SeeAbility celebrates 220th anniversary

SeeAbility, a charity providing specialised support and shaping policy to help people with learning disabilities, autism and sight loss to live happy, healthy and fulfilling lives, was recently joined by its vice president, Sir John Major, and the governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, to celebrate its 220th birthday at the Bank of England.

Founded in 1799 and formerly the Royal School for the Blind, SeeAbility’s remit has broadened over the years. Now, the charity says it will focus on realising its vision of a society coming “together for inclusion”, in which everyone can participate as equal and valued citizens – in the workplace, in education, and in everyday life.

SeeAbility has highlighted research and statistics from Mencap, which reveal:
– 1.4 million people are currently living with learning disabilities in the UK
– 65% of people with learning disabilities say they want to work – but in some areas of the UK, as few as six per cent have a paid job
– Up to 50 per cent of people with learning disabilities experience chronic loneliness

The charity’s own research has shown that children with learning disabilities are 28 times more likely to have a serious sight problem than other children.

Mark Carney said: “It isn’t enough to reflect diversity; we also need to choose inclusion. That means embracing difference and promoting an environment that brings cognitive differences to the fore. I’m delighted to be hosting this event for SeeAbility who, like the Bank of England, are committed to creating a culture where everyone can maximise their potential”.

Sir John Major stated: “We need to shine a light on people’s abilities and create partnerships to deliver equal participation. In a society increasingly characterised by social division and uncertainty, this is our ambition for inclusivity”.

Speaking after the Bank of England event, Lisa Hopkins, CEO of SeeAbility, commented: “Over the last 220 years, SeeAbility has witnessed some incredible personal stories of triumph. We’ve seen ambition in the place of defeat and confidence emerge where it once never existed. As we celebrate these successes, it’s only right that we set our sights on achieving even more ambitious futures for people with learning disabilities, autism and sight loss.”