A truly amazing organisation
Yesterday we visited the Beacon Centre for the Blind in Dudley in the Midlands having been invited last year by Chief Executive Arwyn Jones when we met at the Bromford Future Fifty event in Wolverhampton.
First started in 1875 as The Wolverhampton Society for the Blind and created to help people with sight loss learn to read by deciphering embossed type and by making mats and baskets that were woven and sold from the charity’s retail shop. The society proved to be of vital importance to the community and by 1925 was operating in a wider area including Dudley and by 1960’s has acquired a new site from the Earl of Dudley comprising seven acres on which a new centre was built, housing two workshops where visually impaired people were employed in the engineering field, which marked the creation of the Industries for the Blind and Disabled in 1965.
The centre continued to provide employment and care for visually impaired people for many years and in 1991 changed it’s name to the Beacon Centre for the Blind.
Government forecasts predict a rise of 35% for visual impairment by the year 2020 due to an ageing population and the prevalence of diabetes and with extra demand being out on the centres services, in 2009 a completely new centre was built which houses a printing business, Beacon 4 Print, a fantastic cafe and bar as well as a wide range of facilities including pottery classes, exercise facilities, woodwork classes and snooker/pool table. The facilities are truly astounding and are ran by an enthusiastic and inspiring team.
We met John who runs the shop at the centre which sells an incredible array of aids for visually impaired people, a really inspiring and knowledgable man who knows everything there is to know about finding suitable aids such as talking watches and clocks to large sized keyboards for computers, and helping visually impaired people come to terms with such a debilitating situation.
So much can be done to prevent sight loss, with the estimates being that around 50% of all sight loss conditions are preventable.
That is an incredible figure and often things such as changing diet and having a simple eye test once a year can save you from finding yourself in such a situation.
Diabetes is on the rapid increase and large numbers of people right across the world are at risk from sight loss as a result of what they eat and drink.
The facilities at Beacon are fantastic and the thousands of people they have helped over the years is astounding. Providing a safe environment, caring for their condition, providing work and a positive environment and stopping loneliness for many is a wonderful achievement and one which the centre should be extremely proud.