How the supermarket priority slots you secured are supporting blind and partially sighted people

Post date: 
Monday, 6 July 2020
Other campaigning
Photo of an isle in a supermarket

Thanks to your campaigning, blind and partially sighted people who have been struggling to access food, or relying on volunteers, are now shopping independently. Here, one of the first people to benefit from the scheme tells us his story. 

A gentleman in his 90s was previously unable to leave the house to go shopping. After many unsuccessful attempts to access priority delivery slots directly from supermarkets, he had been relying on the kindness of volunteers for food. However, he and his wife were keen to become independent again.

He explained: “We don't have immediate family to help so this was a little godsend as we feel too nervous to do the shopping with social distancing. I was relying on support from volunteers for a long while but then got support from RNIB’s Helpline. Blind people are very often “pushed to the back” so it's wonderful you [campaigned for] this. Perseverance pays!”

He said, once in touch with RNIB, the process was “very easy”. “The adviser was very helpful and everything fell into place, [the supermarket] got in touch after a couple of days… it was very easy, we had been trying for weeks so once RNIB helped and recognised us it was fine no problems.”

The couple said how grateful they were for the help sorting out their situation and they would “definitely” recommend using RNIB to register for the priority food delivery service. They even mentioned they have already recommended it to a neighbour with sight loss! 

We want to help more people in this way now we have successfully influenced the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) to get the scheme in place. It’s absolutely essential that everyone can access the groceries they need and social distancing is likely to make accessing shopping difficult for many blind and partially sighted people in the coming months, and the scheme is an important safety net for those who need it. 

Getting referred for priority delivery slot

People in England who qualify can now be referred for priority supermarket delivery slots through RNIB’s Helpline on 0303 123 9999. Callers will speak to a member of our Sight Loss Advice Service who will assess the individual’s need and, if eligible, allocate them a priority delivery slot with a major supermarket.

How your campaigning secured this service

The new scheme comes after months of campaigning by RNIB, Guide Dogs, Thomas Pocklington Trust and Visionary. One of the most influential parts of this work was our petition, which many of you signed, as it emphasised just how crucial this service is. Once again a huge thank you for all your help!

Defra has now recognised specific challenges faced by people with sight loss, among others, and it’s thanks to your participation that we have been able to launch the scheme.