Visionary briefing 18 November 2020

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Your Briefing – 18 November 2020

This week
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
Partner Spotlight – Focus on a new Visionary Partner
Member Spotlight – News and successes from our members
HR and Health and Safety Matters – HR and health and safety advice and information

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 our continuing programme of online sessions taking us into December.

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

Visionary Latest

Voting for Visionary Annual Awards closes tomorrow, 12pm, midday!
There is still time to vote for your winners of the Visionary annual awards as the deadline is tomorrow, Thursday 19 November, 12pm midday. Currently the voting is too close to call for some categories so you can make all the difference with your votes. The results will be announced at the Visionary Annual Conference’s award ceremony on Friday 20 November. Details of the shortlist for the awards and voting form are on the Visionary website. Best of luck to all and thank you for taking the time to vote!

See you at the Visionary Annual conference starting today, 18 to 20 November
We’re looking forward to seeing everyone who has registered (registration now closed) for the Visionary Annual Conference starting today, Wednesday 18 to Friday 20 November. We have a great line up of speakers, interesting workshops, poetry reading, music and interactive activities including a cook along session and the annual quiz with our very own Quiz Master Andy Haynes aka “Haynsey” – not to be missed! You can see the full conference programme and workshops here.

Conference hashtag – We will be tweeting @visionary_uk throughout the conference, so follow the conversation and tweet #VisConf20 to join in.

As all Visionary staff will all be involved in the conference, there may be some delays in dealing with phone calls and emails, so please bear with us. We will respond as soon as we can. Thank you in advance for your patience.

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.

Tuesday 24 November, 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.

Tuesday 24 November, 2pm to 3pm (one off)
Tech for Success – how we transformed our services to ‘bricks and clicks’
Join CEO Susanette Mansour of Croydon Vision and her team to hear how they quickly adapted their services when the COVID-19 lockdown first hit to provide both face to face, physical services (their ‘bricks’) and virtual events and services (‘clicks’). They have now launched their own virtual tech hub and studio to deliver their weekly programme of live events.

Wednesday 25 November, 2pm to 3pm (one off)
Moving Charles Bonnet Syndrome and its community to centre stage
Join Judith Potts, Founder of Esme’s Umbrella to hear more about Charles Bonnet Syndrome (CBS) and its impact. Judith will share updates on research and talk about the new collaborative venture with the sector, ‘Esme’s Friends’ as well as her hopes for future collaboration.

Thursday 26 November, 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.

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

Thursday 3 December, 10.30am to 11.30am
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.

Thursday 3 December, 12.30pm to 1.30pm (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 session will be facilitated by Sue Piper, Head of Fundraising at Kent Association for the Blind.

Tuesday 8 December, 4pm to 5pm (monthly)
Trustees forum
Whether you’re an experienced trustee or new to the role then please do consider joining this forum to connect, share and develop with trustees from across the Visionary network.

Monday 21 December, 1pm to 2pm (monthly)
Finance forum
The regular opportunity for all involved in the financial management and oversight in their organisations to simply connect, share and develop.

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

A sector-wide approach

Home/remote working – Are you using the most accessible remote working platforms?
Kate Bennell from Sightsavers UK explains how charities and businesses can create an inclusive environment for staff by looking at which remote working platforms are most accessible. Kate’s short article on “Are you using the most accessible remote working platforms” explores Microsoft Teams, Zoom, GoTo Meeting and Goggle Meet as well as good practice on all platforms.

BAME Vision Committee raises awareness of diabetic retinopathy for World Diabetes Day
To raise awareness of diabetic retinopathy, an eye disease which ethnic groups, in particular African-Caribbean and South East Asian are at greater risk of developing, the BAME Vision Committee have produced a multi-lingual document about diabetic retinopathy for World Diabetes Day which was on 14 November 2020.

Policy guidance for new national restrictions in England from 5 November 2020
As England enters the second national lockdown, RNIB, Guide Dogs and Thomas Pocklington Trust have produced useful guidance on sighted guiding for blind and partially sighted people.

