Visionary briefing 16 December 2020

Your Briefing 16 December 2020

Your updates on…
Visionary latest – How Visionary can support you
A sector-wide approach – How the sector is working together
It’s all about the money – Funding news, opportunities and updates
Member Spotlight – News and successes from our members
HR and Health and Safety Matters – HR and health and safety advice and information

Legal Matters – Know your legal responsibilities
Sharing the love – Great ideas, successes and stuff that works
In the know – Latest COVID-19 updates, news and resources

Welcome to your fortnightly briefing. Below we share the news that matters to you, highlight some of the fantastic work you have shared with us and share details of our continuing programme of sessions for the New Year.

If you have any news or events you would like to include in this briefing please email us.

Visionary Latest

Visionary Conference 2020 – Presentations
You can now access any presentations delivered at the Visionary Conference on our website, alongside this full round up of the Visionary Annual Conference 2020. A reminder that we also have our conference YouTube channel where you can find recordings of the conference workshops and keynote speeches. Please visit our YouTube channel to catch up on anything you missed.

How we are supporting you

Visionary Helpdesk
We can provide immediate advice and support via our Telephone Helpdesk on 020 8090 9264 or email.

Visionary online
Connecting and developing you and your organisations through our programme of regular and special themed one-hour support sessions.

Thursday 17 December, 10.30am to 11.30am (bi-monthly)
Small organisations forum
Join other leaders of small organisations at this informal session. It’s a space for small organisations to meet and share their challenges, frustrations, ideas, opportunities and successes. Led by CEO of Wakefield District Sight Aid, Hayley Grocock.

Tuesday 5 January, 10am to 11am (weekly)
CEO weekly support session
Our regular session for CEOs with some being open sessions with no agenda and others themed sessions. Dates for themed sessions to be confirmed.

Thursday 7 January, 10am to 11am (fortnightly)
Opening services and the workplace as COVID-19 restrictions ease
Our regular, expert led, highly interactive forum exploring how to overcome barriers to opening services and your workplaces. Also visit the Visionary website for resources.

Thursday 7 January, 10.30am to 11.30am (monthly)
Tech forum
This forum is our regular session designed to provide an informal space to share ideas and experiences of designing and delivering tech services. The forum is open to any Visionary member/staff and will be facilitated by Mark Owen and David Quarmby of Kirklees Visual Impairment Network.

Monday 11 January, 1pm to 2pm (monthly)
Finance forum
The regular opportunity for all involved in the financial management and oversight of finances in their organisations to simply connect, share and develop.

Tuesday 12 January, 12pm to 1pm (monthly)
Rehab forum
The regular opportunity for all delivering rehab services to connect and discuss challenges and real life practical solutions.

Tuesday 12 January, 4pm to 5pm (monthly)
Trustees forum
Whether you’re an experienced trustee or new to the role then please do consider joining this forum with trustees from across the Visionary network.

Thursday 14 January, 11am to 12pm (one-off)
5 ways to wellbeing – supporting rehabilitation clients through COVID-19
The rehabilitation team at Blind Veterans UK have developed a successful telephone based emotional wellbeing service using the “5 Ways to Wellbeing” framework. “5 Ways to Wellbeing” was originally developed by the NHS and Mind. It is an evidence based concept that suggests there are 5 steps you can take to improve your mental health and wellbeing.

  1. Connect with other people.
  2. Be physically active.
  3. Learn new skills.
  4. Give to others.
  5. Pay attention to the present.

During the session Louise Timms will discuss these steps in more detail and talk about how Blind Veterans UK are delivering this.

This session will be of interest to anyone directly supporting visually impaired people and will provide a model for you to adapt and use within your own organisations. The session will comprise a 45 minute presentation followed by Q and A.

Thursday 14 January, 1pm to 2pm (monthly)
Fundraisers forum
Aimed at fundraisers of all levels, this forum will provide fundraisers with a platform to collaborate and share ideas to benefit local sight loss organisations. The group will discuss what has worked and what hasn’t, new fundraising ideas and opportunities as well as successful campaigns and marketing pitches. The session will be facilitated by Sue Piper, Head of Fundraising at Kent Association for the Blind.

If you missed our previous sessions
You can read a summary of our previous sessions held and access any available resources on the missed session’s page of the Visionary website.

