Conference Workshops: Wednesday 25 September 2024

All workshops have limited places available, so please ensure you send your preferred second choices.  We will endeavour to allocate your first choice where possible.

Workshop Session 1: 13:45 – 15:00

Inclusion – Where Do YOU Fit In?

Summary: In a safe environment, delegates will be challenged and facilitated to critically examine their own strengths and weaknesses in achieving inclusion. We will explore the emotions we are all influenced by when it comes to inclusion, eg embarrassment, anxiety as well as defensiveness and use them as a personal and actionable roadmap for change. Ultimately, these feelings are the driving force behind impactful decisions, from who gets hired to how we interact with those around us and where we feel we belong.

Delegates will gain awareness over their barriers and insecurities around inclusion, and uncover the opportunity to make different choices when it comes to their actions, attitudes and beliefs going forward. This underlines the need for change in individuals rather than bland organisational statements. In a down-to-earth, creative and meaningful way, we will cut to the heart of inclusion and what it means for all of us in our everyday lives. Delegates will get to know themselves better and learn the key skills which will allow them to stand out when it comes to fitting in.

Audience: All

Geography: UK wide

Fern Lulham, BBC Broadcaster and Producer

Fern Lulham is a public speaker, broadcaster, audio description narrator, disability awareness trainer and qualified psychotherapist.  Little wonder then that she describes herself as a freelance communicator.  Born severely visually impaired and now registered blind, Fern’s passion for communication started in early childhood when she would use an egg-whisk for a microphone to “interview” friends and family!

Fern’s engaging communication style produces lightbulb moments for her audiences that help them to meet the challenges we all face, whether disabled or not.

Telling real life stories – the pitfalls and the positives

Hearing or seeing stories about real life experience is always going to be more attractive to audiences, funders and policymakers than dry data and statistics. When told well, the power of people’s individual or shared stories is undeniable, but using “lived experience” as a promotional or marketing tool comes with significant risks as well as benefits.

In this session, Mairi Damer of WORD UP Communications, and former BBC Radio Scotland producer, champions a careful, sensitive and strategic approach when using real people, and outlines ways to avoid some of the potential pitfalls. Mairi will draw on her own experience from broadcasting and campaigning work to illustrate the good, the bad and the ugly of real life stories.

During the session we’ll also discuss practical issues like informed consent, reimbursement, re-use and overuse of case studies, and setting a realistic lifespan for real life stories.

Audience: Everyone who is likely to use case study/real life stories

Geography: UK wide

Mairi Damer, Communicator in Chief, Word Up Communications

Mairi is a former BBC Radio Scotland producer who brings 15 years’ worth of media experience to her Glasgow-based communications business. A one-woman anti-jargon warrior, she always aims to help her clients communicate clearly, confidently and coherently.

Sponsor: Thank you to Sight Scotland and Sight Scotland Veterans for sponsoring this workshop.

Awareness, prevention, and improving lives

Join Beacon Centre for the Blind, Sight for Wight (mentioned in Facilitators section above), and MyVision Oxfordshire for an engaging workshop focused on how to reach more people. Whether it’s by launching services to benefit the community or educating people of all ages about eye health, this workshop will provide valuable insights. Discover their new initiatives aimed at raising awareness about visual impairment within local communities and businesses, and learn strategies for fostering stronger engagement.

This workshop will look at methods for delivering preventive education in schools and reaching people who aren’t currently part of the sight loss community. Delegates will also look at the positive impact of outdoor activities, such as walking and talking in green spaces, enhancing the quality of life and boosting confidence for blind and partially sighted people.

Audience: All

Geography: UK wide


Lisa Hollyhead, CEO, Sight For Wight

Lisa is a Chartered Accountant by trade but is now the CEO of the Isle of Wight Society for the Blind which holds the sensory service contract for the Isle of Wight. Lisa is registered DeafBlind.


Helen Brown, Head of Impact and External Income, Beacon Centre for the Blind

Helen Brown, Head of Impact and External Affairs at Beacon Centre for the Blind, is passionate about leveraging her lived experience of disability to highlight the challenges faced by the sight loss community, drawing on her background as a journalist to tell compelling stories and using impact reporting to showcase the transformative power of targeted interventions.


