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L to R Trudie Goodwin, Anne Wafula Strike, MP Emily Thornberry and CBM UK Chief Exec Kirsty Smith
UK News

21st anniversary plea by Christian disability charity

Speaking at it's 21st anniversary dinner in London, the chief executive of CBM UK told Premier the figure equates to around 15 per cent  of the planet's population.

Kirsty Smith said the vast majority of those are in the most deprived areas:

"Four fifths of those people live in places where they do not have access to services. They don't have the income so cannot afford the transport to get to those services.

"They are often stigmatised and so have no confidence. They also do not have the awareness of what services are available."

One of CBM UK's ambassadors is paralympian Anne Wafula Strike. She told Premier that her parents had a heartbreaking decision to make after she contracted Polio when she was young:

"My family were thrown out of our village. The villagers they were so afraid they thought it would be contagious to their children".

She added:

"My parents had a choice; to give me up to the traditional gods to die or flee the village. So, that is what my father decided - we flee the village."

Anne is confined to a wheelchair and after leaving her home and coming to Britain eventually went on to become a successful athlete. She said people who have a disability need to have support and to be given a chance.

One of British TV's most famous actors is also backing calls for more to be done for disabled people around the world.

Trudie Goodwin, who became a household name starring in The Bill and Emmerdale, has been to Africa on behalf of CBM UK and told Premier the memory of people struck down by needless blindness caused by cataracts sticks with her:

"I suppose I saw 20 operations to be honest. It made a massive difference. People who hadn't seen for years could go back to their village.

"I suppose they thought it was a miracle really, someone who had left the village not being able to see came back and suddenly they are able to see."

Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry was also at the anniversary event. She told Premier  the extreme poverty makes the suffering much worse:

"The people who are most vulnerable are the people with disabilities. The people who get help last are the people with disabilities.

"When a community is under stress you have enough to do with people who are able-bodied and yet that can lead to the most enormous injustices."

To mark its 21st year, CBM UK is also launching an inspirational booklet named 21 Stories, telling the organisation's story through the voices of 21 people who have helped shape their work, including medical experts, supporters, volunteers and people with disabilities.

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