A sector-wide approach

RNIB – Government plans for the coronavirus vaccine rollout
As the first doses of the coronavirus vaccine are given, RNIB have highlighted the issues the government needs to consider to make the roll-out work for blind and partially sighted people. Read RNIB’s article on the vaccine here.

Update on Vision UK work and the VI Sector Partnership Group
When Vision UK closed, the Trustees wanted to ensure that the legacy of Vision UK was captured. The Trustees tasked Thomas Pocklington Trust with developing a report, working with Matt Broom as previous CEO, to show the impact of Vision UK over the years and the future work it has inspired. You can read the report here which the Vision UK trustees hope will provide a continued catalyst for collaborative work within the sector and beyond.

On this vein of collaboration, and to build on the legacy of Vision UK, we also wanted to confirm the establishment of the VI Sector Partnership Group. This group is made up of eight of the leading charities in the eye health and sight loss sector, including Visionary as a founding member, with the aim to provide strategic overview for the planning and implementation of initiatives in the charity sector that will lead to improving the lives of blind and partially sighted people and those at risk of sight loss across the UK. The founding partners are: Blind Veterans UK, Glaucoma UK, Guide Dogs, Macular Society, Retina UK, RNIB, Thomas Pocklington Trust and Visionary and they have agreed to focus on two key themes initially:

  • Crisis response planning including a focus on mental health and wellbeing
  • Lived experience leadership and talent development.

For further information about the VI Charity Sector Partnership please contact Campbell Chalmers, Sector Response Strategic Advisor RNIB or contact Carl Freeman, Senior Collaboration Manager, Guide Dogs.

Local restriction tiers: what you need to know – alternative formats
Large print and easy read versions of the guidance on the local restriction tier system, including what you can and cannot do in each tier have now been produced. Access the alternative formats here.

Vaccination roll-out – RWPN wants to know what you think!
RWPN is the professional body for Vision Rehabilitation Workers. Their view is that Vision Rehabilitation Workers should be considered for the vaccination along with other front line workers delivering local authority services. guidance highlights the risk of transmission to (and from) front line health and social care staff. Vision Rehabilitation Workers are, by the nature of the intervention (including the need for close-contact-intervention), the age of our clients and the volume of visits many workers are already doing, front-line workers.  It would be up to the professional in question whether they choose to take the vaccine or not.

Given that this is the position they would like to take, RWPN would like to know if there are any strong objections to this stand-point and secondly if there are concerns about how this priority is acknowledged? Please contact RWPN with your views by 4th January 2021.

Free RNIB workshop: The Emotional Impact of Sight Loss – One day Workshop via Microsoft Teams
This free one-day workshop, delivered via Microsoft Teams, has been developed by the RNIB’s Counselling and Wellbeing Team to recognize and support frontline staff in responding to client need, often in emotive and challenging circumstances.

It is designed to help you to identify your strengths as well as the most helpful responses to clients / customers in distress, appropriate to your role. It also seeks to support you to enhance your own personal resilience, through exploring the skills that equip us to be emotionally resilient in the face of adversity. The aims of the Course are:

  • To look at some of the most common emotional impacts related to sight loss
  • To enhance skills and confidence in supporting clients in distress.
  • To recognise and affirm personal and professional boundaries, limitations and resilience.
  • To enhance your own sense of personal effectiveness and working with difficult situations.
  • To recognise and develop own self-care strategies.

The dates for these workshops are:

  • January 20th
  • February 17th
  • February 25
  • March 17th

To book please complete this form.

Help improve the COVID-19 home testing experience for visually impaired people
Visionary, along with other charity partners (RNIB, Thomas Pocklington Trust, Macular Society) are supporting NHS Test and Trace to conduct research into the experience and accessibility of getting a home test for COVID-19 for people who are blind or partially sighted, or those with sight loss. In particular, they would like to speak to:

  • People who don’t have access to devices or the internet; people who have low confidence using devices or the internet; or people who need/prefer support when using technology
  • People who have used (or tried to use) the COVID-19 home testing service within the last two months
  • People who are available to take part in interviews (they will work with you to schedule a suitable time)

If this applies to you or somebody you know, and you would like to register interest in taking part in this research, then please email us and we can arrange to register your interest over the phone (the research team will call you). Alternatively, if you would prefer, you can register your interest in the NHS Test and Trace research by completing this online form.

NHS Test and Trace will also be running further research with a wider range of people who are blind or partially sighted at the start of 2021, so there will be more opportunities to take part in research and share your feedback very soon.

