Thursday 10th June 2021 NCBI (National Council for the Blind of Ireland) is delighted to be celebrating its 90th year in 2021. This milestone is being marked through a series of events and activities for the remainder of the year beginning today with the launch of our new organisational strategic plan ‘Your Ambition, Our Mission 2021-2023 and the publication of the NCBI Annual Report 2020.
Chris White, NCBI CEO said “It is important to reflect and celebrate how the organisation has grown and modernised over 90 years. We have moved from an era where services and supports to people who are blind or vision impaired were minimal to one where our services support and empower people in all aspects of their lives. We are looking back to look forward. Our new strategic plan ‘Your Ambition, Our Mission 2021-2023’ has partnership, innovation and service excellence at its core as it aims to be more responsive and engaging with our sight loss community as well as challenge and dismantle barriers that prevent a truly inclusive society.”
2020 was a difficult year for NCBI and the entire sight loss community given the dominance of the Covid19 pandemic. It was a year characterised by uncertainty, new public health regimes and increased social isolation. Covid19 presented unique challenges to people living with sight loss as it has robbed them of their sense of touch and abiding by social distancing rules continues to be virtually impossible.
Some key points of note in 2020 for NCBI included:
- The switch to delivering services virtually occurred with ease due to the prior investment made in NCBI technology systems and staff and ensured the continuity of our services throughout the pandemic.
- The provision of bespoke services such as the Connection Network in response to the heightened social isolation felt by service users due to lockdown restrictions.
- The commencement and growth of local advocacy groups across the country to unify services users to campaign on local and national issues.
- The development of a new organisational website which is fully accessible and integrated for improved inclusivity of the user experience.
- The temporary closure of our retail stores for a total of 19 weeks yet the continued expansion of the chain including the opening of our first pop-up shop Re:Newed for NCBI on Grafton Street, Dublin for December 2020.
Mr White added “For NCBI, I am proud that despite Covid19 resulting in significant financial struggles, temporary staff lay-offs and shop closures we continued to provide excellent support to people who are blind or vision impaired across the country. It is this promise to constantly support, engage and empower those living with sight loss that will drive us for the next 90 years.”