The Focus - January newsletter

Happy New Year!  In our January edition of The Focus newsletter you'll hear about how your support is invaluable in helping people like Cameron and Cathie to live fulfilling, independent lives.  We also celebrate the 80th anniversary of our Talking Books service.

Your support changes lives!

We can only be there for blind and partially sighted people with the kind support of donors like you, and for that we can’t thank you enough.  We’re fully committed to fundraising ethically and responsibly, including working closely with organisations like the Institute of Fundraising and the Fundraising Standards Board to ensure that we follow, if not exceed, best practice.

Our commitment to you:

We do everything we can to make sure that your donations go as far as possible.  We’re proud that:

  • 81p of every £1 we receive goes directly to the people who need it
  • Just 1p is spent on administration and 18p is spent on raising the next £1

We send regular updates (like The Focus newsletter) to keep you informed of how your donations are being used.  We hope you find them informative and timely. However, we really think our relationship with you works best when communication goes both ways, and we’d love to hear from you. So if you have a question for our fundraising team, if you want to share your thoughts on what we send you, or you want to change how we communicate with you, please let us know by calling 0345 345 0054, emailing or writing to us at 105 Judd Street, London WC1H 9NE.

Thank you.

Every 15 minutes another person in the UK starts to lose their sight

Please help us be there for them

Make a donation today

Our Top Ten Tips for healthy eyes in 2016

The beginning of a new year is a great time to make some simple lifestyle changes to help improve your eye health and reduce the risk of developing a serious eye condition. Here are some of our suggestions:

  1. Visit your optician. More than half of all sight loss is avoidable if the condition is caught early.
  2. Wear sunglasses when the sun is bright.
  3. Take regular breaks away from your screen if you use a computer.
  4. Eating a diet low in saturated fats but rich in green leafy vegetables such as spinach and broccoli may help delay the progression of cataracts and age-related macular degeneration.
  5. Glaucoma can be hereditary so, to put your mind at rest, get your eyes tested every two years.
  6. Clean your contact lenses using commercially prepared solutions from your local pharmacy or optician.
  7. Wear safety glasses for spring cleaning, DIY or gardening.
  8. Take care with cosmetics around your eyes.
  9. Be aware of your health.  People with diabetes are more at risk of losing vision through a condition called diabetic retinopathy.
  10. Know your first aid.  Never guess about the severity of an eye injury. Seek medical attention as soon as possible.

To speak to someone in our Eye Health Information team, please call our Helpline on 0303 123 9999 or email

Helping thousands more get Online Today

We're happy to tell you that we’ve been given a fantastic Big Lottery Fund award to help people with sight loss gain the basic skills and confidence they need to enjoy the benefits of being online.  This will help them to understand how it can be used to help with everyday life.

Through a series of workshops, one-to-one sessions and home visits, our team of staff and volunteers offer demonstrations and help with how to use smartphones, tablets and eReaders.  They also offer advice on browsing websites and how to keep in touch with family and friends online.  So far nearly 17,000 people have benefited from our face-to-face support! Online Today runs to December 2017 and is open to everyone with sight loss.

Paralympian Kelly Gallagher (pictured left, above), who has been partially sighted since birth, supports the Online Today project.  She says: “I can’t imagine how different my life would be if it wasn’t for technology and the internet.  I haven’t any fears when it comes to racing down a ski slope, but without a smartphone I’d struggle to get on the right bus or train on my own or stay in touch with friends and family while I’m travelling.”

Visit our Online Today page to find out more and to watch a video of Kelly talking about the project.  You can also call the RNIB Helpline on 0303 123 9999 for further information.

Happy 80th birthday to Talking Books

In November, we celebrated the 80th anniversary of our Talking Books service. The service provides audio books to people with sight loss.

To mark this special occasion there was a live recording of the first book ever to be made into a talking book; Agatha Christie’s The Murder of Roger Ackroyd.

Talking Books was launched in 1935 to help soldiers blinded during World War I and, today 1.5 million talking books are sent out every year to almost 30,000 people and the RNIB library is the largest of its kind in Europe. Readers can access audio books on CD or USB, or as a digital download, so they can be enjoyed by everyone.

If you're blind or partially sighted, sign up to the free Talking Books service through our Talking Books Subscription page.

Seeing more of the world

Cathie Harris was born with sight but developed cataracts and glaucoma at the age of 12.  She’s an avid reader and writer, so Cathie’s sight loss hit her hard.  She says “I thought; this is it, I’m going to be blind, and I’m not going to be able to read properly.”  Thankfully the support we were able to provide proved to be a lifeline for Cathie. 

She signed up to Talking Books and reads as many books as she can, sometimes for up to five hours a day!

However, Cathie feels that RNIB’s support hasn’t just enabled her to continue her love of reading, it's also helped her and her husband, who is also blind, to live independently and see more of the world.  They use gadgets such as a talking microwave and clock from our shop, which make everyday life easier. Through our Helpline Cathie has also been given practical advice and support for her travel arrangements, so she can get from A to B independently.  We even put her in touch with a music library so she could learn to play musical instruments.

“RNIB Talking Books opened up a whole new world.  It was like finally being able to go to places I couldn’t reach because I hadn’t been able to see to get there.” Cathie Harris

To find out more visit our online shop.

Make Tea for RNIB

There’s nothing quite like a good cup of tea with friends, especially if it raises money for a good cause!          

Host one of our Tea for RNIB parties and the money you raise will help more blind and partially sighted people to feel confident about the future.  We’ll send you everything you need to get your party started. Go on, get your friends together for a brew and some cake!

Simply register online or call 0345 345 0054.

Help more people losing their sight

We couldn't do it without you! Your donations enable us to provide support for blind and partially sighted people across the UK.

I want to make a donation

Together we’ve changed Cameron’s life for good!

Cameron’s doctor said he would never ride a bike, go to mainstream school or live an independent life, but with support from people like you, Cameron’s doing all that, and more!

When Cameron was born he was diagnosed with oculocutaneous albinism.  His parents were told this would probably cause blurred vision and uncontrolled movement of his eyes.  They were devastated.

When he was eight years old, he suffered a setback when he was left out of playtime and sports classes because of his sight loss.  We helped out by getting him a place in Lisburn Rovers Football Club.  As well as the obvious exercise benefits, it has really boosted his self-esteem and confidence.

Today, Cameron is an energetic thirteen-year-old.  The team here have helped him develop his social skills and improve his confidence and have even arranged one-to-one swimming lessons and got him playing musical instruments.  He’s particularly proud to have been accepted into the South Ulster Academy Band as a drummer.

The whole family has benefited and they couldn’t be happier – thank you.

What your money can do...
£12 could help blind and partially sighted people stay included and independent with access to talking newspapers for a week
£30 could help a child read the same books as their sighted friends
£70 could pay for a weekly emotional support session for six people
£105 could pay for four hours of support so that someone newly diagnosed with sight loss doesn't feel lost and afraid
£250 could help us answer 10 helpline calls and provide support straight away