£10k Award from the National Lottery
We are celebrating after being awarded almost £10,000 in National Lottery funding to help our work providing specialist services for blind and sight impaired adults and children across West Sussex. We will use the award to help fund the cost of a dedicated Volunteer Coordinator to provide greater support to its 200 current volunteers; to help implement a succession plan for an ageing volunteer base, and to set up a new ‘buddy’ support system for our members.
This year we have celebrated our 100th anniversary and we were doubly honoured to receive the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, the highest award a voluntary group can receive in the UK. We provides a wide range of services to our members including advice on sight loss conditions, support with adapting to living with sight loss through magnification, lighting and equipment aids, as well as emotional support, and signposting to other forms of assistance.
The new funding from The National Lottery Community Fund, which distributes money raised by National Lottery players for good causes and is the largest funder of community activity in the UK, will be particularly helpful in establishing the new ‘buddy’ system in direct response to feedback we have received over the past 18 months. During this time, as levels of isolation and loneliness increased for people with sight loss, their confidence and independence reduced – significantly affecting their mental health and wellbeing.
The aim of the buddy system is to provide one-to-one support for accessing health and wellbeing facilities such as leisure centres and hairdressers for example, by accompanying members on their initial visits to help learn how to get there, building confidence through familiarisation with accessibility and building layouts, as well as helping them to learn other local routes to walk to shops and services. All of which will improve mental health and wellbeing, increase confidence, self-esteem and independence, and foster greater opportunities for community participation and inclusion.
We are delighted that The National Lottery Community Fund has recognised our work in this way. Now, thanks to National Lottery players we will be able to strengthen and broaden the range of services we offer to our members, and establish a robust and dynamic system for supporting our volunteer base in the longer term.Kirstie Thomas