This series is being run by a young Brit who lived in Belgium for 19 years and now resides in Cardiff, known on theSprout as Ironfoot. The aim? To inform and involve other young people in this once-in-a-generation debate from many important and interesting perspectives.
The EU referendum is in less than a month and will decide the future fate for Britain on its European Union Membership, with team Brexit (British Exit) wanting to leave the EU and team Bremain (Pro–EU) wishing to stay. With a month to go, there are still a lot of questions to be answered, especially around disabilities funding in the UK.
A few weeks ago, I interviewed actor/radio presenter and producer, Jordan Woodley in the ProMo-Cymru office on the subject of the EU referendum impacting the arts and disability programmes in Cardiff. Jordan has lived in Cardiff for over 4 years, completing his bachelor degree in Drama & Theatre Studies, and now he makes his living as an actor. Before the interview, he confessed to me that he is doing a masters in Bournemouth University in radio productions next year to develop his professional skills.
1.86 million people in the UK have sight loss
On the subject of disabilities, Jordan suffers from severe loss of sight, but he can see with one good eye and, with the help of disability student allowance for his education, he was able to use these resources to complete his degree. Like Jordan, according to the Royal National Institute for the Blind (RNIB) Sight Loss UK 2012 report:
“There are 1.86 million people in the UK with sight loss. It is predicted that by 2020, the number of people with sight loss will rise to over 2,250,000. By 2050, the numbers of people with sight loss in the UK will double to nearly four million”.
Cardiff and EU Regional Development Fund grants
In 2014, the EU launched the Horizon 2020 programme, which is the biggest EU research and innovation programme and will pump £62 billion of funding for seven years (2014-2020) towards breakthrough treatments for all life-threatening illnesses. The EU-EYE, the newly-formed European Alliance for Vision Research, and Ophthalmology published a document back in September 2015 acknowledging the seriousness of eye loss and confronting the long-term consequences. However, according to their sources, there is still a long way to close the gap of making sure those with impaired vision or sight loss receive the full needs of the treatments and help.
In Cardiff, Cardiff University’s new Brain Research Imaging Centre (CUBRIC) is designed to help treat and research diseases affecting the brain and one of their newest facilities is a treatment for eye surgery for patients who are visually impaired. The building is due to be opened next month in the heart of the referendum debate. Supporting the new building is a £5 million grant from the European Regional Development Fund, which has helped the construction of the building. However, with the referendum debate happening at the moment, could it impact this research building or UK Research funding overall?
When I spoke to Jordan on how this referendum will impact the funding for disabilities, I asked if the funding could adapt if the Brexit campaign were to win the vote? He replied:
“I think it is going to suffer significantly and I think, as a disabled person, there are already issues regarding the nature of funding for disabled people and I think that is going to suffer more. Inevitably, I personally believe that the separation from the EU will produce a financial backlash in the UK Government regardless of the short- or the long-term. This will definitely affect these people”.
How will the art sectors in Cardiff be affected?
The discussion moved on to how the art sectors in Cardiff, like the theatres that have special programmes for young people with disabilities, will be impacted by the result. In Cardiff, there are theatres and theatre companies, like the Hijinx Theatre Company, the Sherman Theatre, Chapter, the WMC (Welsh Millennium Centre) and, of course, the National Theatre for Wales that have specialized programmes to help young people through performance, music, dance and movement as a platform for therapy and opening doors for work opportunities. Jordan argues, “These companies will persist and Wales will support it, but it is very much about seeing how things continue after the dust settles.”
Jordan’s message for young viewers
Towards the end of the interview, I asked Jordan what his message is for the young Sprout viewers and young voters in Cardiff and the rest of the UK. In his reply, one of his statements was, “If you just read an article or get some idea at least that would be something. You know rather than doing nothing”. He then went on to say:
“I think people should vote with their personal feelings in mind, but please be informed at least. You don’t have to follow every single debate, every report, but look at how leaving Europe or staying in Europe could personally affect you. But, please go in, register to vote and try to get as informed as you can and feel what you need to and make a decision”.
To watch to full interview, please watch the video with Jordan Woodley above or here.
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Image credit: RNIB Facebook