Knowledge: Case Studies

Henshaws, a northern-based charity that works with 75,000 people living with sight loss across the Greater Manchester area, explains how its digital progression is further helping its users to gain confidence and independence.

Henshaws was originally founded by Thomas Henshaw in 1837 to create a blind asylum for young people in the Greater Manchester area. Today, it is one of the oldest charities in the north, and still primarily works with people living with blindness, but also offers support to many others with disabilities as well.

The organisation provides a specialist college, housing services for people living on its premises that have care provided to them, an arts and crafts centre, community services where it engages with 75,000 blind people across Greater Manchester and throughout the UK, and additionally has a growing digital presence. With a turnover of over £10 million, it is classified as a large charity.

Louise Ferguson, Executive Assistant to Henshaws’ CEO, explains why the charity has seen a 33% increase in staff over the past three years. “We’ve got an ageing population and reducing state support, so organisations like Henshaws are absolutely crucial to provide support for people who may not know where to go. We want to be the go-to place for people with visual impairment and other disabilities.” She says that the number of people living with visual impairment in particular is a growing problem, and about 50% of people living with sight loss or visual impairment also have other disabilities that require support.

All of the work the charity does aligns with its guiding values. “Our aim is to help people go beyond expectations, and that’s what we live and breathe.” Ferguson says this includes both staff exceeding expectations in how they help the people they work with, and for the people who use the charity to exceed what they expect to achieve.

By Elizabeth Akass, Editor, Engage Business Media

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