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Bank’s help is no fairy story

(November 16, 2012)

Bank’s help is no fairy story

Blind or partially-sighted grandparents can now read much-loved stories to their grandchildren, thanks to funding from the bank’s Social Entrepreneurs Programme.

Eileen with grandchildren

Are you sitting comfortably? Eileen reads to Evie, 6 months, Ryan, 1, Aidan, 5 and Phoebe, 4.

The funding enabled blind grandma Eileen Finch to produce beautifully-made classic children’s books for people with visual impairments and other disabilities.

Her Access2books project was awarded £4,000 to start up her idea and to make the top 30 most popular children’s titles available in giant print and Braille.

Says Eileen, who lives in Leighton Buzzard: “Because of my blindness, I couldn’t read to my grandchildren.”

“This funding helped me kick-start my idea and I’m looking forward to joining the School for Social Entrepreneurs to learn how I can develop the business further. The Lloyds mentor will also be a great help to support my personal development.”

little-princess-1

Illustration from the Little Princess book

Unique books

“I truly believe these unique books will enable disabled people to make a positive contribution to family life rather than always seeming to be a burden. They mean we can now read bedtime stories to our grandchildren, allowing their parents to get on with other things.”

There are over 1.5m sight-impaired, mainly elderly, people in the UK. Eileen stresses that her highly illustrated books will also benefit people of all ages with dyslexia or learning difficulties. Many libraries have ordered the books and she is keen to get them into schools.

According to the Royal National Institute of Blind People only 7% of books are available in Braille, giant print or talking books. In October 2012, it launched a campaign to put pressure on publishers and e-reader manufacturers to ensure all their books are available to those with sight loss.

little-princess-2

Little Princess book in large type and braille

Training and funding

Each year for the next five years, Lloyds will award grants of £4,000-£25,000 to social entrepreneurs, who will also have the opportunity to attend a School for Social Entrepreneurs at one of eight UK locations: London, Yorkshire & Humber, North West, Bristol, East of England, Cornwall, Hampshire and Scotland.

This year, 154 candidates were selected from over 225 who applied via nine Dragons Den-style panels. As well as Eileen’s Access2books, they include Yelp Students, the brain-child of Croydon-based Sharla Duncan to give students experience of mentoring young people in deprived areas, and Refugee Bikes, a start-up initiative driven by Jem Stein in Oxford to unite abandoned bikes with

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