Our impact

Reflections from Richard Kramer, our Chief Executive

Richard, Chief Executive of Sense
and Sense International

This year, we opened up new avenues of assistance for the people we support, and expanded our reach further than ever before.

Disabled families have been hit harder than ever by the increased costs of living. I’m enormously proud that Sense, with the support of our donors, was able to provide emergency grants to over 1,000 families. These grants helped ease anxieties about getting food on the table and heating homes over winter.

As we all face higher living costs, our fundraising and trading activities have become increasingly challenging. Thank you to the Sense family, our donors and our volunteers – your continued engagement with our work means so much.

You can read more of Richard’s reflections on 2023 in his blog post, looking back on the last year and the difference our supporters make.

A message to our supporters: Your support means so much

British Sign Language version
Descriptive transcript of the video

The film starts with a white and purple screen. A globe illustrated in purple and orange, appears on the right and slowly rotates. 

Voiceover: Thank you for being a part of Sense and our work to create a world where no one is left out of life, no matter their disabilities. 

Text appears next to the globe. It reads, ‘No one is left out of life… no matter their disabilities.’
We zoom in on the globe, landing on the United Kingdom. 

Voiceover: You’ve helped us support over 30,000 people who are deafblind or have complex disabilities; parents; carers; and siblings.  

Text reading ‘We supported over 30,000 people’ moves into shot whilst location markers appear across the map. 

The screen turns to white. Two rows of people appear. Text above them reads ‘2,000 more than last year’. 

Voiceover: That’s 2,000 more than last year. 

A purple circle appears. Text appears that reads ‘6,000 children and families shown new ways to communicate, connect and play’.  

A montage of videos of videos plays next to the text. The first video shows a young boy with blond hair, playing with a sensory ball.  

The next features a young smiling girl who appears first in the arms of her father, then sitting at a yellow piano.

Voiceover: Your generosity has enabled us to show 6,000 children and families new ways to communicate, connect and play. 

The screen changes and a new purple circle appears on the left-hand side. Text appears that reads ‘3,400 people a chance to escape loneliness and enjoy companionship and laughter’.

Another video montage plays. The first is a young man with glasses smiling at his laptop. On his screen, his Sense Buddy is smiling back through their videocall.

Next, a young woman stands beneath a tree, holding a small magnifying glass to her eye. She is inspecting some flowers with her Snese Buddy. 

Finally, a woman with a short afro is sitting in an electric wheelchair, enjoying listening to others play with musical instruments. 

Voiceover: And give 3,400 people enjoyed companionship and laughter

The screen changes and a new purple circle appears on the left-hand side. The text reads ‘10,000 people got stuck into inclusive arts and sports activities’.

The first video in the montage shows a man with short black hair being supported by an instructor to scale an indoor climbing wall.

The next clip shows two men on a rainy golf course. One puts the ball into the hole and his companion congratulates him with a pat on the shoulder.

Voiceover: This year, too, 10,000 people loved getting stuck into our inclusive arts and sports activities.

A new purple circle appears on the right-hand side. It reads ‘1,000 received vital emergency grants’.  

The video clip shows a man with a white ponytail plugging an electric feeding machine into the mains. The screen lights up as he turns on the power.

Voiceover: In a Sense first, 1,000 families received vital assistance from our emergency cost of living grants.

A photo from a Sense fundraising event appears. A man and woman are on a dancefloor doing coordinated dance moves in front of an audience. As the photo moves across the screen, a ‘Sense strictly’ banner appears in the background, along with lots of orange and purple balloons.

A new image appears showing a smiling man sitting at a table with loaded cake stands. On the left-hand side, text in a purple circle reads ‘£13 million raised’.

Voiceover: Through your enthusiasm and generosity, you raised £13 million to help more people get the support they need.

The screen changes and a new purple circle appears on the right-hand side. It reads ‘1 million bags donated to our shops’.

Behind the text is a photo of a man and woman shopping in a Sense charity shop.

The next photo that appears shows a man in an orange Sense t-shirt behind the till. He has a huge smile, the woman next to him is also smiling.

Voiceover: And our shops received over 1 million bags of donated pre-loved items.

The image changes and a new purple circle appears on the right-hand side. It reads ‘Thank you for campaigning for change’. 

A photo of a young woman and blind man in front of London’s Big Ben appears. They are holding a placard that reads ‘We’re calling for long-term support for disabled people during the #CostOfLivingCrisis’.

Voiceover: Thank you to everyone who joined us to campaign for change.

The text changes to ‘80,000 of you signed our cost of living campaign petition’. 

Voiceover: 80,000 of you signed our petition calling for greater financial support to disabled households during the cost of living crisis.

As the screen changes again, the new text in the purple circle reads ‘Our groundbreaking research revealed…’

Behind the text, footage plays. Two women sitting on the floor of a brightly lit tent point and smile.

Next, a man is walking through his garden. He holds a rope to guide him and his other arm is linked with his support worker’s.

On the next screen, the text reads ‘1.6 million people living with complex disabilities in the UK’.

In the background footage plays. A woman is sitting outside in a field of flowers. She lifts one to smell.

The next clip is a young boy with blond hair banging a drum that his dad is holding for him.

Another clip shows a young man with two smiling support workers. They are sitting in front of an indoor climbing wall.

Voiceover: Ground-breaking research has shown that there 1.6 million people living with complex disabilities in the UK.

