Charities merge to radically improve life chances of blind and partially sighted children and young people
Thursday, 12 January 2017
Two of the UK’s oldest sight loss charities have merged to become the Royal Society for Blind Children (RSBC).
With effect from 1 January 2017, the full merger represents a landmark moment for the sector. It allows the charity to forge ahead with its plans to grow its services on a national scale and fulfill its mission that "no child should grow up to be poor or lonely just because they are blind."
There are an estimated 22,000 blind and partially sighted children and young people in England and Wales. Ninety per cent of those diagnosed with sight loss in youth won’t work for more than six months of their lives and an estimated 70 per cent are living on the poverty line.
After forming an alliance in 2014, the Royal London Society for Blind People (RLSB) and RSBC will now conduct all its operations under the same name, making clear its position in the sector as a charity focused on childhood sight loss and its negative impact on life chances.
Now with greater resource and geographical reach, RSBC is in a unique position to grow its core services and work towards its key objective of breaking the cycle of poverty and social exclusion that affects such a high proportion of blind and partially sighted young people.
RSBC is already expanding its post diagnosis support to both children and their parents, which they believe to be crucial to prevent children from growing up into unemployment and loneliness. The Family Support Service (FSS) can be accessed across England and Wales and is a direct response to the fact that so often, parents of a newly diagnosed child don't know how to adapt to their child's condition.
As well as the FSS, RSBC also provides services for teenagers and young adults. These include social groups, health and well-being clubs, further education and work skills.
Dr Tom Pey, RSBC’s Chief Executive said, “This merger has been successful because our staff, volunteers and supporters, share a determination to radically improve the life chances for blind and partially sighted young people. By putting the family at the centre of what we do, we can put an end to the downward trajectory that blind and partially sighted young people so typically find themselves on.”
“Our new mission is that if a blind child needs our help anywhere in England and Wales, we will be there with real friendship and expert support for them and their family to enable them to take full advantage of what life offers.”
By 2020, RSBC aims to have supported 11,000 blind and partially sighted children across England and Wales.
In 2015, RSBC supported over 1600 young people through their services. Find out more about RSBC