Me and O.J went to Stormont yesterday, as part of a group of blind and visually impaired people who are working to help increase employability. There is an RNIB centre on magazine street, and they run a project to help women gain access to IT training, confidence building and other courses, and employment. The purpose of the visit to Stormont was to celebrate the success of phase one and launch phase 2 of the project, which will involve men as well.
The journey to Belfast was good fun. There were four dogs on the bus, and they were all very well behaved. Poor O.J got stood on, as he didn’t have much room where we were sitting. We stopped for breakfast and food on the way home, and he was probably glad to get out of the bus.
There’s something strange about being in Stormont. So many important decisions are made there, and as expected after the Michael Stone incident a couple of years ago, security is tight. It’s a bit like going through an airport. My boss wanted me to meet the two MLA’s who were present, as i need to do all that i can to get funding between now and Christmas, or i will be one of the 7000 unemployed blind/VI people in Northern Ireland. Pat Ramsey introduced himself as soon as i got to the door, and Aideen McGinley came to talk to me as soon as i sat down. She was very helpful, and promised to get in touch soon. She then mentioned me in her speech, as an example of a role model who was working and enjoying my work. I was very embarrassed, but the Verbal Arts Centre got great publicity, and lots of people asked me about it afterwords.
We had tea and sandwiches after the speeches (which were all very interesting.) I got my photo taken by a very friendly photographer, and we took a few more outside the building before we left.
It was an interesting day, and definitely worth going. Hopefully something good will come out of it regarding funding.