Skip to content
Photo of blind veterans Ken Newbery (Left) and Richard Heard (Right) gardening at Harcourt Street

Our impact

At Blind Veterans UK, 2020 was an exceptionally busy year. We supported more veterans than ever before, while continuing to grow our presence in communities across the UK.

Find out how we improved services to our beneficiaries, expanded our valued family of volunteers and fundraisers, and remained at the cutting edge of research.

In 2020, we responded to the Covid-19 pandemic by pivoting the way we work so we could continue to support our veterans during this unprecedented time.  

See our impact during Covid-19

Our work in the community

This was the year that our work in the community really took off, bringing a range of activities and support to our veterans’ doors.

862 local events were held for our beneficiaries, including lunch clubs, activity days, workshops and days out
667

of our veterans received specialist rehabilitation in their communities, including help with new technology

37

reunions were held for our veterans throughout their communities, reconnecting them with their friends and comrades

A photo of Ken Carter with his Synapptic phone
Blind veteran Ken with his Synapptic phone

Our veteran support helpline

This year, our Member Support Hub helpline continued to provide remote advice and assistance to our beneficiaries. The helpline, which is manned by trained staff, provides a vital lifeline to our veterans, who can access expert guidance from their own homes. 

Our staff help veterans with everything from issues with technology and equipment to signposting to other relevant organisations in their communities. 

This year, we dealt with 9,500 calls from our veterans. 

We showed Army veteran Ken how to use a specially adapted phone so he could communicate with friends and family during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Ken, from Aberdeen, said: "It’s proved to be such an important social outlet for me during this period of social isolation. I can’t thank Dan from Blind Veterans UK enough for his support. I don’t know where I’d be without him.”

Military commemorations

We are proud of both our long history and the veterans we support. This year saw us and our blind veterans take part in several significant military commemorations, both here and abroad.

Remembrance is always a key time for us, and this year we proudly participated in the march past the Cenotaph in Central London on Remembrance Sunday. Our wreath was laid by Margaret, a blind veteran and former Bletchley Park codebreaker.

Margaret said: “I marched with Blind Veterans UK for the first time and it was absolutely fantastic. A former chairman of the charity pushed my wheelchair and I was given the honour of carrying the poppy wreath."

A picture of a recreation of the Victory over Blindness statue
Our street theatre recreation of the Victory over Blindness statue

Victory Over Blindness

We celebrated the first anniversary of the unveiling of our Victory Over Blindness statue with a series of events, including:

• A street theatre recreation of the statue in Manchester

• A commemorative coin dedicated to the first veterans we supported

• Our Vision In Song choir singing at the switching on of the Christmas lights in Colchester, Essex 

More on Victory Over Blindness

Our blind veterans

Our veterans are at the heart of everything we do, and we’re taking better care of them than ever, as these figures show.

Icon of a blind veteran walking with a cane
917 new veterans joined our family
An icon of a person with a large heart in the centre
85% of our beneficiaries saw an improvement in their ability to realise life beyond their sight loss
An icon of a house being held up by a pair of hands indicating support
91% of our veterans said they felt more secure in their home or community thanks to us
An image of Trevor on his intro week
Blind veteran Trevor (right) sounds the advance on his intro week

Joining our family

After Trevor lost his wife and his sight, he found that he’d lost his confidence too.

When he joined us in 2019, he didn't realise how big an impact we would have on his life. But when he met other blind veterans at one of our introduction weeks for new beneficiaries, everything changed.

Trevor said: “The friendships I’ve made here will last me forever. It’s just amazing."

At our introduction weeks, our new beneficiaries learn more about the support and services we offer and get to meet other blind veterans. Like Trevor, many veterans find this experience extremely rewarding, and often come away with lifelong friends.

 

Our volunteers

Volunteers are vital to the work that we do. Without their generosity and dedication, we wouldn’t be able to support our veterans as well as we do.

51,342 volunteering hours donated in 2019/20
763 of our beneficiaries were supported by volunteers, both at home and in their communities
An image of volunteer Lynette playing the sitar with a blind veteran
Volunteer Lynette plays the sitar with a blind veteran

Meet Lynette

When Lynette joined Blind Veterans UK as a volunteer in our London headquarters, she didn't realise what a life-changing experience it would be.

