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News Report Page 4 of 11
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The Joshua Centre and Liverpool Anglican Cathedral hire the Message Bus

THIS is a fantastic project taking place. St Andrews Church, Queens Drive, Clubmoor, Liverpool, where they have been granted funding from The Joshua Centre and Liverpool Anglican Cathedral to hire the Message Bus for 12 weeks. The aim is to engage with young people aged 11 years to 16 years, within the area, and offer them somewhere to go at night, where they can enjoy themselves, feel safe and welcome. A place of belonging.

The bus is unique as inside there is a climbing wall, that goes from the base to the roof, a karaoke area, console games area, Nintendo game area, nail bar and a chill out area with board games. Pat Hughes said:- "We now in our 4th week, and we have approx 32 young people attend each week. The kids have just loved the activities and the friendly atmosphere on offer. They enjoy being able to chat with other young people and with the team of Church members who are running the bus. The bus is based on Muirhead Avenue, by the park, each Thursday, from 7.15 pm to 9.00 pm. There is no charge and young people of all faiths or no faith are welcome. Once young people attend they can't wait to come again. We find those attending waiting outside before we open the doors, at 7.15 pm. In fact they don't want to leave, at 9.00 pm!"

Bridge the Gap busting myths to increase diversity

BUSINESSES in the Merseyside region came together with blind and partially sighted people to find out how they could increase the number of visually impaired people in the workforce. The Bridge the Gap event challenged old myths around employing blind and partially sighted people and provided advice on the practical, financial and technical support available to employers.

Attending the event, District Judge Afzal OBE, the 1st blind judge in the UK, said:- "If you have a diverse workforce it brings credibility, which is something businesses need to capitalise more on. I stopped being a blind barrister and became a barrister who happened to be blind. I was recognised for my talent."

Hosted by Liverpool Football Club at its Anfield Stadium, the event was funded by the membership organisation for local sight loss charities, Visionary, and organised by a partnership of:- Merseyside Sight Loss Council, Bradbury Fields Services for Blind and Partially Sighted People and Jigsaw Coaching.

Bradbury Fields chief executive, Phil Longworth, said:- "It was a surprise for many businesses here that blind and partially sighted people often only need simple technical adaptations to perform as well as their fully sighted counterparts. We want businesses in the Merseyside region to harness the skills, talents and contributions of blind and partially sighted people"

Garth Dallas, Chair of Liverpool Commonwealth Association, said:- "It's about appreciating our differences and getting those differences celebrated. Equality is not about treating everyone the same. It's about offering equality of opportunity and putting in reasonable adjustments. In order to be sustainable and survive, businesses have to engage beyond their shareholders. It makes good business sense, it's not just the right thing to do. Inclusive and diverse businesses outperform those who are not."

Jill Barlow from Jigsaw Coaching said:- "Through our mentoring and coaching, we support people with a disability or long-term health condition to find meaningful work. This event was a great opportunity for visually impaired people to showcase the skills they can bring to employers and will hopefully encourage more businesses to increase diversity in their workforce to create a more inclusive and fairer society."

Iain Mitchell, Engagement Manager at Merseyside Sight Loss Council, said:- "We blind and partially sighted people are well used to solving problems as we have learned to do this all through our lives. This makes us a great asset to any company. The development of assistive technology such as the screen-reading software Jaws and magnification programmes, has removed old barriers for blind and partially sighted people who want to work."

Visionary's CEO, Fiona Sandford, said:- "Our vision is for a world in which visually impaired people can access the services they need at a local level and live the lives they want to lead. Securing employment and working are often integral to people achieving their potential."

Roger Phillips, Deputy Lieutenant of Merseyside and well known broadcaster, on Radio Merseyside, chaired the event. Attendees also heard from Paul Cherpeau, CEO of Liverpool & Sefton Chambers of Commerce, who provided insight on employing blind and partially sighted people.

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