Everyone living, working or visiting London should have access to the rich cultural, economic and social opportunities of our city. In reality, only a quarter of blind and partially sighted working-age Londoners are working. Alongside poor employment, blind and partially sighted people tell us that they face barriers in taking part in physical activity, navigating city streets and engaging in social activities – many things sighted people might take for granted.
The Amber Trust: Children who are visually impaired and have other disabilities which impact their ability to express themselves face a real disadvantage in today’s society. We are working with the Amber Trust by funding their ‘Music Makers’ sessions, which deliver music workshops to children who have profound learning difficulties and visual impairment. The workshops are designed to equip the learners with the ability to use music to relax, but also to communicate with other people. The Amber Trust is an award winning charity that works with visually impaired children and young people across the UK to help them develop their music skills.
Amy and Friends
Amy and Friends: To help blind/partially sighted children/young adults and their families from London access transport/have overnight accommodation and provide support during their visit to the Rare Disease Centre at Guy’s and St. Thomas’ Foundation Trust.
BlindAid is expanding and continuing the Share London project which offers blind and visually impaired people the opportunity to access the vibrant social opportunities London has to offer with a local volunteer. We currently have 250 volunteers matched to beneficiaries within the 12 inner London boroughs.
Blind Veterans UK
Blind Veterans UK: Remote support services for older VI people, including rehabilitation interventions, activities of daily living and creative activities.
Extant: Accessing the arts is a challenge for blind and partially sighted people. This includes everything from accessing theatres to taking up acting as a career. To address this we are supporting Extant and their ‘No Dramas’ workshops designed to help blind and partially sighted people, 18 years and older, explore their skills in drama and acting with a view to helping them progress further if they wish to do so. Extant is the UK’s leading professional performing arts company of visually impaired artists and theatre practitioners. They not only produce touring productions, but they also deliver training both nationally and internationally.
Going For Independence
Going For Independence will work with local visual impairment organisations to identify four green nature centres in South West London. This project will offer staff/volunteers at the four centres in-person, visual impairment awareness/sighted guide training designed specifically for outdoor walks. Free, fully accessible walks to isolated blind and partially sighted people living in the area will be on offer following the training.
Macular Society: Recruitment and training of volunteer telephone befrienders.
Metro Sports and Social Club
Metro Sports and Social Club (Metro Blind Sport): Online home-based and in-person community-based dance programme to engage young VI people and adults from the Asian community in physical activity.
Polka Children's Theatre Ltd
Polka Children’s Theatre Ltd: We’re supporting Polka Children’s Theatre to run audio described theatre performances for VI school children throughout the academic year and bespoke activities for SEN schools and local groups supporting children with visual impairments.
Sutton Vision: Through the recruitment of a dedicated Assistive Technology Coordinator and volunteers, Sutton Vision will provide one-to-one assistive technology support to 300 elderly visually impaired people over the phone and in their homes (subject to restrictions). Technology support will train visually impaired people to use computers, laptops, tablets, smartphones, e-readers and to get online and continue to lead an independent life. This support will reduce isolation, improve mental & physical health leading to greater independence empowerment. Funding awarded March 2021.
The Change Foundation
The Change Foundation: Making sports accessible is key in helping blind and partially sighted people remain active and enjoy the same sports as everyone else. The Change Foundation have done this by making rugby accessible for visually impaired people and have lead the way for the UK team in being able to compete internationally. We have been supporting this project from it’s early days and the sport has gone from strength to strength expanding from London to across the UK. This latest funding will go towards hosting a rugby festival for visually impaired players.
Timebanking UK: For many blind and partially sighted people getting support with everyday things can be challenging, whether that be with things like shopping, reading post or attending appointments. Timebanking UK offer volunteers to bank the hours they volunteer and in turn use their hours to receive support with something they may need. Making timebanks accessible is therefore key, as it can enable a blind or partially sighted person not only to give to their community but also to get support with things they may need. Timebanking UK have branches across London and have been running this service for a number of years. They are now making it accessible and inclusive to blind and partially sighted people.
Visionary is a membership organisation which works with sight loss organisations in London. In this project Visionary aims to identify ways to better engage with people with lived experience in shaping services, influencing organisational development, being part of the governance structure and being part of the team.
The outcomes of the project will be to prepare a toolkit which can be shared across the Visionary network and use this learning to apply for funding to develop further, and scale up in other areas of the country.
