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About Us

Useful Vision

It can be hard to know where to turn when a child in the family has a visual impairment or is diagnosed as blind. It’s important to know you’re not alone…

We’re here to help – Useful Vision is a registered charity providing positive opportunities, support, and accessible events for visually impaired children and their families across the North East.

Our huge range of imaginative activities, relaxed family events and skills workshops are designed to meet the needs of visually impaired children of all ages and abilities.

Why We Started Useful Vision

Our late son, Ben Wilson, was the inspiration behind Useful Vision when he went blind at the age of 5. Like many parents we had a lot of questions, very little support and found it difficult to locate activities that would be enriching and entertaining for Ben.

By establishing Useful Vision we want to make access to these things easier for other families of visually impaired children and their siblings across the North East.

Today we’re helping hundreds of families across Northumberland, Tyne and Wear and Teesside.

We’re here for support, to help answer your questions, give advice and, most important of all, to give visually impaired children the very best days out, ever!

– Rebecca Wilson, Founder and Trustee

Our Patron - Adam Henson

Adam Henson is perhaps the UK’s most renowned farmer and has an accomplished career in television, radio, and print. Alongside presenting Countryfile to millions of viewers every week, Adam can be seen on Lambing Live with Kate Humble and can be heard on Radio 4’s On Your Farm and Farming Today. Adam is a Sunday Times best-selling author. He published his first book, ‘My Life On The Land’, in 2011 to glowing reviews, and has since authored a memoir, an interactive children’s book, and more.

Adam has been a dedicated supporter and friend of Useful Vision since we opened over 17 years ago.

“When my late nephew Ben lost his sight, it brought home to me the challenges facing families with a visually impaired child. Finding suitable leisure activities, accessing information, and learning about the latest equipment and technology aids was often an uphill struggle. Useful Vision was set up in 2005 and has since become the lead provider of events and activities designed specifically for visually impaired children and their families in the North East. I am delighted to be its Patron and support their fantastic work.”

Adam Henson poses with newborn lambs

Our Patron - Zak Skinner

Zak Skinner, whose dad is from Newcastle, was born with Ocular Albinism and Nystagmus. Despite his visual impairment, he was determined to take part in a wide range of activities as a keen sportsman. He discovered his talent for athletics after attending a Paralympic Development Day in 2015, beginning a journey that would take him to Double European Gold and the Tokyo Paralympics in 2021. He reached the final in both his events, the Long Jump and 100ms (both in the F/T13 classification for VI) and is now looking towards the Paris 2024 games.

“I am so excited to become a Patron for Useful Vision, as I fully understand and appreciate the value of an organisation offering this type of support to young people and their families dealing with the challenges of a visual impairment. I used a similar organisation myself when growing up and am so pleased to now be able to offer my support, and in an area where I still have strong family ties.”

Zak Skinner holding a team GB flag

Get to know Zak

We are delighted to further introduce our patron Zak, a talented sportsman born with Ocular Albinism and Nystagmus.

“I used a similar organisation myself when growing up and am so pleased to now be able to offer my support, and in an area where I still have strong family ties.”

We are honored to have Zak, a medal-winning as our Patron and a beacon of inspiration for Useful Vision families.

5 fun facts about Zak Skinner:

I love my music and played three instruments growing up; piano saxophone and guitar

I’m training to be a Pilates instructor

I love the cinema and any movie on the big screen is good (even though I have to sit very close to the screen!)

My favourite film is Warrior. It’s a great film about family and toughness and fighting to become a champion through difficulties.

– I love Caribbean food, especially jerk chicken

Get to know Zak

What has been your favourite highlight within your career so far?

I think it must be getting my first global podium place at the World Para Champs this year in Paris.  After 6 long years of highs and lows in the sport it was such a massive achievement to finally achieve the bronze medal and it was such a testament to the hard work from everyone involved. However, although Tokyo didn’t go fully to plan, I also would have to mention how incredible it is to go to a Paralympic Games and be involved at the highest level you can be.  It takes a lot of hard work and sacrifice, as well as dedication and determination to be the best you can be and success is never guaranteed, you just have to keep working hard and believing in yourself.  The opportunity to then compete at such a prestigious world class event, and make the finals in two events was fantastic and gave me a lot of joy.

Would you like to ask Zak a question? Let us know and we will certainly do our best to find out! office@usefulvision.org.uk

Register Your Child

Find out how we can help you.

When your child is diagnosed as visually impaired, it's hard to know where to turn. Register your child with Useful Vision and we'll be here with you every step of the way.