Visionary briefing 19 August 2020

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Your Briefing – 19 August 2020

This week
Visionary latest – How Visionary can support you
COVID-19: 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

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 summarise the news that matters to you, highlight some of the fantastic work shared with us by you, and share our upcoming programme of online sessions taking us into September.

Visionary Latest

Welcome to your fortnightly briefing. It has been lovely to still see so many of you at our online sessions over the past couple of weeks despite us now being well into the summer holidays. It’s clear how busy you all are as your organisations navigate challenges and continue to deliver your incredible services to people in your communities. We were thrilled with the success of our ‘Go Digital’ month which saw five different organisations sharing their experiences with over 150 attendees at five online sessions.

As always, below we have summarised all the news that matters to you and share a continued full programme of online sessions! But first, some news on our Annual Conference…

Visionary Online Annual Conference
Save the Dates – 18, 19 and 20 November 2020

Connect – Develop – Share
As we have previously shared with you all, this year’s annual conference will be held online across three short days. As sad as we are that we will not be getting together face to face, we are really pleased to share that the event will now be free of charge to all members and open to both CEOs and as many staff as you wish from across your organisations. So please save the dates and encourage staff to do the same – even if only joining parts of the event over the three days.

We are designing the conference to reduce the dreaded zoom/screen fatigue! All sessions will be bite-sized, with lots of breaks built in and the opportunity for you to build your own individual programme of activities and workshops, jumping in and out of things as suits you.

We will still have an awards ceremony over lunch, there will still be opportunities for networking, we will still have the national sight loss organisation’s CEO panel and, in addition to this, we have secured more external facilitators and experts than ever before! We still want content to be led by our members so if you would like to host a workshop or have ideas for themes you would like to see – just email us! We will be sharing all news and updates in this briefing, across our social media and on our dedicated conference webpage.

RNIB Connect Radio
As many of you know, Fiona does a regular slot with Alan Russell on RNIB Connect Radio and has done since lockdown started. We want to change the focus of Fiona’s recording with Alan and share this profile raising opportunity with Visionary members. If you would like to join Fiona on the monthly local organisations slot please email Fiona and we can talk further!

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 one-hour support sessions.

Thursday 20 August, 10am to 11am (fortnightly session)
Opening services and the workplace as COVID-19 restrictions ease
To register and join, click here.
Our regular, expert led, highly interactive forum exploring how to overcome barriers to opening services and your workplaces. As restrictions ease even further there is a lot more you could now do, but do you want to do it and how should you go about it? Recent discussions have included risk assessments, PPE and managing visitor access to buildings. Come prepared to share your queries, experiences and documents. Also visit the Visionary website for resources.

Friday 21 August, 2pm to 3pm
Managing HR issues as COVID-19 restrictions ease and offices and services re-open
To register and join, click here.
As COVID-19 restrictions ease, offices and services can re-open. This session will focus upon the HR implications and common issues that can arise. Led by Alison Smith of Roots HR, and designed specifically for Visionary members, the session will address 3 main topics:

  • Determining how and when a return to the workplace / office should be considered.
  • Working through any employee concerns regarding a return.
  • Balancing home and office working.

Alison will provide expert input, along with plenty of time for a Q and A discussion.

Tuesday 25 August, 10am to 11am (and every Tuesday at 10am)
CEO weekly support session
To register and join, click here.
Please note, if you have registered for a previous CEO weekly support session, you do not need to register again – simply use the same joining details you received when you registered.
Our regular session for CEOs – this time facilitated by Philippa Simkiss, Freelance Consultant to discuss the use of statistics. Future sessions will be a mix of open sessions with no agenda and the the following themed sessions (thanks to everyone who has agreed to facilitate):

  • 1 September 2020 – Mike Jenkins CEO of Cam Sight ‘financial modelling and the new landscape’
  • 8 September 2020 – Lisa Cowley, CEO of Beacon Centre for the Blind ‘Challenges faced and lessons learnt as social care providers during COVID-19’
  • 22 September 2020 – Stuart Clayton CEO of Galloway’s Society for the Blind ‘Staff wellbeing’

And in the pipeline:

  • Understanding the fundraising of the future
  • Partnership working at a local level
  • Public health discussion

Thursday 3 September, 11am to 12pm
Fundraisers forum
To register and join, click here.
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.

Thursday 10 September, 11am to 12pm
Small organisation forum
To register and join, click here.
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 15 September, 4pm to 5pm (monthly session)
Trustees forum
To register and join, click here.
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. Following on from requests at the previous Trustee forum, this session will have a Health and Safety (H and S) input from Carl Harrison, who along with being a trustee at Galloways, is also an experienced Health and Safety professional providing support directly to Visionary members. Please be assured that this forum is a secure, interactive trustee led space for trustees to share their experience, questions, challenges and learning with others and there will be plenty of time for discussion upon any area trustees wish.

