Sight Life has appointed Rich Harvey as the first CEO in its 156 year history. He will ensure the charity continues to support people with sight loss across South Wales, while overseeing our return to independence after being part of the RNIB Group since 2009.
Rich said: “This is a great opportunity to maintain and extend the local face to face support for blind and partially sighted people at the heart of what Sight Life does. I’m delighted to join a strong and dedicated team, led by Operations Manager Michelle Jones, which has continued to provide a lifeline to so many vulnerable people during the pandemic.”
Welcoming Rich, who has many years experience in the charity sector and has worked in the National Partnership Development Team with the RNIB, Sight Life chairman John Sanders added: “Recruiting a CEO instead of a director is a big step for us. It reflects our ambition as a charity and also the scale of need in south Wales, especially as the number of people living with sight loss is rising.”
After Sight Life’s de-merger next year from the UK wide RNIB Group, both charities will still work together to help people with sight loss. The separation, though, will allow each charity to focus on its core strengths. For Sight Life this means providing practical help to anyone with limited sight so that they can shop, pay bills, travel, work, access leisure activities and do most of the things that people with ordinary vision take for granted.
Sight Life used to be known as Cardiff Institute for the Blind. We changed our name in 2019 to reflect the fact that we work beyond Cardiff, including Swansea and RCT (Rhondda Cynon Taf). The name change also recognises the fact that we support people with any degree of sight loss, not only those who are blind.
October 28, 2021 — Sight Life members have once again challenged perceptions of what people with sight loss can do by taking to the stage. In conjunction with Company of Sirens, the charity’s drama group has developed and performed a theatre piece entitled “With Eyes Closed” in Cardiff’s Llanover Hall.
The hour long performance is based on the experiences of and written by people ranging in age from their 20s to 60s who live with vision impairment on a daily basis. The piece developed from a series of taster drama workshops supported by the Llanover Hall Charity and performances run from October 27th to 30th.
Writing on website Get The Chance, Reviewer Barbara Hughes-Moore said: “The performers are all so natural on the stage that I was stunned to learn this was their first foray into acting … Tales affecting in their simplicity, are told with honesty, joy, and laughter.”
Few if any of the performers had previous drama experience, but thanks to Arts Council Wales and National Lottery funding, had the support of Company of Sirens’ directors Chris Durnall and Angharad Matthews. Stacey Blythe provided live music, Alastair Sill audio description and Cara Hood lighting and sound.
“Eyes Wide Closed” was written and performed in memory of Ffion Miles, a member of Sight Life’s drama group, who died in January 2021.
Sight Life is to leave the RNIB Group and become an independent local sight loss charity.
The decision was made by the Trustees of Sight Life after much consideration, including the views of service users, and conversations with the RNIB’s Trustees and the Executive Leadership team. We concluded that becoming an independent charity once again – as we were until 2009 – is in the best interests of blind and partially sighted people across South Wales.
In agreement with the RNIB, we expect to complete the de-merger at the end of March 2022. Until then, we remain part of the RNIB Group. Afterwards we will continue to work with the RNIB just as other local charities for the blind and partially sighted do. This was a mutually agreed decision with the RNIB who have been very supportive throughout the process.
Although there is much work to be done to complete the de-merger, this will not impact on service delivery to Sight Life customers and we are confident that moving forward we can grow our services to provide even more help and support to blind and partially sighted people across South Wales.
Interim Director of Operations