Project Story: Blind in Business – Vision Foundation

Project Story: Blind in Business

In 2022, Vision Foundation provided Blind in Business (BiB) with a two-year grant of £20,000 to support 10 young people into employment per year. This year we also provided a Resilience Fund to help organisations get back on their feet after a difficult few years during the protracted pandemic. BiB applied for the Resilience Fund to help them with rent payments on their office in Central London.

BiB’s hub in Old Street mimics an office space where they can provide people with 1 to 1 bespoke support. Each young person is encouraged to treat the programme as their job. BiB takes them through all aspects of the recruitment process, from developing their CV and setting goals to mock interviews and technology skills, until they have secured employment. The programme focuses on developing confidence, understanding career paths in various industries and regardless of the person’s abilities qualifications or personalities they are all given a unique package of support. There’s no one size fits all at Blind in Business!

And their work doesn’t stop with school leavers, their support extends to workplaces as well. The organisation helps employers to make their recruitment process accessible, adapt their workspaces and to inform other employees about sight loss.

 

Jess Clements

Jess ClementsSince 1992, BiB has trained over 5,000 young people including Jess Clements, who now works for the organisation as their Training Manager. In 2018 Jess took part in one of Blind in Business flagship event: Education to Employment. A two day residential workshop that combines adventure team building, alumni networking, a mock graduate assessment centre, and practice interviews with a number of top graduate employers.

Jess lost her eyesight as a teenager due to a visual impairment called Stargardt’s disease. Being at an integral point of her education and the cusp of a future career, Jess really struggled acknowledging her sight loss as well as struggled to find any positive representation of blind or partially sighted people in the workplace. Around the time Jess’ parents attended a Blind in Business workshop for parents of children who were blind or partially sighted.

After finishing school, Jess found applying for grad positions challenging, as well as how to put a positive spin on her sight loss on applications. Her parents recalled the workshop they attended and suggested she get in touch with Blind In Business. The organisation helped Jess with writing cover letters, CVs and how and where to look for grad positions. This support gave her the confidence to apply for roles, but timing was on her side when an internship at BiB came up. The position was Apprenticeship Coordinator. Jess thrived in the role and not long after became a fully employed member of staff as the Training Manager, running all the services for under 18s.

When we last spoke to Jess she announced that she was leaving Blind In Business, and moving onto a new role with Google. In the summer of 2022 Jess will be working with local communities to introduce international apprenticeship schemes.

 

The Vision Fund offers grants for projects supporting blind and partially sighted people. Our latest round is now open to applications! Find out more here.