Monday 21 September, 3pm to 4pm (monthly session)
Finance forum
To register and join, click here.
A regular opportunity for all involved in the financial management and oversight in their organisations to simply connect, share and develop. This forum is more about the how you manage finances i.e. accounting, practical budget management, cash flow, financial systems/software used etc. Experienced in financial management but new to charity accounting? Then simply come along and discuss with others queries from how to monitor restricted income spend to the charity SORP.

If you missed any of our previous sessions

Opening services and the workplace as COVID-19 restrictions ease, 6 August
This useful session was attended by 17 attendees from Visionary members across the UK. An increasing number of members are re-opening provision and discussions were very much focused around the practical considerations and practices to be addressed. Hygiene policies, transporting service users, COVID-19 out-break in the workplace and how to handle a situation when someone falls ill with COVID-19 symptoms when on the premises were key topics of discussion. Handling home visits and the practical guidance and PPE to be used was also discussed. However, what was also becoming apparent was the HR impact of opening services and the workplace, with attendees keen to access support and advice in this area. We have responded, and a HR focused session upon opening services as COVID-19 restrictions eased has been arranged for Friday 21 August – details above.

Members are reminded that they can access free H and S support at any time by contacting our retained H and S advisors Ambeck Associates on 01257 230584 / 07983 720208 or email.

CEO weekly support session, 11 August
The return to office-based working continues to be a hot topic! We talked about the evolving nature of staff roles as organisations adapt to the new environment we all find ourselves occupying. We had a really interesting discussion on fundraising and agreed that it is different from how it was. We agreed that street collections and collecting cans will be really challenging and questioned how worthwhile they now are, which led to a discussion on the golden thread between comms and fundraising. We had an interesting conversation around fundraising being part of everyone’s role – or at least an awareness that fundraising was important and necessary – it wasn’t just the responsibility of ‘someone over there’.

We talked about volunteers and shared concerns about them not returning – either because of concerns around their own safety or simply because they have had enough and don’t want to come back after having such a long break. A few members talked about developing roles for volunteers who didn’t want to return to face to face work but were happy to provide an online service.

The difference between people who can and do use technology and those who don’t was highlighted, with some discussion around how difficult the world now is for people who don’t use technology. We had a really good discussion – as always, broad ranging and interesting – which can be summed up by one CEO’s description that although sad and distressing, COVID-19 and the changes which it has brought could be viewed as the ‘springboard to the future’ for the local sight loss sector.

CEO weekly support session, 18 August
Philippa Crowther, CEO of the The Wilberforce Trust hosted this session. The theme of the day was ‘forming partnerships outside of the sight loss sector’.

Philippa shared how The Wilberforce Trust have created different product groups within the charity with each of the groups having the freedom to develops strategic alliances. Strategic alliances are made with organisations who share the Trust’s core goals and the relationship is critical to the development or maintenance of the product group. This is different from other partnerships which the Trust also has – Philippa defines a partnership as being a relationship where there is a legal agreement in place outlining financial or quality arrangements.

Philippa went on to share information on two areas where she had developed strategic alliances:

  • Diversity – the Trust recognise that they could be much more diverse and inclusive so they are now working with other inclusive charities that could project their cause whilst helping the Wilberforce Trust to change our culture with a real meaningful culture change agenda and development of a road map.
  • Club Wilber – the Trust worked with local business to help them understand young people with a disability and help with a move to the workplace. The local businesses were introduced to four business networking events created and facilitated by the Trust. This introduced them to other businesses who supported the Trust and helped them understand why the did that. This alliance actively demonstrates inspirational young VI people achieving in sport and work. The activities programme that showed them small children learning whilst playing. The Trust gained founder business supporters who then went on to encourage other businesses to get involved.

Philippa emphasised that strategic alliances have to provide mutual benefit to be effective. Philippa has kindly shared here documents on Strategic Partnerships and Strategic Alliances for you to download. Huge thanks to Philippa and the staff of the Wilberforce Trust!

Trustees forum, 15 August
19 trustees from across a broad range of Visionary members attended the session. Trustees freely discussed their experiences of being a trustee throughout COVID-19 and the impact it had had upon their organisations. Keeping in contact with their organisations and the challenges they were facing was highlighted as an issue, especially by new trustees who hadn’t been able to have the traditional “induction” to both their role and the activity of the charity itself. Trustees shared various ways they kept in touch with their organisations which included volunteering for the tele-befriending and online services, using online technology to join staff meetings and WhatsApp chat groups to keep connected as a Board.

A number of trustees also shared how they were dealing with AGM’s and the submission of audited accounts and other statutory reports to the Charity Commission and Companies House.

