Financial pressures last year already forced the charity to make redundancies from its team of Community Support Workers. Despite those cuts, the remaining staff and volunteers have so far managed to maintain the charity’s life-changing services, but this has not been easy and resources are now stretched to breaking point.
Much of the current increased demand for Dorset Blind Association help is fuelled by a reduction in local authority and health support for blind and partially sighted people. Council support for people with sight loss has been cut by half since 2008 and help from the NHS is limited by strict budget and time constraints.
Demand for the Dorset Blind Association’s support will only increase further in future, there are already 30,000 people in Dorset living with serious sight loss and RNIB research predicts this will double by 2050.
The services change lives - Chris had no confidence to leave his house when he was blinded in an unprovoked attack. He says Dorset Blind Association picked him up and gave him his life back*.
Unless the Dorset Blind Association can replace the funding it has lost, it simply will not be able to help as many people, so Jonathan Holyhead, the charity’s CEO is making a direct plea to the people of Dorset to help the charity maintain all of its current services. “We really need to find another £40,000 by the end of March to ensure all our current services can continue. That is vital to ensuring blind and partially sighted people won’t face the impact of sight loss and the challenges that brings alone,” says Jonathan. “Being left alone to cope with sight loss is not acceptable. You wouldn’t want that for yourself, or a loved one,” he says, “so please help us to make sure that is never the case for anyone in Dorset.”
Jonathan is asking for people to help maintain services in the short term while other sources of funding are developed for the future. “The Dorset Blind Association receives no government grants or fixed contract funding and relies on donations”, he says. “We recognise the need to develop a more dependable and controllable way to fund our work but this will take time and we need the Dorset public to help us to keep going in the meantime.”
To help Dorset Blind Association call 01202 712864, visit www.dorsetblind.org.uk or send a donation to 17 Bournemouth Road, Parkstone, Poole BH14 0EF.