Here are some of the things we have been working on over the past few months.

Here are some of the things we have been working on over the past few months.

Our work continues on preparing ourselves to raise an increasing amount of our income from sources other than the Royal New Zealand Foundation of the Blind. We have to find new ways to attract funding and support from the public. As part of this work, we are working with Creature Design to freshen up our visual presentation in the hope that this will help us connect better with today’s public. It is important that people will readily distinguish between the Association and the Foundation and identify with the idea that consumers should have some direct influence over the services we receive. We don’t need a lot of money because we give our time voluntarily. But we still have bills to pay for staff, rent, travel etc, which is all part of having an organisation. That money has to come from somewhere and right now some of it is coming out of our reserves. Good that we were able in the past to put money away for the future, but we mustn’t just spend it now until it’s gone. That is why the Board is really focusing on the things we need to do to position our organisation to be able to raise more of its income from other sources.

We have also adopted a fundraising action plan that maps out our developing approach to fundraising until 2014. The plan recognises that we will probably need to directly utilise the skills of a fundraiser starting next year.

Also as part of this work, we have adopted in principle the idea of working towards a campaign to focus public attention on what we believe are the highest priority needs blind and vision impaired people face in today’s society. It will focus on issues in three main categories:

  • Mobility: transport and travel;
  • Access: access to services, information, facilities and society;
  • Democracy: participation in society and being consulted at a local, regional and national level.

We are keeping a close eye on developments concerning reform of the benefit system, in particular the Invalids Benefit which some blind people receive. We will keep you posted when significant developments occur.

The Association recently made a submission to the paper called “The Wider Journey”, published by the Human Rights Commission. It focuses on three areas: access to the built environment, access to information and independent voting. You can contact our National Office if you want to read it, and also your branch should have a copy.

Arising from a remit passed at last year’s National Conference, the Association is calling on the Foundation to work with us and other consumer organisations to carry out a review of the adaptive technology service. Whilst there are many good things about that service, we do want to ensure that it is fully up to date with the training and latest equipment blind people need, and is as accessible as it can be to blind people right around the whole country. We recently had a fruitful meeting concerning this with key Foundation staff. We were able to explain our feelings and we hope the Foundation will plan to carry out such a review in the next year.

Also arising from last year’s Conference, we are keen to do what we can to encourage all blind people to be more involved with the process whereby we elect Foundation Board Directors. We have done quite a bit of work on preparing a discussion paper with some interesting and, dare I say radical, ideas for this year’s conference. This paper is now going out to branches for comment.

Speaking of Conference, I know several people have already got a cheap air fare to Dunedin so they can attend this year’s conference, so if you are keen to come, I suggest you make a move as soon as you can before all the cheap seats have gone.