Grants supporting employment
As part of our Centenary celebrations in 2021, we launched a £1 million appeal to address the shockingly low employment rates for blind and partially sighted people in the UK. Part of this commitment was to provide grants to impactful projects which addressed the barriers to employment faced by blind and partially sighted people. We are pleased to say that over two funding cycles, we have provided funding of £344,956 to 10 fantastic employment-focused projects in London below:
Baluji Music Foundation
Baluji Music Foundation is updating the groundbreaking research report Blind to the Facts – An exploration into the needs of blind and visually-impaired musicians (1995, John Ludlow, Inner Visions Music Company). This researched was research by Baluji Shrivastav OBE and supported by the RNIB and Platinum Trust, identifying challenges for blind musicians working in the music industry in the UK. This research led to the establishment of the London based Baluji Music Foundation and the Inner Vision Orchestra.
In October 2022 we provided further funding to support blind and partially sighted people, in London, to showcase their talents and access paid work in the music industry.
Blind in Business
Blind In Business is supporting 20 under 25s into employment through training and confidence building.
In October 2022 we are providing additional funding for Blind In Business to expand their employment project to NEETs: young people aged 17 and up who are not in education, employment or training. With this funding they will support five young people per year, for two years.
Croydon Vision: The ‘Forging a Sustainable Community’ programme will upskill people with sight loss in Croydon, and advise employers how they can make low-cost adaptations or use assistive technology more effectively in the workplace.
Deafblind UK: A 12-week programme of activity which will build confidence for those, 18-60, with sight and hearing loss, seeking work.
Disability Advice Service Lambeth
Disability Advice Service Lambeth: Giving blind and partially sighted people a voice within their own community is not only good for their confidence, but it can also equip them with skills that they can transfer to help them find paid employment. It is for this reason why we are supporting Disability Advice Service Lambeth (DASL) with their project in getting blind and partially sighted people on the radio. Not only does it help build their confidence by enabling them to make their voice heard, but they also learn key skills such as communication, organisation and enhance their skills in radio production. DASL runs a range of projects across Lambeth, but this project is something in addition to their regular service.
Disability Advice Service Lambeth will work with 50 visually impaired people of working age from across London, over two years, to develop their radio and podcasting skills. The project aims to give visually impaired people the confidence, skills, equipment and experience to present on ‘live’ radio and produce podcasts, and through this greater employment opportunities. Funding Awarded March 2021.
Graeae Theatre Company Ltd
Graeae Theatre Company Ltd: Creating a new opera, The Paradis Files, based on the little-known story of the 18th century blind composer, Maria Theresia von Paradis, who was incredibly successful in her day. Employing Deaf, disabled, blind and partially sighted artists to create and perform an authentic rendition of her life, with the co-writer and lead performer both being partially sighted. Showing at the Southbank Centre in May 2022, Graeae will also create a digital version. The opera will be presented in an accessible manner so that Deaf, disabled, blind and partially sighted audiences can enjoy a rich experience.
Middlesex Association for the Blind
Middlesex Association for the Blind (MAB): Towards the delivering of an 8-week course to get visually impaired people of all ages in London work ready, with ongoing coaching and mentoring support.
One Place East
The One Place East Employment Peer Empowerment Group (EPEG) aims to improve the pathways of unemployed blind and partially sighted adults in Redbridge and North East London to the employment market. Their ambitions are to help people achieve a new job, move into education, training, volunteering, or an employment support programme. Peer support is the process through which the project will reduce the barriers keeping people away from the labour market.
With the support and advocacy of a Project Facilitator, EPEG will enable people with similar lived experience of sight loss and unemployment to support one another, both emotionally and practically.
RNIB: To help visually impaired people of working age to retain & progress their jobs after sight loss, with the support of RNIB’s full-time London Employment Advisor.
Royal Society for Blind Children
Royal Society for Blind Children: 1-2-1 employment support for up to 34 blind and partially sighted young people aged 18-25 who will be supported into secure employment, apprenticeships or self-employment.
SeeAbility: To support adults (18+) with learning disabilities, autism, and sight loss into employment, and supporting employers to offer work experience.
Solace Women's Aid
Solace Women’s Aid: Levelling Up, Cultivating Empowerment (LUCE) is a pilot project that aims to create readiness within Solace’s Advice Line by providing sight loss training to staff as well as recruiting six blind and visually impaired volunteers to become Advice Line support volunteers, growing their skills and experience in this field in the hope of hiring one or more of the women at the end of the placement.
The intention is to create a special section of their Advice Line, focused exclusively on providing holistic support for blind and partially sighted (BPS) victims/survivors. They will also use this journey as a blueprint to share with and encourage other employers to be more inclusive of BPS people.