I’m just an ordinary bloke, who, having spent most of my adult life, working in Research and Development (R&D), on “Classified Projects” for “The Ministry”, gets a great deal of satisfaction, from working with, and for the common people, in a far more open manner.
What is important about the work you do?
The average person, while wanting what’s best for themselves and others, is seldom able or willing to do anything about it, other than endlessly complain to anyone and everyone, who’ll listen to them.
I hope the voluntary work that I undertake for various organizations, gives that voice of reason, to the general public, along with groups of disabled/vulnerable people etc.
Where does it take place? (meetings etc.)
The voluntary work that I undertake for various organizations, takes me to meetings etc., in and around Ashton-under-Lyne, Manchester, Bolton, Salford, Wigan, Crewe, Chester, Southport, Preston, Leeds, Liverpool, Lancaster, London and York.
How does it work? (what does the job involve)
I attend various consultations, focus groups, forums, meetings etc., where I try my best to express the needs of the general public, along with the specific needs/rights of groups of disabled people etc., to the various decision makers, within the organizations. I’d like to think that I’m influencing these organizations, in the decisions they take, and how they affect the day-to-day lives of ordinary people, especially in my home town of Ashton-under-Lyne.
Locally, I’m involved in all 3 levels of Patient Participation, the GP’s Neighbourhood Group, and the Equality and Diversity Groups at Tameside Hospital and also Tameside Council. I’ve also helped to organize two “Patient Awareness” days on Ashton Market ground and a “Social Prescribing for GPs” event at Curzon Ashton Football Stadium.
Locally and regionally, I’m involved in influencing numerous local Councils and NHS Trusts, in the hope that they’ll continue to provide and indeed improve, the Health and Social Care services, which they provide to a huge number of people.
Regionally, I work with various Transport Authorities, in order to improve how they provide services to disabled/vulnerable (and indeed all) members of the public. Along with driver/guard awareness training events, with local bus, rail and tram operators; this work also influences how bus/railway stations and tram stops are laid out, and the various types of street lighting provided.
Regionally and nationally, I’m involved with local Councils, and the Department for Transport (DfT), in influencing how they design their “Walking and Cycling Routes”, in an attempt to provide a safer environment, for all road and pavement users.
Why are you involved in the work? (experience, outcome)
Being blind from birth, I grew up experiencing unimaginable amounts of prejudice and ill feeling towards myself and other disabled people, which I guess lead me to devote my life to studying for numerous Doctorates and Post-Doctorates, in order to prove to myself, that I’m just as good as anyone else, minus the eyesight of course.
Having proved to myself, that I’m good enough; in 2008, I signed up as a Volunteer Campaigns Co-ordinator (VCC) for the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB), in the hopes of bringing about an end, to at least some, of the appalling abuse and discrimination that I’d suffered all my life, and so help other disabled people lead more fulfilling lives.
As a VCC for the RNIB, I campaigned for social change for many years, and was involved in two mass lobbies of Parliament, which lead to the Government of the day, making various amendments to the Welfare Reform Act of 2012, and the Welfare Reform and Work Act of 2016, so as to better protect disabled and vulnerable people from all sectors of society.
Following these successful campaigns, the RNIB’s Regional Campaigns Officer, at the time, asked me to consider getting involved with my local GP Practice’s Patient Participation Group (PPG) and the rest as they (whoever they are) say, “is history”.
I’d like to believe that the voluntary work I’m involved in, has just as big an impact on the daily lives of everyday people, as the “special” work I’m still involved in; and while this type of work, tends to take an age to produce an outcome, working in R&D and campaigning with the RNIB, has taught me to be prepared for the “long haul”.
If, I’m able to have only half as much influence with the local and regional Councils, Transport Authorities and NHS Trusts etc., as I’ve had on the Government, through volunteering with the RNIB, then I’ll consider what I’m doing, as being worthwhile.
Dr. Pete Forrester.