Our history

Insight Gloucestershire have been in existence since 1858 making us one of the oldest charities in the county!

The RT.HON. Lord Blanesburgh, Chairman of the Ministry of Health Advisory Committee on the Welfare of the Blind, quoted in 1832:

“The affliction of blindness makes an irresistible appeal… The list of those choice spirits who have devoted their lives to the care and education of the blind is as long, and it, too, is limited by no distinctions of race or of creed. In the result, the blind to an astonishing degree have been, and are being, helped to help themselves to be self-reliant and independent, foremost in some walks of life, prominent in many others, efficient in all. The resources now at their service, helped by that strange inward light which seems to cheer and inspire their physically darkened lives, have made of our blind friends to-day the good citizens that they are.”

  • 1858

    The Cheltenham Home Teaching Society was founded. Nine ladies from Cheltenham formed a society through which they endeavoured to provide meaningful occupation for the town’s blind people, and to teach them to read.

  • 1858

    The charity acquired premises for a workshop at Clareville House, 47 Winchcombe Street. A variety of items were produced including baskets and wickerwork of every description, The workshops, continued in existence until as late as the 1950’s.

  • 1868

    We became the Cheltenham Workshops for the Blind.

  • 1896

    The Cheltenham Workshops for the Blind changed its name to the Cheltenham and Gloucestershire Society for the Blind.

  • 1920

    Two hundred blind men marched from Manchester to London and held a demonstration in Trafalgar Square, calling on the Government to take steps to improve the general condition of the blind.

  • 1920

    The Blind Persons Act made County Councils responsible for the registration and welfare of the visually impaired.

  • 1920

    Gloucestershire County Association for the Blind was formed.

  • 1925

    The Cheltenham and Gloucestershire Society for the Blind was taken over by the Gloucestershire County Association for the Blind. In 1925 there were 610 blind persons on the charities register.

  • 1948

    The National Assistance Act was produced which further defined the responsibility of the Gloucestershire County Council towards blind welfare.

  • 1966

    There were now 1058 blind or visually impaired people on the Gloucestershire register. GCAB funded 7 Social Welfare Officers (as home teachers had been renamed) who in the year of 1966 alone did 9500 home visits including 2000 lessons. In the same year 8 social clubs for the blind flourished, group holidays were organised and equipment provided or repaired all by GCAB volunteers.

  • 1989

    A telephone and answer machine was installed in the Association office.

  • 1991

    A kurzweil Personal reader (text to speech machine) was given to the Association so that people with visual impairment were able to come to the office and use the machine to read letters.

  • 1993

    The Demonstration centre had an Eezee Reader for sale at £280.00

  • 1994

    An appeal was launched to purchase and alter 81 Albion St, Cheltenham as the work of the organisation had grown out of its current premises, and HRH Prince Michael of Kent agreed to be our Royal Patron.

  • 1996

    The new Centre was officially opened on 26th July 1996

  • 2002

    81 Albion Street was once again altered inside to make better use of the space as the organisation continued to develop.

  • 2003

    HRH Prince Michael of Kent our Patron at the time visited the premises. In the same year GCAB as we were known then had to begin fundraising in our own right for the first time. 2003 also saw our first website launched.

  • 2006

    GCAB volunteers have always and continue to work tirelessly for the organisation and in June they received a Queens Award for Voluntary Service

  • 2007

    Saw the launch of Insight our first information point away from Albion St.

  • 2008

    GCAB celebrated its 150th Anniversary

  • 2010

    Sir Henry Elwes our Patron stepped down after many years as our Patron.

  • 2013

    We rebranded as Insight Gloucestershire in August with a celebration at the Pump Rooms, Cheltenham.

  • 2014

    Insight Roadshows confirmed with 6 taking place around Gloucestershire.