In January 2017, RSBC merged with the Royal London Society for Blind People (RLSB). Although we are now called RSBC, there may be some references to RLSB in the following article.
A few weeks ago we featured extracts from the 1939-40 RLSB Annual Report, which revealed the vital support during the wartime effort provided by blind and partially sighted workers in RLSB’s industrial unit.
Today we reveal what happened next through extracts from the following years’ annual report from the National Association for Workshops for the Blind, which reveals details about the products manufactured by the workers and wool rationing that was imposed during that time.
Extract from 1940-41 Annual Report
It was always in the minds of the Founders of the Association that its unity would become so marked as to make it possible by close co-operation to extend the trading functions of Workshops and Home Workers’ Schemes. In our last report we expressed the hope that the arrangements made with the Ministry of Supply would bear material results.
In August 1940, the first contract was secured with this Government Department, to be followed later by others. At the end of March 1941, the total value of the contracts entered into amounted to £16,965 and embraced the following commodities – hospital bed stockings; general service and signalling panniers; soiled linen baskets; bottle and hand baskets; and WC brushes. These were allocated among no less than 38 institutions.
It will be appreciated that a large amount of clerical work has been involved, especially as the materials required for these contracts have in most cases been bought in bulk. We are grateful to the Council of the Incorporated Association for Promoting the General Welfare of the Blind for the facilities they have provided under what have undoubtedly been exceptionally difficult circumstances, in making it possible for the Secretary to carry out this work.
Our relations with the Hosiery Rationing Committee have remained most cordial. The wool position in the country, however, became so acute as to make it necessary for a cut to be imposed in the allocation of yarn to Blind Institutions to 50% of their pre-war consumption.
Your executive, however, felt that representation should be made to the Rationing Committee in the hope of securing a larger ration. Although the presentation of the case for the machine knitters did not actually fall in the period under review, we feel that the result of our endeavours should now be reported.
We are extremely glad to say that the Joint Rationing Committee, the body now responsible, has agreed to allocate a quantity of yarn to each Blind Institution equal to 100% of their prewar consumption. There is no need to enlarge on the effect this sympathetic decision of the Joint Rationing Committee will have on the employment of the blind workers concerned, whoe Managements have already expressed in full terms their thanks and appreciation for what the Association has achieved.