Share your inspirational stories
Fern Lulham gave a inspirational talk to Visionary members earlier this month on “Overcoming the challenges of sight loss in the workplace”. Fern is visually impaired herself and as a speaker, radio broadcaster and podcaster, she is always looking for particular problems faced by visually impaired people or extraordinary things they have achieved. If you have any suggestions or inspirational stories to share, please contact Fern at

New professional coaching service for blind and partially sighted people
Thomas Pocklington Trust has recently launched a new professional coaching service in partnership with the Centre for Resolution specifically for blind and partially sighted people who are facing redundancy or have been made redundant.

E-scooter audio signals survey
Sight Loss Councils have been championing and lobbying for all E-Scooters to install sound omitting devices, in harmony with the guidelines developed by the national sight loss charities. As part of our Streets For All campaign we really want to hear how you feel we can make E-Scooters safer, and kindly ask you to complete the short E-Scooter audio signals survey.

RNIB Connect Radio interview with Visionary and Berkshire Vision
Andy Haynes, Knowledge, Research and Compliance Lead at Visionary and James Garbett, Marketing Manager at Berkshire Vision spoke to Allan Russell at RNIB Connect Radio about the important work local sight loss organisations are doing to stay in touch with blind and partially sighted people during COVID-19 from children, young people and families to older members. Andy also spoke about Visionary’s Tech Forum which is a network of local sight loss organisations who share ideas and experiences of designing and delivering tech services to support blind and partially sighted people. Listen to the short RNIB Connect Radio interview here.

Visionary members are shaping our future!
Following on from last year’s annual conference, members told us what they thought our priorities should be. From this feedback, we have developed three priorities which we have been working on:

  • Connect
  • Share
  • Develop

Read more about the priorities and the work in our “Visionary – you said, we did” report.

It’s all about the money

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
Yep, I’m sure you’re all aware now that the “furlough” scheme has been extended. Key details can be accessed here:

Community Fund COVID-19 Digital Response fund
The new Community Fund COVID-19 Digital Response Fund focuses on charities and civil society organisations working in some of the areas hit hardest by the pandemic: early years; mental health and wellbeing; sexual abuse and domestic violence, and financial wellbeing. It addresses some of the issues that have arisen or been made more severe as a result of COVID-19. Visionary are very interested in this programme – we’ll keep you updated if we do anything with it.

How your finance system can turn survival into success
As a finance professional working in the charity sector, Xledger would like to invite you to a webinar with Civil Society Media and its selected partners. During the webinar, Xledger will demonstrate advances in finance software that are helping organisations thrive in these challenging times. Yes, the promoters Xledger clearly have a commercial interest in pushing this event – however a regular theme at the finance forum is how to make the best use of finance systems, this free webinar on 25 November may give you food for thought. Registration details here for the “Turning survival into success using a finance system” webinar.

Mental health and COVID-19
Ok, not overtly funding related, but the evidence in it could help you strengthen any COVID-19 funding applications you are considering. Deborah Hardoon’s blog on “Mental health and COVID-19” provides insights into how mental health conditions have changed and which risk factors need to be recognised when supporting people’s mental health.

Financial support for businesses during coronavirus (COVID-19)
Find out from the government website what financial support you can get for your business.

Check if you’re eligible for the coronavirus Additional Restrictions Grant
The Additional Restrictions Grant (ARG) supports businesses that are not covered by other grant schemes or where additional funding is needed.

Invest in supporter experience during pandemic
Charities should invest in supporter experience in order to improve fundraising during the pandemic, according to a new guide from the Chartered Institute of Fundraising.

Working from home tax allowance
Employees may be able to claim tax relief for additional household costs if you have to work at home on a regular basis, either for all or part of the week, including if you have to work from home because of coronavirus (COVID-19). You cannot claim tax relief if you choose to work from home. The “working from home allowance”, is a tax allowance that individuals as opposed to employers can claim on work-related expenses via HMRC through a change in your tax code.

