History research.

Currently the SRSB only have a short history on their website that pretty much just consist of a timeline. This isn’t greatly informative if you wanted to know more about the history and therefore emphasises the need for them to shout about their past and the great things they’ve done.

The charity was started over 150 years ago in about 1860 by two sisters, Anne and Eliza Harrison, the daughters of a local manufacturer. Following Anne’s death, Eliza remembered Anne’s particular interest, and pity, for the blind. Eliza then lived a rather frugal life to devote any spare penny she could to put forward into building a permanent benefit for the blind and a year later, formed the Blind Institution with a small committee of women.

Milestones of the charity

1860 - First workshops appeared on West Street in dilapidated buildings. This was the beginnings of the charity (then known as ‘The North of England Manufactory for the Blind’). The workshops provided training in trades like furniture and basket making for the blind people, and to provide them with employment.

1880 - The ‘School for the Mental and Industrial Training of the Young Blind’ opened on Manchester Road. Children were taught a range of skills to prepare them for work. The school closed in 1997, after being operated by Sheffield City Council for the last 40 years, as the children were integrated into mainstream schooling.

1882 - The charity’s name changed to ‘The Sheffield Institution for the Blind’.

1899 - Cottages in Crosspool were purpose built for the organisation and provided accommodation for the blind people the organisation helped.

1906 - Old workshops replaced by new buildings still on West Street.

1921 - Following a visit by King George V, became known as ‘The Royal Sheffield Institution for the Blind’.

1935 - Another home was opened in Crosspool which provided residential care for the elderly blind and is still in use by the charity to this day.

1939 - Mappin Street centre first opened to provide an entertainment centre for the blind and a head office base. Up until 2007 the centre provided space for a range of services and activities.

1959 - Cairn Home was extended to house 12 more elderly blind people.

1960 - The Society celebrated 100 years since it began.

1989 - Cairn Home was completely refurbished. Now has en suite facilities for the residence.

1996 - To reflect the change in the way the organisation was developing, the charity also became a company limited by guarantee, and changed its name again to what we know it as today – The Sheffield Royal Society for the Blind.

2009 - The new Mappin Street centre reopened and Cairn home got a new sensory garden.

2010 - The Earl Of Wessex officially opened the centre on February 10th.

2011 - Updated the website to provide better information for clients and supporters of the charity as part of the new rebrand and marketing strategy.

That is the key events on the timeline that the charity provide. I would really like to find out more about what’s happened since 2011, and talk to the people behind the charity, as obviously this timeline is quite formal, and factual. It would be interesting to talk to the clients at the charity, and maybe some of the ones that live in Cairn Home as they would have been involved in the charity for a while, and it would be interesting to see from their perspective how its all changed, and how it’s benefited them.


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