The re-opening of services and the workplace was also a key topic for discussion with trustees sharing the various approaches their organisations were taking – with all trustees being very aware of the need to provide services for blind and partially sighted people and balancing this with how best to support their staff/volunteer teams during such challenging times. Trustees were very keen to hold a future forum in 4 weeks’ time and suggested that there be a theme to that session. Health and Safety was identified by attendees as a key area, in particular trustee responsibilities. Please encourage your trustees to sign up for this briefing and let them know that they can access support from Visionary.

Finance forum, 17 August
It was a small select group this week and we discussed a range of issues such as transferring from traditional banking systems, online payment processing and safely managing a building and controlling access as the landlord. The forum is for all involved in the financial management and oversight in their organisations to simply connect, share and develop, and as you can see from some of the subjects explored this week people in such roles have a varied rage of other responsibilities, so we’ll cover whatever subjects people find helpful. Do encourage any staff/trustees with relevant responsibilities to come the next session.

Rehab forum, 18 August
25 rehab officers from across our members attended this session to share experiences, ideas and offer some valuable peer support. The majority of rehab officers shared that they are still working from home, delivering what they can remotely and via telephone. Where organisations are slowly starting to return to face to face delivery work, this has been very limited, mainly to just delivering mobility assessments outside with the wearing of PPE and strict limits on the number of people they can see in place. The group discussed growing waiting lists and how these will be addressed, with some sharing that due to risk of cross contamination, they are only able to see one person per day. Others shared the idea of seeing people in blocks.

Finally, the group shared concerns that the mental well-being and skills levels of people they were previously working with have been badly effected in lock down. Many are creating touch points with people while services are ceased but there is no doubt that this is having a long term detrimental effect. They have supported a large number of safeguarding issues too. Please share your experiences with us by email and do join us in September for our next session. We are going to create a resource page on our website to share the tips and ideas from this session.

COVID-19: A sector-wide approach

Guide Dogs launch new ‘Buddy Dog’ scheme
Guide Dogs have just launched their new buddy dog partnerships which enables children and young people with a vision impairment and their families to enjoy the benefits and friendship of a well-behaved dog. Having a buddy dog builds confidence, leading to better relationships with others, improved well-being, and a sense of fun and trust – in themselves and their dog. What a Buddy Dog is:

  • A buddy dog is a well behaved companion and friend to a child with vision impairment.
  • Buddy dogs are dogs who aren’t suited to guiding, but still have a part of play in changing a vision impaired child’s life.
  • Buddy dogs can transform family life, building the child’s confidence.

You can watch coverage of the scheme on Newsround and read more in this leaflet. To find out more and enquire about the scheme call their Children and Young People helpline on 0800 781 1444.

National Eye Health Week Online (21 – 27 September 2020)
This year, National Eye Health Week will have a greater digital media presence and provide a focus to raise awareness of the importance of eye health, the value of regular eye health checks and lifestyle factors that affect eye health. This has never been more important than now, when the COVID-19 pandemic has caused many follow up eye health investigations to be delayed and is likely to have a detrimental affect on eye health.

From 1 September, you can log in here to download a range of posters, digital banners, infographics and social media assets communicating our ten best eye health habits. In you would like any more information, please email David Cartwright, Chair of the Eyecare Trust.

ECLO Risk Assessment template from RNIB
RNIB have kindly shared this Risk Assessment pro forma which they have been using to support the return of ECLOs to clinic. RNIB are very happy for Visionary members to use this form – if you do, please state that it has been made available by RNIB. The pro forma has been compiled with reference to Government guidance published in response to COVID-19.

COVID-19, racism and the roots of health inequality
Visionary has recently been having a lot of conversations in this area with people from across and outside of the sight loss sector. We’ll of course share more details if plans develop further. In the meantime the King’s Fund have recently published a podcast and report exploring COVID-19, racism and the roots of health inequality.

It’s all about the money

Charities report ‘positive’ early results after resuming public fundraising
Take obvious precautions, but some charities have reported increase in average gifts (up by 7% on July last year) and sign-up rates (16% up). Have you resumed public fundraising? Read more at Civil Society.

Creating a strategic plan for growing individual giving: six steps
A strategic plan for growing individual giving is a vital part of your overall strategy. Read more at the Directory of Social Change.

Landing a grant: ten top tips
The Directory of Social Change has been publishing information on grant-making charities for over 40 years. So, it’s fair to say that they’ve learned a few things along the way. In this short blog they share their top ten practical tips to help boost your chances of securing a grant.

Fundraising Regulator’s new webinar on the Code of Fundraising Practice
Have you watched the Fundraising Regulator’s new webinar? It introduces charity staff, volunteers and trustees to the Code of Fundraising Practice, which sets the standards for fundraising. Watch the video here.

People think charity shops are more important to society after COVID-19 crisis, survey finds
Almost one in three people think that the importance of charity shops to society has increased with the COVID-19 crisis, a survey has found. What is your experience? Read more at Civil Society.

