A KINGSCLERE charity which provides special books for blind and partially-sighted people has been awarded a grant of £40,000 from a charity.
The Masonic Charitable Foundation has awarded the grant to Living Paintings, a charity that organises tactile and audio-based Touch to See Book Clubs for older blind and partially-sighted people across the UK.
The grant will fund the salary of a voluntary co-ordinator for the Kingsclere charity and provide a supply of Living Paintings’ new Touch to See Books.
Camilla Oldland, chief executive at Living Paintings, said the charity was delighted that the foundation had chosen to support its work with a generous award.
She said: “The grant will enable us to continue and expand our very special project working to end the desperate isolation that is suffered by blind and partially-sighted people living in their later years.
“With 250 clubs across the country there is so much more that we could do. Demand is huge, and this award will go a long way in helping make the work possible.”
The grant award was marked with a visit by two local freemasons to one of the Kingsclere charity’s book clubs, in Newbury.
The clubs provide an opportunity for older blind and partially-sighted people to engage with a range of topics, including gardening and art.
The book clubs aim to reduce isolation by encouraging members to get out of the house and take part in shared creative activities.
Colin Hayes, deputy provincial grand master for Berkshire, said experiencing the work of Living Paintings first hand proved very touching indeed.
He said: “We are incredibly proud to support the charity and were impressed by the work we saw during our visit. The volunteers were doing a magnificent job running the clubs.
“The Freemasons of Berkshire plan to help Living Paintings further by providing volunteers to assist the Newbury group on an ongoing basis, and we look forward to working with them well into the future.”
Funded entirely by donations from freemasons, the Masonic Charitable Foundation awards millions of pounds each year to charities that support vulnerable people, including those affected by social exclusion.
Age UK states that one million people will go a whole month without speaking to anyone.
Isolation is particularly an issue for blind and partially-sighted people who often find it difficult to meet people due to access issues and a lack of support.
The book clubs stimulate conversation, stir memories, allow people to talk and encourage people to take up new interests.