Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Envision Teleconference: 24th February 2015

Envision held a teleconference last night to reflect on the progress of the first year of the campaigning network, as well as the changes it has made to the lives of the members involved with the steering group - whether it be through building confidence, achieving independence, developing new skills or networking with new people.

This was the final teleconference with the current steering group line-up, as voting is now open to elect members of the new steering group who have put themselves forward.

We first discussed what we felt we had gained from Envision and how that would benefit us in the future. Confidence-boosting, volunteering and employment opportunities were mentioned by my fellow steering group members and I followed this on with how my independence has grown from strength-to-strength over the past year since being involved with the network. I now travel on my own, with my Guide Dog, when previously with my cane I would request that a sighted member of staff meet up with me for the train journey. I'm also much more happy to stay away from home for days at a time without my family, thanks to the Parliamentary trip and RNIB Campaigners Convention.

Following this, we talked about what we enjoyed the most and the least over the past year. The Parliament visit was agreed to be the highlight so far, as well as face-to-face meetings at Judd Street and having the chance to meet other young visually impaired people from all over the country. I felt a need for more workshops and skills-building opportunities as many of the group have expressed in the past that they don't know where to start with social media and / or feel uncomfortable with either Facebook or Twitter and have trouble adjusting from one to the other.

To end, we considered how the running of Envision could be improved for the next year. Suggestions included more regional meetings, more involvement in local areas and the chance to develop social media skills. I mentioned how I would like more communication with the wider network to involve them more with things going forward and access to our social media accounts.

As mentioned above, voting is now open to elect new members of the steering group for the coming year. You can find out more about the nominees, their statements and how to vote via SurveyMonkey by visiting the RNIB site here.

Useful Links

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

RNIB Photoshoot

Back in December, I received a kind invitation to have a photo shoot session around my local areas of Manchester and Salford with the RNIB. We spent a day in January on the Metrolink visiting MediaCity UK at the Blue Peter Gardens, Salford Quays at the waterfront and a nearby coffee shop as well as around Piccadilly Gardens and a clothes store.

Here is a sample of the photos captured:

Tami and I sat inside a Metrolink tram shelter

Tami and I sat inside a coffee shop at MediaCity UK

Giving Tami a fuss near to a hot chocolate drink

All photos © Mischa Photo Ltd.

I'd like to say a massive thank you to both Sarahs and Mischa for the wonderful day and for asking me to be their model! Tami and I truly enjoyed ourselves!

Sunday, 22 February 2015

Salford Advertiser
Pavement Parking Article

I was recently quoted in an article in the Salford Advertiser newspaper, a sister newspaper to the Manchester Evening News, regarding the 'pavement parking' issue that is currently going through Parliament.

Backing for Ban on Pavement Parking

Salfordians have welcomed plans to make it illegal for motorists to park on pavements. A bill is currently moving through Parliament which would make it an offence to park on foot-paths. It is being backed by the charities Guide Dogs and Living Streets who say pavement parking causes a risk to pedestrians forced to walk on the road, as well as damage to kerbs.

Barbara Keeley, MP for Worsley and Eccles South, is also supporting the bill, claiming the laws are 'confusing for motorists and dangerous for pedestrians.'

The move has also won the backing of Advertiser readers. Posting on our Facebook page, Kimberley Burrows said "I'm a new Guide Dog owner and welcome this completely. I'm constantly having to walk out into the road because parked cars become obstacles and barriers for myself and my dog to try and navigate around. It's disorientating and alarming to have to go out into the road with very little vision in just one eye but I'm left with no alternative sometimes.'

And Anna Plaskett said: "As a paramedic, I struggle to get down a lot of streets with cars on either side. I often have to find alternative ways to get to my destination as the roads are not passable, meaning whoever has phoned 999 had to wait that bit longer." But she added, "Making people park on the roads and not have tyres on the pavement will make the emergency services jobs harder, plus bin lorries and other large vehicles."

Salford council can only currently fine drivers if there are traffic regulations on the road, while the police can take action if the vehicle is judged to be causing an obstruction or parked dangerously. Councillor Derek Antrobus, Assistant Mayor for strategic planning, said: "We would welcome any additional powers to tackle the problem of nuisance parking but would urge some flexibility for those streets where residents have no alternative but to use the pavement and they do not cause a problem for wheelchair users and prams."

Inspector Phil Bromley, of GMP's Traffic Network Section, said: "Anything that enhances road safety by freeing up pavements for pedestrians is to be welcomed, as vehicles on pavements can obstruct vulnerable people who use the verge or footway."

The bill's second reading in Parliament was due to take place on March 27th. But because it seems unlikely to be debated so close to the General Election, another date may be chosen by the MP.

Monday, 16 February 2015

Something Blue: Wedding Fashions 1914 - 2014

Vintage-inspired modern wedding dress,
made of panels of sheer fabric and white feathers (2010's)

The Art Galleries & Museums group, based at the Henshaws Resource Centre in Manchester, recently visited the Gallery of Costume at Platt Hall, in Rusholme, for the Something Blue: Wedding Fashions 1914 - 2014 exhibition.

