Visualise was set up in 1987 by families of pupils attending the Royal Blind School at Canaan Lane. With little to no provision for students after the age of 18, families took the situation into their own hands and Visualise was born.
With an initial focus on supporting young adults with visual impairment and other complex needs, Visualise opened its first housing support service in the Newington area of Edinburgh in 1992. As the 1990s progressed, Visualise set up its first Day Centre at Norton Park in Leith, alongside its Head Office.
The early 21st century found that existing provision was no longer fit for purpose and two housing support services were set up in the Restalrig area, with a third added in Leith in 2007. There was further expansion in 2014, when our day centre in Musselburgh was opened, expanding our services into East Lothian for the first time. This was also the point at which the charity decided to use its considerable expertise to diversify away from visual impairment, with a focus instead on supporting any individual with a disability to live the life they choose.
In recent years, we have opened two new housing support services – one in Leith and one in Portobello – and have increased the number of people we support who live in their own home and access community resources. It has been an incredibly exciting time for the charity, whilst retaining its small, personalised nature.
Visualise has a proud history of being family-led, with a family member operating as Director until 2013 and family members continuing as trustees until this day. We are proud of the strong links we have with the people we support and their loved ones. We feel this is what makes our organisation really stand out – we are mindful that Visualise came from families, for families. This gives us a phenomenal foundation on which to base our organisation.