Royal National Institute of Blind People

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Royal National Institute of Blind People's best practice article

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from Royal National Institute of Blind People is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Blunkett signature Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett
Pickles signature Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles

www.rnib.org.uk

BEST PRACTICE SPONSOR 2020
THE PARLIAMENTARY REVIEW
Highlighting best practice
26 | THURROCK COMMUNITY AND VOLUNTARY SERVICES
Adapting to local and national
challenges
One of the major issues we face is the
composition of the area in which we
are located. Thurrock is made up of
20 wards and villages and while it may
lack a sense of central identity, there
is no lack of local passion. Beyond
this, the area is not socio-economically
uniform; there are areas of deprivation
sitting alongside areas of affluence. For
instance, from ward to ward, there will
be wide gaps in life expectancy and
health inequalities.
While there is low unemployment,
many local workers are in low-skill,
low-pay employment. These factors
present challenges but are also
opportunities for support, and we
try hard to adapt our provision and
to support organisations in tackling
these local issues. For instance, we
liaise with a number of organisations,
from charities to colleges, which help
upskill workers or help them back
intoemployment.
Another issue we face, and one that
is shared by our sector more widely,
is decreasing funding. Although we
have seen additional investment into
the voluntary sector, this is set against
a backdrop where there have not been
any inflationary increases in several
years on a number of contracts that
local authorities fund and as the LA’s
budgets have been steadily decreasing,
the sector has also been impacted. It
is very difficult to expand the sector’s
reach when our funding is decreasing
in real terms.
The final issue, and one that is more
structural, is the relationship between
the NHS, primary care more widely,
and the voluntary sector. In order
to ensure we can provide the best
care and prevention to all going
forward, mutual understanding
needs to be developed. Key to this
will be reconciling their medical
focus with the social focus of the
voluntary sector. The overall direction
is correct and we support the notion
of holistic care, but in order for this
to happen, funding needs to be
properly allocated across a range of
disciplines. By combining the social
and the medical, we can create a truly
encompassingsolution.
Championing the voluntary sector and
shining a light on what it can achieve
will continue to be our focus. In order
to demonstrate the worth of such
investments, we will continue to study
outcomes and support a collaborative
way of working. Through our asset-
based model, we are confident that we
can continue to provide communities
and individuals with a voice and
support them to play an active role
within our local area.
Championing
the voluntary
sector and
shining a light
on what it can
achieve will
continue to be
our focus
Championing the work
of the voluntary sector
through collaboration
and partnership working
27ROYAL NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF BLIND PEOPLE |
COMMUNITY
The Royal National Institute of Blind People is one of the
largest organisations of blind and partially sighted people in
the UK. Its Connect network is a growing community that
brings together over 33,000 people affected by sight loss. This
includes blind and partially sighted people as well as their friends,
families and carers. Remarkably, more than 80 per cent of their
board of trustees are blind or partially sighted. They support,
empower and involve thousands of people affected by sight
loss to improve lives and challenge inequalities. In 2018, RNIB
celebrated 150 years of providing services and support for blind
and partially sighted people – a story that continues to this day.
Employment is a key area of concern for RNIB and our client group. With only one
in four people who are registered blind or partially sighted in employment, getting
a job and staying in employment is one of the biggest barriers they face.
People who are blind or partially sighted should not be excluded from employment
– nor should sight loss equal job loss.
We have been encouraged by the Disability Confident scheme, which has support from
over 15,000 employers. However, a multipronged approach is needed to transform
blind and partially sighted people’s employment. We must therefore work together
with employers to develop and roll out initiatives which will have the greatest impact.
It is similarly encouraging to see the government’s proposal to introduce a disability
strategy. We shall look to use this as a means for beginning to see the employment
gap close between people with sight loss and the rate of employment.
FACTS ABOUT
ROYAL NATIONAL INSTITUTE
OFBLIND PEOPLE
»Public Affairs Manager:
Richard Holmes
»Established in 1868
»Operates across the UK
»Services: Charity for blind and
partially sighted people
Royal National Institute
of Blind People
Mohammed, one of our
campaigners, who is showing
the perils of clutter on
pavements and the benefits
of good safe crossings
THE PARLIAMENTARY REVIEW
Highlighting best practice
THE PARLIAMENTARY REVIEW
Highlighting best practice
28 | ROYAL NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF BLIND PEOPLE
Helping to reduce avoidable
sight loss
We work very closely with groups
across the eye care sector to ensure
that no one loses their sight due to
non-medical reasons. In this regard,
we’re fortunate to provide the
secretariat function for the All-Party
Parliamentary Group on Eye Health
and Visual Impairment. This allows
for a range of concerns to be raised
with parliamentarians and allows us to
continue providing support.
In July 2017, the APPG launched an
inquiry into capacity problems in eye
care services in England. The inquiry
posed questions such as whether
people were losing their sight because
of delays in offering treatment due to
financial considerations. Many other
