Dining ‘blind’ to give a vision of disability

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Merseyside Police at the dinner in the dark event. Pic by Andrew Nuttall © JMU Journalism

Merseyside Police at the dinner in the dark event. Pic by Andrew Nuttall © JMU Journalism

The gift of sight is something many of us take for granted, but a dinner with a difference helped to make some people realise just how precious it is.

The Lord Mayor of Liverpool was one of those who joined Daisy Inclusive UK to raise awareness for the blind and visually impaired at the ‘Dinner in the Dark’ event.

A three-course meal was available at the Devonshire Hotel, but with a twist. There was a blindfold available to show people what it is like for those living with a disability.

Lord Mayor, Roz Gladden, told JMU Journalism: “The first thing you notice even without eating is how isolated it is not being able to talk and make contact with people.”

Daisy Inclusive is a small charity based in Liverpool, bringing abled and disabled people together, taking those from isolation to inclusion. Charity manager, Dave Kelly, is a blind man with a vision – he knows the reality of the condition as he lost his sight over 20 years ago.

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The former dairy producer told JMU Journalism it took a long time for him to come to terms with his blindness. He said: “I lost everything, including my wife, and I was isolated for three years. There was no-one to help me. That’s exactly why Daisy was started, because of what I went through. It’s easier to turn a blind eye than it is to help people.”

Based in Everton, Daisy aims to break down the barriers around disability within our society. Dave said: “People are scared of it and in entertainment history the baddies are always Captain Hook or the hunchback of Notre Dame. [It’s] always the baddies portrayed with a disability.”

Dave Kelly with the Lord Mayor of Liverpool. Pic by Aaliyah Rugg © JMU Journalism

Dave Kelly with the Lord Mayor of Liverpool. Pic by Aaliyah Rugg © JMU Journalism

Fitness instructor, Jo Parry, works with Daisy to support the disabled community through sports activity. She holds a Zumba class every Wednesday and, when asked about her experience, she said: “Eating a meal with a blindfold on was extremely difficult, like the whole logistics from cutting your food to finding your mouth.”

Working closely with Liverpool John Moores University and Merseyside Police, Daisy Inclusive raises awareness through sports training and works with students to talk about disability hate crime. The charity has its own hate crime officer who deals with day-to-day problems.

When asked how the evening went, Mr Kelly told JMU Journalism: “It has gone absolutely fantastic.

“We’ve gotten out of it what we wanted, giving people an experience to take away with them and be a bit more aware of the needs of people with disability. It’s an eye-opener – pardon the pun.”

About Aaliyah Rugg, JMU Journalism