I’ve talked to a lot of people over the past year or so since I’ve been involved with the RNIB, and it still surprises me how much they say they don’t think rNIB are doing anything for blind and partially sighted people.
This past weekend I attended the RNIB Campaigners Convention in Birmingham with over 70 blind and partially sighted campaigners. And I think it would be save to say that those people there would strongly say that RNIB are at the forefront of doing what they can for the needs of blind and partially sighted people in the UK.
During our first session of welcoming and introductions, a list of campaign success stories of the past five years were read out. These included the talking aTM campaign, the Stop to me Speak to me bus campaign, the changes to the Personal Independent Payment from DLA and making sure blind and partially sighted people didn’t miss out on support in the future and the audio description on television which is a campaign they’re extending now to on demand services.
If RNIB are lying down and not doing the right things for blind and partially sighted people, I’m not sure what more, from a campaigns prospective they can do.
Since the campaigns network were set up six years ago, there are now regional teams of volunteer campaign coordinators in each region representing those blind and partially sighted people in their areas. These regional campaigns teams are headed by a regional campaigns officer who supports the work of the VCCs in working on both local and national campaigns. Each region has many success stories with some of the cases fought now being used as case studies in the law.
The convention ran many workshops on all aspects of campaigning, success stories, tips and tricks and all these were chosen from a long list submitted by campaigners on topics they wanted covered.
The planning group consisted not just of staff from RNIB but volunteer campaign coordinators from each region so that this convention was for the blind and partially sighted delegates organised in part by their piers.
Workshops ranged from current and upcoming campaigns to success stories of local campaign issues that affect people on a national level to legal and social media surgeries and we even tackled the popular method of open space convention tactic which seemed to work very well.
Guest speakers came by to either deliver speeches or take part in sessions and networking with fellow visually impaired people was at the heart of the convention. We got to share our experiences, our success stories and strategies and a lot of information was exchanged.
To campaign successfully, you must campaign together because fighting amongst ourselves only makes us weak; united we rise, divided we fall.
The staff and volunteer support was incredible but what I took from this weekend was the passion of other blind and partially sighted people to make a change and do all we can to succeed. The many success stories and continual fighting was inspiring and has only given me the drive as a relatively new campaigner to move forward and fight on.
I’ve taken a lot from my campaigning journey so far, come and join the campaigns team in whatever way you can, either by sending a few letters a year or get more involved in your region. You want to change the way society is treating blind and partially sighted people, come and join us. Lets make a difference!