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The Vision Fund is designed to support innovative projects that are changing the lives of visually impaired people in our communities and their families. The Vision Fund is now open to applications.

Vision Fund FAQs

Purpose of the 2021 Vision Fund

The Vision Fund is designed to support organisations delivering services directly to blind and partially sighted people across London, and organisations that are expert in their fields but may not be reaching blind and partially sighted people.  

This year, the Vision Foundation celebrates 100 years of championing the rights and needs of blind and partially sighted people in London. As part of our Centenary celebrations, we launched a £1million appeal to address the shockingly low employment rates for blind and partially sighted people in the UK. 

As an intelligence-led funder, we commissioned research to specifically analyse the main barriers facing blind and partially sighted people in securing and retaining paid work.  

In addition to outlining key recommendations for the sector and policy makers, the ‘See My Skills’ Report has also served to inform the focus of this funding round as outlined in the Priority Areas section below. 

Please follow the link to the ‘See My Skills’ Report for more on the research findings and key recommendations. Find out More→ 

 

Our strategic aims

We have three strategic aims that describe the work we support and how we want to bring about change for London’s blind and partially sighted population.

Priority areas

icon of Big Ben1. Opening London up

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 take for granted.

To ensure we have the biggest impact, we are interested in projects which:

  • Educate and influence employers
  • Empower individuals through education and building confidence, networks and skills
  • Ensure sports, arts, social and cultural spaces are accessible
  • Improve public transport and public safety
  • Showcase and celebrate excellence

Icon of four hands reaching together2. Empowering those at risk

Within the visually impaired community there are certain groups who can face a “double disadvantage”. When facing sight loss, those from the BAME community, older people, women, those living on a low income and those with other disabilities are at risk of experiencing poorer outcomes. In addition, there are some consequences of sight loss that are not supported well or at all, such as the heightened risk of domestic violence, poverty or poor mental health.

To ensure we have the biggest impact, we are interested in projects which:

  • Identify and advocate with those particularly marginalised.
  • Identify the moments when people face the greatest risk of spiralling outcomes, including bereavement, the point of diagnosis or upon losing a job.
  • Sight loss services focused on at-risk communities.
  • Ensuring that specialist services for the general population are fully accessible and are reaching blind and partially sighted people.

icon of a sight test chart3. Preventing avoidable blindness

200,000 people are living with sight loss in the capital and just under 700,000 (1 in 12 adults) are living with a sight threatening condition. Unless there are bold interventions, these figures are set to increase significantly by 2030. An estimated 50% of sight loss could be prevented if detected and treated in time.

To ensure we have the biggest impact, we are interested in projects which:

  • Raise public awareness about the importance of sight tests, particularly among at-risk communities.
  • Improve access to sight tests including adapted tests and community-based testing.

2021 Vision Fund: key areas of focus 

As part of our Centenary celebrations, we are keen to fund projects which address barriers experienced by blind and partially sighted people in two key areas: 

  • Access to employment 
  • Other activities under our priority areas 

Access to Employment 

The majority of our funding pot will be dedicated to projects which address the barriers to employment for blind and partially sighted people in London.  

We are keen to fund organisations with innovative or tried and tested ideas which work to reverse the very low employment rates for blind and partially sighted people in London.  

This is in direct response to shocking data which tells us that: 

  • 73% of blind and partially sighted people of working age are currently unemployed 
  •  90% of employers state that it would be “difficult” or “impossible” to employ a visually impaired person 
  • 90% of those who lose their sight during childhood will not work for more than 6 months in their lives. 
  • Unemployment contributes to the cost of sight loss each year in the UK. This is estimated to be £28 billion, more than heart disease, cancer and stroke combined. 

We are particularly interested in projects which can demonstrate a contribution to one of the following targets: 

  • Raise career aspirations and self-confidence during school years and young adulthood  
  • Support individuals at risk of unemployment as early as possible 
  • Support working age people to move into, or closer to, employment  
  • Support individuals in work to retain and progress in their jobs 
  • Support those at greatest risk of unemployment  
  • Increase the inclusion appetite and know-how of employers and recruitment specialists  
  • Increase the number and range of jobs and routes into employment, including work experience, mentoring and apprenticeships  
  • Increase advice, mentoring and peer support for older job seekers (26 years+) 
  • Improve public awareness of what people can do to address barriers to employment 
  • Influence policy makers to remove systemic barriers to employment 

 

Other activities under our priority areas (as aligned to Vision Foundation’s Strategic aims  

We recognise that, in addition to employment, access and improvements to key services remains critical to many people with visual impairment. Therefore, we will also support proposals which work to address the key areas under our 3 strategic aims.

