To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what discussions he has had with representatives from supermarkets on accessibility for (a) blind and (b) partially sighted people (i) under current covid-19 social distancing restrictions and (ii) as those restrictions are eased.
We are working closely with local authorities, retailers, food businesses and charities to enable blind and partially sighted people to access food through a variety of ways including: volunteers shopping for them, food deliveries from local retailers, wholesalers and food businesses, many of whom will take orders over the phone, as well increasing access to supermarkets for a priority delivery or click and collect slots. We have been able to secure a limited number of online delivery slots for the dedicated use of vulnerable people having difficulties getting food. The Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB), alongside local authorities and other charities, can now help vulnerable individuals access these delivery slots.
The NHS Volunteer Responders programme can be used by people who need to access food and essential supplies - they can be reached by calling 0808 196 3646 or visiting nhsvolunteerresponders.org.uk. In addition, various sight loss charities are working directly with some of the major supermarkets to take forward some practical initiatives to help people with sight loss to access supermarkets.
We are conscious that vulnerable people, including those who are blind or partially sighted, need further information on support services as social distancing restrictions ease. We are working closely with local authorities, charities and retailers to understand how changes in Government advice may affect accessibility and will update the community in due course.