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Eilidh Whiteford, MP for Banff & Buchan

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WHITEFORD BACKS PIONEERING SCHEME FOR NE BLIND AND PARTIALLY SIGHTED PEOPLE

Monday, 1 June 2009

SNP Westminster candidate for Banff & Buchan Eilidh Whiteford attended the launch of a pioneering two-year pilot scheme in Elgin today (Monday) to help blind and partially sighted people find work.

'Work Focus', a project managed by the Royal National Institute of Blind People Scotland and supported locally by Grampian Society for the Blind, has already helped over 40 local people with sight loss find work, go into further education or develop new skills.

Operating in Aberdeenshire, Banffshire and Moray, 'Work Focus' offers one-to-one support to clients by brokering job-placements with employers, providing motivational and job-search skills, and mentoring on the job.

RNIB Scotland plans to provide similar services nationally once the lessons of the pilot have been analysed.

At today's launch, Eilidh Whiteford met with Work Focus staff and clients alongside Moray MSP and Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead.

Commenting, Eilidh Whiteford said:

"75 per cent of people in Scotland of working age with sight loss are unemployed - a figure that hasn't improved in a decade, although the employment rate for people with other disabilities has.

"That's why it is so encouraging to find an initiative in our area that is actually pioneering new approaches. Work Focus can support people in making that first step into work or further education, and in doing so help end the exclusion of blind and partially sighted people in the labour market."

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