Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) is a registered charity, number 226227, in England and Wales; and number SCO39316 in Scotland. Established in 1868, RNIB was incorporated under Royal Charter in 1949, with a Supplemental Charter in 1993 (revised in 2007).
RNIB has undergone a period of constitutional review. It is governed by a Trustee Board of currently 20 that meets a minimum of four times a year and takes all important strategic, policy and financial decisions, and has overall responsibility for RNIB Group activities. There are no restrictions on the way in which the Charity can operate.
Trustees are elected by the UK Members' Forum or appointed by the Board, for a three year term of office, following which they can choose to retire or may seek re-election/re-appointment. However, no Trustee may serve for more than three consecutive terms of three years of office unless they become one of the Charity's Honorary Officers (RNIB Group Chair, Vice-Chair or Honorary Treasurer).
A proportion of our Trustees are appointed following a process of open competition. Advertisements are placed in appropriate publications and websites. Candidates are invited to apply on the basis of a Trustee job description, person specification and the specific skills identified by the Board. Applications are reviewed against the person specification and the specialist information being sought by the Board. Points are then awarded on the basis of how well the candidate met the criteria. Shortlisted applicants are invited to interview and again are scored against the selection criteria. At the conclusion of the process, successful candidates are recommended to the Board for appointment. The remainder of our Trustees are elected by the UK Members' Forum.
An induction pack is provided to all new Trustees and they are invited to attend an intensive induction day during which they are provided with information on the key services provided by RNIB and the main challenges and policy issues facing the charity. Each Trustee receives an annual appraisal during which any individual training needs are identified. Where collective training needs are established, these are delivered to the Board on a collective basis. Recently delivered training includes voice coaching (including voice coaching for chairing meetings) and trustee duties and responsibilities (with particular emphasis on management of conflicts of interests). Arrangements are in hand to deliver a programme of support for Trustees to give them greater insight into RNIB's finances and the interpretation of financial accounts.
How we are managed
The Board delivers the strategy through a number of programme boards. It is also supported by a number of committees and member forums. The key committees supporting the Board are as follows:
RNIB’s schools and colleges have their own governing bodies.
The day-to-day management of RNIB is delegated to the Strategic Management Team (SMT), comprising the Chief Executive, and the Group Directors of:
Prevention and International Affairs
Supporting Independent Living
and the Chief Executive of Action for Blind People.
The Chief Executive of RNIB Group, with the support of the rest of SMT, reports to the Board of Trustees for approval of all major decisions. Full details of SMT can be found in the section “Who’s who at RNIB”.
At March 2011 we had 10,373 members forming a strong community and voice for blind and partially sighted people. This was the first full year of the UK Members Forum which supports the Board and influences policy via the “on the ground” experiences of our blind and partially sighted members. Members also influence our work through regional and country forums. Every member is kept up-to-date with the latest news from RNIB via our award-winning members’ magazine “Vision”.
The supplemental charter and bylaws require that a majority of the Board of Trustees, UK Members Forum and all other aspects of RNIB's governance structure are blind or partially sighted.
Our registered office
We are registered at 105 Judd Street, London WC1H 9NE, telephone 020 7388 1266.
Statement of trustees' responsibilities
The trustees are responsible for preparing the Trustees’ report and the financial statements in accordance with applicable law and United Kingdom Accounting Standards (United Kingdom Generally Accepted Accounting Practice).
The law applicable to charities in England and Wales, and Scotland requires the trustees to prepare financial statements for each financial year which give a true and fair view of the state of affairs of the charity and of the incoming resources and application of resources of the charity for that period. In preparing these financial statements, the trustees are required to:
select suitable accounting policies and then apply them consistently
observe the methods and principles in the Charities SORP
make judgements and estimates that are reasonable and prudent
state whether applicable accounting standards have been followed, subject to any material departures disclosed and explained in the financial statements
prepare the financial statements on the going concern basis unless it is inappropriate to presume that the charity will continue in business.
