Thomas Pocklington Trust Emergency Fund supports 55 charities

The trust has awarded half a million pounds in emergency funding to help charities supporting blind and partially sighted people through the COVID-19 crisis

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The Thomas Pocklington Trust (TPT) has awarded £500,000 in emergency funding to 55 sight loss organisations to support operations through the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, with projects to provide audio books and live exercise videos amongst the recipients of the funds.

TPT suspended its normal grant funding activities in March, intending to instead provide a COVID-19 Emergency Fund for charities impacted by the crisis.

A survey in March, by the Institute of Fundraising in partnership with the Charity Finance Group and National Council for Voluntary Organisations, found that charities had projected a loss of 48% to their voluntary income.

TPT’s Emergency Fund received 105 applications, with the amount of funding organisations could apply for capped at £10,000.

Charles Colquhoun, CEO at Thomas Pocklington Trust, commented: “We are delighted TPT has been able to support a wide range of sight loss organisations during this unsettling time.”

“This funding is absolutely crucial for many organisations working across the UK to be able to continue to provide critical services for the physical and emotional wellbeing of blind and partially sighted people,” he added.

Of the 55 organisations that have received the emergency funding, several will use the funds to support new projects to support blind and partially sighted people through the lockdown.

This is a very challenging time for everyone and it is really important that we find new ways to support people with sight loss during the COVID-19 pandemic

Lucy Beattie-Cooper, fundraising manager for British Blind Sport

Listening Books, for example, will provide free access to audio books to blind and partially sighted people to help prevent social isolation, loneliness and anxiety, while Fight Against Blindness will move its face-to-face service to telephone and video appointments to ensure the continuation of its clinical psychology service for visually impaired children and their parents.

The funding will support British Blind Sport to provide a range of live and pre-recorded workouts and activities, from meditation and gentle stretching exercises to cardio and dance workouts for all levels of ability to participate in at home.

Lucy Beattie-Cooper, fundraising manager for British Blind Sport (BBS), told OT: “BBS is absolutely delighted to have received this support from TPT. This is a very challenging time for everyone and it is really important that we find new ways to support people with sight loss during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

“People with sight loss are more likely now than ever before to feel isolated and lonely and at BBS we know that regular physical activity is essential for good health and wellbeing. This grant will allow us to keep supporting people with sight loss in being active from their homes and to feel part of an active community," Ms Beattie-Cooper continued.

The activities can be accessed online through the BBS website and Facebook Group ‘British Blind Sport: Stay In Work Out’, as well as through the RNIB Connect Radio. Individuals can also contact BBS to request audio-only workouts to be sent via post on USB memory stick or CD.

Meanwhile, Alström Syndrome UK is increasing its services for families by offering regular phone calls, and weekly virtual community meetings via webinars, which can be accessed online or over the phone on a range of topics, including Q&As with clinicians.

A spokesperson for the charity told OT: “Alström Syndrome UK supports families affected by one of the rarest conditions in the world, Alström Syndrome. Due to funding from the Thomas Pocklington Trust we can now ensure families affected can receive vital support services and bring the Alström community together through virtual get togethers and webinars on a range of topics to support their health and wellbeing.”

“For many this is an extremely worrying and isolating time, so bringing the community together in this way is vital,” the spokesperson continued, adding, “Sincere thanks go to the Thomas Pocklington Trust for making this happen.”

Designed by TPT, the Emergency Fund was managed in conjunction with partner organisations London Vision and Visionary to reach as many blind and partially sighted people as possible.

A full list of the sight loss charities that have been awarded emergency funding can be found on the Thomas Pocklington Trust website.