Cardiff Institute for the Blind has changed its public name to Sight Life as of 14 October 2019. As many of you will know, Cardiff Institute for the Blind (CIB) has been consulting on whether to change its name and what name to change it to.
As some background, the organisation was founded as the Association for Improving the Social and Working Conditions of the Blind in 1865 and the name changed at an unknown date to Cardiff Institute for the Blind. After signing an association agreement with RNIB in 2009, the organisation introduced a trading name of Cardiff, Vales and Valleys as it expanded across South Wales.
This name was not working and to coincide with the organisation’s 150th anniversary in 2015, we decided to go back to Cardiff Institute for the Blind but began using the RNIB Cymru name outside of Cardiff – mainly to retain contracts with Swansea Council and Rhondda Cynon Taf Council, who did not feel the Cardiff Institute for the Blind name was appropriate.
Feedback from staff, service-users, partners and funders since then has been that our name and dual branding (using the RNIB Cymru name) was confusing and hampering our ability to support people recently diagnosed with sight loss and our ability to fundraise.
An increasing number of new service-users where we make the initial contact were saying things like: “Why are you contacting me when I’m not blind?” and “I don’t think the services you provide can help me”, as many people think of us as being the institute where you go to make wicker products.
Using the RNIB name outside of Cardiff became more complicated with the introduction of the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR); where you have to be clear who is holding personal data and why; and people who wanted to donate or fundraise also weren’t clear who the money was going to.
There is no doubt that the Cardiff Institute for the Blind name is quite well known in Cardiff but many people just refer to us as ‘CIB’, ‘the Institute’ or ‘the Blind’ and those who have not used our services have a perception of us as being quite old fashioned and focussing on providing manual jobs for blind people. This is not ideal when you want to attract a wide range of people to benefit from a wide range of modern, empowering services.
Income from donations and legacies (which is people leaving money or an asset in their will) and we believe a change of name will give us an opportunity to have a conversation with our service-users and supporters about the financial challenges facing all charities, the need to be relevant and continually evolve, and how essential donations and legacies are to an organisation such as ours.
The CIB Board agreed for us to consult on changing the name and we did this in two stages. In stage one, we asked people whether we should change our name and what might be the response if we did. As people unanimously agreed a name change was needed in the first consultation, the second stage was to find our what thoughts people had on a name, strapline and logo.
In total, we have done four focus groups with around 60 people, randomised telephone calls to service-users across our areas and nearly 300 people completed an online survey.
When we asked service-users “Would you object to Cardiff Institute for the Blind changing its name?”, only one person said yes but they said they would continue using our services if we did.
We asked people to provide comments about Cardiff Institute for the Blind’s name and identity and the following is a pretty good summary of the response:
“The name was a barrier to me and I just wish I’d come earlier”.
“I didn’t want to go to CIB because the name put me off but a friend said I should and I wish I’d gone earlier”.
“I only came to you out of desperation because I didn’t originally think you were for me. How wrong I was”.
“I’m not blind and so it’s not right for me and other partially sighted people”.
“I agree 100% it needs updating. It’s old fashioned. I hate the Institute part of it”.
“Think it needs to better represent where you work”.
“Doesn’t seem like it fits who you are any more”.
“You need something catchy, so people remember it”.
A report on the focus groups produced by RNIB, who delivered the sessions, summarised the views of people as being:
“There was a consensus that services users placed great value on their relationship with Cardiff Institute for the Blind (CIB) and regarded the staff and peers as ‘a family’. However, most were surprised this would be the case when first approaching CIB due to the name and image.
“People hugely value the service and some felt regret that they had taken so long to approach CIB due to their misconceptions about if and how CIB could help them. People were keen that others new to sight loss did not make the same mistake.
“There was a universal acknowledgement that CIB’s current name no longer reflected the breadth of its services and locations and the logo did not illustrate the charity as it is today.
“The recommendation to the change CIB’s name was overwhelmingly welcomed across all focus groups. Only one participant felt the name should stay the same because of the historical connections.
“Participants had a variety of reasons to explain why they thought the CIB name is no longer right for the organisation. These included ‘Cardiff’ not covering the geographical areas CIB operates in and so was misleading, ‘Institute’ being dated, unfriendly and off-putting and ‘Blind’ not representing those who are partially sighted.”
The name Sight Life was chosen as the most liked name in the consultation we did, with people saying it was positive, catchy and reflected the fact we support people to enjoy an independent, active, social and fulfilling life.
In addition to a new name, we’ve developed a bilingual strapline of Local sight loss support / Cymorth colled golwg lleol, as people were keen we stress that we provide local support and that sight loss is the subject we focus on.
We also created the logo in consultation with a wide range of people with sight loss and those who may develop sight loss in the future and we have been told the final version is accessible, distinctive and is good at giving people a flavour of what they can expect from us an as organisation. The logo was designed by Helen Brown free of charge. She is a friend of our Director and we’d like to say a huge thanks to her for her very kind generosity.
In addition to our new website address (www.sightlife.wales), we’ve changed our Twitter handle to @SightLifeWales1. Our Facebook page is at www.facebook.com/SightLife.Wales. Our email addresses are now [email protected] You can find full contact details by clicking here.
We’d love to have your feedback, which you can leave via the following online survey – https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/F6X2V3D
We would also be really grateful if you can tell everyone you know about our new name and share it via social media as widely as possible. We want everyone with sight loss in our area to enjoy an independent, active, social and fulfilling life and to do that, people need to know about us and know how to get in touch with us.
We have retained Cardiff Institute for the Blind as our registered charity and company name for the time being, to make the transition easier from an administrative perspective and ensure there are no difficulties with cheque donations or will legacies from those who don’t know we have changed our name.