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.
Baluji Music Foundation
The Baluji Music Foundation: With many talented blind and partially sighted musicians in today’s society, its disheartening to see how very few of them are able to pursue music as a career choice. The Baluji Music Foundation’s Innervision Orchestra aims to get more blind and partially sighted musicians performing professionally. The Foundation provides opportunities to perform at events and provides ongoing training around administration, confidence building and advice/support. Baluji Shrivastav OBE is well known for his music career and led the Innervision Orchestra when they performed at the closing ceremony of the Paralympics in 2012.
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.
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 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.
Lunch Club Plus for the Blind
Lunch Club Plus for the blind: With social isolation being a huge problem for blind and partially sighted older people, Lunch Club for the Blind run fortnightly lunch clubs in west London to bring people together. They are able to meet, chat, have a meal and then get help with their shopping if they need. The Lunch Club for the Blind has been running for 13 years and has built a strong self-sustaining community.
Mixed Martial Arts for Reform And Progression
Mixed Martial Arts for Reform and Progression: With statistics around disability hate crime being high and blind and partially sighted people reporting they feel vulnerable, we are pleased to be supporting self-defence classes being offered by Mixed Martial Arts Reform and Progression. Classes are designed to train blind and partially sighted people to defend themselves safely and give them the confidence to go out and about without feeling vulnerable. Mixed Martial Arts Reform and Progression has been running for a number of years and has worked with young people in order to give them these skills.
RNIB: With 75% of blind and partially sighted people being unemployed, we are pleased to be able to partner with RNIB to deliver their employment programme in London. The project is designed to work with employers to make their work places accessible by providing training and making recommendations as to how they can make their workplace more inclusive for blind and partially sighted people. In addition to this, the project also aims to help blind and partially sighted people who are losing their sight retain their jobs. As a national charity supporting people with sight loss, they have an in-depth understanding of the challenges that blind and partially sighted people can face in the workplace.
Royal Society for Blind Children
The Royal Society for Blind Children (RSBC) will support 50 blind and partially sighted young people living in London (aged 16-25) to access employment by providing bespoke, 1-2-1 employment support to young people and work with up to 20 employers to open up the employment market for blind and partially sighted young people. 1-2-1 activities will focus on soft & practical skills development, and increasing knowledge of the job market, employer requirements, opportunities outside of formal employment. Funding awarded March 2021.
Sense: Loneliness amongst young blind and partially sighted children and young people is something that is well documented. However, for those with a dual sensory impairment it is even more pronounced. Sense are running a project that pairs a young blind or partially sighted person with a buddy so that they can access leisure activities whether that be in the community or a 1-to-1 activity. In addition they also run groups for parents to help them to be able to support their children. Sense UK have been supporting those who are blind and partially sighted or those that are deafblind for a number of years, so have an appreciation of the challenges that people with sensory impairments can face.
Sutton Vision: With projected numbers of people living with sight loss set to rise Sutton Vision is embarking on a new project to widen their impact in their community borough. We are supporting their work to target people at the early stage of sight loss, bringing them closer to the work of the charity and preventing a greater chance of further sight loss. By increasing their engagement they aim to reduce isolation, and improve mental and physical health which leads to greater empowerment.
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. The Change Foundation primarily works with people from disadvantaged backgrounds and aims to make a difference by using innovation to develop new ideas and projects.
Time and Talents
Time and Talents: With social isolation being a huge problem for blind and partially sighted older people, opportunities to take part in activities in the local community are difficult to access. Time and Talent’s Intergenerational Activity programme brings together older blind and partially sighted people with 4-5 year old children in schools to take part in various activities. Not only does this teach the children about sight loss, but it allows older blind and partially sighted people to engage with a younger generation and reduces the feeling of loneliness. Time and Talents have been working with blind and partially sighted older people for a number of years and have really demonstrated their ability to encourage the participants to take part in activities that they wouldn’t ordinarily do.
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.