Welcome to your workshops!

We have been able to create a varied programme of workshops and webinars for this year’s online annual conference, this would not be possible without support from the Visionary network – Thank you! We still have further workshops to announce including education, governance, digitalisation and low vision services.

A huge thank you to everyone who is sharing, facilitating and supporting 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

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

This workshop will explore how to strengthen your resilience, and offer practices to recharge your batteries so you 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 have brought together an amazing panel of income generation experts.  Join 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 will be hosted and facilitated by Sue Piper, Head of Fundraising at Kent Association for the Blind.

Sue will be 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 will be shared during the workshop and will also be 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

A session with Thomas Pocklington Trust that focuses 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 is designed to show 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 

This session is for trustees and senior staff who want to be future focused. Host Philippa Simkiss draws on experience of trusteeship and work with local and national charity boards to share lessons on how to do strategy well. This workshop will consider 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 will explore the relationship between Chair, CEO and senior staff and consider 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. We’re now reaching more blind and partially sighted people than ever before, with event attendance increasing from dozens to hundreds. In this workshop, you will learn how we 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), will show you how to address one of the big topics of the moment, Climate Change, with blind and partially sighted people. You’ll find 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

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 will come 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 explore 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

In this session, Mairi Damer of WORD UP Communications offers practical tips (and a bit of provocation!) to help you energise and improve your communication skills. Whether you’re 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 aims to offer 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

Image is the BAME Vision Logo

Hard To Reach Or Not Reaching Hard Enough!

BAME Vision will introduce who we are and why we 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 will share 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, we questioned why some members couldn’t afford lunch; the aim, to understand the possible barriers and improve lives.

We 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.

Our Student Support Service launched in April 2020 at the start of the pandemic. Since then, our service has expanded so that we now support students in mainstream secondary, further and higher education.

In this session our Education team will talk delegates through the barriers faced by blind and partially sighted students in post 16 education. We will look at how the pandemic has impacted on how education is delivered and will seek 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 we at Visibility Scotland deliver our services. Following the switch to digital one of the questions we asked ourselves was “Is the information we provide as accessible as it should be?”. The answer was “No”.


Visibility Scotland will be sharing details of our accessibility journey; the issues they identified with their own information materials, the changes they have made and our work to champion accessibility externally. Through discussion and breakout rooms participants will have 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 will join us to share 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

This session will launch 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 will highlight 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 will receive 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

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, you’ll be invited to take time outside over lunchtime.  What changes when you take time outside?  Come back into the session from 13.45-14.00 to debrief the experience with each other.

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 will provide 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 will discuss 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 will focus on how Glaucoma UK designed and developed effective digital support group evaluation tools that have enabled us to understand more about our clients, their needs and expectations, and how we can provide a better service going forward. This workshop will be useful to any organisation 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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