With support from the Visionary network we were able to create a varied programme of workshops and webinars for the 2021 online annual conference.

A huge thank you to everyone who shared, facilitated and supported the conference and our wider online programme throughout the year, we hope you enjoy reading more about the workshops below.


Wednesday 24 November 2021 – Workshop Session 1 

Image is a headshot of Charley Gavigan facing the camera and smiling

Strengthening your resilience: Taking care of yourself as you care for others (fully subscribed) 

Your ability to care for others for a sustained amount of time requires you to care for your own wellbeing.

This workshop explored how to strengthen resilience, and offer practices to recharge batteries so individuals can be effective in your professional role and personal life.

Charley Gavigan – Co-founder, counsellor, therapeutic coach and facilitator at Brave Your Day

Charley has accrued over 30 years therapeutic and leadership practice in the UK & USA third sector, namely with ChildLine, Save the Children, Women’s Aid and Scottish Drugs Forum.

She now specialises in mental wellbeing and resilience training, consultancy and therapeutic support to individuals, staff and organisations to fear less and brave more.

We are very grateful to the support of Blind Veterans UK for enabling Charley to join us at this year’s event.


Image is logo of Kent Association for the Blind

Money, Money, Money

We welcomed an amazing panel of income generation experts, who joined us for this interactive panel session, which provides an exciting opportunity to ask key questions about legacy giving, corporate support, community partnership and trust funding.  The session was brilliantly hosted and facilitated by Sue Piper, Head of Fundraising at Kent Association for the Blind.

Sue was joined by:

Charlotte Dowling:  Community and Corporate Fundraising Manager, Birmingham St Mary’s Hospice

Anita Lightstone: Trustee, The Worshipful Company of Spectacle Makers

Neil Lloyd: Managing Director, FBC Manby Bowdler

David Roberts:  Head of Charity Engagement, Bequeathed

Image is logo of Sight for surrey and Kingston University London side by side

Learning from the COVID-19 Pandemic: Positive Examples of Habilitation Services Development and Adaptation to the Needs of Children, Young People and Their Families

The COVID-19 pandemic has proven to be a challenging time for most families as normal routines and activities suddenly came to a stop. Many of the resources generally available to students to enable them to continue developing their daily skills were based on vision. This method of learning was not accessible to students with visual impairments who have significantly reduced or no vision. Therefore, the Sight for Surrey Children & Young People’s Services team created a range of different approaches that enabled them to continue to support the children, young people, and their families during this time.  Examples of these approaches were shared during the workshop and confirmed by research data emerged from a research project focusing on the role and impact of habilitation services on the lives of children and adolescents with visual impairments, funded by the National Lottery Community Fund and Sight for Surrey and conducted during the COVID-19 lockdown.

Image is Thomas Pocklington Trust logo

Empowering volunteers who are blind or partially sighted to become effective leaders (fully subscribed)

A session with Thomas Pocklington Trust that focused on the role volunteers can play in achieving positive outcomes for organisations using their existing skills, lived experience and knowledge.

Using the Social model of disability and a range of tools to measure and evaluate impact, this workshop showed how empowered volunteers can benefit your organisation.

Image is a head and shoulders image of Philippa smiling at the camera. Philippa is wearing a black top and glasses.

Shaping tomorrow while running today (fully subscribed)

This session was aimed at trustees and senior staff who want to be future focused. Hosted by Philippa Simkiss, who drew on experience of trusteeship and work with local and national charity boards and shared lessons on how to do strategy well. This workshop considered the building blocks that trustees need to put in place, how to identify and listen to key stakeholders and how to use process to stimulate creativity. With contributions from sector colleagues the session explored the relationship between Chair, CEO and senior staff and considered what good looks like in this complex web of relationships.

Image to the Torch Trust Logo

Challenging the Odds: Enabling Fellowship to Flourish Online when the Internet Seems Too Scary

“They’ll never use the internet.” “It’s just too hard for them.” We heard all of this and more when we first proposed moving our Fellowship Groups online, but the COVID-19 pandemic made us realise that we should at least give it a go. Torch Trust are now reaching more blind and partially sighted people than ever before, with event attendance increasing from dozens to hundreds. During this workshop, delegates learnt how they chose our platform, how to manage busy meetings, how we provide technical support, and how this has led to the implementation of digital solutions elsewhere in Torch.

Wednesday 24 November 2021: Workshop Session 2

Image is the logo for Forth Valley Sensory Hub

Making Sense of Climate Change

This workshop, with Forth Valley Sensory Centre (FVSC), showed how organisations can address one of the big topics of the moment, Climate Change, with blind and partially sighted people.  Delegates found out how to make energy saving an intrinsic part of your organisation as well as how to have ‘climate conversations’ that could help people save significant amounts of money as well as help the planet. Information is based on FVSC’s award winning ‘Making Sense of Energy Saving’ campaign and will also look at applying for funding for green projects.

Image is the Esme's Umbrella logo
Esme's Umbrella logo - For everyone working for the greater awareness of Charles Bonnet Syndrome

The importance of Esme’s Friends – “Together we are believed, reassured and supported”
These words have been used by people with Charles Bonnet Syndrome (CBS) to describe why the regular meetings of Esme’s Friends are so vitally important when you live in a world of uninvited images. Following the opening words from Richard Hawley (Coronation Street actor and Patron of Esme’s Umbrella), contributions came from Esme’s Friends and Team Esme – Judith Potts (Founder of Esme’s Umbrella), Sandra Taylor (Sight Scotland Veterans), Mike Bailey (Christopher Grange), Jonathan Ward (London Vision) and Nina Chesworth – as they explored how Esme’s Friends is addressing its role in the post-COVID 19 world.

