A Newtownabbey resident has been appointed as the new Director of the Royal National Institute of Blind People for Northern Ireland and the Isle of Man.
Dr Jackie Witherow, who lives in Ballyclare, has worked with the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) since 2014 as their Campaigns and Research Manager and in 2017 was appointed Senior Network Manager. She has also served as Board Director with the Northern Ireland Community Relations Council from 2009-2016.
Speaking of her appointment, Dr Witherow said: “I’m delighted to take up this post at a strategically important time for RNIB Northern Ireland and the Isle of Man. This year we’re celebrating our 150th anniversary and it is important for us to acknowledge the huge changes that we’ve seen in society over the last century and a half for blind and partially sighted people, such as advancements in technology, medical research and legislation.
“However, it is equally important for us to take stock and acknowledge the challenges that still exist and how best we respond to them in partnership with the sight loss community.”
“As an organisation, we’re transforming our engagement with blind and partially sighted people. We want to ensure that the sight loss community are at the heart of our work and at the forefront of change. RNIB Northern Ireland has campaigned across a wide range of areas, including accessible public transport, safe and inclusive streets, the need for timely and responsive ophthalmology treatments and, most recently our call for an Accessible Information Standard.”
Looking to the future, Dr Witherow said: “Similar to the rest of the UK, we’re experiencing an ageing population. Sight loss affects people of all ages, but as we get older this becomes more prevalent.
“Research shows that Government and society are underprepared for an ageing population. Therefore, the restoration of the Northern Ireland Assembly is imperative to ensure that Government responds now through policy and service development to ensure
that those with sight loss can fully participate in society. RNIB has a key role to play in ensuring that blind and partially sighted people can lead fulfilling, independent and inclusive lives. I am looking forward to working together with our sight loss community, supporters, partners and Government in bringing about real social change for those with sight loss now and in the future”.
*If you, or someone you know, has a sight problem, RNIB can help. Call the RNIB Helpline on 0303 123 9999 or visit www.rnib.org.uk