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Guide Dogs urge MPs to Rethink Rehab

Holding a giant jigsaw piece - symbolising under-investment in rehabilitation services for blind and partially sighted people - Hammersmith guide dog owner Dave Kent is supporting Guide Dogs' appeal at Westminster to Rethink Rehab.

The guide dog owner - accompanied by his four-legged companion, Reuben - met nearly 40 MPs on November 29, to highlight the social exclusion facing many visually impaired people throughout the UK.

He is pictured here (left) with David Amess MP (Southend West) who has presented a Parliamentary Motion - backed by over 180 MPs - supporting Rethink Rehab.

Dave explains: "Many people with sight loss are forced to stay in their homes, unable to go anywhere without a guide, leading to exclusion from work, social and civic life.

"My guide dog has transformed my independence, but unlike me, not everyone with sight loss gets the support they need. So, I'm extremely keen to support Guide Dogs' Rethink Rehab campaign as it aims to raise awareness of this injustice and encourage the government to provide increased investment in rehabilitation services."

As part of the campaign, politicians at Westminster have been sent a jigsaw puzzle postcard. The jigsaw has a piece missing, symbolising the current lack of rehabilitation care provision for those with sight loss. Guide Dogs wants politicians to rethink their commitment to rehabilitation services for blind and partially sighted people.

Guide dog owners and other visually impaired people have also received a letter, this one showing the missing piece of the jigsaw, which they can forward to their local politician, reinforcing the charity's appeal to lobby the government.

As Tom Pey, Guide Dogs' Director of Policy & Development explains: "Across the UK, many people with sight loss are unable to do everyday things, such as cooking for their family, going to the shops, or to work - all because they haven't been given appropriate training. We need the help of guide dog owners and other blind and partially sighted people to make ministers sit up and take notice of our plight.

"The picture is completed when the politician receives both parts of the jigsaw puzzle - from both Guide Dogs, guide dog owners and other blind and partially sighted people - representing a professional, adequately-funded service, achievable if the government commits the necessary resources."

Guide Dogs is committed to the biggest review of the rehabilitation needs of blind and partially sighted people for 25 years and its aims are supported by organisations across the visual impairment and social care sectors.