Liverpool City Region’s Mayor at Merseyside Sight Loss Council event

Despite the rail and bus strikes, over 85 people attended the fully booked Merseyside Sight Loss Council event with the Liverpool City Region’s Mayor Steve Rotheram last week (27 July).

Blind and partially sighted people came together in Liverpool at this successful event to discuss the key issues that are most important to them. They also put questions to the Metro Mayor.

Key topics included employment, transport, health and wellbeing, and accessibility.

On opening the event, Mayor Steve Rotheram described how one in five people will live with sight loss in their lifetime, and that there are 21,000 blind and partially sighted people across the Liverpool City Region.

Steve Rotheram then responded to a range of questions from blind and partially sighted people. On equality, he said:

“I want our region to be fairest, most equal place possible. That means ensuring that everyone has access to a proper education; good public services, well-paid work – and a decent, affordable home.

“We’re already leading the way across the country when it comes to making our public transport and our spaces accessible to all – but I want us to go even further. I’m not going to rest until every station in our region is fully accessible.”

On education and employment, he added:

“Like other areas across the country – people living with sight loss still face significant barriers to training and employment. I want us to buck the national trend, giving everyone in our area the chance to get on in life, regardless of their circumstances.

“I’m determined to continue fulfilling my commitment to make sure that every person and every community has a chance to thrive in a fair and ambitious city region – where no one is left behind.”

Sight Loss Council member Paul then gave a moving, honest, and inspiring talk about getting back into work and building a successful career after losing his sight.

Image shows Sight Loss Council member Paul giving his talk about getting back into work after losing his sight. He is stood in front of a Sight Loss Council banner.

Sight Loss Council member Paul talking to delegates about getting back into work after losing his sight.

This included an overview of  the multiple barriers he faced and how he overcame them. He also spoke of  key individuals who provided support during this journey. He explained:

“Within five minutes he changed my life. He programmed my smart phone so I could read my mail and essentially do anything.”

Delegates then held round-table discussions focused on the key topic areas. These highly productive discussions are being written into a Merseyside Sight Loss Council report to inform their future work.

Blind and partially sighted attendees sat around tables discussing key topics focused on employment, transport, health and wellbeing, and accessibility.

Blind and partially sighted attendees sit around tables discussing key topics focused on employment, transport, health and wellbeing, and accessibility.

 

Feedback from delegates

Blind and partially sighted attendees also gave extremely positive feedback about the event and are keen to progress the discussion into positive action.

James said:

“I found this event highly informative. I liked what Steve Rotheram was saying in relation to what’s going to happen across the regions, including around transport and accessibility. This includes the audio announcements on buses, so people can hear which bus stop is coming up whilst on their journey as we do with trains.

“It was also great to hear how people on their sight loss journey have secured employment despite being pushed out of the way – facing multiple barriers and getting through it in a positive way.”

Colin said:

“With the high number of people attending, despite the rail and bus strikes, I think this event has demonstrated just how important these issues are to blind and partially sighted people.

“This event is an excellent starting point. It won’t change everything but we now understand who the main players are and what we are capable of achieving together.”

 

Three delegates sat on a table discussing issues related to blind and partially sighted people. They are looking at the camera and smiling. A folded white cane is on the table.

Delegates and partners pictured following a discussion on the importance of addressing emotional wellbeing as part of the sight loss pathway.

Mark said:

“This was a really positive event. It was important Steve Rotheram came to this event today to understand what he could do to support blind and partially sighted people.

“It is vital the Metro Mayor appreciates the effort people made considering the strikes. I feel he will remember today above all other meetings in his calendar this week and we have created a solid foundation to build on.”

Mark added:

“I now want what the Metro Mayor has said to move forward and the practicalities to happen.

“This event was about people coming together and explaining their feelings, emotions and issues related to all the key issues, from transport to the everyday impacts affecting blind and partially sighted people.

“I feel that speaking about these issues so other people can understand helps to create positive change together. Together we can make a change.”

Lyn said:

“This event will make a lot of different and create a big step forward for people who are leading an isolated life. This event will empower us.”

June added:

“I think this event could make a lot of difference and relevant authorities need to know what’s going on. It’s important they understand how we feel, and I just hope something comes of these discussions.”

Blind and partially sighted attendees and partners sit around tables discussing key topics focused on employment, transport, health and wellbeing, and accessibility.

Blind and partially sighted attendees discussing key topics focused on employment, transport, health and wellbeing, and accessibility.

 

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