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Dorset Charity Facing Cash Crisis

Jonathon Holyhead Dorset Blind Association

7:44am 17th September 2013
(Updated 10:28am 17th September 2013)

Dorset Blind Association is warning it may have to cut essential services unless it can rasie £40,000 before the end of the year.

The charity’s chief executive officer, Jonathan Holyhead, is sounding the alarm bells as the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) reports that within ten years blind and partially sighted people will not receive any form of care or support from their local council.

“Without a significant injection of funds by the end of this calendar year, we face the distinct and definite prospect of having to cut our services and that would mean many more blind and partially sighted people having to face the impact of sight loss and the challenges that brings alone,” says Jonathan.

Every month Dorset Blind Association helps up to 1,000 people living with sight loss, but receives no government funding and relies almost entirely on donations, grants and legacies.

“Our remit is to help blind and partially sighted people maintain active, healthy and independent lives notwithstanding their sight loss,” says Jonathan.

“But that costs money and we are currently struggling to raise the funding we need to keep all of our services going. People living with sight loss in Dorset are already increasingly losing out on specialist support, rehabilitation and even help with basic activities, such as learning how to cook a meal or going outdoors safely because of cuts to local authority care budgets, and if we were forced to cut our services then that situation would become even worse.”

Dorset Blind Association is backing calls to change the Care Bill to ensure all newly blind and partially sighted people get the help they need after first being diagnosed.

The RNIB report, Facing Blindness Alone, reveals that between 2005 and 2013, there has been a 43% decline in the number of blind and partially sighted people in England getting the most basic types of support from their local authority - down from 55,875 people to 31,740.

Every year 23,000 people in England lose their sight and the RNIB research shows that although care and support has declined for all adults with a physical disability (30%), people with sight loss have been the worse affected (43%).

“Social care is facing a crisis in this country and we have already witnessed a significant reduction in the number of visually impaired people in Dorset who get any form of meaningful help from their local authority social services when they first lose their sight,” says Jonathan.

“Dorset Blind Association works hard to fill the gap left by the reduction in local authority services and is a valuable lifeline to people across Dorset who are struggling to come to terms with their sight loss and struggling to learn how to remain independent.

“It is crucial that longer term care assessments properly recognise the barriers blind and partially sighted people face in remaining independent and that the necessary support is provided.

Jonathan is making a direct plea to the people of Dorset to help Dorset Blind Association maintain all of its current services.

“Being left alone to cope with sight loss is not acceptable,” he says, “so please help us to make sure that isn’t the case for as many blind and partially sighted people in Dorset as possible. We need to raise £40,000 by the end of this year and I’m asking everyone to help us towards that target by donating as much as they can.”

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