Teenager’s bold message for MPs

Leigh campaigner Francesca Balon with Leigh MP Andy Burnham on a visit to the Houses of Parliament
Leigh campaigner Francesca Balon with Leigh MP Andy Burnham on a visit to the Houses of Parliament

A TEENAGE campaigner told politicians change is needed to improve the lives of blind and visually impaired Wiganers on a trip to Parliament.

Francesca Balon, from Leigh, met the town’s MP Andy Burnham to discuss the problems disabled people face in the local area on a visit to the House of Commons organised by the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB).

Accessing transport services, making roads safer and ensuring young people’s educational needs are met were all on the agenda during Francesca’s meeting with Mr Burnham, part of an event which saw youngsters from all over the country meeting MPs.

Francesca, from Pennington, is also looking to help launch a North West focus group to make sure the views of young people who are blind or partially sighted are heard.

Francesca, 17, said: “The crossing on the main road into Leigh near the Spinning Jenny is just not accessible and it’s very dangerous.

“I also spoke to him about my experiences in school and college and about the need to make the buses in the area more accessible. I’ve been standing at bus stops and when they go past I don’t know what they are and it’s also a problem getting them to stop because you have to put your arm out.

“I’ve been to RNIB events in Parliament before but this time I got to watch Prime Minister’s Questions in the public gallery and talk to MPs, which was amazing.”

Francesca said she developed her interest in campaigning through her mum Terri, who has also worked with the RNIB on national campaigns to raise awareness of issues facing disabled people. She also brought a tribunal case against Wigan Council last year, which the local authority conceded before proceedings started, after she did not get suitable support while studying at St John Rigby College, and now attends the prestigious New College for the Blind in Worcester.

The new North West focus group will form part of an England-wide campaigning network being set up by the RNIB.