Improved Quality Of Life

A charity which improves the quality of life of blind and partially sighted people across Cheshire has received a grant from the Steve Morgan Foundation.

Chester and District Federation for the Blind has been awarded a three-year grant of £69,000 which will contribute to funding the role of a Business Development Manager who will help develop the business side of the charity, all profits being used to maintain and extend their services.

The charity, whose central office is based in Ellesmere Port, was first registered back in 2009, and has provided support to hundreds of people in the local community ever since.

“Our aim is to improve the quality of life for people who are blind and partially sighted by combatting social isolation,” says the Charity’s manager, Sue Hearfield.

“We aim to achieve this in a number of ways.

“These might include IT training, different group activities such as bowling or cinema club, holidays, outings, meetings, parties – a real range – whilst providing transport is also a key part of what we do.

“We operate a service which we call ‘WINI’, standing for ‘What I Need Is’.

“Via WINI, individuals themselves can decide what help it is that they need and can then ask us to see if it is something we can provide.

“Most of the people that are members and attend our services are some of the more vulnerable people you would meet.

“Many of them are elderly and visually impaired, and a lot have only just acquired their sight loss.

“They may have been sighted all their life and sudden sight loss can have a devastating effect – they have to learn a completely new way of life.

“Alongside all of that we have members suffering from chronic illnesses, disabilities, requiring the use of a wheelchair or zimmer frame.

“That is why it is so important that we can provide transport, because, without it, these people would have difficulties in getting out of the house.”

This isn’t the first time that Chester and District Federation for the Blind has been supported by the Steve Morgan Foundation, and the charity is keen to make use of this latest grant to continue its development.

“We started off with very little and the Steve Morgan Foundation has funded us previously for an outreach worker which was brilliant,” added Sue.

“With that, and other funding, including a lot of money raised by our members who also help us as volunteers, we have gradually been able to increase our services.

“We want to continue that development and would one day like to be able to open up seven days a week with something going on every morning and afternoon.

“As people start to live longer, and with diseases like diabetes, more and more people are living with sight loss or impaired vision.

“According to the RNIB (Royal National Institute of Blind People), social services and local governments are providing less and less for visually impaired people, and, without charities such as ourselves, where can people go?”

Sue continued: “This generous grant from the Steve Morgan Foundation will make an enormous amount of difference to us.

“The new role will expand the business side of the charity to bring in greater income to be used to reach more people and provide a greater number of services.

“That will also improve our ambition to increase the number of our charity shops from two to six, and enable the charity to become sustainable for the future.

“Overall we aim to help visually impaired people, with a real focus on providing the opportunity for them to be able to help themselves and each other.”

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