such queries featured in the summer of
2017, during which a written inquiry
process was launched.
We managed to get evidence from
over 550 individuals, along with over
100 organisations. This was followed
by two oral evidence sessions,
which heard from both patients and
professionals. All the evidence was
considered and evaluated with the
help of an advisory group representing
a cross-section of the eye care sector.
In June 2018, at a reception in
parliament, the APPG launched its
report. This focused-on examples
of people’s experiences of delayed
treatment and the impact on their
eyesight and life. The report made
16 recommendations, which RNIB
and others are now working with the
government to implement. We shall
pay attention to the bill to implement
the NHS Long Term Plan as a means
for doing this.
Shared space
The concept of shared space is logical
enough. However, the idea that space
is jointly shared between vehicles and
pedestrians is a deeply troubling one.
RNIB Chair Eleanor
Southwood and Marsha
de Cordova MP,
Member of Parliament
for Battersea
It is becoming
increasingly
clear that this
specialist
support isn’t
being provided
in a timely
fashion
BEST PRACTICE SPONSOR 2020
THE PARLIAMENTARY REVIEW
Highlighting best practice
28 | ROYAL NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF BLIND PEOPLE
Helping to reduce avoidable
sight loss
We work very closely with groups
across the eye care sector to ensure
that no one loses their sight due to
non-medical reasons. In this regard,
we’re fortunate to provide the
secretariat function for the All-Party
Parliamentary Group on Eye Health
and Visual Impairment. This allows
for a range of concerns to be raised
with parliamentarians and allows us to
continue providing support.
In July 2017, the APPG launched an
inquiry into capacity problems in eye
care services in England. The inquiry
posed questions such as whether
people were losing their sight because
of delays in offering treatment due to
financial considerations. Many other
such queries featured in the summer of
2017, during which a written inquiry
process was launched.
We managed to get evidence from
over 550 individuals, along with over
100 organisations. This was followed
by two oral evidence sessions,
which heard from both patients and
professionals. All the evidence was
considered and evaluated with the
help of an advisory group representing
a cross-section of the eye care sector.
In June 2018, at a reception in
parliament, the APPG launched its
report. This focused-on examples
of people’s experiences of delayed
treatment and the impact on their
eyesight and life. The report made
16 recommendations, which RNIB
and others are now working with the
government to implement. We shall
pay attention to the bill to implement
the NHS Long Term Plan as a means
for doing this.
Shared space
The concept of shared space is logical
enough. However, the idea that space
is jointly shared between vehicles and
pedestrians is a deeply troubling one.
RNIB Chair Eleanor
Southwood and Marsha
de Cordova MP,
Member of Parliament
for Battersea
It is becoming
increasingly
clear that this
specialist
support isn’t
being provided
in a timely
fashion
29ROYAL NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF BLIND PEOPLE |
COMMUNITY
Shared space relies on users’ ability
to make eye contact. If you cannot
see, the space becomes unsafe. This
situation is worsened by the removal
of any crossings and any differentiation
between pavement and road.
It is vital that local authorities study
very carefully the most recent advice
from the Department for Transport and
halt all planned schemes, as shared
space is dangerous, exclusive and, as
Lord Holmes noted in his report of
2015, “plans out some members of
the local community”.
Blind and partially sighted
children
Learning is primarily a visual experience.
Therefore, children and young people
with vision impairment need specialist
support to access it. It is becoming
increasingly clear that this specialist
support isn’t being provided in a timely
fashion and, in some cases, isn’t being
provided at all. Therefore, there are
children who are fallingbehind.
The government is failing these
children and young people by denying
their basic rights to an inclusive
education. The result of this is families
face a long fight for support for their
child. This does, of course, assume
they have the confidence and time
to undertake this fight, which is
not the case for many – hence the
continuation of poor provision for this
high need but low incidence group.
What do we want?
The system for providing support to
blind and partially sighted children
and young people continues to
decline. This is shown most recently
by a Freedom of Information request
that highlighted further reductions
over the past year. Consequently, the
government must act and review the
current system of support to ensure
that children and young people
with vision impairment are given the
support they need – such that their full
potential can be met.
This, in turn, is with a view to securing
specific statutory guidance that ensures
every person is correctly assessed
by specialists and given a plan upon
diagnosis that is regularly reviewed.
They must be able to use the same
materials as classmates in a fully
adapted form to meet their needs. This
must apply to national tests such as
SATs, exam papers and previouspapers.
I hope I’ve provided an interesting
and helpful insight into some of our
work. However, most importantly, I
hope to have offered an insight into
the daily barriers faced by blind and
partially sighted people and how we
can work together to remove these?
We do as much as we can to support
and empower blind and partially
sighted people, but we can’t do this
without the support of others, whom
we need to raise our concerns and
keep them high on the agenda. This,
we hope, will move us ever closer to
a solution whereby people with sight
loss are living safe, independent and
fulfillinglives.
The government
is failing these
children and
young people
by denying their
basic rights to
an inclusive
education
Small changes make
all the difference –
here, a blind person
uses headphones
to successfully and
independently operate
an ATM

