Thursday, 5 June 2014

Monthly Columnist for M44 News

I was kindly asked by Steve Moss - the Editor of M44 News, my local news and events magazine - to become a monthly contributor columnist for the magazine, sharing my views and stories to local residents in my area. It's an amazing opportunity and I was deeply honoured to be asked! The new issue is now available in PDF format on the M44 News website and physical copies will be mailed to over 10,000 local homes this coming weekend.

In my first column in the newest issue, I write about the conference that I recently attended with the Greater Manchester Police Crime Commissioner and his engagement team, to help improve services for blind and visually impaired people in the Greater Manchester area. I also introduce myself by providing a profile picture and biography, and also give a short snippet of what I hope to achieve with the regular column.

Kimberley's View

Through my monthly column I hope to be able to change people's perceptions of visually impaired and blind people and what they can be capable of achieving, and perhaps even dispel any stereotypes and misconceptions that they may have. I also aim to give an interesting insight into what it's like to be severely visually impaired and the issues that matter to me.

I recently attended a half-day conference, set up by the Greater Manchester Police Crime Commissioner, Tony Lloyd, and his engagement team, in regards to meeting the needs of blind and visually impaired people. The aim of the conference was to provide an opportunity to the sight-impaired to share experiences, concerns, praise and recommendations for improvement in relation to the services they receive from Greater Manchester Police.

Among the attendees were representatives from the Manchester Guide Dogs mobility team, the Salford Sensory team, Manchester Blind Football Club, and the RNIB Regional Campaigns Officer for the North West - as well as blind and visually impaired people local to the Manchester area who wanted to share their views and experiences.

The agenda of the day was to have table-top discussions regarding the accessibility of GMP and communication, current reporting mechanisms, hate crime, crime prevention and keeping safe. Engagement officers were based at each table making notes to then be fed back to form a report and help to shape accessibility and the hate crime reporting process.

Tony Lloyd, the Crime Commissioner of GMP, said: "It's quite right that our police service should serve all members of our community. We are all on a journey, here, not just the police but all services. We all need to work harder to find ways to remove the - often unnecessary - barriers faced by people with disabilities in our community."

He ended his speech by stating that the conference was not a conclusion to meeting the needs of blind and visually impaired people in Greater Manchester, but just the beginning.


Kimberley Burrows is the RNIB's Young Illustrator for 2014, a steering group member of Envision (a young person's campaigning network in association with the RNIB) specialising in communications and social media, a keen blogger writing her own sight loss blog as well as contributing monthly to the blogs of Living Paintings and Henshaws Society for Blind People, and a volunteer Braille tutor at Henshaws.

She recently received media attention for her illustrations as a severely sight-impaired person, featuring in the Salford Advertiser and Manchester Evening News, shown on Granada Reports and on the web at the Daily Mail Online website.

The June edition of M44 News will be on doorsteps this coming weekend!