Campaign: RNIB protests at travel benefits for the blind

Britons with serious sight problems are only eligible to claim the lowest level 'mobility rate' Disability Living Allowance - £16.50 per week. This is despite blind people having to rely on taxis to get around.

Campaign Taken for a Ride
Client Royal National Institute of the Blind
PR team
Timescale April 2006-ongoing
Budget £45,000 (April to December)
Last April, the RNIB began to lobby politicians to allow those with limited sight to claim the maximum £43.45 weekly benefit (available for most wheelchair users.

To protest at the low level of benefit. To effect legislative change by lobbying the Government.

Strategy and Plan
RNIB distributed press releases to print media explaining its plans and encouraging people to get involved via its campaign hotline. It then launched ‘Taken for a Ride’, explaining the fin­ancial plight of the blind and partially sighted. It backed this up with a report, containing case studies and statistics.

The case studies included examples of missed medical appointments, difficulties getting to, or applying for, work, and accidents when out walking. One woman could no longer support her beloved Chelsea Football Club, despite the club offering her free entry to Stamford Bridge, due to transport costs.

In September, the charity urged registered supporters to lobby their MP. Other tactics included arranging a meeting between RNIB representatives and minister for disabled people Anne McGuire.

Finally, in December, the charity provided financial assistance for 500 blind and partially sited people from across the UK to march on Parliament in protest at their benefit shortfall.

National press were alerted to the march on the previous day, and a photocall was staged.

Measurement and Evaluation
According to media evaluation firm Metrica, from April to December the campaign has generated 375 items of coverage. This ranged from GMTV to BBC Radio 4 and Disability Now.

In November, Conservative MP Sir John Butterfill tabled an Early Day Motion in support of the campaign, which to date has attracted signatures from 215 MPs.

Support for the march was 1,200-strong.

A second meeting was held with the disability minister before Christmas and the charity expects further discussions with civil servants in the next few weeks.

‘The campaign is by no means won, but progress is being made to resolve the current problems faced by blind people,’ says RNIB spokesperson Bill Alker.

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