New director of social impact appointed at Fight for Sight/Vision Foundation

The appointment of Ellie Southwood MBE means half of Fight for Sight/Vision Foundation’s executive leadership team now have lived experience of sight loss

Close up shot of a brown eye with long eyelashes, looking up

Fight for Sight/Vision Foundation has named its new director of social impact as Ellie Southwood MBE.

Southwood’s appointment means that half of the charity’s executive leadership team now have lived experience of sight loss.

A brown haired woman in a green dress is smiling at the camera with her head and shoulders visible
Ellie Southwood
Ellie Southwood
Fight for Sight and Vision Foundation merged in April 2023, with the shared aim of preventing sight loss and empowering those with the condition to live their lives as equal citizens.

Other members of the executive leadership team who are blind or partially sighted include CEO Keith Valentine, and director of development, Ranjeet Kharé.

Southwood, who was born blind, is a former chair of the Royal National Institute of Blind People and is currently a Labour councillor for Queens Park, in North West London.

She is also cabinet member for housing and welfare reform for the London Borough of Brent.

In June, she completed the Blenheim Palace Triathlon, where she was the only blind participant.

Southwood said: “It’s great to be joining an organisation that truly embraces inclusivity in the workplace, but there’s still so much to be done and I look forward to influencing change, in our sector and beyond.”

In her new role, Southwood aims to bring together ideas in order to help secure long-term funding, and to work alongside blind and partially sighted people on a large scale.

During a recent interview with Valentine, she spoke about her “incredible passion” for the sight loss sector.

She has “a real admiration for the people who work to provide services across the UK, day in day out,” she said, but added that “in some parts of our country, the support that is available if you are losing your sight is absolutely pitiful.”

Southwood added: “I think we’re in a position to create a sea change in the way life is lived across the UK if you’re blind or partially sighted.”

One focus will be on the perceptions that blind and partially sighted people have of themselves and what is possible, Southwood said, adding that Fight for Sight/Vision Foundation has “a great evidence base for seeking additional funding and scaling up.”

She continued: “I think the key is working with people to encourage higher expectations of what the world can – and should – deliver for them in terms of opportunity.”