It’s all about the money

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme – Furlough
The guidance has been updated to reflect that Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme 30 November claims deadline has now passed.

Charity shops – Working safely during coronavirus (COVID-19)
Updated guidance for shops covering items that have been returned, donated, or brought in for repair. See the ‘What’s changed’ section for further information.

Legacies expected to bounce back in 2021 after 11% drop this year
Legacy Foresight’s latest market predictions forecast an increase in legacy income by between 18% and 23% in 2021, as legacies start recovering from both the pandemic and administrative delays at the probate service, which slowed charities’ legacy income in 2019 and 2020.

Member Spotlight

Berkshire Vision launches Little Acts of Kindness Christmas campaign 
Berkshire Vision has being playing Santa a little early this year, driving over 450 miles across the county making over 70 deliveries They decided to spread a little bit of happiness this Christmas by personally delivering to each of the 500 people they support a hand-wrapped Christmas gift and checking they’re okay. Read more about Berkshire Vision’s “Little Acts of Kindness Christmas” campaign here.

Northamptonshire Association for the Blind (NAB) announce appointment of new CEO 
Congratulations to Vic Sheret who has been appointed as the new CEO of Northamptonshire Association for the Blind (NAB). Vic is experienced in the sight loss sector having already being working at NAB as Marketing & Fundraising Manager and he comments:

“I am very much looking forward to delivering the NAB strategy to help visually impaired clients overcome isolation. Our SocialEyes programme has provided opportunities for blind and visually impaired clients to enjoy dance classes, exercise lessons, canoeing, tai chi, trekking and much more, resulting in so many more people reaching out to NAB. Having gained most of my experience as Head of Fundraising and Marketing for DeafBlind UK, then Director of Age UK I am looking forward to working with you all in the years ahead.”

Member vacancies
You can see all of the latest vacancies across our membership here.

HR and Health and Safety matters

HR matters
COVID-19 Vaccine – employer and employee rights and responsibilities
A number of members have recently raised issues regarding the COVID-19 vaccine, in particular regarding employer and employee rights and responsibilities. Visionary has sought advice from our retained HR and H and S advisors and together we have developed this briefing note on the COVID-19 employer and employee rights and responsibilities.

COVID-19 restrictions – advice and compliance – staff briefing
A number of members have recently raised concerns about how to appropriately brief staff/volunteers regarding COVID-19 restrictions and risks, especially with regards to the temporary change to COVID-19 restrictions over the Christmas holiday period. It is not exclusive to the charity sector, as employers across all sectors have expressed concern amongst their teams regarding varying degrees of understanding and willingness to comply with COVID-19 restrictions. And the media are also regularly reporting fears that the holiday period and relaxation of rules could cause further COVID-19 cases. Working with Roots HR we have developed a staff briefing (Word file) with advice about COVID-19 restrictions and compliance during the holidays which those with particular concerns may wish to consider adapting for their own use.

COVID-19 exacerbates mental health challenges faced by charity staff
The pandemic has worsened existing mental health challenges for staff in voluntary organisations, a report has found.

Staff impact – service demand increases and worries for staff supporting people ‘from their living room’
Recent report highlights some small charities will face a sharp rise in demand for their services in the aftermath of the coronavirus crisis and raises concerns about the pandemic’s impact on the mental health of some charity staff, whose work and life balance has “collapsed” as they help vulnerable people from home.

Health and Safety Matters
Isolation reduces to 10 days 
A change to the self-isolation period from 14 to 10 days has been announced.

Making a Christmas bubble with friends and family
Guidance (also in large print and easy read versions) about meeting friends and family over the Christmas period – forming a Christmas Bubble.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) testing: guidance for employers and third-party healthcare providers
Some members have discussed the testing of staff. If you are considering – or are already running testing programmes – this guidance sets out the legal obligations and best practice to follow.

Maintaining records of staff, customers and visitors to support NHS Test and Trace
After changes on 2 December, designated venues in certain sectors must have a system in place to request and record contact details of their customers, visitors and staff to help break the chains of transmission of coronavirus.

Closing certain businesses and venues in England
This guidance sets out restrictions on certain businesses and venues in England under the different local COVID alert levels, reflecting the introduction of local restriction tiers that came into effect on 2 December 2020.

