Club Wilber: Big Give Christmas Challenge

Teddy’s first Club Wilber event was the adapted Easter Egg hunt and he has been a regular Club Wilber attendee ever since.

His favourite activity has been the ride on the Wetwheels boat with a number of other families stating that the water splashed him in the face when heading out to sea.

Teddy likes Club Wilber as he enjoys seeing his friends and Teddy is definitely a favourite amongst the other children. He particularly liked the quiz that he participated in during our lockdown activities because he enjoyed hearing the Disney music.

Teddy’s mum Rachael describes Club Wilber as ‘perfect for him and us as a family’.  Before Club Wilber they didn’t feel as though they fitted into any social clubs because Teddy struggled with regular groups due to the noise and busyness of the settings.  But because he didn’t have any additional needs, they didn’t feel like they could join groups where children had more complex needs and so didn’t attend them which left them stuck for socialising with other families.

Rachael is very grateful for Club Wilber because they now have a sense of belonging.

The other key element to Club Wilber for Teddy’s parents is the opportunity to socialise with a group of people that have a better understanding of what life is like with a blind child. It provides them both with the time to speak to other families whilst the children are enjoying activities together and Rachael and Lee have made friendships with other Club Wilber families that offer support and guidance.

With donations made during the Big Give Christmas Challenge week, we will provide even more accessible activities for families with children with visual impairments, and you could be part of this too! Just follow the link to donate.

Donate here (note that as the campaign has now closed the link has been updated so as to allow you to continue with your donation, thank you).

Insight Magazine – Summer 2020 Edition

The world has been a very strange and scary place since we published the spring edition of our Insight magazine.  Whilst we have adapted and coped (and we’re still coping) with the pandemic situation, many of the workforce have had to be on the frontline each and every day.

Our staff have been brilliant in adapting and have done lots of good fun stuff with many creative activities and lots of video zooming with quizzes and challenges to keep staff and residents all entertained. 

I hope you enjoy reading about all the amazing things our Wilberforce people have been getting up to during lockdown and our plans as we slowly release from lockdown.

Thank you to all again and enjoy the read,
Philippa Crowther – CEO


Click the image above to read the latest edition of our Insight Magazine.


Opening in Spring 2021 – New Extra Care Housing in York

30 one-bed open-plan apartments for rent

The Wilberforce Trust has supported blind and partially sighted people across York since 1833.  Wilberforce House is the Trust’s vision to deliver an innovative extra care housing scheme designed especially for people with a visual impairment, hearing impairment and/or other disabilities; the first of it’s kind for the city of York and surrounding areas.

To discover more about this wonderful new development and how to apply see our new webpage where you can also download the new extra-care housing brochure.

New Build Extra Care Housing

Our COVID-19 Response

Our COVID-19 Response

At this time we have taken the decision to close our offices and our teams have moved to home working in order that they can best support the continued delivery of our supported living & Yorsensory services.

We want to reassure our customers and stakeholders that we are doing everything we can to keep the people we provide housing, care and support for as safe as possible during this time.  Please see our newsletter for a brief update regarding our different services on our site.

If you have an urgent enquiry please call us on 01904 760037 or email, so we may direct you to the relevant department.

Our YorSensory Team are available on:

Phone: 01904 20 22 92

Text:     07580 750 346


If you are feeling vulnerable or need support to cope in your own home, then please contact the YorSensory team who can help put you in touch with the correct people.  RNIB’s national Helpline is also still available to answer queries about any aspect of living with sight loss on 0303 123 9999.


Insight Magazine – Spring 2020

The Wilberforce Trust – InSight Magazine – Spring 2020 Edition

Find out all the latest news from the Wilberforce Trust on the events and activities the charity has been delivering over the winter and has upcoming in 2020 in the latest edition of our Insight Magazine – Spring 2020.


Published: 19 March, 2020

Our CEO meets William Wilberforce’s great, great, great, great grandson

Read all about Philippa Crowther’s meeting with William Wilberforce’s great, great, great, great grandson – who shares his name – in the Yorkshire Post.  We are also very proud to confirm that William Wilberforce has also expressed a desire to help the Trust and he will be joining our exclusive group of Ambassador’s.

“It’s been really interesting because I have been able to hear a lot more about Philippa’s plans for the trust,” he says.  “I was really impressed by how it has managed to push forward in a positive way.  My view was that anything I could do to help, I wanted to.”

To read the full article in the Yorkshire Post click the image below:

William Wilberforce's great, great, great, great grandson - William Wilberforce

Ground Breaking Ceremony in the Press

The groundbreaking ceremony that took place on the 11th November and we published here on the 12th November has been warmly welcomed with articles in both local and national media, including:

A huge thank you to everyone who has been reaching out to us on social media and of course for those publishing our news.

First spade in the ground

Ground-breaking day for the Wilberforce Trust in Dringhouses

Work has started on the much anticipated new specialist extra-care housing for people with visual and sensory impairments in Dringhouses, York and it kicked off with a ground-breaking ceremony to mark the occasion.  