All the grants we make must meet at least one of our priorities as outlined above.  

Applications are assessed on the quality of the work rather than the number of priority areas they are working towards. 

Who can apply

The Vision Fund supports organisations that are providing services in London. The following types of organisations are eligible:

  • Registered Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO)
  • Charitable company, limited by guarantee
  • Other UK Registered Charity
  • Community Interest Company (CIC), limited by guarantee
  • Exempt charity (e.g. educational establishment)

Kindly note that we only fund organisations and are unable to support individuals. 

What you can apply for

Only projects supporting blind and partially sighted people in London (within the M25) are eligible for funding.

Small grants of up to £10,000 are available for smaller projects and organisations. These are typically awarded for a one-year period.

Large grants of over £10,000 and up to £50,000 are available for larger or longer term projects. These will typically be spent across one to three years.

We aim to be flexible and responsive to the needs of individual organisations, so we are open to funding many types of project. Examples include:

  • Programme or project funding, including associated salary costs 
  • Developing assistive technology  
  • Scoping and pilot projects 
  • Building or equipment costs 

In addition to the key areas outlined above, we will also prioritise proposals which: 

  • Demonstrate how they fit within our Theory of Change (see below)
  • Are collaborative and designed in partnership with, or led by blind and partially sighted people 
  • Are for services that have been proven to be effective, are valued by their users or can demonstrate evidence for demand (if a new service) 
  • May be for new, innovative and untested work but that could result in significant positive impact for people living with or are at risk of sight loss 
  • Embrace learning and the sharing of these learnings 
  • Can demonstrate how the work will become self-sustaining or funded beyond the life of our grant (if applicable) 
  • Would benefit from a grant from the Vision Foundation in a meaningful and effective way and could serve to leverage further funding 

 

Grant types

 

Small Grants (up to £10,000)

We have a one stage application process for Small Grants. Applications are submitted online, via this small grant application form. We recommend that you prepare your answers in advance of completing the form. See this document for a list of Small Grants questions. 

The deadline for Small Grant applications is 15 September 2021 at 5pm. 

Proposals will be considered by our Grants and Impact Advisory Committee in November 2021 and funding decisions will be made by our Board in December 2021. We aim to share the outcome by the end of that month. 

 

Large Grants (over £10,000 and up to £50,000)

We have a two-stage application process for Large Grants. Stage 1 applications are submitted online, via this Large grant application form. We recommend that you prepare your answers in advance of completing the form. See this document for a list of Large Grants – Stage 1 questions.

The deadline for Large Grant Stage 1 applications is 1 September 2021 at 5pm. 

Successful applicants will be notified by 17 September 2021 and invited to submit a Large Grant Stage 2 application by 11 October 2021 at 5pm. Your invitation will include a link to the Large Grant application form and a list of questions. Questions for Large Grants Stage 2 will be made available shortly.

Proposals will be considered by our Grants and Impact Advisory Committee in November 2021 and funding decisions will be made by our Board in December 2021. We aim to share the outcome by the end of that month.

Theory of Change

We have a Theory of Change that sets out the change we want to see in society and the methods we will take to achieve this. The diagram and narrative documents below lay out our approach. We are interested in how your project achieves the outcomes outlined in our Theory of Change. Please familiarise yourself with this before completing your application.

Download our Theory of Change diagram

Vision Foundation Theory of Change Plain Text 2019

Read the accessible plain text version of our Vision Foundation Theory of Change

Vision Foundation – Theory of Change Narrative2019

Read the full narrative version of our Vision Foundation Theory of Change


What will happen after a grant is awarded?

We intend to inform all applicants of the outcome of their application. If you have not heard from us by 10 January 2022, please contact grants@visionfoundation.org.uk.

Successful applicants will be asked to agree to our Grant Terms and Conditions. These include regular reporting about the progress of your project, the reach of your work and the impact you are making. We hope that you will work with us to share news of your work and success stories.


Contact us

If you have questions about applying to the Vision Fund, please email grants@visionfoundation.org.uk and include the words “Vision Fund” in your subject line.