look to harness its ability to be innovative and effective in providing new services - especially where traditional services have failed.

Sir Nicholas Young, Chief Executive at the British Red Cross, says: "Through working together with RNIB and RNID we hope to encourage a more holistic approach towards people with sensory impairments and physical disabilities. We aim to provide services which better meet the needs of elderly and disabled people, providing a single point of contact and keeping assessments of people with multiple disabilities to a minimum."

Lesley-Anne Alexander, Chief Executive at RNIB, says: "Current statutory services are failing blind and partially sighted people, by not providing equipment such as white canes, talking clocks and accessible computers that are vital for everyday independent living. By working in this consortium with RNID and British Red Cross, we have a real opportunity to change the way Community Equipment Services are run, and end the postcode lottery that currently exists."

Dr John Low, Chief Executive at RNID, says: "There is huge potential for the provision of appropriate community equipment to help deaf and hard of hearing people live safely and independently in the community. Working together with British Red Cross and RNIB, we intend to realise this potential and transform everyday life for large numbers of people.

"In the future the consortium will aim to introduce smarter procurement of community equipment to benefit many more people."

John Glover, Chairman of the National Association of Equipment Providers (NAEP), says: "The expansion of across all community equipment services provides an exceptional opportunity for services to make more effective and responsible use of their limited funds, enabling the purchase of more equipment for an ever-increasing number of service users. We wish the Consortium every success in providing this invaluable service."

For further information, please contact:

Suzi Darsa, RNID, Senior Media Relations Officer, telephone: 020 7296 8091, e-mail:

Clare McNeil, British Red Cross, Media and PR Officer, telephone: 0207 877 7043, e-mail:

Bill Alker, Communications Officer, RNIB, telephone: 0207 391 2223, e-mail:

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