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Vision Foundation opens 2021 fund

The 2021 Vision Fund will have a key focus on projects supporting blind and partially sighted people to find and retain paid work

Vision Fund employee
Vision Foundation

The Vision Foundation has launched its grant programme for 2021, with a primary focus on boosting employment for blind and partially sighted people.

In line with the charity’s See My Skills centenary campaign, which launched in July with an aim to “break the cycle of unemployment for people with visual impairment,” the 2021 Vision Fund is inviting applications from organisations throughout Greater London which support blind and partially sighted people to find and retain paid work.

Grants of up to £10,000 are available for smaller projects, typically up to a one-year period, while grants of up to £50,000 are available for larger or longer-term projects, typically spread across one to three years.

The 2021 funding strategy is informed by a specially-commissioned project, presented through the Vision Foundation’s See My Skills report, which highlighted research finding 73% of working age blind and partially sighted people are unemployed.

Vision Foundation chief executive, Olivia Curno, highlighted that this means almost 300,000 blind and partially sighted people are excluded from the workforce, adding: “This is what we are committed to tackling.”

The report highlights a range of research which has found that almost a quarter of employers said they would not be willing to make adaptations to employ a blind or partially sighted person, only 40% said their recruitment processes are accessible, and 90% said it would be ‘difficult’ or ‘impossible’ to employ a visually impaired person. 

Curno explained: “We are excited to be able to use the Vision Fund to spark ideas which will make a real change to the work prospects for blind and partially sighted Londoners.”

As well as supporting longer-term projects, Curno suggested the fund could provide a “golden opportunity” for smaller organisations to pilot “new and imaginative ideas.”

Applications are also being invited from groups that don’t currently work with the visually impaired community but whose projects could be made accessible, along with projects supporting businesses to bring blind and partially sighted people into their workforce.

Applications under the fund’s existing strategic aims: opening London up, empowering those at risk, and preventing avoidable sight loss, have also been welcomed.

The deadline for applications for the first stage of the Large Grants programme is 1 September 2021, while the deadline for the Small Grants programme is 15 September. Successful applicants will then be invited to a Stage 2 application phase. 

The shortlist is set to be reviewed in October with a final decision being made by the end of December 2021.