- Reaching Communities
- Release date:
- 15 1 2013
Two thirds of working age people with sight loss have experienced restrictions in accessing or fully participating in employment (RNIB). However an England-wide initiative which has received almost £300,000 by the Big Lottery Fund (BIG) aims to improve the situation for hundreds of blind and partially-sighted people by linking them with employers through targeted placements. The project is one of 60 to have been awarded funding from BIG today, totalling £14.4m.
These work placements aim to improve the confidence and skills of participants by increasing their chances of employment, and making statistics such as - ‘nine out of 10 employers rate blind and partially sighted people as either “difficult” or “impossible” to employ’ (Department of Work and Pensions, 2004) - an attitude rooted in the past. Through the Extending the Reach project from the Royal National Institute for Blind People (RNIB), participants will be supported to search for jobs, improve their application writing, interview techniques, and acquire work experience and relevant training. They will also be supported and monitored for up to a year to ensure a smooth transition into permanent employment for both employer and employee.
The project will provide a range of tailored training and support that addresses the individual needs and career aspirations of the service users, while continuing to raise external awareness of sight loss and challenging misconceptions of employers by working in partnership. It will also promote the benefits people with sight loss can bring to an organisation, working in the targeted areas of London, Leeds, Liverpool, Loughborough, Birmingham and Bristol.
Sean Owen, RNIB's UK Employment Services Manager, said: “We're delighted the Big Lottery Fund has awarded RNIB's Trainee Grade scheme almost £300,000. The cash boost will help us continue to grow and promote the scheme which has been running for the past 10 years.
“RNIB's existing scheme supports people who have usually never worked before to gain experience in the work place and then either supports the individual to find work within the RNIB Group or find a job externally. The funding will help support another 30 people with finding jobs over the next three years and hopefully help dispel the perception in the employment sector that people with sight loss are difficult to employ."
*Case studies available*
Also receiving good cause funding today is North Derbyshire Women’s Aid, which will work directly with perpetrators in order to break the cycle of domestic violence. Through their grant of £218,409, the organisation will establish this voluntary referral support service later this spring, encouraging perpetrators to come forward and seek help. Working in the key areas of Chesterfield, Matlock, Ilkeston and Swadlincote, the project will engage with perpetrators currently not receiving guidance because they are either not considered a sufficient risk or have not been through the Criminal Justice System.
The project will use the accredited Respect programme which focuses on increasing the safety and well-being of women and their families by promoting, supporting, and delivering effective interventions with male perpetrators. Men will attend weekly group sessions run over 30-35 weeks and will cover issues such as defining violence, behavioural responsibility and how to build respectful relationships. In parallel, women’s safety workers will work with victims to decrease risks and enable them to develop longer-term relationship security.
Dena Trossell, Strategic Head of Service, North Derbyshire Women’s Aid said: “North Derbyshire Women’s Aid will be providing structured programmes for men who are violent and abusive to their female partners. Men will be able to refer themselves into the project which will also take referrals from other agencies. The aim of the project is to support men to reduce their offending behaviour and keep women and children safe. This is an opportunity to work with families who have been affected by domestic abuse in a way that offers support to all family members.”
Also promoting improved well-being through targeted support is the Canterbury and Herne Bay Volunteer Centre. Through their grant of £265,375, the Healthy Homes and Healthy Minds project will provide a low cost gardening and home maintenance service, which enables older people to remain independent and in their own homes. In addition it offers a volunteer-led telephone befriending service, aiming to decrease isolation and anxiety among older people, and maintenance support relating to security and crime prevention. The project makes small charges for any work done, but at a lower than market rate, while providing services from trusted, local volunteers. According to the project’s evaluation report from the past four years working with around 1,750 older people, half reported they were consequently better able to manage within the home, forty per cent reported a decrease in isolation and almost half retained regular contact through telephone befriending.
Alex Krutnik, Director of Canterbury and Herne Bay Volunteer Centre, said: “The thrust of the project is about helping people not only in the physical sense but in an emotional sense as well. When people are very isolated in the community, as so many older people are, we provide a service but we also provide a bit extra to ensure people are ok. The fact that we don’t charge a lot for the service also means a lot, when some older people have to choose between food and fuel. More and more people want to continue living in their homes and without our service I think they would really struggle. There has been a lot of research on the psychological effects of people not being able to do what they want to do – if people have pride in themselves and their appearance, they also have that in their households. If they can’t keep that it really does have a significant effect on mental health.”
Today’s funding comes from BIG’s Reaching Communities programme which awards grants ranging from £10,000 to £500,000 to communities most in need.
Nat Sloane, Big Lottery Fund England Chair, said: “With a whole year ahead, January is traditionally a time for making motivated resolutions in order to improve our emotional and physical well-being. But many people need a bit of additional support to help them achieve their goals and be independent, whether it concerns people with physical disabilities taking up career opportunities, people in abusive relationships seeking to break that negative cycle, or older people wishing to retain their own homes without feeling vulnerable or isolated.
“I’m delighted that £14.4 million of Lottery funding will be put to good use to help support and empower communities across the country this month to lead fulfilling lives.”
A full list of the 60 Reaching Communities grants announced today
For further infromation
Big Lottery Fund Press Office: 020 7211 1888
Out of hours media contact: 07867 500 572
Full details of the Big Lottery Fund programmes and grant awards are available on the website: www.biglotteryfund.org.uk
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Notes to Editors
• The Big Lottery Fund (BIG), the largest distributor of National Lottery good cause funding, is responsible for giving out 40% of the money raised for good causes by the National Lottery.
• BIG is committed to bringing real improvements to communities and the lives of people most in need and has been rolling out grants to health, education, environment and charitable causes across the UK. Since its inception in June 2004 BIG has awarded close to £6 bn.
• The Fund was formally established by Parliament on 1 December 2006.
• Since the National Lottery began in 1994, 28p from every pound spent by the public has gone to good causes. As a result, over £29 billion has now been raised and more than 383,000 grants awarded across arts, sport, heritage, charities, health, education and the environment.