In February 2021, we kicked off our Centenary celebrations with an exclusive and intimate online event with our host, Stephen Fry and guests, Hayley Mills, Juliet Mills and Dame Judi Dench.
Taking Centre Stage was a celebration of our work as well as a wonderful homage to the late Sir John Mills, a long term supporter of the organisation. For the last 20 years of his life Sir John lived with sight loss, caused by macular degeneration, the biggest cause of sight loss in the UK, affecting more than 600,000 people; a condition Dame Judi, a close friend of Sir John, also shares.
The evening welcomed another special guest, Eleanor Stollery, a young, severely sight impaired actor who played Tiny Tim in the two most recent productions of A Christmas Carol at The Old Vic in London. Eleanor and her parents, Tim and Kelly, shared their experience of working in the performance industry with sight loss and how Eleanor overcomes barriers in auditions, rehearsals and performances. We even found out that Eleanor perfected her diction by listening to Stephen Fry’s recordings of the Harry Potter audio books!
“You find a way”
Dame Judi Dench commended Eleanor for her passion for performing and shared her experience of working with sight loss; explaining how she has had to make changes in recent years.
“You adapt to it and I don’t want it to interfere”
Recounting performing A Winter’s Tale with Sir Kenneth Branagh at the Garrick Theatre, Dame Judi shared a moment of hilarity in navigating the stage as she adapted to life with sight loss.
The Centenary Year
With 2021 marking Vision Foundation’s 100th anniversary, Sight loss in the spotlight: Taking Centre Stage launched our Centenary Appeal, setting ourselves the challenge of raising £1,000,000 to change the employment landscape for blind and partially sighted people and create more opportunities to help people into work. Since then, with invaluable support from our Centenary Appeal Board; our incredible team and volunteers and our wonderful supporters, we have achieved our goals of:
- Reaching 4,000 blind and partially sighted people – one in ten of London’s visually impaired community who are unemployed;
- Investing in local, tailored services provided by grassroots organisations;
- Transforming employer attitudes through campaigns and targeted partnerships;
- Unlocking the best technology and mobility support.
Through our recent grants round, we have funded seven employment-based projects in London. The Vision Fund has supported projects like Graeae Theatre Company‘s groundbreaking new opera The Paradis Files; with our funding including the costs of lead singer Bethan Langford (who is partially sighted) performing in the title role. You can check out the other projects we’re supporting here!
On 26 March 2022, we are hosting See My Skills: How to land your dream job! with LOOK. The Zoom conference will welcome jobseekers aged 16-25 to develop their skillsets and envision their goals. Hosted by comedian Chris McCausland, the event will feature special guests and LOOK mentors; discussing everything from CV writing skills to securing work experience placements to understanding the Access to Work scheme and knowing your employment rights.
Secure your place today by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org