Legal matters

Brexit for charities: data protection law after the transition period
UK charities and social businesses need to make sure they’re prepared for changes to data protection law after the Brexit transition period comes to an end on 31 December 2020. In this, the first in the “Charities and Brexit – data protection compliance from 1 January 2021” series, Carla Whalen of our legal advisors Russell-Cooke gives an overview of the new UK data protection law.

Getting the most out of your charity’s property
The enforced move to home/remote working has seen many charities consider adopting it as a permanent workplace change. This has then seen organisations reflect upon how to make the most of the buildings they feel they may no longer need. In September there were extensive changes to the “Use Classes Order” which you need to be aware of if considering any changes. In this article our legal advisors Russell-Cooke gives an overview of the changes to the “Use Classes Order”.

Sharing the love

Infoshare – sharing information to support those living with sight loss
Infoshare record short audio messages of helpful information about anything to do with living with sight loss that anyone can record over the phone whenever they like. Infoshare makes sure all messages sound their best before they are heard by anyone else; messages are then broadcast to vision-impaired listeners across the UK online, on smart speakers, over the phone, as a podcast and on several specialist audio players. Further information can be found at the Infoshare website.

Bolton Hindu Forum – Delivering important Eye Health messages
This week, Bolton Hindu Forum delivered important Eye Health messages to their communities via their radion station. You can watch the project video with with Bhavini Makwana and Subhashbhai Suthar here.

Bringing Braille to Life – Free Braille Training for All
Starting 11 January 2021, the Braillists Foundation will be running a programme of free online events designed for anyone getting started with braille, and for existing braille readers needing to improve braille efficiency for work learning and leisure. In addition to a Braille for Beginners course, the Braillists Foundation is offering masterclasses to share expertise on a wide range of braille topics including getting the most from braille technology, affective braille note taking, advocacy for braille access and braille to confidently deliver powerful presentations. All sessions are delivered by experienced braille readers, are accessible online or over the phone and are offered completely free of charge. Receive details Braillists Foundation events by signing up for their weekly newsletter.

TPT Homelessness and sight loss survey report
In September 2020 several homelessness organisations and sight loss organisation in Birmingham and London were contacted as part of a project to understand what support is available for people experiencing homelessness who develop sight loss and people who are blind or partially sighted who experience homelessness. The organisations were all sent a questionnaire to complete and the findings can be read in this excellent report by Phil Ambler.

Scope – Evenbreak – job opportunity
Our partner SCOPE have a number of part/full time opportunities for Careers Coaches with lived experience of disability. This is for a new and exciting service they are setting up to offer disabled people looking for work bespoke, accessible, flexible and relevant support, to fill the gaps in existing provision.

Macular Society offers free professional counselling and there is no waiting list!
Free professional counselling is available (without a waiting list) from Macular Society. Organisations are welcome to refer their macular clients to the service by phone or online. Clients can also self-refer. Find out more about Macular Society’s counselling service.

Circadian Therapeutics – Blind Veterans UK Sleep Study
Blind Veterans UK and Circadian Therapeutics are seeking vision-impaired individuals between 18 – 70 years to participate in a research project exploring experiences of sleep and daily rhythm disruption. For further information go to the Circadian Therapeutics Sleep Study website or listen to the audio advert.

Free webinars and events

In the know

Coronavirus (COVID-19) guidance for the charity sector – updated
The Charity Commission have updated their guidance to help with running your charity during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. Updates include sections about meetings in England and holding AGMs and meetings online or by telephone – including links to the new rules about meeting socially. Also updated the bulleted list in the section ‘Insolvency help for charitable companies and charitable incorporated organisations’.

Leadership during the pandemic: managing with care
Tips and thoughts from the Directory of Social Change on managing with care during a pandemic.

Useful and entertaining blogs to browse
The Directory of Social Change have collated details of top tips blogs and articles. They include their regular ‘Policy update’, ‘Leading in the pandemic’, ‘The Spending Review’ and ‘Giving yourself the edge’ – so, give them a gander.

Better use of data will help improve charities’ relationship with government
Charities need to gather better data and then use it to tell stories that engage in order to influence policy makers, sector leaders have said. Visionary actively gathers information and data to demonstrate impact, and we hope to share others work in this area next year.

Charity governance code: What’s changed and why it matters
The steering committee of the Charity Governance Code which sets out seven principles of good governance for charities of all shapes and sizes in England and Wales ­– have been reviewing whether the Code is still relevant to charities in this ever-changing landscape and have made some key updates. Read about the observations and changes to the Charity Governance Code.


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