It was vital 65 years ago when two mothers, Peggy Freeman and Margaret Brock, founded Sense to deliver support to families and children with deafblindness.
And it's vital today, establishing ourselves as the leading charity for disabled people with complex needs, and their families, in the UK.
The impact of the coronavirus pandemic, which created unprecedented challenges for society, has been acute for disabled people and their families.
"The pandemic crisis exacerbated existing barriers disabled people face and exposed new issues."
Throughout, I've been proud of the passion and commitment of Sense staff to meet the changing needs of the children, adults and families we support, embracing new ways of working and developing new services.
We know, however, as the country takes its cautious first steps out of lockdown, that many people with complex disabilities, including those who are deafblind, still miss out on the vital support that they need.
That’s why we’re launching our refreshed five-year strategy (2021 to 2026), setting out how we plan to reach more people than ever before. Our plans attempt to embrace the passion and commitment of our staff and take the best of what we've learnt over the past year as we look ahead to a better future.
We believe that no one, no matter how complex their disabilities, should be left out, isolated, or unable to fulfil their potential. We want to ensure that more people get the support they need and can live life to the full.
Four outcomes of our new strategy
To achieve this, our work over the next five years will prioritise four strategic outcomes:
1. Work to ensure the best possible start for children and families
We're going to develop new programmes and scale up our online provision. Reaching new people is a key part of the strategy, and we'll extend our reach to support 30,000 children and families over a five-year period.
2. Support adults to live and learn at every stage of their lives
Our housing, day opportunities, colleges and community-based services will grow, so children, young people and adults can access support at our sites or in their local communities.
3. Strive to reduce loneliness and isolation
Over a five-year period we'll create new social connections for more than 30,000 people. This will include 5,000 people through our buddy service, which connects disabled and non-disabled volunteers, and over 1,000 siblings, many of whom are young carers.
4. Give people a voice which would otherwise be unheard and change our wider society by inspiring more people to take action in support of our cause
This will include increasing our number of supporters to over 250,000, creating more operational roles for our volunteers, and opening more retail spaces, generating greater awareness and connections with local communities.