www.rnib.org.uk

This article was sponsored by Royal National Institute of Blind People. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it. The publication in which this article originally appeared contained the following foreword from Rt Hon Elizabeth Truss.

Rt Hon Elizabeth Truss's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By Rt Hon Elizabeth Truss

Even by the standards of the day –this has been one of the most exciting and unpredictable years in British politics.

The leadership election we’ve just seen marks a huge moment in our country’s history. This government is taking a decisive new direction, embracing the opportunities of Brexit and preparing our country to flourish outside the EU.

As international trade secretary, I’ll be driving forward work on the free trade agreements that are going to be a priority for the government. Free trade isn’t just an abstract concept bandied around by technocrats. It is crucial for a strong economy and for the ability of families to make ends meet. Free trade benefits people in every part of our country, as British firms export to new markets and people doing the weekly shop have access to a wider choice of goods at lower prices.

The essence of free trade is in the title: freedom. It’s about giving people the power to exchange their goods without heavy government taxation or interference. Commerce and free exchange are the engine room of prosperity and social mobility. I’m determined to tackle the forces who want to hold that back.

One of my priorities is agreeing an exciting new free trade deal with the US, building on the great relationship between our two countries and the Prime Minister and US President. But I’ll also be talking to other partners including New Zealand, Australia and fast-growing Asian markets.

And with the EU too, we want a friendly and constructive relationship, as constitutional equals, and as friends and partners in facing the challenges that lie ahead – a relationship based on a deep free trade agreement. Our country produces some of the world’s most successful exports, and the opportunity to bring these to the rest of the world should make us all excited about the future. It is this excitement, optimism and ambition which I believe will come to define this government.

For too long now, we have been told Britain isn’t big or important enough to survive outside the EU – that we have to accept a deal that reflects our reduced circumstances. I say that’s rubbish. With the right policies in place, we can be the most competitive, free-thinking, prosperous nation on Earth exporting to the world and leading in new developments like AI. To do that, we’ll give the brilliant next generation of entrepreneurs the tools they need to succeed. Since 2015, there has been a staggering 85 per cent rise in the number of businesses set up by 18 to 24 year olds – twice the level set up by the same age group in France and Germany. We’ll help them flourish by championing enterprise, cutting taxes and making regulation flexible and responsive to their needs.

As we do that, we’ll level up and unite all parts of the UK with great transport links, fibre broadband in every home and proper school funding, so everyone shares in our country’s success.

2019 has been the year of brewing economic and political revolution. 2020 will be the year when a revitalised Conservative government turbo charges the economy, boosts prospects for people across the country, and catapults Britain back to the forefront of the world stage.



Rt Hon Elizabeth Truss
Secretary of State for International Development