One of Britain’s oldest social enterprises offered dignity and purpose to blind and disabled people – and supported them to live independent lives. Now the former workers are isolated, out of pocket, and without the support they urgently need. Help SEUK support the ex-workers and campaign for change.
Historic social enterprise and charity Clarity Employment for Blind People (EBP) was founded in 1854 with a mission to provide employment and training to blind and disabled people. Around 85, mostly disabled, people had a meaningful job helping to produce toiletries and cleaning products.
In January 2020 Clarity EBP went into administration and its assets were purchased by a commercial business organisation that committed to keeping Clarity as a social enterprise. The company was renamed Clarity Products Limited by the new owners.
Now the gates to the Clarity factory are locked and supporters of the social enterprise have told the BBC they were 'shocked' at claims that disabled workers had gone unpaid.
Read the BBC story here: 'Boss accused of defrauding blind workers' pensions' https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-60162686
and here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-55664266
The former Clarity workers didn’t just work at the factory, it was at the centre of many of their lives and offered support with the things most of us take for granted, with transport, reading letters and helping with hospital appointments and other social services.
Ozzie, one of the workers, told SEUK: ”Clarity was like a family for us, there were day trips and holidays organised that we went on together - and on weekdays we often stayed late in the staff area that was part of the factory, just to be together and socialise. We’d have pizza and there was a pool table and it was really important for everyone to be together as some of us didn’t have anyone at home and were lonely when they weren’t at work.”
Now those workers, some of whom worked at Clarity for more than 30 years, are struggling to copy emotionally and physically. Some are lonely and isolated without the support they need to deal with tasks such as claiming benefits, arranging medical appointments and organising travel and social activities. Some are not connected with social services or benefits advice locally.
Ozzie told SEUK: ‘We just want to get together and be with each other again, get people out of their houses and mixing again. We would have some pizza and have somebody there who can read our letters and help us deal with them. Some of the guys are really worried as they’ve got letters arriving but no one to read it for them, they have money worries and need help with claiming benefits.”
With your help we can help get the workers the support they so desperately need; funding for them to put on social events that get the workers back together, and to help them get support and access to benefits information. SEUK will look to work with charity partners to help the workers get the support they need.
And SEUK will also fight for change to help protect stakeholders in cases like this in the future and highlight the importance of retaining social value.
SEUK is committed to raising funds to help support the welfare of the former workers particularly those who are disabled or have long term medical conditions and have suffered financial and social disadvantage as a result of the ending of their employment with the company. That’s why the funds raised in this Crowdfunder appeal will be ringfenced for support to these vulnerable people.
Why is SEUK launching a crowdfunding appeal?
SEUK is the membership body for the social enterprise movement and Clarity EBP was a longstanding SEUK member, so we wanted to stand beside our former member and its staff team.
SEUK plays a vital role in championing the social enterprise sector and we will seek to reform the policy agenda to try to safeguard stakeholders and prioritise the retention of social value.
Funds raised in this Crowdfunder appeal will be ringfenced for supporting the welfare of disabled former workers of Clarity EBP.