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Vision Bermuda’s government grant halved

A charity dedicated to support for the blind is concerned its clients will be left behind as cash is poured into the fight against Covid-19.

Vince Godber, a vision rehabilitation professional with Vision Bermuda, said the charity's government grant had been halved and he was worried the international focus on the pandemic would hurt fundraising efforts for other causes.

Mr Godber said: “A lot of third-sector charities are struggling because a lot of the funding has been given to Covid-19 and related causes, quite understandably, to support people who are in need.

“Unfortunately that means charities like Vision Bermuda are worried if we are still going to be here next year.”

Mr Godber explained: “The concern is really going to be the needs of disabled people and the visually impaired going forward.”

He concluded: “At the moment these people, because of their economic situation, are at the bottom of the heap and it's quite easy for them to be left behind even further.”

Mr Godber said Vision Bermuda had got a $30,000 grant from the Government, but was told recently it would be slashed to $15,000.

The charity had also looked forward to being one of several beneficiaries from the 2020 Axa End-to-End event, which was postponed until October 31 because of the pandemic.

Mr Godber added: “That event alone brings charities $45,000 to $50,000, but now we are not even sure if it's going to go ahead this year or if it will be pushed even further forward.”

He said Vision Bermuda's board was looking at ways to reduce costs to ensure the charity's survival.

Mr Godber added the charity's office in Beacon House on Dundonald Street, Hamilton, had been closed for more than a month and he was not sure when it would reopen.

He said: “That might be quite a way down the road.

“The group work we usually do is not feasible right now and without public transportation people cannot always get here.”

Mr Godber added the charity's work continued and it tried to help its clients in their homes.

He said: “A lot of our clientele are seniors, who are a high-risk group, so we have been working with Meals on Wheels to get food out to our clients who don't have the funds or transport to get to the shops.

“We had some mobile phones donated, so we were able to get some of our clients up and running with them, so they can order food or keep in touch with us if they need it.”

Mr Godber said most people with sight problems had been asked to stay home, as social-distancing was difficult without vision and physical contact posed additional risks because of the nature of the pandemic.

He added that clients had been able to keep up with news about the pandemic through television and radio broadcasts, but that more could be done to ensure vital information was available.

Mr Godber said: that the charity had looked at the adoption of voice command systems like Amazon Echo, which he said had become “fairly cheap and doesn't require any real skill”.

He added: “The Government could potentially build a gov.bm app which would allow people to go through their website with their voice and get the information they need.

“What we're doing at the moment is calling up our members, making sure they have the information and making sure they are up to date.”

Uncertain times: Vince Godber, of Vision Bermuda (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

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Published May 18, 2020 at 9:00 am (Updated May 18, 2020 at 9:02 am)

Vision Bermuda’s government grant halved

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