2021 is a very special year in the history of the Vision Foundation. To mark one hundred years of support for blind and partially sighted people in London we are using our anniversary to shine a light on the issue of unemployment which disproportionately affects the visually impaired community today.
Alongside all our centenary plans we’ll also be continuing with our core work.
A centenary of support
Unemployment rates for people living with sight loss are staggeringly low with just 1 in 10 people who are registered blind working in paid employment. With the coronavirus pandemic only adding to the problems of employment we will be using our centenary year to raise awareness of this issue, raise money for projects and approaches and help employers to understand what they can do to create more diverse and inclusive workforces.
At key points throughout 2021, the Vision Foundation will come together with our supporters and volunteers to change the future for thousands of visually impaired people in London. We will produce a series of high profile events, collaborations and celebrations to share stories of hope and progress to engage our supporters and the public. Our high street shops and partners will also play their part to involve staff and customers. Celebrities, ambassadors and influencers will help show the impact the Vision Foundation has had over the years and highlight the need for us to continue our life-changing work.
Covid-19 has taken a heavy toll on the charity sector’s finances and, as we move forward through 2020 and 2021, we anticipate that our work will be in more demand than ever before. A survey of our grantees highlighted funding as one of their top three concerns. The majority of our funding will be distributed through our open funding programme, the Vision Fund. This new fund launched at the end of 2019 and offers larger grants of up to £50,000. It enables longer-term stability for partner charities by making funding available across multiple years.
We aim to make the biggest difference we can with the resources available to us and therefore strive to do more than simply provide funding. Our Funder Plus approach supports organisations in a variety of ways, all informed by what we have been told is valued by the charities themselves. We will build on our previous events and offer further training opportunities in leadership, fundraising and digital communications.
Research and insight into the needs of blind and partially sighted people will inform and guide our work. We know that the pandemic and Brexit are having a significant impact on businesses in the capital and that unemployment is rising at an alarming rate. We are working closely with researchers to understand how best to help blind and partially sighted people gain and retain employment. We will share what we learn with others, to ensure maximum benefit.
Campaigns and advocacy
In collaboration with London Vision, we will be launching London’s first Sight Loss Council to drive lasting change for blind and partially sighted people in areas ranging from education and employment to transport, technology and health and social care. The Council will give blind and partially sighted people a voice in the corridors of power and ensure their needs are planned for and included as services are developed so that they are fully accessible.