The trustees are responsible for keeping proper accounting records that disclose with reasonable accuracy at any time the financial position of the charity and enable them to ensure that the financial statements comply with the Charities Act 1993, as amended by the Charities Act 2006, the Charity (Accounts and Reports) Regulations 2008 and the provisions of the trust deed, and the Charities and Trustee Investment (Scotland) Act 2005, the Charities Accounts (Scotland) Regulations 2006 and the provisions of the charity’s constitution. They are also responsible for safeguarding the assets of the charity and hence for taking reasonable steps for the prevention and detection of fraud and other irregularities.
The trustees are responsible for the maintenance and integrity of the charity’s website. Legislation in the United Kingdom governing the preparation and dissemination of financial statements may differ from legislation in other jurisdictions.
Our vision and mission
Our work starts from our vision:
“A world where people who are blind or partially sighted enjoy the same rights, responsibilities, opportunities and quality of life as people who are sighted.”
Our mission is:
“To challenge blindness by empowering people who are blind or partially sighted, removing the barriers they face and helping to prevent blindness.”
There are almost two million people in the UK living with a sight problem.
Achieving our mission
In order to achieve our mission, RNIB Group Strategy 2009-2014 aligns our work under three clear priorities:
1. Stopping people losing their sight unnecessarily
In support of the UK Vision Strategy, a Vision2020 UK initiative of over 650 individuals and organisations led by RNIB, we work with partners to save the sight of thousands of people at high risk of losing their sight, whilst developing models, political will and NHS capacity to make an even bigger impact on unnecessary sight loss in the future.
The needs of people at the point of diagnosis are often unmet, slow to be met or inadequately met. These failings mean that people often do not have the support they need to rebuild their lives following sight loss. We take proactive steps to ensure that people are supported on a one-to-one basis, meeting their emotional, practical and information needs.
2. Supporting independent living
Blind and partially sighted people require a range of support and services to help them get on with their life. Our work includes education and employment services, and providing person-centred support to assist people through changes in sight loss or personal circumstances, enabling them to develop the skills needed to tackle life’s challenges.
Sight loss in people with complex needs often goes unrecognised. Recognition levels need to be improved as well as the environment and workforce skills in settings where people with complex needs are supported.
It is essential that blind and partially sighted people can get around, shop, bank and control their money independently. RNIB aims to ensure that mainstream and specialist support services are available to people who require personal assistance to undertake these activities and influence a step-change in the accessibility of services delivered by transport operators, retailers and banks.
By improving access to books, magazines, newspapers, TV, radio and information and communication technologies, the independence of blind and partially sighted people will be increased and they will be able to take full advantage of current accessible services and technologies. We also aim to influence laws, standards and industries to increase inclusive design and access.
Specific programmes of work have been developed to help us deliver our ambitious goals. Each of these has a programme board which supports the Board of Trustees. These are:
The Trustees confirm that they have complied with the duty in section 4 of the Charities Act 2006 to have due regard to the Charity Commission’s general guidance on public benefit, “Charities and Public Benefit”.
RNIB's charitable objects are enshrined within its Charter and as such the Trustees ensure that this Charter is carried out for the public benefit through our three strategic priorities. This is done through delivery of services that whilst aimed primarily at those who are blind or partially sighted, are where appropriate open to all who might benefit. Membership of RNIB is not a requirement to use our services.
Where we provide specialist services for which we charge, the pricing model covers the costs for the delivery of the service and long term maintenance and development. Where there is a significant cost for a service, that cost is set to make it recoverable from other sources, such as local authorities for schooling and care. We also provide individuals with access to assistance in application for such funding.
This report allows us to show how our charitable funds are distributed and spent, and the benefits and impact that has on those using the services and the wider impact on society for the reported year and in the future.
Relationship with other charities
We maintain close links and support the aims of other organisations such as local, national and international charities working with or for people with sight problems. We also work closely with other disability charities on issues of mutual concern. We deliver services in partnership with some societies for blind and partially sighted people, and some of our funding comes from charities and trusts which support our aims.
Between April 2009 and February 2010 we formed associations with Action for Blind People (Action), Cardiff, Vales and Valleys (CVV) and National Talking Newspapers and Magazines (NTNM) enabling us to share skills and expertise to reach more people with sight problems in a more cost effective way. On the 28th September 2010 the Charity Commission approved a Scheme whereby RNIB became the sole corporate trustee of the Glynn Vivian Home of Rest for the Blind (Glynn Vivian), before which it had ceased operating.