The SSW Board set up an Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) on 5th April to propose a change to the Constitution aimed at enabling SSW to respond to requests for help from those who live outside the Borough of Worthing.
Currently, the Constitution is worded as follows:
3. The Charity’s objects (“the Objects”) are the relief of persons who are blind or partially sighted living within the boundaries of the Borough of Worthing.
The Board’s Resolution was designed to enable SSW to respond to requests for advice and support from those living outside the Borough of Worthing.
The proposed new wording was as follows – bold indicates the changes:
3. The Charity’s primary objects (“the Objects”) are the relief of persons who are blind or partially sighted living within the boundaries of the Borough of Worthing. For those living outside the Borough of Worthing, the Charity will respond to and endeavour to address all requests for advice and support including access to the Charity’s Worthing Centre where that is practical.
At the EGM, the SSW Chairman outlined the rationale behind the SSW Board’s proposal which was to enable SSW to legitimately support anyone with a visual impairment, regardless of their place of residence. Currently, such support was limited to residents of the Borough of Worthing.
The Chairman assured the EGM that Approval of this Resolution would not impact the level of support and service provided to SSW members as priority would always be given to SSW members – and formal Membership of SSW would continue to be limited to residents of the Borough of Worthing.
However, being able to use the skills and experience developed within SSW to help a wider community, together with the feedback we get from that community, will ultimately benefit everyone and help sustain SSW as a viable local charity for the future.
Given that much of what SSW does is published and made available via the Internet, this attracts the attention of a much wider audience than just Worthing residents. When enquires for advice and/or help come from the visually impaired (or their family member/guardian) living outside the Borough of Worthing, SSW wants to be able to provide a constructive response. It does not seem fair that we should be restricted in offering such help just because someone does not live in the Borough of Worthing.
The following questions were raised by Members at the EGM:
1. Could the existing staff levels cope with the likely increase in requests for information and help without impacting the support currently given to SSW Members?
The Chairman assured Members that as set out in the new wording of SSW’s scope, SSW Members (by definition, Worthing residents) would be the charity’s “primary” commitment. If the increased demand for information from those living outside Worthing started to impact the available support for SSW Members, then the Board would look to increase the level of resource available to SSW.
2. Does SSW have the funds to increase the level of support that would potentially be required to meet the additional demand from people who would not be SSW Members?
The Chairman assured the Meeting that there were sufficient funds available to support an increase in resource should that prove necessary.
3. Is it possible to recruit the right numbers/calibre of staff?
The Chairman believed that based on recent experience (where a number of new staff members had been recruited) there is evidence to suggest that recruitment is not a significant problem.
The EGM then voted unanimously in favour of the Board’s Resolution.
Moving forward, SSW can establish itself as a charity fully supporting the visually impaired, wherever they may live.