Lynette interviews our beneficiaries to record their extraordinary stories, and assists with veterans' activity days too.

She says: "I feel very privileged to be a part of this charity, which I know makes an enormous difference to the lives of our veterans."

Our finances

We know that it's important to show you how we spend the money we raise. Here are some vital statistics explaining how we've helped our veterans in the last year.

An icon of some pound coins
81p

of every £1 donated is spent on charitable activities, with the remaining 19p going towards raising the next £1 *2020/2021

How much we raised (financial year ending March 2021)

  • Voluntary income £18.1million
  • Grants £2million
  • Investment income £2.8million
  • Care centre fees £915,000
  • Other income £2.9million
  • Housing provision £631,000
  • Social investment income £21,000
A pie chart showing our income in 2020/2021
Our income in 2020/2021

How we spent the money raised (financial year ending March 2021)

  • Providing care centre services £9.6million
  • Supporting independent living £4.9million
  • Providing community services £9.1million
  • Providing housing £1.9million
  • Reaching more veterans £700,000
  • Engagement and marketing costs £5.8million
  • Managing our investments £900,000
A pie chart showing our expenditure in 2020/2021
Our expenditure in 2020/2021

Fundraising achievements

We couldn’t support our veterans without the vital work of our fundraisers, both young and old.

£20,000

was raised by the Ancient Mariners rowing team for us and another charity. The four-man team, with a combined age of 257, competed in the 3,000 mile Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge

£700

was raised by seven-year-old best buddies Jesse and Reuben. They were the youngest entrants to complete a 10-mile walk along the seafront in their hometown of Brighton

£16,420

was raised by blind veteran Garry Cowan by abseiling the 540-ft high Broadgate Tower in Central London

A photo of Craig standing outside holding a tandem bike overhead with his teammate
Blind veteran Craig (left) and his teammate with their tandem bike

1,000 miles in 10 days

When Craig 'Freddie' Lundberg cycled 1,000 miles from Land's End to John o'Groats, it was both a major personal achievement and one of our fundraising highlights of the year. 

Craig, who is one of our war-blinded veterans, completed the gruelling trip on a tandem bike in 10 days, with the help of his sighted pilot, Callum. 

It was a journey that Craig didn’t think he would ever be able to take on after losing his sight during a rooftop battle in Basra, Iraq, in March 2007.

He said: “Blind Veterans UK was always there for me whenever I needed them. Now it's my turn to give something back."

Using technology

Here at Blind Veterans UK we’ve embraced new technology since our foundation.

2,000th

Synapptic-enabled device was issued to our blind veterans this year. Synapptic is a specialist software that enables those with sight loss to use technology such as phones and tablets. 

A close-up photo of an Amazon Echo Dot

Connecting through smart speakers

We’re now providing our veterans with Amazon Echo Dot smart speakers to keep them connected in their homes. The devices' digital assistant Alexa can help veterans to answer questions, carry out day-to-day tasks, keep up with the news and, most importantly, make calls. This allows our them to easily stay in touch with loved ones and combat the isolation that so often comes with sight loss. 

Research

Since our foundation, we have been at the forefront of research, pioneering cutting-edge technology for the wellbeing of our veterans.

We are active in 16 programmes, including:

  • a joint study with the University of Oxford looking at circadian rhythm (sleep pattern) disruption
  • a joint US/UK task force examining ocular trauma (injury to the eye)
  • an NHS remote rehabilitation programme
  • a study examining the effect of the Covid-19 pandemic on our veterans, and seeking to lessen its impact

Our sister charity BRAVO VICTOR specialises in research, and is seeking to prevent or reverse the effects of sight loss. Take a look at their website to find out more.

Sleep patterns and sight loss

We've teamed up with the University of Oxford to look at how sight loss affects sleep patterns (circadian rhythms).

Veterans are taking part in in the joint study, and we hope to find out more about this complex subject.

An icon of a report document
Our reports

Find about our corporate strategy and read our annual reports. 

Explore reports and publications

Read more