Ground breaking manifesto for blind young Londoners launched
In January 2017, RSBC merged with the Royal London Society for Blind People (RLSB). Although we are now called RSBC, there may be some references to RLSB in the following article.
The comprehensive document tackles issues such as the fact that a quarter of this group are dissatisfied with their life and that 90% of those who lose their sight in youth won’t work for more than six months in their life.
This last challenge is an experience keenly felt by 19-year old forum member Amy Hawkins who was told by one organisation that they wouldn’t give her a job because she would be a “health and safety risk”. 24-year old Courtney Nugent, another forum member, was told by her careers advisor at school that “blind people couldn’t go to university” and that she needed to rethink her career options. Other facts include:
Only 8% of blind and partially sighted people reported they were offered any formal counselling at the point of diagnosis.Only 44% of vision impaired students got 5 A*-C at GCSE compared to 70% without a special education need.Nine out of 10 employers rate blind and partially sighted people as either ‘difficult’ or ‘impossible’ to employ.
In response to these actualities the RSBC Youth Forum have suggested a number of solutions they hope government, businesses and the public will adopt to turn the statistics around.
Suggested changes in the manifesto include maximising emerging technologies to improve banking accessibility and experiences in the classroom; enhancing post diagnosis support and working with transport agencies to advance their accessibility policies.
The youngest member of the forum, 17-year old Agatka Cienciala, has high hopes for the manifesto:
“We are proud to be able to launch this document. It’s one of a kind that I hope will make people sit up and listen to us. I’m really excited about the employment pack which will set employers straight about the abilities of young people like me and what support they can get for adaptive equipment we might need. I hope that anyone who reads it will support us.”
The Youth Forum works alongside The Royal Society for Blind People which is presided over by Minister of State for Business and Enterprise, Rt Hon Michael Fallon MP.
Mr Fallon said of the manifesto: “It is fantastic to see blind young people being active and vocal about the difficulties they face with employment, transport and accessible technology. The RSBC Youth Forum and their manifesto really is the Big Society in action – young people working together with the community to try and overcome their challenges and raise awareness for blind young people and I am delighted to support them as President of the RSBC.”
Dr. Tom Pey, RSBC Chief Executive added: “There is no one better qualified to speak on behalf of vision impaired young people than young people themselves. This is a manifesto that is straight from the heart and goes straight to the heart of the challenges they face. It and they deserve serious consideration by every politician and person who can influence the solutions they are asking for.”
About RSBC Youth Forum
The RSBC Youth Forum was set up to act as a megaphone for vision impaired young people in London and the South East and to unearth potential solutions to challenges they face, such as employment, transport and accessible technology. They aim to represent the views of vision impaired young people, to bring the community together to make changes that will improve life for future generations of vision impaired young people.
They meet twice a month to work through solutions to challenges that they face, with support from RSBC staff members.
Paediatric sight loss is growing by 2% every year. Within London and the South East there are around 7,000 vision impaired children and young people up to the age of 25.
Research tells us that these young people are struggling:
One in four vision impaired children under 12 are depressed. Blind children are twice as likely to have emotional difficulties and be bullied at school. Nine out of 10 people who lose their sight in youth will never work for more than six months in their lives 25% are clinically depressed and 30% suffer from anxiety.
RSBC believes that every blind young person should have the chance to live life without limits. By giving young people the essential skills to take control of their life, they can unleash their true potential.
We offer an expert blend of early years, education, sport, personal development and creative services. Each of our services will help fulfil our mission to deliver personalised support for children and young people as well as supporting parents to become experts in their child’s development. rsbc.org.uk
March 4, 2014