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The History of HVL

Herefordshire Association for the Blind (HAB)  (now Herefordshire Vision Links HVL) was founded in 1919 primarily to help solders who had been blinded in the First World War.  It became a registered charity in 1921. 

From 1919 until 1992 HAB  was administered through the offices of the Local Authority with the few aids and equipment being kept in a "wooden cabinet" in the office of the Social Worker for the Blind. 

In 1992 a small semi-detatched house in Mortimer Road, Hereford  was purchased and a Manager appointed to lead HAB.  The Manager started with a chair, table and phone! but the house quickly filled up!

Over the next few years the  HAB's services expanded with the introduction of a Resource Centre, a quarterly Newsletter and two clubs specifically for Blind people.  By 1996 it was apparent that the Association had outgrown Mortimer Road - cooking lunch (for the VIP Club) in a small kitchen and serving sixteen people meant elbows tucked well in! and careful manouvering with hot plates!

Funding was sought to enable the purchase of larger premises and an application was made to the Lottery Charitites Board with an enormous amount of form filling by a few dedicated people.  In December 1996 HAB was informed that the applcation had been successful and a grant for £129,920 was awarded.  "What a happy Christmas that was!"

The next challenge was to find suitable premises because the original building identifed during the bid was sold prior to receiving the funds. So in 1997 HAB  moved into 36 Widemarsh Street along with staff and builders! and was officially opened by the Lord Lieutenant of Hereford in 1998.

In 2003  The Royal National Institute for the Blind (RNIB) withdrew funding of around £10,500 per year and alternative funding streams were sought.  Over the next few years a Home Visiting Service was set up with a two year funding stream from the Department of Health and around 2003 a Hospital Information Service was set up again with a three year funding stream from the Department of Health.  Both of these services still run today.  For many years HAB have acted as the local agent for the British Wireless for the Blind.  The Hereford Talking Newspaper has a home in our premises and the Macular Group also run their meetings from our premises.  Raising the profile of HAB has always been a priority for the Trustees and in 2009 the charity relaunched the  Association with the working title of Herefordshire Vision Links (HVL) giving it a modern viberant look.  New publications, signage and banners promoted this new working title.

Today we continue to grow with outreach services taking place in our local market towns.  We also provide a Hospital Information Service to peripheral clinics in our market towns.  We run clubs and activities as well as having a drop in centre in the Gerald Holloway Lounge. 

We continue to work closely with other organisations such as Age Concern, Deaf Direct, and are starting to work with RNCB in Hereford.  In October 2010 our new website was launched bringing us uptodate in this modern world where we now live.

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