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About Wales Council of the Blind

"I have found all my contacts with WCB over the years to be so useful and professional." - Rehabilitation Officer for VI.

Wales Council of the Blind is the umbrella agency representing vision impairment within Wales. We work to campaign, lobby and support the improvement of services for people with sight loss. WCB provides a platform vision impaired people to raise their concerns and wishes.

WCB's Articles of Association sets out a way of letting their members contribute to setting priorities and work streams. An important part of the new structure is the creation of Regional Steering Groups to inform WCB's work. The four new Regional Steering Groups will be established across Wales, covering North, West, South East and South Central.

Each group intends to offer a platform for local clubs, charities, statutory services and people with sight loss to get together and contribute to directing the work and resources of WCB. It's likely that priorities may vary from region to region, and we want that to be reflected in the work of WCB.

WCB's Board of Trustees will include four representatives - one nominated from each of the four regional steering groups - to bring the views of the regions to the table.

What does Wales Council of the Blind do?

Latest WCB news.

Wales Eyecare Conference 2019

Thanks to everyone who has booked a place at the Wales Eyecare Conference on 19th September - we look forward to seeing you there.

For more information, including details of the venue and the programme, click on the 'Eyecare Conference' tab at the top of the screen. The conference is now fully subscribed, and bookings are closed.

Julie Thomas is overall champion in Womenspire 2019 awards

Julie Thomas, one of Wales Council of the Blind's trustees, was a double winner at Chwarae Teg's 'Womenspire Awards 2019'. The awards showcase the remarkable accomplishments of women across Wales and are intended to inspire future generations.

Julie was the winner in the 'Women in Sport' category, one of nine categories, for her achievements in vision impaired bowling. She then went on to win the title of 'Overall Champion' at the award ceremony at St Fagans Museum.

When Julie lost her sight ten years ago her life as a dedicated head teacher came to an end. However, her determination to form new interests led her to a bowls taster session. She now competes against sighted players and in 2018 she reached the National Welsh Elite fully sighted finals and was selected for the Commonwealth Games, coming back with a bronze medal.

Congratulations to Julie on a fantastic achievement! To find out more about the Womenspire Awards, visit the Chwarae Teg website.

Latest issue of WCB's Roundup considers the cost of sight loss

The latest edition of WCB's quarterly magazine Roundup looks at the additional costs that people with sight loss - and other disabled people - face, and the problems with accessing the benefits which are intended to help with meeting such costs.

This issue also includes information about the JobSense project, the recent Macular Society and Cardiff Institute for the Blind information and training day, and Vision Support's VI Volunteer Mentoring Scheme. You can read Roundup here,. There is also a supplement with an update on Storm, WCB's project for young adults which you can read here.

You can read all previous editions of Roundup by clicking on the 'Roundup News' tab at the top of this screen.

State of the Nation - services for adults with sight loss in Wales.

This report, prepared by the Wales Vision forum, was the subject of a BBC report on rehabilitation services. Service users and rehabilitation officers explained the benefits of the rehab profession and called for the profession to be fully staffed and available throughout Wales. The BBC page is where the videos are also available.

The State of the Nation Report is available from Wales Council of the Blind on request.

Meaningless sight tests for benefit claimants causing anxiety

Wales Council of the Blind has raised concerns that people with sight loss are missing out on benefits because assessors from organisations such as Capita are carrying out vision tests which they are not qualified to perform. Eye tests should only be done by optometrists or ophthalmologists.

The story has been featured on the BBC Wales website and you can read it here. It was also the subject of a report in the TV programme 'Wales Live', which included an interview with WCB's Director, individuals who had been affected, and an optometrist from Wales Optometry Postgraduate Education Centre (WOPEC). You can see the report on the BBC i-player here - it starts 18 minutes and 15 seconds into the programme.

WCB will continue to pursue this issue with the departments involved.

National Lottery Community Fund grant set to benefit over 500 blind children in England and Wales

The Royal Society for Blind Children (RSBC) has received more than £650,000 from The National Lottery Community Fund (formerly Big Lottery Fund) to extend its Family Support Service. The service will be delivered in collaboration with four partner organisations - Wales Council of the Blind, North Wales Society for the Blind, Vision Support and Kent Association for the Blind.

This funding, from the largest community funder in the UK, will transform the service, enabling many more families to cope with the challenges that the diagnosis brings, adjust positively and develop the knowledge and skills to encourage the best possible future for the child. From the earliest stages of a diagnosis, families will have access to a unique blend of tailored, one-to-one emotional and practical support that will ensure they have access to the help and information they need, whether that be therapeutic interventions, help with completing benefit applications or support from peer networks.

Together, the participating organisations will work with local professionals who have a direct impact on the lives of blind and partially sighted children to ensure that families are not isolated but are instead engaged with their communities at a time when they could be most vulnerable. The partnership will also work towards changes in the ways statutory services work with families affected by sight loss.

WCB welcomes continuation of SenCom service

Newport City Council has agreed to extend the Gwent SenCom service for children with sensory loss until at least 2022. The decision has been welcomed by parents, Wales Council of the Blind and other sight loss charities. Owen Williams, WCB's Director, issued the following statement:

'The sight loss sector in Wales has campaigned as a single voice against Newport’s decision to withdraw from SenCom. We are delighted that the Gwent authorities have decided to commit jointly to the continuation of the best practice SenCom regional service, until 2022.

'We will await the terms and conditions of the review and would like to see any review led by an impartial chair with no pre-determined agenda. We would like to see the chair have knowledge of SenCom and the invaluable services and support that they provide to children and young people across Gwent.

'We also hope that any review will enable proper consultation this time, so that children and their families and carers can make a meaningful contribution to the design of a specialist service that best meets their needs'.

You can read a report on the decision on the BBC website.

WCB response to Welsh Government consultation 'Tackling Loneliness and Isolation'

Wales Council of the Blind has prepared a draft response to the Welsh Government's consultation 'Tackling Loneliness and Isolation'.

You can find out more, read the consultation document and our draft response in the Consultations section of our website. If you have any comments on our draft response, please let us know by Monday 14th January.

More information.