Essex Sight Loss Council celebrates second birthday

Essex Sight Loss Council (SLC) is celebrating its second birthday and it’s work to create positive change for blind and partially sighted people.

Since its launch in 2021, they have been involved in numerous regional and national projects.

Examples of work

SLC members continue to: support health providers to implement the Accessible Information Standard (AIS), raise awareness of the ‘Visual Impairment Procedure’, created with Essex Police to help blind and partially sighted people verify the person at their door is a police officer, highlight the impact of e-scooters and e-bikes on people with sight loss, and work with transport providers to increase the accessibility of transport.

Essex Sight Loss Council member, Samantha Leftwich, is sitting at a desk in front of a computer screen which shows a yellow graph. She is looking down at her guide dof. There are four other attendees and research members standing around her.

Samantha Leftwich, Engagement Manager for East England, during the testing of Acoustic Vehicle Alerts, at UCL Pearl


This year, Essex SLC will focus on accessible transport, street safety, adult social care provision, and making arts and culture more accessible for blind and partially sighted (BPS) people.

This is in response to our findings during Listening Month in which blind and partially sighted people told us what matters to them the most.

Samantha Fox, Essex SLC member, said:

Sam Fox, a volunteer for Essex Sight Loss Council who is blind, pictured with a golden labrador“Essex Sight Loss Council works extremely hard to improve the lives of blind and partially sighted people.

“We cover the whole of Essex and work alongside other charities, organisations, and companies. We address any barriers that may arise to improve things for people living with sight loss.

“There is no issue too small or too large that we are not prepared to address. We’d love to welcome new members to Essex Sight Loss Council. Why not come and join us?”

Samantha Leftwich, Engagement Manager for East England, added:

“I can’t quite believe we are celebrating our second birthday already. Essex SLC works tirelessly across the county to improve accessibility, and we have been involved in some amazing projects to date.

“This year we have really expanded and grown. We are reaching new people and areas of the county – as well as working on some exciting new projects. We continue to engage with organisations and service providers across Essex, to ensure the voice of blind and partially sighted people is heard.

“I am so proud of my SLC members, who bring so much lived experience and knowledge to our meetings and the work we do. They are passionate about creating positive change, and I cannot thank them enough for the work they do.”

Samantha Leftwich, and SLC member Alex, looking at a display at Chelmsford Museum. Two staff members are stood behind them.

Alex, Essex SLC member, and Samantha Leftwich, during a site visit at Chelmsford Museum.

Partner feedback

James Bonehill, Accessibility and Inclusion Manager at Greater Anglia, said:

“We are incredibly excited to be starting our journey working with Thomas Pocklington Trust and Essex Sight Loss Council. Together, we will continue to strive to make rail travel more accessible and inclusive for the blind and visually impaired community.”

Stephanie Putt, Accessibility Lead at Stansted Airport, said:

“We are really proud of the work we do with our Stansted Access For Everyone (SAFE) Forum and charity partner, Essex Sight Loss Council, to improve the airport journey for our customers.

“Together, we have recently helped to design plans for our future security programme. We have also reviewed staff training to ensure that the most up to date and relevant information is shared with staff on how best to support blind and partially sighted people.”

Andy Wright CEO and founder of Accessible Travel Consultancy Services and Chair of the SAFE Forum, added:

“As the Chair of the SAFE Forum, I delighted with the support and input provided to us by the Essex Sight Loss Council.

“With a full understanding of the needs and requirements of blind and visually impaired people, many of whom choose to fly from the airport, their ideas and suggestions have helped implement positive changes. They have contributed to the airport’s current processes and procedures, staff training, and future infrastructure design. All of which has considerably aided the passenger experience for blind and partially sighted impaired travellers at Stansted Airport.”


Join Essex Sight Loss Council

Essex Sight Loss Council is recruiting new members who live in the local area.

If you are blind and partially sighted and want to improve services for visually impaired people in your area, we want to hear from you.

You’ll get the opportunity to create positive change for others, meet like-minded people, have a voice, feel valued, receive training, and learn or enhance your skills. Whether you’re interested in public speaking or honing your social media skills, there’s something for everyone to get involved in.

Join us

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Publication date: 29 September 2023

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