After nearly 100 years, the Greater London Fund for the Blind (GLFB) has launched a new brand and name change to become the Vision Foundation.

This comes as the charity embarks on a bold five-year strategy to make London accessible for everyone with sight loss and reduce preventable blindness. The new name and brand, developed in collaboration with blind and partially sighted people, is in response to the growing problem of sight loss in London and the worsening life chances for people with vision loss.

Vision Foundation’s CEO, Olivia Curno explains:

“Sight loss costs London £2.7bn each year, which equates to £300 per Londoner. Behind every single pound of economic cost there is a human story of isolation, poverty, discrimination and exclusion. This is the challenge facing the Vision Foundation in the 21st century”.

Many blind and partially sighted Londoners don’t feel like equal citizens in the capital according to recent research carried out by the Vision Foundation. When asked what would have the biggest impact on their quality of life, the majority said better education and awareness about sight loss for members of the public would make the greatest difference. Only a third of blind and partially sighted people polled believe that London is open to them in terms of employment. In addition, 80% reported having had some kind of mental health difficulties as a result of their sight loss with almost a third experiencing severe anxiety or depression.

Of the 52,000 blind and partially sighted people of working age in London, only a quarter are in work – a fall from 33 per cent in employment in 2006. This compares to half of all disabled people in employment and 80 per cent of non-disabled people.

A YouGov survey commissioned by the Vision Foundation found that most people do not believe a blind person could do some or any of their job. Of the more than 1,800 people polled, only 6 percent of working adults said someone who was blind could do all of their job, while 26 per cent said they could do some of it.

Anna Tylor, chair of trustees at the Vision Foundation, said:

“Being visually impaired should not lock you out of the opportunities that London has to offer. As someone who has lived with limited and diminishing sight all my life, it is shocking that so many blind and partially sighted people are unemployed. I have faced challenges in acceptance in the workplace and know first-hand how hard it is to get a foot in the door. Many employers don’t understand how much people with sight loss have to offer and how easy it is to include them in the workplace.

“It’s hugely disappointing that so many blind and partially sighted Londoners are not living their best lives and are not able to contribute in the way they could to the economic and cultural life of our great city. It’s an unacceptable position and as a charity, we’re changing the way we do business to try and address it. Step by step, we are proving that things can be different. But we are under no illusion that our task will be easy. It is only with the help of the rest of London can people who are blind and partially sighted be active, equal members of society and able to live life to the full.”

The Vision Foundation’s new logo is a bold blue and includes an icon of a partially visible eye, illustrating the issue of sight loss. It replaces a green and red geranium illustration. The strapline ‘London’s Sight Loss Charity’ explains the organisation’s purpose and ensures distinction from other sight loss organisations. The move has been taken to appeal to a wider audience and highlight the range of proactive eye-health and community outreach projects the Vision Foundation supports.

Olivia Curno added:

“Our new name was chosen after lengthy consultation with blind and partially sighted people who told us our old name was old-fashioned, unfriendly and bureaucratic. The Vision Foundation describes an optimistic future and presents what we do and who we help, ensuring our work is better recognised and understood.

“The Vision Foundation is a long-established charity with gravitas and we know from our research that the heritage is hugely important to our supporters, beneficiaries and the public. The modern logo and visual brand captures the spirit of the visually impaired community and reflects our new values: courageous, collaborative, intelligent and empowering.

“We are really proud to be launching our new brand identity. A lot has changed since we started in 1921 but sadly a lot hasn’t. People living with sight loss in the capital are facing significant and growing challenges and ever-worsening life chances. Meanwhile, a very high and growing number of people are needlessly going blind”.