The Wirral Society of the Blind and Partially Sighted was established in October 1989 by a group of visually impaired people. Their aim was to create an organisation to offer help, support and advice to those with serious sight problems in Wirral. The group set up a steering committee to plan how the Society would be organised, a constitution was written and an application for registration was submitted to the Charity Commission on 24th October 1989 when the Society became a registered charity. The group met in a variety of places including a Council for Voluntary Service building, Church Halls and even members front rooms. It was decided that permanant premises would be needed to offer a full range of services and support for blind and partially sighted people. The search began!
The local authority were approached and eventually a disused, single storey building on the corner of Birkenhead Park was offered on a short term lease, in 1991, Ashville Lodge became the home of the Wirral Society of the Blind and Partially Sighted. The building had been many things in its time and had been used to store old furniture for two years before the Society came along, it had a hole in the roof and was in a poor state of repair. Many hands made light work and in time Ashville Lodge was repaired, redecorated and fitted out as a Resource Centre. A Development Officer was recruited who brought in volunteers to staff the centre and visit people in the community.
The Society has come a long way since 1989. The Centre was refurbished and extended in 1999 to accommodate the increase in service use over the years. Ashville Lodge was reopened in year 2000 by the Duchess of Gloucester who was impressed by the work and achievements of The Society. Over the years we have established links with the RNIB and other local and national organisations and can offer a wide referral service for clients. We have built a positive working relationship with the NHS which has led us to providing an outreach information centre based at Arrowe Park Hospital. Our plans for the future will involve another building development project which will provide a purpose built facility for learning and training. We are the only organisation based in Wirral offering support for the blind and partially sighted people with the mission statement of promoting well-being and independent living.
We have met some remarkable people over the years, people who have influence the Society and had a great deal to do with the growth and development making us what we are today. The late Mr Bill Dowling, our first Chairperson and founder member, Mr Derek Beauchamp, founder member and Chair person for many years, the late Vera Steer, founder member, to name but a few. It is through hard work, commitment and determination of these people that we have our ever growing Society.