Edgware charity founder shortlisted for volunteer of the year

The founder of Eye Matter has been shortlised for the RNIB See Differently awards

A photograph of Suzie Simons
Suzie Simons

An Edgware charity founder has been shortlisted for anRoyal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) See Differently Award in recognition of an organisation she founded to provide multi activity, peer support and social inclusion for blind and partially sighted people.

Suzie Simons, who has sight loss, has been shortlisted in the Volunteer of the Year category. This award recognises people who have dedicated their time, skills and energy within their community or organisation to have a positive impact on the lives, health, and wellbeing of blind and partially sighted people.

Simons is the founder and CEO of Eye Matter; she volunteers full-time with the organisation and facilitates hundreds of online and in-person events each year. In 2023, Eye Matter secured a charitable status.

Founded five and a half years ago, Simons set up Eye Matter after volunteering as a facilitator at RNIB’s Living Well with Sight Loss (LWWSL) courses and seeing firsthand the difference peer support can make for blind and partially sighted people, like herself. Simons has also trained other Eye Matter volunteers to deliver RNIB’s LWWSL course.

She organises and hosts four online sessions every week for members and the sessions include VI cookery, audio-described chair yoga, poetry appreciation and concerts performed by artists with sight loss.

Since its inception, Simons has led on raising funds for Eye Matter and has raised more than £30,000 since it began on JustGiving.

In response to being shortlisted, Simons said: “It’s an honour to be shortlisted for an RNIB See Differently Award. I’m so proud of Eye Matter, it’s grown into a community which supports its participants by educating, empowering, and giving confidence through its work and to enable its members to help each other do things which previously seemed out of reach.”

Last year, Simons organised 36 face-to-face events, including Eye Matter’s inaugural sports day which saw over thirty members come together with sighted guides to take part in a range of VI sports, as well audio described theatre, museums and two Eye Matter Choir concerts.

The RNIB See Differently Awards will bring together a host of people across the UK and aims to shine a spotlight on the excellent work happening every day across the UK to support people with sight loss. They will recognise and reward individuals and organisations taking positive action to help break down barriers and make the world a better place for blind and partially sighted people.

RNIB CEO Matt Stringer said: “The RNIB See Differently Awards will celebrate those who dedicate their time, passion, and skills to help build an inclusive world for blind and partially sighted people. Congratulations to the shortlisted national finalists, you’re all fantastic with incredibly moving stories and we wish you the best of luck.”

The RNIB See Differently Awards will recognise exceptional individuals and teams across seven categories: Campaigner of the Year, Eye Care Professional of the Year, Best Content Creator of the Year, Team of the Year, Employer of the Year, Volunteer of the Year and Design for Everyone Award.

The award winners will be announced at a ceremony which will take place at a hotel in Central London on Tuesday 21 May 2024.

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