Sunday, 3 March 2024
Sunday, 3 March 2024

Blind and partially sighted volunteers awarded for their work to make services accessible

BLIND and partially sighted volunteers have been awarded for their work to make services accessible using the power of lived experience. 

Sight Loss Councils (SLC), funded by Thomas Pocklington Trust (TPT), are regional groups led by blind and partially sighted volunteers across England. Together, they work with organisations to ensure what they do is accessible and inclusive.

TPT hosted the Sight Loss Council Volunteer Conference, supported by NaviLens, and Rodney Powell Awards in Birmingham on 7 and 8 October.

The aim was to empower volunteers to collaborate, share good practice, celebrate impact and drive forward work locally and nationally. This is to ensure all blind and partially sighted people can live the lives they want to live.

Lived experience of sight loss

The theme of year’s conference was ‘The Power of Lived Experience.’ SLC volunteers focused on using their lived experience to make transport and streets accessible so everyone can travel independently and safely. They also explored work to increase the accessibility of healthcare, shopping, museums and galleries, and sports and leisure facilities – including listening to a talk by David Clarke OBE, Chief Executive of the British Paralympic Association.

Sight Loss Councils have also had many successes in all of these areas, some of which were celebrated at the TPT Rodney Powell Volunteer Awards held in the evening.

Rodney Powell Volunteer Awards

The Rodney Powell Volunteering Awards recognise and celebrate the amazing contribution SLC volunteers make to the lives of blind and partially sighted people and the work of TPT.

Tricia Sail, half of the winning team on the BBC1 series Race Across the World, hosted the awards for volunteer members and was astounded by the quality of the work. Tricia, who is visually impaired, had about ten per cent sight in each eye whilst filming and winning the TV show.

Blind and partially sighted volunteers awarded for their work to make services accessible

The award winners included:

  • Campaign of the Year award, sponsored by RNIB, was awarded to Bristol SLC for their work with Network Rail to develop an audio guide to help passengers navigate Bristol Temple Meads train station, as featured on national television.
  • Individual of the Year award, sponsored by Thomas Pocklington Trust, was awarded to Julie Stephens, Gloucestershire SLC member, for using her local knowledge to proactively seek new opportunities to meet SLC priorities.
  • Team of the Year award, sponsored by Blind Veterans, went to Bristol SLC for its work to improve accessibility across healthcare settings and embed the Accessible Information Standard.
  • Outstanding contribution award, sponsored by CDS, went to Sam Fox, Essex SLC, for her work with Essex Police to create a procedure so blind people can verify the person at their door is a police officer. The success of this work has implications for other police forces across England.

Tricia Sail said about the awards:

“I found presenting the awards humbling, very humbling. Inspiring. Sight Loss Councils are exceptional and I am honoured to have been invited. The work they are doing to make people aware and make the world accessible – not just for visually impaired people, but all disabilities – really touched my heart.

“Sight Loss Councils are making the world better, for everybody. Everyone should be treated equally, whether you are sighted or not. From the bottom of my heart, I want to say thank you to each of you. You are making so many changes across our society.

Thomas Pocklington Trust’s Director of Services, Emma Hughes, said: 

“We established our first SLC in 2017 and, this week, are about to launch our twentieth SLC in Lancashire. We are also working with partners to expand into Scotland. To date, our volunteers have achieved so much. Our growth is due to their success.

“Our Rodney Powell Volunteering Awards and conference provide an opportunity to thank all our volunteers and celebrate this hard work. They are at the heart of what we do, continue to make our Sight Loss Councils go from strength to strength, and in the last year have achieved so much. I can’t wait to see what the future unfolds in the coming years.”

Julie Stephens, Gloucestershire Sight Loss Council and winner of the Individual of the Year Award said:

“Just being nominated for this award is overwhelming but to actually win it was very emotional. Knowing my fellow Sight Loss Council members, family and friends took the time to vote for me is extremely touching. It shows how much people appreciate the hard work we SLC members do. Knowing that I can make a difference for visually impaired people now and in the future means so much. An enormous heartfelt thank you to TPT for this award which has spurred me on to do more in the future.”

Are you interested in joining Sight Loss Councils or signing up for their newsletter? Please visit: to learn more.


Join our FREE mailing list and receive our Weekly Digest bulletin and other updates direct to your inbox.

Related News

Skip to content