Image is a photos of Mairi standing next to a graffiti wall

Provocation, preparation and performance – communicating confidently online and in person (fully subscribed)

In this session, Mairi Damer of WORD UP Communications offered practical tips (and a bit of provocation!) to help you energise and improve your communication skills. Whether  facilitating online sessions, being interviewed, delivering presentations, attending meetings, networking or just having a chat with someone new, effective communication is one of life’s most valuable skills. During this session Mairi  offered useful learning and a few laughs, plus some new ways of thinking about confident, credible, effective communication.

Mairi is a communications and media specialist who supports organisations and individuals to communicate much, much better. Before setting up in business in 2013, Mairi was a BBC radio producer for 15 years. As an ageing punk rocker, she likes to embrace disruptive thinking and rule-breaking, and always brings humour, personality and energy to her work

BAME Vision logo - 4 solid coloured circles from left to right in brown, tan, coffee and beige with the word BAME written in white, against the 4 circles and the word Vision written in tan underneath, against a white background. Followed by - Supporting ethnically diverse communities with their eye health and sight loss written in brown.

Hard To Reach Or Not Reaching Hard Enough!

BAME Vision introduced who they are and why they formed and share our Mission, Vision and Key Priorities. Meeting delegates to work through case studies and launch the BAME Vision Reaching the Hard to Reach Toolkit

BAME Vision shared how lived experience and diversity matters and engaging with diverse groups. Why and how improving workforce, and board and volunteering uptake, underpins successful outreach. Encouraging collaboration and sharing organisations/ societies who do this successfully

Image is the Croydon Vision Logo

Heart of a Charity and Mindset of a Business.

Heart of a Charity & Mindset of a business was borne out of the question ‘Why?’  During the pandemic, Croydon Vision questioned why some members couldn’t afford lunch; the aim, to understand the possible barriers and improve lives.

Croydon Vision are shifting from ‘tea and sympathy’ instead, focused on transforming lives, on the journey to independence – our core purpose.

Image is Thomas Pocklington Trust logo

Post 16 education for blind and partially sighted students: breaking down barriers and learnings from a pandemic.

TPT’s Student Support Service launched in April 2020 at the start of the pandemic. Since then, their service has expanded so that they now support students in mainstream secondary, further and higher education.

In this session their Education team talked delegates through the barriers faced by blind and partially sighted students in post 16 education. With a look at how the pandemic has impacted on how education is delivered and sought to learn from lessons of setting up an Education service during a pandemic.

Thursday 25 November 2021: Workshop Session 3

Image is the Visibility Scotland Logo

Shine on Access: A spotlight on accessible information

The move to homeworking in March 2020 completely changed the way that Visibility Scotland deliver their services. Following the switch to digital one of the questions they asked themselves was “Is the information we provide as accessible as it should be?”. The answer was “No”.


Visibility Scotland shared details of our accessibility journey; the issues they identified with their own information materials, the changes made and their work to champion accessibility externally. Through discussion and breakout rooms participants had the opportunity to reflect on their own working practices and create a simple action plan for improvement.

Image is the Tonic Housing Logo

Led by experience: how community-led models can both empower and deliver
Tonic Housing shared their community-led approaches used to ensure that the properties, communities and services they provide are what their community actually wants and needs.

Image is The Devon in Sight logo on top of the MoorVision logo

The Children and Young People’s Sight Loss MOT (fully subscribed)

This session launched the new Sight Loss MOT assessment and outcome framework tailored to children and young people with vision impairment. It brings together Devon in Sight’s experience with the adult Sight Loss MOT, Moorvision’s specialist knowledge in supporting children, young people and their families, and input from other sector experts.

Facilitators  highlighted key differences to the adult Sight Loss MOT, share early feedback from children and families, and share plans for training and support for organisations wanting to adopt the framework.

Delegates attending the session received a copy of the Children and Young People’s Sight Loss MOT.

Image is a photo of Fi standing in front of a hillside view. Fi is dressed for a long walk with backpack and warm clothes

Space In Between (fully subscribed)

How time outdoors can be an invaluable part of our work.  A place to think, find balance and get new perspectives on what’s happening for us and our teams.

Join Fi Macmillan in this workshop to discover how to:

  • Create thinking time between work and home by walk ‘commuting’ to your home office.
  • Find answers to trickier questions by walking with them.
  • Become inspired by time outdoors so you show up differently with your team.

At the end of the session, we were invited to take time outside over lunchtime.  What changes when you take time outside?

Thank you to Blind Veterans UK for their support to enable us to offer “Spaces in Between” with Fi Macmillan

Image of Sight Life logo with strapline "Local sight loss support, Cymorth colli golwg lleol"

Patient Voices Influencing the Low Vision Service in Wales

Representatives from Sight Life, Low Vision Service Wales and Wales Council of the Blind provided an insight into how patients influence the Low Vision Service in Wales and how the service integrates optometry, rehabilitation and third sector organisations. In addition, Sight Life discussed how recipients of the service support one another through their peer support group.

Image is the Glaucoma UK logo

Digital support groups: How we utilised data, evaluation, and dashboards to create client focussed digital support

This workshop focused on how Glaucoma UK designed and developed effective digital support group evaluation tools that have enabled us to understand more about their clients, their needs and expectations, and how Glaucoma UK can provide a better service going forward. This workshop was aimed at organisations looking at starting or improving their current digital support group provision and more generally, anyone who is interested in how client led, evidence-based data can be used to shape service provision.

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