THE VISION FOUNDATION LAUNCHES ITS 2021 VISION FOUND TO BOOST EMPLOYMENT FOR BLIND AND PARTIALLY SIGHTED LONDONERS
Grants of up to £50,000 are available to London organisations with innovative and exciting ideas on how to tackle unemployment for blind and partially sighted people in the latest round of the Vision Fund by leading London sight loss charity, the Vision Foundation.
The 2021 Vision Fund primarily focuses on employment and is part of the charity’s See My Skills Centenary campaign to break the cycle of unemployment for people with visual impairment. The funding strategy is informed by specially commissioned research which found that 73% of working age blind and partially sighted people are unemployed. The See My Skills report, launched by Vision Foundation Patron HRH The Countess of Wessex at an event in July, identified the main barriers to employment and made practical recommendations on how these could be addressed.
Applications are invited from organisations throughout Greater London (within the M25) which support blind and partially sighted people to find and retain paid work. Grants of up to £10,000 are available for smaller projects and are typically awarded for a one-year period. Grants of over £10,000 and up to £50,000 are available for larger or longer-term projects and are typically spent across one to three years.
“We are excited to be able to use the Vision Fund to spark ideas which will make a real change to the work prospects for blind and partially sighted Londoners,” explains Vision Foundation chief executive Olivia Curno. “As well as supporting longer term projects through our large grants, it’s a golden opportunity for small grassroots organisations with new and imaginative ideas to test or pilot these.” She continues, “We also to hope attract applications from groups which don’t currently work with the visually impaired community but whose projects, with some development funding, could be made accessible and targeted. Projects that support businesses to bring blind and partially sighted talent into their workforce will also be welcome.”
While blind and partially sighted people can do the vast majority of jobs sighted people can, using readily available specialist technology or admin support, the See My Skills report reveals significant resistance among businesses to employing someone with sight loss. Almost a quarter of employers said they would not be willing to make adaptations to employ a blind or partially sighted person, only 40% said their recruitment processes are accessible and 90% said it would be “difficult” or “impossible” to employ a visually impaired person.
“The shocking truth is that many businesses are not prepared to take the relatively small steps to employ someone with sight loss, so lose out on a richness of skills and experience. This means that almost 300,000 blind and partially sighted people are excluded from the workforce and the chance to enjoy the independence and purpose employment can bring,” says Olivia Curno. “This is what we are committed to tackling.”
In addition to a focus on employment, we acknowledge that there remains a need to address other challenges faced by blind and partially sighted people. Therefore, we also invite applications under our existing three strategic aims: Opening London up; Empowering those at risk; Preventing avoidable sight loss.
The online application process has been designed and tested for ease of use and accessibility by visually impaired Vision Foundation colleagues. Deadline for applications for the first stage of the Large Grants programme is 1 September 2021. Successful applicants will be invited to submit a Stage 2 application by 11th October. The deadline for the Small Grants programme is 15th September 2021. The shortlist will be reviewed in October by an independent committee made up of visually impaired member specialists. The final decision will be made by the Vision Foundation’s trustees with applicants being informed of the outcome by the end of December 2021.
To apply for a Vision Fund grant: https://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 https://www.visionfoundation.org.uk/see-my-skills-reports/
THE VISION FOUNDATION is a leading sight loss charity promoting positive eye health and supporting projects for blind and partially sighted people. The charity celebrates its centenary anniversary in 2021 and is launching 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
HRH The Countess of Wessex became the Patron of the Vision Foundation in 2003, taking over the patronage of the charity from HM The Queen Mother.