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Blind and partially sighted people are facing acute challenges in the current circumstances. With London in lockdown, their experience of isolation and anxiety are being felt even more intensely than usual, due to difficulties with buying food and other essentials, managing social distancing and staying connected with others. When your independence is reliant on tactile navigation and the assistance of sighted guides, the ability to maintain that independence safely is hugely hindered by the threat of Covid-19 and social distancing rules.
Local charities and community groups have done an amazing job reaching out to those in need but clearly they need funding to enable them to continue their work and, in the context of this emergency situation, they need to access this funding quickly and with minimal effort. The important thing at the moment is ensuring that vulnerable people have access to food and essentials, not filling in endless funding application forms in the hope that a small percentage of them are successful; or applying for funding knowing a decision won’t be made for a further six months.
"With such a large pool of funders reviewing every application, charities maximise their chance of being supported but with minimal time and effort."
The benefits of this collaborative effort doesn’t only lie with the applicant charities though. All funders agree to a cooperative and joined up effort, which sees us working together to sift thousands of applications and share information to reduce duplication of work. This saves each funder hours and hours of time and speeds up the decision-making process, meaning our money can be given more efficiently and effectively. Funders have a huge amount of collective knowledge, expertise and resources, and the success of the London Community Response has demonstrated how willing they are to share, advise and collaborate if asked.
"We want to support as many important and impactful projects as we can but are limited by who asks for our help, so having access to thousands of applications is an amazing way to build new partnerships."
We hope that being part of the London Community Response means the Vision Foundation will be able to reach more organisations who perhaps haven’t heard of us before or thought to apply previously. As a small charity that re-branded late last year (we were formally the Greater London Fund for the Blind), we know we have some way to build awareness of our existence and what we do. We want to support as many important and impactful projects as we can but are limited by who asks for our help, so having access to thousands of applications is an amazing way to build new partnerships.
Looking ahead, we are hopeful that many more charities who have not already applied to the London Community Response Fund will decide to do so. My plea to smaller charities that may not have dedicated, professional fundraisers or may not have experience of grant funding is not to be put off applying. The old adage “if you don’t ask, you don’t get” springs to mind and in this case, it applies as much to asking for help with applying as it does to asking for money. Grants Managers are on hand if you need help with your application, including if you have accessibility needs.
"We want to reach as many blind and partially sighted people as possible and to achieve this, we want to work collaboratively with frontline charities as effectively as we have done with other funders."