Devante Claridge, Community Engagement Worker, MyVision Oxfordshire

Devante Claridge, Community Engagement Officer, MyVision Oxfordshire, has lived with a visual impairment all his life. Devante knows first-hand the importance of creating awareness and integration of people with a visual impairment in the community and has one sole ambition, to enrich the lives of blind and partially sighted people and others.  Devante also volunteered as a befriender, to support others with their mental wellbeing, which has given him transferable skills.

Sponsor: Thank you to Specsavers for sponsoring this workshop and project work.

Key issues in charity governance

Good governance is fundamental to a charity’s success. This workshop will explore some key issues in relation to charity governance and we’ll discuss how to get your charity’s governance right. We’ll cover:

  • Trustee duties
  • Conflicts of interest management
  • Where to draw the line between strategy and operations
  • Risk management

Active engagement and knowledge sharing will be encouraged during the session.

Audience: Everyone – particularly Trustees and Senior Management.

Geography: All, but where law is referenced this will be the law of England and Wales, but there will be signposting to Scottish law.

Gareth Roy, Senior Associate, Russell Cooke

Gareth is an experienced charity lawyer, advising a wide range of organisations across the sector from large, national charities to small, local organisations. He specialises in advising charities on governance and commercial matters. Gareth is also a charity trustee himself, sitting on the board of the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute.

Sponsor: Thank you to Russell Cooke for sponsoring and facilitating this workshop.

Journey to Net Zero

In this workshop, participants will gain practical insights and tools to develop and implement effective sustainability ideas.

Audience: All

Geography: UK wide

Emily Berry, Partnership Manager, Utility Aid

Emily has a passion for supporting the third sector to save time and money on their energy provision. Emily supports our partners and their members and is delighted to be working in partnership with NCVO. She believes that collaboration is key to achieving a sustainable future and regularly holds webinars and discussion groups to provide tips which will help you identify potential areas of cost recovery and support you in reducing energy consumption and wastage. 

Vision Partnership:  Getting involved in eye research: why and how

Research is critical to our understanding of eye health and disease. It informs how we live, how we treat conditions and how we design the health system. Eye research is dramatically underfunded and this needs to change. In this workshop, you will learn about the range of eye research happening at Glaucoma UK and the Macular Society and you will find out how you can get involved.

Co-hosts Joanna Hodgkinson (Glaucoma UK) and Dr Peter Bloomfield (Macular Society) will take you through the value of different types of research, sources of funding and how more action on research in sight loss and visual impairment can make a difference. There will be an opportunity to design your own research questions and suggest areas of research that should be prioritised. You will also learn how Visionary members can help people take part in research and ensure the voices of those with lived experience of sight loss are heard in the design and delivery of eye research.

Overall, you will come away from the session with a better understanding of how best to engage with meaningful research. We will identify clear ways for patients and charities to come together to ask, and answer, vital questions to fight sight loss.

Audience: All

Geography: UK wide

Dr Peter Bloomfield, Director of Research, Macular Society

Peter is Director of Research at the Macular Society. He is a neuroscientist by background and his PhD from Imperial College London focused on human brain imaging. Over the last 15 years, he has conducted research across a range of medical and life sciences topics, from novel treatments to technology to improve care. He is a trustee and interim chair of the Healthcare Quality Improvement Partnership who promote healthcare quality improvement through audit.

Joanna Hodgkinson, Head of Research, Glaucoma UK

Joanna is Glaucoma UK’s first Head of Research. The charity has funded research for many years, and Joanna’s role is to set a research strategy and ensure the charity is funding the most impactful research. Prior to this, Joanna was Head of Support Services at Glaucoma UK, having previously worked in strategy for the Ministry of Defence and as a chemistry teacher.

Sponsor: Thank you to Glaucoma UK and Macular Society for sponsoring and facilitating this workshop.

