Charity News

WCSM Charitable Work
The Worshipful Company of Spectacle Makers’ Charity is aiming to build its fund to more than £1 million by the time of the Company’s 400th Anniversary in 2029. This will allow the Charity not just to maintain and increase its current level of giving, but also to build up the capital endowment, the income from which is distributed to good causes each year.  We currently give around £40,000 per year from the Charity and around £30,000 a year from the WCSM Education Trust.  Our aim is to grow our total giving over time to £100,000 a year.

Every gift and standing order makes a big difference but there are also other ways to help.  For example, you could:

  • Attend a Spectacle Makers’ Society event, any surpluses from which go to support our charitable work.  
  • Pledge an amount from a retirement lump sum
  • Recommend your business or employer to commit to an annual corporate donation
  • Consider the Charity when updating a will or an associated letter of wishes
  • Organise a fundraising event or ask your friends and colleagues for sponsorship.  Please follow sensible guidelines and make sure you use the registered number of the Charity when fundraising.  The Clerk will happily guide you on the Do's and Don't's.
  • Buy a share in the 100 Club
Your support is much appreciated by the people who benefit from our grants.

Recent Donations

Goalball UK

The Worshipful Company of Spectacle Makers' Charity is now into its second year of funding to Goalball UK. The grant of up to £10,000 in each of 3 years (subject to annual review and satisfactory progress and reporting) is intended primarily to help set up new clubs in London, the first being in Tower Hamlets. The team at Goalball UK are hoping to be in contact with Eye Clinic Liaison Officers, particularly those at Moorfields and Guys and St Thomas's Hospital, to encourage young people and their families to go along and try out the sport. Taster sessions are being offered at the London Elephants Club, at Elephant and Castle, in addition to club days in other parts of the country.

At a special event in Sheffield, Goalball UK's base, in September 2018, Charity Trustees were able to meet the men's Goalball squad just about to head out to Poland for the European championships. Both the men's and women's teams have a real chance of reaching the Paralympics within the next few years, if excellent coaching and an overwhelming team spirit count for anything. The team of young men explained how Goalball participants treat each other as family. They look after each other, meeting at central stations before making their way together to sports venues. Chain hotels are apparently ideal, being both cheaper and always laid out to the same pattern, but the costs of travelling by train around the country are a challenge for many.

It was only perhaps when the time came for volunteers to try playing Goalball for themselves that the speed and expertise needed really came home. The new players were given a special eye shield and were shown how to use the goalposts to gauge their position on the pitch, but suddenly realised how difficult it was to work out not just where they were but where the ball was coming from. Thankfully the ball was being thrown with considerably less power than in the previous international-standard training match.

Since then, we've supported the 2019 London Goalball Cup, with junior and mixed ability teams in action from Croydon, Sutton, Winchester and London and we'll be looking out for even more clubs joining the London League during 2019 and 2020.

Our support for Goalball has been further boosted by a significant donation by The Howard Victor Skan Charitable Trust, through our Liveryman Roger Skan.  This is just one example of our Charity's work attracting the attention of others able and willing to support good causes.  We hope it will help to increase still further the availability of opportunities  for people of all ages and backgrounds who have experienced sight loss or significant vision impairment.

Andean Medical Mission

The Andean Medical Mission aims to reduce avoidable blindness in Bolivia, an area with very few eye health professionals available to deliver care and support. The Charity's funding has been used to help train local doctors in basic eye care and provide very basic equipment which is suitable for use by local teams who may not have had significant training in producing spectacles. 

Having delivered training in all the main towns, there is a trainer in place in each location. The work of the project in the last few months has moved on to needs assessment and training in the 130 small villages where there is a health centre with a doctor or a nurse.

Baluji Music Foundation

In 2018, the Baluji Music Foundation  received a grant of £5,000.

Founded in 2008, the Baluji Music Foundation is a charity which facilitates blind and visually impaired people's participation in music making. It provides workshops and performance opportunities and supports blind musicians seeking to advance a career in music. Through music and performance, the organisation seeks to promote positive attitudes to visual impairment and disability. The charity was established in 2008 by prominent blind Indian musician Baluji Shrivastav OBE together with musician and writer Linda Shanson.

The Inner Vision Orchestra, the UK's only blind orchestra, has performed in venues across London and is promoting accessibility to music for more blind and visually impaired musicians, giving them confidence through workshops and performances.

Northern Ballet

For almost 50 years, Northern Ballet has been bringing world-class dance and storytelling to communities across the UK. Northern Ballet delivers a diverse education programme and engages with over 60,000 people of all ages, means and abilities every year. In addition to productions at over 40 venues nationwide, the Company's learning team work to break down the barriers to participation and offer accessible resources, workshops and activities, from wheelchair dance training courses (In Motion), to hospice projects enabling children with life limiting conditions and their families to enjoy dance together.