The Wilberforce Trust were joined by Abbie Robinson, one of their Ambassador’s and a member of the GB Para-climbing team, along with York-based main contractors William Birch & Sons, to break ground at the site where 30 new state-of-the-art apartments plus a Living and Learning centre will be built.  

Once complete the project will enable people to live independently with support as and when needed.  Alongside the new apartments will be a Living and Learning centre that will be open to the local community.  

Philippa Crowther, CEO at Wilberforce Trust said: “The Wilberforce Trust is celebrating this landmark day in the development of the project, we are really excited to put the first spade in the ground marking the next chapter in the Trust’s history and taking a great step forward in realising the plans we have been developing to provide excellent and accessible accommodation in the city.”

Abbie Robinson, Wilberforce Trust Ambassador said; “as a visually impaired young person, the most important thing to me is keeping my independence and living the life I want to live.  This development will offer help and hope to other visually impaired people whatever their age and I’m so proud to be here at the outset of what will be a ground-breaking new facility”

Chris Birch, Chairman at William Birch & Sons Ltd said: “We are delighted to be breaking ground on the site for the Wilberforce Trust and are looking forward to the new development taking shape over the coming months.  Our team’s expertise coupled with local employment and engagement with many local businesses will bring wider benefits to the city of York and its people.”

We all look forward to unveiling the new facilities in the early part of 2021.

William Birch & Sons appointed as contractor

Newly appointed contractor William Birch to start work for the Wilberforce Trust

The Wilberforce Trust, one of York’s oldest charities, employs over 100 people in the City of York to support people with visual and sensory impairments and other disabilities.

The Wilberforce Trust has appointed York-based William Birch & Sons to begin the construction of their new specialist extra care housing and Living and Learning centre in Dringhouses.

The project will provide 30 new state-of-the-art apartments that will enable people to live independently with support as and when needed. Alongside the new apartments will be a Living and Learning centre that will be open to the local community.  The Living and Learning centre will be at the heart of the development and will include a café, activities areas, professional services with free consultations on hearing and visual impairments, information and equipment and access to rehabilitation professionals for advice guidance and services for all age groups.

The construction will create jobs for local workers as well as offer work experience placements for local students. William Birch employs over 80 people in and around the city bringing very local expertise and skills to the scheme.

The contractor was selected for its expertise in the construction of new and specialist residential and community developments, most recently completing the extra care facility at Glen Lodge for the City of York Council providing 25 new apartments and two new bungalows.

Philippa Crowther, CEO at Wilberforce Trust said: “The Wilberforce Trust is proud of our past supporting people with sight loss since 1833. Our strength has always been in building for the future and transforming and adapting to the times we live in.  We are excited for the next chapter in the Trust’s history and working with William Birch & Sons. People in York, with a sensory impairment, will have access to the most up to date facilities and services, delivered by expert professionals”

Chris Birch, Chairman at William Birch & Sons Ltd said: “We are delighted to be building facilities that will help our own communities live more independently.  Our team take great pride in their work and they will work closely with the Trust to realise their exciting plans. We thought our 145 year history in York was commendable, yet our customer, the Wilberforce Trust trumps us with their roots tracing back to 1833, that’s a total of  331 years in York, it seems fitting that we work together to develop such vital housing in our home city”

“Our team’s expertise coupled with local employment and engagement with many local businesses will bring wider benefits to the city of York and its people.”

The project will commence on site later this year and is scheduled for completion in the early part of 2021.


For further information, interviews or images please contact:




The Wilberforce Trust is one of York’s oldest charities.  It traces its roots back to 1833 when the Yorkshire School for the Blind was first opened in memory of William Wilberforce. When the school closed in 1968, the Wilberforce Home for the Blind was established.  The Trust currently provides specialist supported housing across York and Tadcaster, and as well as its supported accommodation it provides a range of services for people with visual and sensory impairments including assessments, low vision clinics, training in visual awareness and IT and technology, group activities and rehabilitation.

Find us at:  and follow us on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn



William Birch & Sons Ltd established in 1874 is a York-based family-owned construction company.  Five generations of the Birch family have developed the company to its present-day strength, employing over 80 local people.  The business, with offices in York and Leeds, has an enviable portfolio of construction, refurbishment and restoration projects across a variety of sectors with a strong emphasis on high-profile projects including the complete refurbishment of the prestigious York Theatre Royal for the York Conservation Trust, the construction of a new extension at Glen Lodge in York to provide extra care facilities and the award-winning restoration of the Mansion House for the City of York Council.


Find us at:  and follow us on Twitter


Vangarde shopping centre staff receive sensory training

The Vangarde Shopping Park has launched a new initiative to improve the customer experience for visually and sensory impaired shoppers and The Wilberforce Trust are proud to have been their partner of choice to provide sensory training.

Read more in the York Press