A CHARITY has been hailed for making a difference to the lives of thousands of blind and partially-sighted people in York since receiving a major lottery grant.

The Big Lottery’s Fund decided in 2008 to award York Blind And Partially Sighted Society about £129,000 over five years to provide services and activities, including a “community vision resource centre”, visual impairment training to volunteers and organisations, leisure and learning activities, and one-to-one computer support.

Now Charities Evaluation Services, which was commissioned by the society to carry out an independent assessment of whether it had achieved its targets, has concluded that it actually exceeded them.

Describing the society as a ‘very much liked and respected organisation’, it said in a report: “Satisfaction with the service has been high: service users have praised the staff, the resource centre (Equipment and Information Centre), the services and activities run by the organisation.

“It has made a difference to the lives of the blind, partially sighted and visually impaired people in York.”

The report said the society had trained 195 volunteers and 194 people from outside organisations, including Age Concern, City of York Council library staff and independent opticians.

Almost 300 people had participated in leisure and learning activities, including a book group, cards, dominoes and board games, a keep fit class, a museums and local history group, theatre trips to audio described productions and a walking group.

Nearly 3,000 individuals had received one-to-one computer support and demonstrations, with one person saying after receiving computer training: “A door I thought was closed is beginning to open.”

The report concluded: “The society helps their service users with the practical aspects of living independently but also through their peer support groups and wide range of activities, they help people to meet new people, make friends, regain and/or learn new skills and gain the confidence they need to lead an independent life.”

It recommended the society should seek further funding to continue delivering such services and activities. The report was unveiled during a visit to the charity’s headquarters in Holgate Road by the Lord Mayor of York, Coun Keith Hyman.