A full screen video clip plays, showing a young girl rolling on the floor in front of a bookshelf. She’s playing with the books that are scattered around her.

Voiceover: Together, we can keep expanding our reach, ensuring that even more children and adults who are deafblind or have complex disabilities can take part in life.

The film returns to the two men on the golf course. They hug, pat each other on the back and first bump in celebration.

A final clip shows a man wrapped up in a thick coat walking down the street with his support worker.

A purple brushstroke appears at the bottom of the screen. We see orange and white illustrations of stars, brush strokes, speech bubbles, people high fiving and signage. Text appears on screen that reads ‘Thank you. Find out more about the difference you’re making. Sense.org.uk/Our-impact. Registered charity number 289868’. 

Voiceover: Find out more about the difference you’re making. Sense.org.uk/Our-impact. Registered charity number 289868 

Video ends. 

Every child and adult who is deafblind or who has complex disabilities deserves opportunities to live fully. Sense is determined to provide a place where everyone belongs, where difference is valued, and where no one is left out.

If you’d like to continue to support our work, please consider donating today. Or have a look at the other ways you can get involved with Sense, including partnering with us to champion accessibility across your organisation.

Stories from our four key areas of focus

1. Giving children and families the best possible start

Chloe’s parents, Wayne and Laura, share their story. With special thanks to Tim, our former music artist, and players from Orchestra of the Swan. A descriptive transcript of Chloe’s video is available here.

With specialist guidance, children can start to find and feel some of their first meaningful connections to their families, and to the world around them. It’s vital to provide babies and children who have complex disabilities with the right support as early as possible.

Sense has been there for children and families over the last year:

  • 3,800 children explored the joys of communication, connection and play.

  • Our new Early Intervention and Play service gave support to 607 families.

  • We reached over 850 professionals through our knowledge sharing events, raising awareness of deafblindness and multi-sensory impairments.

Meet Chloe

A young girl with wavy blond hair sits on the floor playing with a hat.

For children like Chloe, it takes a partnership between family and Sense specialists to identify the path to a bright and confident future.

Chloe’s parents were at a low ebb when they found Sense. Their five-year-old daughter, who has autism and global developmental delay, wouldn’t engage with the world around her – or even smile.  Now, they see progress and laughter every day.

2. Supporting adults with complex disabilities to live and learn

Simon started learning how to play golf for the first time as a deafblind man, thanks to his Sense communicator guide. A descriptive transcript of Simon’s video is available here.

Sense works to ensure that no one is left out at any stage of life. Our support reflects people’s individual aspirations and evolving needs; we want to see everyone enjoy the same opportunities to learn, explore new things and live independently.

We’re here to support disabled adults to reach major milestones and foster new hobbies:

  • 351 people are provided with care, security and a life of possibility at our accommodation services, up 30% since last year.

  • 94% of Sense services were rated as ‘Good’ or ‘Outstanding’ by the Care Quality Commission.

  • 142 new disabled adults were welcomed into our supported living, college and day services, smashing our target of reaching 80 new people.

Meet Simon

For Simon, who has Usher syndrome, changes to his sight left him unable to access the world around him.

With support from Sense, Simon, age 41, learned how to adjust to life as a deafblind man – and now there’s never a dull moment! He found new ways to communicate, new hobbies and renewed self confidence.

More stories from the children and adults who made this year so special

3. Offering people a way to tackle loneliness

Chapman, a young Asian boy wearing glasses, playing the piano.
Chapman, who is supported by the Sense Virtual Buddying service, playing music on a grand piano.

Our surveys have shown that more than half of people with complex disabilities feel lonely often, always, or some of the time – compared to just a quarter of the general population. We believe everyone should be able to access and enjoy meaningful social connections.

Sense has been tackling loneliness over the last year:

  • 495 siblings and young carers were supported to take time for themselves and form new friendships.

  • 4,600 disabled people found joy and fun in our arts and wellbeing activities, that’s twice as many as last year.

  • 5,400 disabled people got stuck into our inclusive sports programme and loved trying out new activities.

Meet Chapman

Like many disabled teenagers, Chapman has experienced isolation.

Chapman’s parents found it heart-breaking to see the difficulties their teenage son faced building friendships. He’s blind and has a learning disability, which can make it hard for him to express himself and connect. Finding a true friend in his Sense Virtual Buddy, Gabriella, was transformative.

4. Inspiring people to take action

A man and woman standing in Westminster hold a placard. It reads 'We're calling for long term support for disabled people during the cost of living crisis'.
Anna and Stephen on their way to hand in the Cost of Living petition, calling for long term support for disabled people during the cost of living crisis.

If we’re to drive effective change, disabled people and their families must be at the heart of every discussion and campaign that looks to affect their lives. Sense empowers people to use their voices and stories to make real differences at a local and national level.

Sense keeps working to inspire support and drive action:

  • £12.8 million was raised by amazing people like you, helping us to do more.

  • 80,000 people signed our cost of living petition, calling for greater financial support for disabled households.

  • 452,000 visitors came to our updated website for advice, information and to access our services. This is up 23% on the previous year.

From campaigning to bakes ales, there are so many ways to get involved in supporting Sense. See how you can make a difference.

Meet Anna

For Anna, opening up about her lived experiences of the cost-of-living crisis was empowering.

Anna has been an incredible campaigner for Sense over the last year. Despite the difficulties that came with sharing her family’s story, she continued to push for better support for disabled households struggling under the high cost of living.