The Sunderland and County Durham Royal Society for the Blind was formed in 1877. Making us one of the oldest societies in the United Kingdom working on behalf of blind and visually impaired people. We are supported entirely by charitable donations.

The Sunderland and County Durham Royal Society for the Blind

Sight loss affects people of all ages and its impact on day to day living can be huge. Blindness and visual impairment affect one in sixty of the population in the United Kingdom. Sunderland and County Durham Royal Society for the Blind provides support and services to anyone with sight loss throughout our area.

The Society is a local registered charity (number 702325) and the Society is governed by its Memorandum and Articles of Association and is managed by a Council of Management (Trustees) made up of sighted and visually impaired members.

Our History

History of the Society

The movement for the welfare of blind people in Sunderland began in 1873 with the formation of a mission to the blind in their own homes under the title of the “Home Teaching Society for the Blind”. The primary objects of the Society were to promote the spiritual welfare of the blind, to provide visits to blind people within their own homes and elsewhere, to care for sick, aged and helpless blind people and to provide suitable reading matter. The Committee soon came to the decision that, in addition to looking after the spiritual needs of blind people, an attempt should be made to provide assistance in cases of temporary sickness, to train blind people in suitable industries and to render any other assistance necessary.

Blind and visually impaired people suffered from a lack of suitable education at this time. Two of the founders of the Society brought a claim before Sunderland School Board which resulted in the opening of a class for blind and visually impaired pupils in 1882. Today blind and visually impaired children taught in special schools throughout the Country, governed by Local Education authorities. It is interesting to note that Sunderland was quite possibly the first Local Authority in the Country to undertake the work of educating blind children.

A workshop for the blind and visually impaired was set up in Villiers Street, Sunderland in 1877 in order to teach mattress making, cork and mat making, caning chairs and sewing mattress covers.

In 1883 the Society was renamed “Sunderland and Durham County Institute for the Blind”. Royal Patronage was bestowed upon the Society by Queen Victoria and in 1989 the Society became the “Sunderland and North Durham Royal Society for the Blind”.

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Become a member

Membership of Sunderland and County Durham Royal Society for the Blind is open to anybody registered blind or partially sighted with the local authority.

Our Services

Sunderland and County Durham Royal Society for the Blind works hard to ensure that it delivers services that make a difference to the lives of blind and visually impaired people.

Support Us

There are so many ways that you can support our work.

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