Thomas Pocklington Trust launches emergency fund for sight loss organisations

The support will be available for organisations providing vital services to blind and partially sighted people during the COVID-19 outbreak

Charles Colquhoun

The Thomas Pocklington Trust (TPT) has launched an emergency fund to support sight loss organisations during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

The organisation has made £500,000 available to support sight loss sector organisations to continue providing vital services for blind and partially sighted people.

Speaking to OT, Charles Colquhoun (pictured), CEO at TPT, explained that the organisation had observed that charities in the sector are struggling.

“They are facing increased demand at the same time as fundraising has evaporated in many cases. We felt this was something we could do as a short-term measure to help them through what we hope is a short-term crisis,” he commented.

TPT will use funds previously allocated to its normal grant programme to provide the emergency fund and has suspended its normal grant funding activities, also postponing the launch of its revised grant programme.

The grants, of up to £10,000 or the equivalent of two months’ running costs, for use over the next six months, will be available.

A survey on the impact of COVID-19 on charities, conducted by the Institute of Fundraising in partnership with the Charity Finance Group and National Council for Voluntary Organisations, found that charities are reporting a projected loss of 48% to their voluntary income.

The survey also reported that 83% of charities said the most important thing for their organisation’s sustainability over the coming three to six months is access to emergency grant funding.

The grants from the TPT will be available to help charities cover costs during the outbreak.

“The monies can be used either to cover the general running costs of the charity in the face of cashflow issues directly caused by the crisis, or to fund a project that will support the blind and partially sighted community through these difficult times,” Mr Colquhoun said.

Commenting on the support needed for the charity sector in this period, Mr Colquhoun told OT: “I think there are three types of support needed. Firstly, there is the financial support from organisations like us. Secondly, there is a need for people to volunteer to help out, such as to telephone and befriend people.” 

“Thirdly, the Government support doesn’t really work. The support for employers is based on putting people on furlough and therefore not doing the job. Whereas charities have had a drop in income, but an increased demand in work,” he said.

He added: “Furlough does not work for the charitable sector and there is some work being done by various charities to try and persuade the government to change their minds.”

It is inevitable that it is the most vulnerable people who suffer the most during a crisis like this


At the time of writing, TPT has already had approximately 12 grant applications, but Mr Colquhoun added: “I am fully confident we are going to get a lot more.”

If all applicants were paid the maximum grant the fund would be able to support 50 charities. It is expected the fund will support closer to 70 or 80 charities.

TPT will be working closely with its partners at Visionary and London Vision to process requests.

Commenting on the impact the outbreak has had on blind and partially sighted people, Mr Colquhoun explained: “Those people who need help and support face-to-face, such as home visits, are finding it really difficult. It is limiting how many people can be visiting people at home.”

He added: “For people who are blind and partially sighted and living independently, it’s very difficult."

He highlighting that visiting the supermarket and maintaining safe social distances is a particular challenge. TPT is part of a campaign to ensure blind and partially sighted people can receive priority for supermarket delivery slots.

“It is inevitable that it is the most vulnerable people who suffer the most during a crisis like this. Our focus is to support blind and partially sighted people so I hope we’re able to support organisations who in turn, can keep helping people in this really difficult time,” Mr Colquhoun commented.

Organisations wishing to submit an application should visit TPT’s Emergency Fund web page.

OT endeavours to keep the most up-to-date news on our website and this information was correct when published. However, the situation regarding COVID-19 is rapidly evolving. Please check OT’s rolling optics-specific coverage for the latest news and guidance on COVID-19.