CLARITY – Employment for Blind People

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CLARITY - Employment for Blind People
Abbreviation CLARITY
Formation 1854
Type Charity
Chief Executive
Jeremy Robinson

CLARITY – Employment for Blind People is a charitable organization, established in 1854, that provides employment and training to blind and disabled people.


The organisation runs a factory in Kings Cross, London, which makes a variety of toiletries and cleaning products, including soap, handwash, shampoo, body lotion, window cleaner and car cleaning kits. The products are manufactured in-house and are not tested on animals.[1]

CLARITY products have featured in various magazines and newspapers, including the Sunday Mirror [2] and Vogue (magazine).[3]

Proceeds from the sale of CLARITY's products are used to fund the charity's work providing training and employment for blind and disabled people. The charity employs 65 people with a range of physical and mental disabilities in its factory [4] and also employs blind people in telesales offices across the UK.[5]

The charity runs workplace and "Skills for Life" training programmes to enable employees to progress within the organisation and move into open employment.[6] Employees are given the opportunity to take NVQ qualifications in Manufacturing and Performing Manufacturing Operations, Customer Service and Team Leadership. Welfare and support services are also available to help staff with issues outside the workplace.[7]


The charity was established in 1854 as "The Association for Promoting the General Welfare of the Blind" (GWB). The charity's founder was Elizabeth Margaretta Maria Gilbert, the blind daughter of English churchman and academic Ashurst Gilbert.[8]

She established a workshop in Holborn where 7 employees made baskets. The organisation soon moved to larger premises in Brunswick Square, then Euston Road and finally, in 1893, a factory was opened in Tottenham Court Road. Over time, GWB started producing a number of other items, including brushes, brooms, upholstery, chair seats, divans and mattresses.[5]

The charity has had many famous patrons. Queen Victoria became the charity's patron in 1859. Other early supporters included Prime Minister William Ewart Gladstone, the Archbishop of Canterbury, and Charles Dickens, who is believed to have written an article in Household Words, entitled "At Work in the Dark".[8]

When Queen Victoria died in 1901 and her son Edward VII took over as King, he became the new patron of the charity, along with his wife Queen Alexandra of Denmark. Other supporters of the charity in the early 20th Century included Edward HRH Prince of Wales (later King Edward VIII), HRH Prince Christian of Schleswig-Holstein and the Archbishop of Canterbury.

As well as Royal Patronage, GWB products were also used by royalty. For example, in 1901, GWB produced all the mats and some other articles used to fit SS Ophir, which conveyed the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall and York (the future King George V and Queen Mary of Teck on their world tour.

In 1936, GWB started making soap, following a grant of £500 from two of the charity's trustees - blinded war veteran Sir Beachcroft Towse and William Morris, 1st Viscount Nuffield, then Lord Nuffield. After the Second World War, the organisation started making talcum powder. The product range continued to grow over the next 50 years to include shampoos, bath foams, shower gels, liquid soap, body lotions, beeswax polish, car wash, kitchen cleaners, bath cleaners and air fresheners.

In 1954, in celebration of its 100th anniversary, GWB built four houses in Tottenham to be used by blind workers, and they are still in use today. The charity moved from premises in Curtain Road to Ashburton Grove in 1982. The Ashburton Grove premises were opened by the charity's President, HRH Birgitte, Duchess of Gloucester. In 2002, the charity needed to move premises again as Ashburton Grove was the site for Arsenal F.C.'s Emirates Stadium. The charity moved to York Way, and then, ten years later, moved to Highams Park.

Nick Hurd MP, Minister for Civil Society, visited CLARITY's York Way premises in 2010.[9] In 2011, CLARITY featured in Cabinet Office report "Growing the Social Investment Market" as an example of a successful social enterprise.[10]


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