National Lottery Community Fund grant set to benefit over 500 blind children in England and Wales
The Royal Society for Blind Children (RSBC) has received more than £650,000 from The National Lottery Community Fund (formerly Big Lottery Fund) to extend its Family Support Service.
There are over 35,000 blind and partially sighted children and young people aged 0-25 living in England and Wales (ONS 2016). This funding, from the largest community funder in the UK, will transform the service: enabling many more families to cope with the challenges that the diagnosis brings, adjust positively and develop the knowledge and skills to encourage the best possible future for the child.
From the earliest stages of a diagnosis, families will have access to a unique blend of tailored, one-to-one emotional and practical support that will ensure they have access to the help and information they need, whether that be therapeutic interventions, help with completing benefit applications or support from peer networks.
The service will be delivered in collaboration with four partner organisations - Wales Council of the Blind, North Wales Society for the Blind, Vision Support and Kent Association for the Blind. Together they will work with local professionals who have a direct impact on the lives of blind and partially sighted children: hospital eye clinics, local ophthalmologists, local authority sensory teams and special educational needs staff, schools, and transition teams. This approach will ensure that families are not isolated but are instead engaged with their communities at a time when they could be most vulnerable. The partnership will also work towards changes in the ways statutory services work with families affected by sight loss.
Dr Tom Pey, Chief Executive at RSBC, said of the grant, “We are thankful to National Lottery players for this substantial grant. Together with our partners, we will ensure that many more families receive the life changing support that we deliver every day. Our ambition is that any family with a blind or partially sighted child under 25 living in England and Wales will be able to access the support and services they need from the point of diagnosis. This funding will take us a step closer to achieving that goal.”
Charlene and her twelve year old son Kieran have benefited significantly from the dedicated support of RSBC’s regional staff member. Since early childhood, Kieran has been gradually losing his sight due to a rare genetic condition.
Charlene says, “Kieran worries a lot about the future, about things like not being independent, or being able to go out socially, work, or own his own home. From day one of Kieran’s diagnosis, we’ve been able to talk about the difficulties we may be facing and have been supported through the highs and lows.”
Joe Ferns, UK Funding Director at the National Lottery Community Fund said, “We’re delighted that thanks to National Lottery players more families around the UK with visually impaired children will receive the tailored support they need. RSBC recognises the importance of specialist support from the earliest stages to enable young people to become resilient, independent and to thrive.”