The charity Blind Veterans UK began during the First World War as St Dunstan’s, providing training and support for blinded soldiers. Central to this was instruction, usually for those below officer rank, in making of baskets and mats, wooden trays and picture frames. Beyond occupational therapy, this was the basis for making an independent living, selling from home, in the charity’s London shop or by setting up their own shop. As these crafts became increasingly dated, the focus shifted to retailing as confectioners, tobacconists and newsagents, with over a hundred blind veterans set up and supported as shopkeepers across the country. Their story offers up an unusual perspective on veteran life, disability, masculinity, shopkeeping and voluntary action in modern Britain.
George Gosling is a Senior Lecturer and Course Leader for History at the University of Wolverhampton.
- this session is free to attend, but booking in advance is required.