Wiltshire charity for blind is moving to a brighter future

Wiltshire Times: Wiltshire Blind Association outside its new headquarters. From left, Julia Shaw, Maggie Hemmings, Tom Cooper, Annie Davis, Theresa McMordie and Alison Forrest outside the former register office in Devizes Wiltshire Blind Association outside its new headquarters. From left, Julia Shaw, Maggie Hemmings, Tom Cooper, Annie Davis, Theresa McMordie and Alison Forrest outside the former register office in Devizes

Wiltshire Blind Association has announced it is staying in Devizes, although it will soon leave the building which has been its home for the last 23 years.

The charity will move from its offices in Commercial Road, having bought the former Wiltshire Council register office at Browfort in Bath Road.

It plans to move in once the building has been refurbished this year.

The association says the move will secure its future enabling it to continue to help blind people.

A spokesman said the charity’s focus had changed in the past year and its offices were no longer suitable. The new centre at Browfort would accommodate more staff and the charity’s future plans.

The charity said it wants to provide a well-resourced centre with an assistive technology suite and space for training courses and social activities.

Leanne Hubbard, chief executive of Wiltshire Blind Association, said it was a new era as the charity comes up to its 95th year and a number of “exciting” projects were being looked at.

“We have a team with bags of enthusiasm and experience and lots of plans for the future," she said.

"The layout of the new centre is much more suited to our plans. Most of our staff work out in the community, so we’ll be hot-desking to make best use of the available office space.”

The Commercial Road property will be sold.

Ms Hubbard said: “This will fund the structural changes needed to the building, as well as refit the building with the latest products and technology available to visually impaired people.

“To date we have received generous donations from the local business community.

“Teams of staff from Nationwide and Zurich will be helping with the internal decoration and tidying up the garden and we’ve also had support from local landscape gardeners, offering advice on planning a sensory garden.”

Funding for the move is also being provided through “the generous donations of supporters”, she added.

Wiltshire has a higher than average instance of sight loss compared to other counties.

There are about 15,350 people living with sight loss in Wiltshire – forecast to increase to 19,540 by 2020.

To refurbish the building, the charity has launched an appeal to raise £25,000. To donate phone Annie Davis on (01380) 723682 or email annie.davis@wiltshire.blind.org

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