Anna Tylor, the Vision Foundation’s Chair of Trustees
London is a wonderful place to live and work. One of the world’s greatest cities, it should have something for everyone. But as someone who has lived with limited and diminishing sight all my life, I know it can also be challenging and difficult.
There is much to be done if the Mayor of London’s vision of a truly inclusive city is to be realised. The Vision Foundation, formerly known as the Greater London Fund for the Blind, has been raising money in support of sight loss services across London for close to a hundred years. We’ve contributed more than £30 million through our fundraising efforts but we believe the time is right to make changes to reflect modern values and take on modern challenges. The charity is relaunching with a new name, a new look and a new strategy to make London a place where blind and partially sighted people have an equal opportunity to live their best lives.
We know some big changes need to be made. Employment rates are stubbornly low. Access to healthcare, welfare, technology and public spaces are not on an equal footing with sighted Londoners, and reports of hate crime are on the increase.
The challenges may have changed in the century since the Greater London Fund for the Blind was set up but for many the issues of loneliness, poverty, and the frustrations of not having a working life have not. Worryingly, if anything, things are getting worse not better. Services across London are fragmented and, in many places, non-existent. This means that the two hundred thousand blind and partially sighted people living in London are not able to contribute to the economic and cultural life of the city in the way that they could and want to and are not living inclusive lives. The Vision Foundation thinks that’s an unacceptable position. That’s why we’re changing the way we do business.
We want to significantly grow the amount of money we raise, over the next few years. We want this growth to be for the long term and to be sustainable. This will enable us to develop a London-wide approach and better enable our delivery partners to plan and roll out high quality relevant services that work for blind and partially sighted Londoners across the city. To do this we have to modernise.
As the chair of the Vision Foundation, I’m proud to be leading this change. I know from experience how important it is that we stay relevant to what’s needed. Being visually impaired should not lock you out of the opportunities that London has to offer. As someone who is registered blind I have faced challenges throughout my life and know first-hand how hard it is to get a foot in the door. I have fought hard to break down doors to stake my place at the table and want to ensure those doors remain open for other blind and partially sighted people.
We’ve taken a strong steer from the visually impaired community. They have overwhelmingly told us we need a name that better reflects modern values. The name Greater London Fund for the Blind has served us well, but we’ve listened to what people had to say and believe the Vision Foundation better reflects who we are, our values and what we do.
We’re also modernising the way we fundraise and account for what we do. We are sensitive to the changing fundraising environment and want to develop relationships with our donor and service provider partners that are innovative, evidence based and transparent. We’re stopping some fundraising activities, such as year-round public cash collections and door-to-door fundraising, and developing others to better support this approach. Our much-loved charity shops will also have a new look and continue to generate vital funds and keep the Vision Foundation’s name on London’s streets.
All of this has meant that the board and leadership team have developed a new ambitious strategy to make London a shining example of a sight loss aware city. So if you have supported us before, please continue with us on this journey. If you are new to our work, please consider giving or getting involved, however you can. And if you are already working in sight loss and have an idea for a brilliant project, we’d love to make it happen.
We are nothing without you. Please join us.