London charities seeking funding for projects which tackle unemployment among blind and partially sighted people have until 1 September to apply for up to £50,000 from the Vision Foundation’s 2021 Vision Fund. The deadline for the Small Grants programme, which awards up to £10,000, is 15 September.
Although UK job vacancies are at a record high according to figures just released by the Office for National Statistics, the Vision Foundation’s recently published See My Skills report states that only one in four visually impaired people of working age has a job.
“This isn’t because people with sight loss aren’t able to do almost all the jobs that sighted people do but because prospective employers assume they can’t,” says Vision Foundation Chief Executive Olivia Curno. “They may do them differently using specialist technology and admin support – which are available and funded through the Government’s Access to Work scheme - but they do them successfully.”
Perception is key here according to the Vision Foundation. The See My Skills report highlights that 90% of employers think it would be difficult or impossible to employ a blind or partially sighted person. Public perception is also a big issue. In a previous Vision Foundation survey of 2000 members of the public, 94% said they didn’t think their job could be done by a blind person. “The upshot is that everyone loses,” points out Olivia Curno. “Businesses lose out on much needed skills and talent and blind and partially sighted people are denied the sense of belonging, independence and self-esteem a job can bring.”
The 2021 Vision Fund is inviting applications which will address barriers to visually impaired people getting into work. These may tackle negative perceptions among employers or the public, deliver specific support services such as training, mentoring and job matching or provide technological solutions. Applications are also encouraged from groups which don’t currently work with the visually impaired community but whose projects could be made accessible and targeted with some development funding.
“We’re looking for ideas which will make a real change to the work prospects for blind and partially sighted Londoners,” explains Olivia Curno. “This is a great chance for small grassroots organisations with new and imaginative ideas to test or pilot these with one of the small grants, while our large grants can support longer term projects.”
As well as projects focusing on employment, applications are also invited from those which address other challenges faced by blind and partially sighted people and come under the Vision Foundation’s existing three strategic aims: Opening London up; Empowering those at risk; Preventing avoidable sight loss.
THE VISION FOUNDATION is a leading sight loss charity promoting positive eye health and supporting projects for blind and partially sighted people in London. The charity celebrates its centenary anniversary in 2021 and has launched its biggest fundraising appeal in its history; to raise £1m to fund employment projects for blind and partially sighted people.
With a mission to make London a shining example of a sight loss aware city, the Vision Foundation works to transform the lives of people facing or living with sight loss by funding projects which inform, empower and include. Over the last 100 years, they have distributed more than £30m to sight loss organisations to fund vital innovative projects that are changing lives. www.visionfoundation.org.uk
For further information and to apply for a Vision Fund grant: www.visionfoundation.org.uk/our-work/funding/apply-for-funding/
Download “See My Skills: Breaking the cycle of unemployment for blind and partially sighted people,” the Vision Foundation’s research identifying barriers to employment and recommendations on how to break these down at www.visionfoundation.org.uk/see-my-skills-reports/