It boasted a wide variety of different dresses spanning a century, each being a perfect representation of the bridal fashion during its associated time period, with a tour and talk provided by Andrew Hunt and with audio description provided by Anne Hornsby of Mind's Eye Description Services.

A touch and handling session followed the tour, led by Adam Quinn and Rosie Gnatiuk, with an interactive and intimate approach to certain dresses and accessories; including hats, fascinators, gloves, shoes, and even an enveloped personal invitation from the 1920's!

From the website: "Something Blue explores a hundred years of bridal fashion from the Gallery of Costume's collections. The show illustrates the changes in styles, materials and fashion trends in wedding dresses throughout the century. Many of the dresses in the exhibition have originated from Manchester and the surrounding area."


Here are the photos I took during my tour of the exhibition:

Vivienne Westwood Floral Wedding Dress (2010's)

Sale rail black dress from River Island with Bow detail
and cropped cream beaded cardigan (2010's)

Spaghetti strapped floor-length dress with jewelled details
and knotted bow design (2000's)

Vintage-inspired sheer floaty full-length dress with
long, ruffled sleeves and silk bodice (2000's)

Long-sleeved dress with ruffled shoulders
and bow and button accent on back (1990's)

Floor-length sleeveless halter-neck style red dress (1990's)

Long-sleeved floor length dress with train and ribbons (1980's)

Long-sleeved floaty maxi dress with accented
collar, buttons and sleeves (1970's)

Crocheted floral babydoll dress (1960's)
(my personal favourite!)

This has been my favourite exhibition so far with the Art Galleries & Museums group, based at Henshaws. I thoroughly enjoyed the tour and especially loved the handling session, being able to feel how beautifully tactile some of the accessories were.

I also loved hearing of the personal wedding stories behind the bridal gowns and feel very privileged to have had a glimpse into the personal lives and special days of local ladies; both past and present. I'd like to say a big thank you to Mary Gifford, Anne Hornsby, Andrew Hunt, Adam Quinn, Rosie Gnatiuk and Kate Day.

You can find out more about the Art Galleries & Museums group, providing monthly audio-described tours and touch and handling sessions at Manchester's museums, galleries, heritage sites and places of interest, by clicking here.

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Holocaust Memorial Day 2015

On January 27th, I was invited to Westminster Central Hall in London to attend a special service celebrating Holocaust Memorial Day 2015, marking 70 years since the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau. As I mentioned in a previous post, I was part of the Memory Makers project translating the story of survivor Sabina Miller into an illustration.

Before the special service for the event, I met with Sabina to present my final illustration to her - which I had specially framed for the occasion. I gifted my piece, simply called 'Sabina', to thank her for such a wonderful meeting back in October and to give her something to remember her young life by; as she left the war with no possessions.

Sabina's daughter, Sandra, got in touch with me recently to tell me how much her mother and family love the illustration - and that Sabina has displayed it, pride of place, in her kitchen where she spends most of her time.

The Service

200 survivors attended the commemorative service encompassing music, poetry and personal testimonies. Prince Charles of Wales, the Duchess of Cambridge, Prime Minister David Cameron, Sir John Hurt, David Dimbleby, Michael Palin, Adrian Lester, Christopher Eccleston, Lawrence Fox, Keeley Hawes and Sarah Lancashire also attended the event commemorating the survivors, as well as politicians and other celebrities. 

It was a truly wonderful commemoration and I'm very grateful indeed to have been invited along and be part of the atmosphere remembering those who lost their lives in the Holocaust. The service was televised on BBC Two later that evening which you can watch on the iPlayer here.

After the event, a reception was held which presented a good opportunity to talk with other survivors, memory makers and volunteers. Tami and I had the pleasure meeting Sarah Lancashire and Helena Bonham-Carter!

In the Media

My illustration, as well as other works from the artmakers of the Memory Makers project, was featured on the Jewish News website as well as the Huffington Post UK.

I'd like to say a big thank you to everyone at HMDT, This is Fishburn, Amazon PR and all of the volunteers for having me as part of the Memory Makers project and for being so accommodating to myself and my Guide Dog during the event.

Find out how you can get involved with the Memory Makers project by clicking here. You can also follow the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust on Facebook and Twitter.

Thursday, 5 February 2015

European Parliament Photos from
EBU's Blind Date Event

I have now received all of the photos from my visit to European Parliament in November with the RNIB and European Blind Union, as part of their 'High Speed Blind Date' event, helping to highlight the need for a strong European Accessibility Act for the 30 million blind and partially sighted people living in Europe.

Catherine Bearder, Lib Dem MEP for South East England

Catherine Bearder, Lib Dem MEP for South East England

Catherine Bearder, Lib Dem MEP for South East England

Catherine Bearder, Lib Dem MEP for South East England

The team of Catherine Stihler, Labour MEP for Scotland

The team of Catherine Stihler, Labour MEP for Scotland

Julie Ward, Labour MEP for the North West

Julie Ward, Labour MEP for the North West

Julie Ward, Labour MEP for the North West

Theresa Griffin, Labour MEP for the North West

All photos © Matthew Winyard, November 2014