We’re sharing stories about amazing volunteers giving their time in Milton Keynes. Our first spotlight is on Padma Cheriyan, a keen campaigner for the visually impaired.
Padma is a dedicated volunteer for the visually impaired in Milton Keynes and the surrounding area. She not only runs campaigns for RNIB (Royal National Institute of Blind People), but volunteers for Bucks Vision and has recently taken on the running of a new project as part of Our MK. Padma was aware from her own experience that navigating the centre:mk shopping centre is very difficult for people who are visually impaired. She therefore did a lot of research into technological solutions to navigating indoors. She has worked with several technology companies who can create a beacon system which will assist the blind with finding their way into the correct shops. She has also negotiated with the centre:mk to arrange testing of the technology and is lobbying to ensure that any new technology is tested with real citizens before they are implemented.
Padma really does represent diversity within volunteering – she has to overcome obstacles everyday as a visually impaired person as well as being from an ethnic minority group in MK. Staff from Our MK said “we have seen her battle these challenges in order to make sure the environment of Milton Keynes is better suited for those with sight problems”. They said for Padma the application process alone was a challenge (as she needed to use the website to submit her application) but this did not put her off, and with some time and support she managed to reach the end stage and be awarded funding to test new technology in the centre:mk. Padma has shown that she is determined to succeed and has the support of many people locally, having already received signed support from almost 100 people for her idea.
(Photo Credit: MK Citizen)