Workshop Session 2: 15:30-16:45

Recruit, retain and uplift – maximising your fundraising

Using insights from companies, donors and charities, this interactive session will explore ways to recruit, retain and uplift donors to maximise your fundraising. Philanthropy relies on human connection, and if you fail to make an emotional connection through your campaigns, you’re not going to gain and keep donors.


This session will explore the ways that you can capitalise on this human connection, with real life tips to implement into your fundraising.

Audience: All

Geography: UK wide

Ellie Lynch, Adviser – Fundraising Strategy Expert, Charities Aid Foundation

Ellie is currently an Adviser at Charities Aid Foundation (CAF), where she works with corporate clients and high-net-worth individuals to maximise their philanthropic impact, as well as working with charities to upskill them on a range of topics, all designed to improve their resilience and sustainability. Ellie’s previous experience includes supporting and advising on communications for fundraising from major donors, trusts and foundations, and corporates at British Heart Foundation and Alzheimer’s Society. Prior to this, Ellie ran the research and conference programme at the Foundation for Social Improvement (FSI), focusing on topics such as fundraising, governance, impact, and strategy for small charities across the UK.

Enhancing Engagement with Integrated Care Boards and Commissioners

Join Specsavers for an interactive workshop, in which they will share their knowledge and experiences in effectively engaging and influencing Integrated Care Boards (ICBs) and commissioners.  Delegates will gain insights into strategies and best practices for building strong relationships with their local ICBs.

Through interactive sessions and case studies, Specsavers will provide practical guidance on tailoring your approach, crafting compelling narratives, and navigating the complexities of the ICB and commissioning processes.

Additionally, this workshop will feature a collaborative segment with Visionary, where participants will have the opportunity to explore the potential for participating in an exciting project focused on enhancing engagement with ICBs and commissioners.

Audience: All

Geography: Primarily England

Sponsor: Thank you to Specsavers for sponsoring and facilitating this workshop.

Insight, Passion and Achievement: Creative Writing for VIPs

The Creative Writing Group at Coventry Resource Centre for the Blind (CRCB) has been operating for six years. The group’s leaders will talk about the transformation it has brought to members and how the group works. They will also talk about how collaboration with the local theatre and a media CIC has developed and allowed the writing group’s first collection to be published as an audiobook, and how those collaborations will operate in the future. There will be a focus on how to replicate similar groups in other organisations, with practical advice from experience and plenty of opportunities to ask questions.

Audience: Everyone, in particular Project/Service Managers

Geography: UK wide

Jessica Eastman, Volunteer Group Leader, Creative Writing Group, Coventry Resource Centre for the Blind

After 30+ years working in adult education teaching adult literacy, supporting learners with a range of additional needs on all sorts of courses and teacher training, Jessica retired and volunteered to start a creative writing group at CRCB.

Richard Warren, Volunteer, Creative Writing Group, Coventry Resource Centre for the Blind

Richard is a professional advertising copywriter/Creative Director (now semi-retired), and an amateur theatre director at the Criterion Theatre, in Coventry. He has been volunteering as a scribe with the Creative Writing Group for five years, and has directed the audiobook.

Sponsor: Thank you to Utility Aid for sponsoring this workshop.

Internships:  A springboard to employment

Enhancing employment opportunities and the representation of lived experience across the sector is a high priority for all.  We are collaborating with Thomas Pocklington Trust (TPT) to develop a workshop that will showcase and highlight the exceptional impact which the Get Set Progress programme, (a partnership between TPT and RNIB) is making within the sector and beyond.

In this workshop, which is currently in the early stages of development, we will hear from an employer, a previous intern and a current intern who will share their experiences on how they have benefitted from the programme.

The workshop will provide insights into the significant strides being made by the Get Set Progress programme in promoting inclusivity and empowering individuals with visual impairments in the workforce. It will also offer valuable guidance for organisations seeking to foster a more diverse and inclusive work environment.

