Opening London up

We support projects which educate and influence employers, empower individuals, ensure sports, arts, social and cultural spaces are accessible and work to improve public transport and public safety.

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.

Amber Trust

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

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

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

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

Sutton VisionThrough 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

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

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.

Blind in Business

Blind In Business is supporting 20 under 25s into employment through training and confidence building.

Deafblind UK

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

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 young people aged 16-25 and engagement with employers through workshops and advice services.

SeeAbility

SeeAbility: To support adults (18+) with learning disabilities, autism, and sight loss into employment, and supporting employers to offer work experience.