Sight-loss groups unite for appeal

By Rosie Walker, Third Sector, 16 April 2008

The UK's major sight-loss charities have overcome their differences to unite behind a five-year strategy.

More than 650 groups and individuals from the public and third sectors have signed up to the UK Vision Strategy, to be released on 18 April in a bid to improve life for blind and partially sighted people.

Lesley-Anne Alexander, chief executive of the RNIB and chair of the coalition's advisory group, said there were too many sight-loss charities.

"I was astounded that there are 733 UK charities that have something to do with sight loss, and that we didn't all get along with each other," she said. "Mythology, misunderstanding and resentment had developed over decades. We had to get the optometrists to talk to the ophthalmologists, the charities to talk to the public sector and the national charities to talk to the local societies."

Other groups considering setting up coalitions could learn from the experience, she said: "Lots of people told me this would never happen. Coalitions can easily become talking shops, so you need to prevent that and still listen to people."

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