Audience: All

Geography: UK wide

Joshua Feehan, Head of Internships, Thomas Pocklington Trust

Joshua has been the Head of Internships at TPT for the past 18 months.  He has helped to oversee the expansion of the programme from a small Internal scheme, to now offering 30 internships a year across the UK in a range of different industries. Joshua is motivated to see greater representation of blind and partially sighted people in employment at all levels of the labour market. This passion was born through his own personal lived experience of sight loss.  Joshua has been in the sight loss sector for nearly 10 years holding positions in both local and national organisations.

Outside of work, Joshua is currently undertaking barrister training at the University of Law where he is about to start his final year.

Helen Brown, Head of Impact and External Income, Beacon Centre for the Blind

Helen Brown, Head of Impact and External Affairs at the Beacon Centre for the Blind, is passionate about leveraging her lived experience of disability to highlight the challenges faced by blind and partially sighted people. She draws on her background as a journalist to tell compelling stories and use impact reporting to showcase the transformative power of targeted interventions.

Kaydey Johns, Community Support Intern, Beacon Centre for the Blind

Kaydey is the Community Support Intern for the Beacon Centre for the Blind through the Get Set Progress programme at TPT. Kaydey’s background has been in care with SEN children and has changed to work in the visual impairment sector due to being registered as severally sight impaired in July 2023.

Sponsor: Thank you to RNIB and Thomas Pocklington Trust for sponsoring this workshop.

A Holistic Approach to Low Vision

An in-depth discussion of case records highlighting how best to support people with low vision from a holistic perspective, with a particular focus on practical support and multidisciplinary / integrated care.

Audience: All, in particular Low Vision service providers and managers, people involved in the commissioning of services, and people interested in providing low vision services.

Geography: UK wide

Dr Louise Gow, Head of Eye Health, Optometry and Low Vision, RNIB

Louise has 30 years experience as an optometrist working in primary care, university, hospital and also in the third sector. She has a portfolio career as specialist optometrist in low vision and learning disabilities. Currently running the low vision strategy work, health and social care professionals training and low vision clinic at RNIB. She also works as bank staff for St Thomas Hospital, London in the low vision clinic and during term time provides one clinic a week for SeeAbility Special Schools eye care service.  Louise is also a GOC registrant member of the registration committee.

Claire Huddleston, Service Manager, Vision Support Barrow and District

Claire is the Service Manager at Vision Support Barrow and District (VSBD) since 2022, but has been with the charity since 2017.  Before that, Claire volunteered for VSBD for 3 years. Claire began her journey with them as part of her Masters Degree in Social Care. As her knowledge of the work they do grew, she became inspired by everything they achieved, so when the opportunity to join the team arose, she jumped at the chance. Claire is driven by a passion to maintain and develop new services for the clients they support and is always looking for new opportunities to help VSBD grow as a charity.

Preeti Singla, Optometry and Low Vision Engagement Manager, RNIB

Preeti Singla is an IP optometrist with over 20 years’ experience in high street and hospital optometry. She currently works as the Optometry and Low Vision Engagement Manager for RNIB where she provides training and resources for eyecare professionals to enable them to better support their patients with visual impairment. She has a keen interest in glaucoma and low vision rehabilitation and has a master’s degree in clinical optometry and a professional certificate in glaucoma. Preeti sits on the editorial board of the College of Optometrist’s Acuity journal as well as being a member of the College of Optometrist’s Clinical Management Guidelines Review Group.

Sponsor: Thank you to RNIB for sponsoring this workshop.

Active EYES

Active EYES is an interactive resource pack that supports early years practitioners to understand the importance of eye development in young children. Created to help promote good eye health and help promote avoidable visual impairment.

The activities relate to the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) statutory framework and can be incorporated into the curriculum of early years setting.

Delegates will be taken through some of the creative and fun activities included in the resource pack. Come prepared to move, to play and talk about a very important part of a child’s development.

Audience: All delegates will find this workshop useful, especially where there’s a focus on early intervention and prevention.

Geography: UK wide

Oksana Tyminska, Early Years Project Manager, VISTA

Oksana is a Nottingham based dance and visual artist, with over 30 years’ experience in community, education and engagement in spaces such as galleries, parks and theatres. She is the Early Years Project Manager and creator of Active EYES.

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