Vision Foundation Webinar: In Conversation with Rt Hon Lord David Blunkett
This week we welcomed more than 60 participants to our first “In Conversation With…” virtual event. Our Vice President Lord Blunkett joined us to discuss the highs and lows of his political life, alongside sharing his personal experience and aspirations for the sight loss community.
The event was co-hosted by Vision Foundation supporter Mike Brace, CBE DL, and Judith Brodie, our interim Chief Executive, and covered topics ranging from how to challenge pre-conceptions and expectations of life with sight loss to making steps into a political career.
Mike, a role model to many in the visually impaired community, talked about some of his career milestones and not letting his sight loss at aged 10 – due to an accident with a firework – stand in the way of his aspirations for life.
He founded Metro Sports Club for the Blind (now Metro Blind Sport) and had a key role in developing British Paralympic sports, including as Director of Paralympics GB. Rather than looking into sight loss as a disability, he saw it as an ability to find work that he was interested in whilst also inspiring thousands of people. Talking about his work experience and difficulties in social work, Mike shared:
“The hard thing was the attitudes of the people around me. Not so much the clients, but the colleagues that were unsure how a blind person can do the same job as them in many ways. Alternatively, because I’ve been a shorthand-typist, my typing skills and abilities to do reports were probably second to none in the office because of my fast speed.”
As a former Home Secretary and the first blind cabinet minister Lord Blunkett has often had to push for what he needed in order to get ahead.
“When I came into Parliament, people were highly sceptical whether I could do the job. I used to say to people that if they are not convinced by now, I still have to prove that it could be done. Secondly, I had to get practical support systems put in place and resourcing the equipment 30 years ago was not as good as it is now. I had a year-long battle which ended up with a proposition for extra resources being voted on the floor of the house. Can you believe that and how embarrassing it was?”
As the Vision Foundation’s newest Vice-President Lord Blunkett is supporting us by raising the profile of our important work and donating his time and expertise. He has joined at a critical time with the coronavirus pandemic causing an enormous challenge for everybody, especially blind and partially sighted people.
As we look to 2021 and the issues affecting the country it’s the support from one another that can make the biggest difference.
When asked about his visual impairment and his tenacity to succeed Lord Blunkett said that:
“If you’ve got a disability of any kind and you are facing a world which is often unsure and sometimes fearful, you need to drive forward. We do know what we can do and it’s the can-do attitude coupled with hard work. I have the philosophy that we all need mutual help or someone to give a helping hand at the right time.”
If you’re interested in attending our future webinars, sign up to our mailing list and we’ll keep you posted.