Beacon, celebrated the first anniversary of its Fab Lab, a state of the art digital and design facility which offers training for people living with sight loss, with the presentation of brand new equipment thanks to funding from 5/344 T&G Workers Union Benevolent Fund of the workers of Goodyear Wolverhampton.

Community groups as well as many of the people who have benefitted from Beacon’s Fab Lab, gathered at the charity to enjoy a commemorative cake and showcase of the progress made in the last year through training/skills placements and volunteers.

Guests were also able to see first-hand a display of the many products made at Fab Lab such as personalised photo mugs and t-shirts, which are sold to generate income to support the charity.

Beacon CEO, Lisa Cowley, said: “Since opening last year, our Fab Lab has helped over 100 people living with sight loss and other disabilities in our local community to gain valuable employment skills and raise their self-confidence. We are already proud of what has been achieved and are grateful for the support of the T&G Workers Benevolent Fund in helping us to buy additional equipment.

“We also need funding to help support our training programmes and are grateful of the ongoing generosity we receive – after a fantastic first year, we are looking forward to a bright future for Fab Lab.”

The Fab Lab was funded and opened by Cyril Bennett from the 5/344 Transport and General Workers’ Benevolent Fund of Goodyear Wolverhampton who cut the ribbon and announced the new facility officially open last July.

Cyril added: “Listening to some of the stories from those supported by the Fab Lab highlights how much of an impact it has already had. I was truly inspired by their powerful stories and how far they have all come. We are excited about the Fab Lab’s future and look forward to the next milestone.” 

Guests had the chance to see all the technology in action which included large screen design software, laser cutter and engraver, 3D printers, t-shirt printers and other visually impaired adapted tools.

Ryan Van Den Berg, student placement in Fab Lab, explained: “My disability means I face barriers when it comes to self-confidence and social integration. By learning new skills in the Fab Lab, I have seen a huge change in myself. My new laser cutting and 3D printing knowledge means I possess a whole new bag of skills and feel motivated to pursue anything I focus on.”

Mike Tolfree, Fab Lab Supervisor, added: “I would like to thank everyone who attended and joined in with our celebration. We are always learning new and different ways technology can support people living with sight loss. But all of this would not be possible without the continued support of the community.” 

The Fab Lab empowers individuals to achieve whatever they want. To produce a piece of work, such as a personalised mug, requires you to design and make the item from scratch. This journey helps you learn the skills required from start to finish – with the aim of giving you the confidence and knowledge to realise anything you want.”

If you or someone you know is living with a visual impairment or another disability and are interested in learning new skills or would like to learn how Beacon can support you, please contact or visit