Our Charity's grant of £5,000 has helped to fund Access Days in Nottingham, Sheffield, Newcastle, Hull, Woking and Leeds for vision impaired people. These days involve a free Touch Tour which introduces elements of the production to aid their understanding of the show. Participants can hear a description of the scenery, feel the props and costumes and discover the shapes and quality of movement from the ballet with the aid of Company dancers. Performances are then brought to life with a detailed description by VocalEyes with music played live by Northern Ballet Sinfonia.

"I enjoyed the sailing, especially when I stopped the boat from tipping over in the windy conditions."

Charity grants have helped MACS to deliver confidence-building holidays for a very special group of children.

MACS (Microphthalmia, Anophthalmia and Coloboma Support) is UK's national charity for children born without eyes or with underdeveloped eyes. These young people also face additional health needs on top of their MACS conditions including asthma, ASD, learning difficulties and nystagmus (constant uncontrolled movement of the eyes).

32 MACS children typically take part in the Caldecotte adventure trip each summer.  Younger children arrive with a parent; those above 13 are encouraged to be independent.  

All the children can choose from a wide range of activities including canoeing, climbing, zorbing, fencing, crate stacking and archery. MACS sets each activity by ability. This means that those who had some experience can be given an appropriate level of challenge while those with limited or no experience can develop at a pace that suits them and usually achieve more than they might have expected.


In the past, the Charity has helped to fund visits for vision-impaired visitors as part of the Open House weekend in the City of London, which happens each autumn. More recently, the Charity was approached by St Paul's Cathedral, working with VocalEyes, to see if we could help with training for those conducting touch tours in the Cathedral.

St Paul's had two objectives:

  • to have a qualified Guide on each weekday and each Saturday team who is a trained expert in visual impairment and able to deliver a competent Touch and Feel guided tour.
  • to further train a visual impairment champion on each of our key staff welcome teams (Visits, Admissions, Schools and Family Learning, Virgers and the Audio Guide team.) These Champions would better understand the requirements of a visually impaired person and be confidently and appropriately pro-active in helping them get the most out of their visit, and would also be aware of the contents and resources of our touch tour.

The donation of £3,000 was invested in a three day course: a two-day programme delivered by two trainers from "Vocaleyes", a half day pre-course preparation and a half day follow up consultancy. The course was attended by 6 Volunteer Guides and 8 members of staff.

Day one covered awareness and etiquette and introduced the concept of audio description; it included experiential learning and practice in description. Day two was focussed on practice, mostly in the Cathedral, followed by a session to agree next steps.

Feedback from the course was extremely positive with all participants agreeing that the course had fully exceeded their expectations. Guidance on approaching and assisting people with vision impairment was considered particularly valuable.

The members of the group agreed to continue working as a team and to be "champions" for blind and partially sighted people within their own teams – for example, spreading the message that there is an audio described tour on the St Paul's audio guide. St Paul's is also hoping to achieve a higher attendance by visitors with disabilities, including vision impairment.

Vision 2020 Links Programme

The Vision 2020 Links programme was launched in 2004 to improve the quality and quantity of eye care training and services in Africa. A link is established by matching a UK eye department in a long term partnership with a UK eye department. Each link is directly contributing to reducing the number of people who are unnecessarily blind.

One example is the launch of national diabetic retinopathy screening and treatment services in Zambia, thanks to a link between the eye departments in Kitwe in Zambia and Frimley Park hospital in Camberley. The Government of Zambia has now agreed to provide mobile screening cameras for five provinces and training for ophthalmic nurses is under way.

Blind in Business

The small charity Blind in Business was founded in 1992 by three blind graduates.  Despite graduating with very good degrees, young people with low vision or significant vision impairment can find it difficult to move into professional jobs, often because of wariness among employers. Blind in Business offers both training to build confidence in candidates and support and advisory services to employers, providing workshops for Human Resources teams and interviewers and seminars on integrating blind and partially sighted colleagues.  They have proved on many occasions that a vision problem does not stop someone from participating in meetings, brainstorming with their colleagues and delivering very powerful and persuasive presentations.  Business needs talent and innovative solutions - and there is plenty of that among the young graduate community.

 Other successes!

Children using a Synoptophore at the lab in Reading - a project helped by our Charity in 2016

The WCSM Charity has supported a Vision Aid Overseas project helping Ebola survivors

Malawi graduates

The Charity has helped to fund ophthalmic nurse training in Lesotho

The London Goalball Cup took place in Croydon for the first time in May 2019, with participants from across London, Winchester and Cambridge.