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North Woolwich blogger calls for more job opportunities for the blind and partially sighted

PUBLISHED: 07:00 13 February 2019

Anuoluwapo Fajemisin at Stratford Westfield Shopping Centre

Anuoluwapo Fajemisin at Stratford Westfield Shopping Centre

Archant

Anu Fajemisin was 13-months-old when an operation to repair a hole in her heart went wrong leaving her with brain damage and sight loss.

Now aged 29, blogger Anu lives at home with her mum and dad in North Woolwich where she reads and writes about issues close to her heart including domestic violence and disability.

“Having a visual impairment can be quite challenging at times.

“Sometimes I go out and people don’t really pay attention and walk into me. But I don’t really pay much attention to it.

“I just get on with it. I’m not looking for sympathy,” Anu said.

Life in Newham might present some challenges, but thanks to support from the sight loss charity London Vision there are things to look forward to with trips including one last week to The Queen’s Gallery at Buckingham Palace.

“It gets me out of the house and gives me a chance to meet other people with a visual impairment.

“Life would be quite dull without these things. It makes me happy in some way,” Anu said.

Asked what more needed to be done to improve things for the blind and visually impaired, Anu said more help was needed to get people into work, to participate more in the community.

“It’s not that we aren’t capable. It tends to be people’s attitudes. I don’t think many people want to take on someone with a disability.

“Maybe because they don’t feel that person can do the job as well as able bodied people.

“Visually impaired people might need a bit more help sometimes, but we would get there,” Anu said.

A study published in 2015 by the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) found that blind and partially sighted people are significantly less likely to be in paid jobs compared to the general population.

They are almost five times more likely to have had no paid employment for five years than the wider population as well.

The same study showed that in spite of the challenges blind and partially sighted people succeed in a wide range of occupations.

RNIB’s policy and campaigns manager, Chrissie Pepper, said: “At all ages, and all levels of education, people who are blind and partially sighted are less likely than the rest of the working age population to be in employment.”

In the last decade there has been a significant decrease in the proportion of registered blind and partially sighted people of working age in any kind of employment – with just one in every four having a job, compared to eight in every ten people without a disability.

Ms Pepper said blind and partially sighted people face challenges including inaccessible job descriptions or interview formats through to a lack of employer flexibility or inaccessible office environments.

“Although there are schemes to help employers make adaptations in the work place and grants available for assistive technology, awareness of this support is low.

“Because of these issues, a broad range of skills and talent possessed by blind and partially sighted people is not being used in the workplace,” Ms Pepper said.

In 2005, another RNIB survey found that one in three blind and partially sighted people of working age were in employment.

But ten years later that number had decreased with only around one in four saying they were in employment.

The research showed, of the one in four blind and partially sighted people who said they were unemployed, each one was looking for paid employment.

According to Masuma Ali from London Vision the quality of support blind and partially sighted people get in the community can be patchy across the capital because of variations in funding, demand and capacity between boroughs.

The charity wants to change this situation so every blind or partially sighted person has fair and equal access to a range of opportunities.

Masuma said: “We will be running events and activities across Barking and Dagenham, Newham, Redbridge, Havering and Tower Hamlets to reduce the postcode lottery.”

For Anu, on top of work there’s one thing she wants more than anything though.

“Just for people to be more tolerant,” she said.

Read Anu’s blogs at anujemis.blogspot.com

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