This year VICTA celebrated 30 years of our charity. It has been the perfect time to reflect on everything that has been achieved and to look ahead to a positive future for the charity and those we support. Join us in a look back over our growth, there is an abundance of wonderful memories and milestones to celebrate, thank you to everyone who has been part of our story so far…
VICTA began as a local support group, families met for coffee and days out, it was a time to share, laugh and cry with each other about the highs and lows of living with a visually impaired child. VICTA was also a chance for children to get to know other youngsters, and for siblings to share their thoughts with other siblings about living with a blind brother or sister.
VICTA was officially registered with the Charities Commission – to promote the education of, and provide for the care and maintenance of visually impaired children under the age of 21 years.
VICTA is fortunate to have been involved with the London Marathon from its very early days. Thanks to founding member John Brookes’ foresight, VICTA was one of the first charities to purchase marathon places and secure the golden bond spaces we still benefit from today.
Growing our reach…
Our first ever Family Weekend was organised with the intent to bring families together and build support networks. An activity centre seemed the ideal setting where the children could have lots of fun while pushing their expectation of what they could achieve. The inaugural weekend was held on the Isle of Wight and although a learning curve, it was a huge success.
After concentrating on families and young children it became apparent there was a gap in the support for young adults. VICTA expanded activity breaks to reach young people aged 18 to 25 years.
Our youth breaks combine outdoor activities with every day skills such as preparing meals. They are a great place for young people to socialise and meet people. In 2012 VICTA raised its upper age limit to 29 years.
VICTA was inspired to provide young people with the opportunity to travel in a semi-independent way. Our first activity saw our over 18s head to Paris with a group of VICTA staff and volunteers.
Today and beyond…
VICTA revisited its roots bringing back family days designed to connect parents and children across the country. This first year they ranged from an indoor play centre in Preston to a trip to the zoo in Kent. VICTA also took a group of children to an overnight sleepover at the Natural History Museum! These days continued to grow in strength throughout 2014.
In 2014 VICTA organised its first activity aimed at infants from birth to the age of four. The weekend brought families together to make new connections and share information on resources available to them. We have held this event annually ever since and due to its positive impact we hope to grow this activity further.
VICTA’s family weekends have grown in reputation and popularity, so much so that in 2015 we launched a second weekend. VICTA now run a Spring Weekend and a Summer Weekend each year.
VICTA runs two family weekends a year visiting different activity centres across the country. Each weekend has a different theme which always leads to fabulous efforts at the fancy dress party!
Feedback from families and young people led VICTA to organise events for young people who felt they had outgrown family events but not quite ready for our 18+ activities. We launched a series of youth breaks for this younger age bracket and even an international trip to Paris. Our 14-17 programme started in 2016 with a series of themed youth breaks from drama workshops to beauty tips! These activities have grown and in 2017 we hosted a Sports Camp at RNC and a trip to Barcelona.
This year VICTA joined the DofE programme as an official club with the aim of tailoring the process ensuring accessiblity to young people who are blind or partially sighted. We have launched our Bronze pilot scheme and are excited to trial and grow the programme with our enthusiastic group of applicants.
Parents Helping Parents
Aware that parents of children with a visual impairment are at a greater risk of developing mental health problems and can often feel isolated and helpless, VICTA is developing a Parents Helping Parents (PHP) programme. We plan to recruit and train volunteer parents who themselves have VI children to work as ‘buddies’. Buddies will provide face-to-face support to parents who are going through challenging and often traumatic times. We hope PHP will help parents become less isolated, more empowered and better equipped to manage their family’s situation.
VICTA would like to thank everyone who has raised funds, volunteered and worked tirelessly to grow the charity over the years. And of course, all of the families and young people who have attended our activities, helping to support each other and spread the word about our charity. It has been an incredible 30 years and we are looking forward to our next chapter!