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Sightsavers hands Put Us in the Picture petition to UK government

September 2014
Caroline Harper, Lynne Featherstone and Ben Quilter holding a giant card reading 'Put Us in the Picture'.

Sightsavers CEO Caroline Harper with Under Secretary of State Lynne Featherstone and Paralympian Ben Quilter.

Sightsavers’ Put Us in the Picture petition – complete with more than 20,000 signatures from supporters – has been taken to London and handed by Paralympian and Sightsavers ambassador Ben Quilter to Lynne Featherstone, Under Secretary of State for International Development.

The petition, which calls on politicians to make sure people with disabilities aren’t ignored in the fight against global poverty, was handed in ahead of the United Nations General Assembly taking place in New York on 22-26 September. We’re asking UK government representatives to take our message to world leaders, and make sure there’s a loud and clear call for inclusion of people with disabilities in the next set of global development goals covering the years 2015-2030. See why this is so vital.

Featherstone, addressing a group of NGOs this morning about overcoming inequality in development, said: “It’s about time we started putting these people in the picture of international development. I congratulate Sightsavers on their hard work to draw the public’s attention to this important issue. Disability has long been a sorely neglected issue in developing countries, often affecting the poorest and most marginalised. The UK government has led the way in calling for more specific action to support people with disabilities around the world and DFID [the Department for International Development] already incorporates support into many programmes across Africa and Asia.

“However, I have seen first hand the challenges people with disabilities in poor countries face and there is more we must do to ensure that no one is left behind. That is why DFID is committed to mainstreaming disability issues across our programmes and I’ll continue to work with charities like Sightsavers to make sure our strategic framework delivers for people with disabilities.”

Handing in the petition on behalf of Sightsavers, Ben Quilter said: “Having limited vision, I know how difficult life can get with a disability, but I’ve been lucky enough to have a great deal of support throughout my education and my sporting career and have been given some fantastic opportunities. Living with a disability in the developing world is often very different, and at the moment people with disabilities are always at the back of the queue when it comes to international aid. I feel passionately that this must change, which is why I’m supporting Put Us in the Picture and I’m thrilled that 20,000 other people have put their names to this important petition, calling on the government to take action. Let’s hope they listen.”

Sightsavers CEO Dr Caroline Harper, who also attended the handing in of the petition, said: “The numbers of people signing up to the petition and level of support for the campaign shows that people really care about this issue. It also sends a strong message to the UK government that the public is ready to hold them to account. We at Sightsavers are delighted to see that it’s a message that has been heard and look forward to working with DFID to develop and implement a far-reaching framework for inclusion.”

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