“As an organisation we don’t get much publicity about what we do so it makes this award even more special.”

Debbani Ghosh, Manger from the Association of Blind Asians (Leeds) collecting their award from HRH Prince Andrew, The Duke of York

Debbani Ghosh, Manger from the Association of Blind Asians (Leeds) collecting their award from HRH Prince Andrew, The Duke of York

This week, we also had the privilege in speaking to Debbani Ghosh, Manager at the Association of Blind Asians (ABA) who has just collected an award on their behalf from HRH Prince Andrew, The Duke of York for ‘The Duke of York’s Community Initiative Award 2013’. The Community Initiative was founded by HRH the Duke of York to recognise the work of voluntary organisations in Yorkshire who do exceptional work to meet the needs of their local communities.

ABA started in 1989 and it is the only service of its kind in the UK, currently supporting over 280 people who have (or are at risk of) visual impairment. ABA’s work includes advocacy, drop-in advice sessions, a weekly luncheon club, assistance with reading and replying to official correspondence and health education. ABA is run by 6 members of staff and volunteers, they offer support to people from black and minority ethnic communities across the whole of the city, whilst taking in to account their members different culture and language needs.

What did winning the award mean to you and ABA?
“It was a really great to get the recognition and shows all the hard work we have done in the community is appreciated.  It has meant a lot to me and all the staff. As an organisation we don’t get much publicity about what we do, so it makes this award even more special. Getting the award has raised our profile and we are getting a lot more people calling us and emailing to congratulate us, which hopefully will mean we get to help even more people.”

“When I joined the ABA in 2008 it was almost a ‘one man band’ and now we have 6 members of staff all working together to give the best service we can without losing the focus on what we are there for – to promote and improve the lives of people with visual impairments.”

What was involved in winning the award?
“We were told we could have a visit from a representative from The Duke of York’s Community Initiative, which we did. I took them around and showed them all the different groups we run and they spoke to the service users – they were really impressed with what we were doing, especially as we are only a relatively small organisation.”

“I have to say, we couldn’t achieve half of what we have without the dedication from our staff; they do everything from the heart and always go out of their way to help and save money wherever they can.”

“I must also thank Leeds City Council for supporting us over the years, this has really made a difference to us and without them I don’t know if we would still be here. I get a lot of calls from around the country asking how they can start up a similar organisation or group and I always tell them that they need to get the support from their local authority!”

Thank you Debanni for taking the time to speak to us. We’d like to pass on our congratulations on behalf of Leeds City Council on being awarded The Duke of York’s Community Initiative Awards for 2013. It’s clear to us what a truly unique organisation you are and what a difference you make to people’s lives.

 To find out more about the Association of Blind Asians visit their website at www.abaleeds.blogspot.co.uk, telephone them on 0113 210 3347, email info@abaleeds.org.uk or follow them on Twitter @ABALeeds.

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