The renowned sculptor Frances Segelman (Lady Petchey) was joined by Parliamentarians, charity representatives and activists to witness the depiction of Vision Foundation’s vice president, Lord David Blunkett. His likeness was live sculpted in clay at an intimate event at the houses of Parliament in London.
Frances Segelman (Lady Petchey) has created a lasting, accessible sculpture of Lord Blunkett, a man who challenged and shaped not just the political agenda but also public assumptions as the UK’s first blind cabinet minister. This is the second piece of tactile art Frances has created for the charity – of which she is also a vice president – having sculpted The Countess of Wessex, Patron of Vision Foundation, in 2021.
Frances has previously produced works of the Royal Family – sculpting the late Queen and the new King – as well as many other familiar faces, including politicians and TV personalities.
As a leading charity advocating and campaigning for blind and partially sighted people across the UK, Vision Foundation used the event to launch a programme of work to address domestic abuse in the sight loss community and their research report, The Unseen: blind and partially sighted people’s experiences of domestic abuse.
Frances Segelman, said: “It was a privilege to sculpt fellow vice president, Lord Blunkett, at this event while raising awareness of the critical issue of domestic abuse in the sight loss community.”
Lord Blunkett said: “This kind of abuse affects so many in society, but the added factor here is the lack of sight creates even greater vulnerability, and sometimes greater difficulty in being able to communicate, privately, a cry for help.”
Olivia Curno, the Chief Executive of Vision Foundation, said: “Frances Segelman shared her phenomenal talent not just to immortalise a key figure in disability inclusion but also to raise awareness about a hitherto completely overlooked issue facing blind and partially sighted people – that too many are simply unsafe in their own homes.
“During his time as Home Secretary, Lord Blunkett enabled critical new legislation to give greater support and protection to domestic violence and abuse victims. As Vision Foundation’s vice president, he is extending that work.”
The Unseen: blind and partially sighted people’s experiences of domestic abuse
Vision Foundation has published the first-ever research into the shocking scale and prevalence of domestic abuse among blind and partially sighted people. The research reveals that one in 12 visually impaired people in the UK is believed to be a victim or survivor of this abuse, affecting both men and women.
Domestic abuse charity SafeLives was commissioned by the Vision Foundation to undertake the research. Although data show that people with a disability are nearly three times more likely to have experienced domestic abuse than non-disabled people, there has been no specific research into the impact on the sight loss community.
The report describes the scale and nature of the abuse affecting people with visual impairment. The report highlights how abusers used blind people’s disabilities against them and the lack of relevant expertise among professionals working in sight loss and domestic abuse. It puts forward proposals for tackling the challenges and breaking down the barriers to help.
The Vision Foundation will launch a particular funding round in the coming weeks so that organisations can apply for grants to deliver this work. They are seeking co-funders and donations towards this funding pot.