Partner Spotlight

Charles Bonnet Syndrome emerges from the shadows
Watch the recording of the Charles Bonnet Syndrome (CBS) Patient Information event held on 16 November which had a ground breaking response and resulted in registration being capped at 500. The event was hosted by NIHR Moorfields Biomedical Research Centre on behalf of Esme’s Umbrella (the campaign to raise awareness of CBS, source funding for research and create ways to support people who develop the condition). This event marks CBS Awareness Day and comes exactly 5 years after the launch of Esme’s Umbrella. Clinicians, other healthcare professionals and medical students have registered to join people from the CBS community who live with the condition.

This response confirms that Charles Bonnet Syndrome is, at last, being de-mystified and de-stigmatised, thanks to the campaign led by Esme’s Umbrella, which, last year, persuaded the World Health Organisation to give CBS a coding in ICD 11.

Congratulations Esme’s Umbrella on your successful event!

You can hear more about CBS at the Visionary “Moving Charles Bonnet Syndrome and its community to centre stage” session on 25 November, 2pm to 3pm when Judith Potts, Founder of Esme’s Umbrella talks about CBS and its impact as well as updates on research and the new collaborative venture with the sector, ‘Esme’s Friends’.

Member Spotlight

New service helps people living with sight loss reduce isolation and build independence
A new initiative launched by Halifax Society for the Blind entitled AVIATORS, Advancing Visually Impaired Adoption of Technology Out-Reach Service, is reaching out to support local people with sight loss, who in the past may have found accessing technology difficult.

The charity is supplying adapted tablets and/or mobile phones to local people with sight loss. Trained volunteers and expert staff will support members remotely to connect with family, friends and social groups, who have been cut off from for many months, due to the COVID-19 restrictions. The scheme can open up a whole new world of potentials for people such as doing their own online shopping for possibly the first time.

Margaret, who recently started on the AVIATORS scheme, is visually impaired, and lives in Halifax, said, “This project has changed everything. I’m connecting with people, and have learnt so much. My AVIATOR Volunteer connects with me each week, and they’re really good – and patient. I’d advise other people with sight issues to get connected. This has completely changed what I can do.”

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

HR and Health and Safety Matters

HR matters

The secrets of successful remote working
Vicky Charles, Assistant Director of Technology & Data at Shelter UK shares her thoughts in her podcast, “The secrets of successful remote working” on how to start a new job during lockdown, how to bring remote teams together whilst managing wellbeing, why staff need to feel that they have a stake in digital and what organisations can learn from how they’ve adapted during COVID-19.

Check if you can claim back Statutory Sick Pay paid to employees due to coronavirus (COVID-19)
If you’re an employer, find out if you can use the Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme to claim back employees’ coronavirus-related Statutory Sick Pay (SSP).

Health and Safety matters

COVID-19: How to help safely – Volunteers
Updated official guidance for those volunteering.

Sharing the love

Good karma really does find you when you least expect it
Southampton Sight delivers sight loss awareness sessions at Southampton University Hospital Trust as part of the 4th year medical student Ophthalmology week. Initially this was a voluntary element, but has now become a mandatory part of the weeks learning. However, proving IMPACT can always be difficult so this real testimony from Kate shows that this learning has made a REAL difference.

Free webinars and events

In the know

Furlough scheme has ‘perverse effect’ of discouraging charitable activity
The government’s furlough scheme has the “perverse effect of incentivising mothballing of provision” when demand is increasing, a coalition of charity leaders have told the chancellor.

Why your board should be part of your comms strategy
Kate Bines sets out her five-point plan for engaging trustees in communications strategy.

Earlier in November it was National Trustees week and a number of organisations shared some of their resources for trustees – a couple of highlights below:

Board diversity
Penny Wilson, CEO at Getting on Board, discusses different aspects of board diversity in a range of short (3 minute) well worth a watch videos.

Trustee Training
Check out this range  of training courses covering financial governance for trustees, company secretary duties and strategic planning.

What is social prescribing?
Social prescribing enables GPs, nurses and other primary care professionals to refer people to a range of local, non-clinical services to support their health and wellbeing. But does it work, and how does it fit in with wider health and care policy? We answer these questions and more with our updated explainer.


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