How healthy were charity reserves going into the coronavirus crisis?
Reserves are there for crisis situations. Well, we’re most certainly in one now – what pressure is this putting upon your reserves? All charities will have some reserves – however the level of these varies considerably, with implications for organisations having too much or too little in reserve. Read more about approaches to reserves in the charity sector at Civil Society.

The Fat Beehive Foundation grant for digital services: webinar 20 August, 2pm to 3pm
Improving your digital presence can be transformational, but it’s really tough to secure funding in this area. The Fat Beehive Foundation exists to change that, offering small grants of up to £2,500 to charities with a turnover of less than £1 million. Join the Funding Talk: Fat Beehive Foundation free webinar hosted by Small Charities Coalition on 20 August 2020, 2pm to 3pm to find out more about what they fund and how to apply.

Member Spotlight

Vision North Somerset create video sharing staff and service users discussing how COVID-19 has impacted on their lives
In this engaging and reflective film, you can watch Vision North Somerset’s first foray in producing an info/discussion video by recording and editing a zoom call. This film, led by their Technology Officer Jo Healy and Connect Me Worker Polly Price, with two of their tech volunteers Mandie Haynes and Hanna Stone shares a discussion on how COVID-19 has impacted on their lives.

HR and Health and Safety Matters

HR Matters

Employees returning from holidays/abroad and the requirement to self-isolate
We know we’ve already shared this, but recent changes will no doubt apply to more people. Here is specific guidance and a downloadable resource to assist with handling this issue.

Health and Safety Matters

Opening services and the workplace as COVID-19 restrictions ease
We’ve recently added some downloadable resources to this section in our COVID-19 Knowledge Hub. Recent additions include COVID-19 First Aid at Work, what to do if someone becomes ill with COVID-19 whilst on your premises, transporting service users, hygiene and what to do if you are told someone with COVID-19 has been in the office/centre. Details on the Visionary website.

Working safely during COVID-19
Official government guidance is always getting updated. Anything significant we’d of course highlight – but it’s always worth just having a look through. Access the latest guidance on the government website.

Sharing the love

Trio of football World Championships heading to Birmingham 2023 IBSA World Games
The International Blind Sports Federation (IBSA) and British Blind Sport have announced the addition of the trio of football World Championships to the IBSA World Games 2023 in Birmingham, UK! Read more on the Visionary website.

Calling Young Voices to forge local change
Thomas Pocklington Trust is piloting Young Voices groups initially in the areas where its Sight Loss Councils (SLC) operate (North West and West Midlands). They are recruiting volunteers between 14-18 years old who are blind or partially sighted and want to give their time to achieve a positive change in their community. Read more on the Visionary website.

Research shows careers education information is failing many young people with vision impairment
Careers advice for young people with vision impairment (VI) is a postcode lottery, research from Thomas Pocklington Trust and Vision Impairment Centre for Teaching and Research has revealed. The research found careers support for VI children and young people provided in mainstream schools is insufficiently tailored to the individual, when compared to support delivered in specialist schools. For further information and the full report, go to the Visionary website.

Students with vision impairment can get finance-ready for university with Student Dosh
Like most students due to start university or college this Autumn, those with vision impairment (VI) will be looking at how to finance their studies. Help is at hand with a new guide to getting finance-ready at university, created by MyBnk in partnership with Thomas Pocklington Trust. Designed specifically for students with VI, Student Dosh covers everything they need to know – from banking accessibility to information on overdrafts and how to budget, including additional support on financing studies.

Braille printer donation program
For those providing Braille learning services, you may be interested in the Index Donation Program 2020 of one Everest-D V5 and one Acoustic Hood Everest. To be eligible, you must produce Braille with the purpose of promoting Braille literacy, whilst having limited financial resources. Applications close November 2020, but organizations / individuals can apply for the program January through November each calendar year. One donee will be chosen by Index Braille and announced on Index website on World Braille Day, January 4th, following year.

Free webinars

  • 20 August 2020, 3pm: Galloways’ Tech talk @3. Andrew will be looking at Windows 10 ease of access. He will demonstrate Windows Magnifier and Narrator, the built-in audible screen reader for Windows 10. Join by telephone or video chat via Zoom. Email Andrew to get involved.
  • 21 August 2020, 11am to 12.30pm: GCSE results, What next? This webinar hosted by Thomas Pocklington Trust is for vision impaired young people and their families who want some careers advice, have concerns about what to do next, or just want to find out what post-GCSE options exist. Following the webinar, the speaker Michaela Ardley is offering one-to-one confidential careers sessions for individuals to discuss their situation in more detail. These career sessions will be allocated on a first come first served basis. Registration closes 20 August, 5pm.
  • 2 September 2020, 10.30am to 11.30am: What are my child’s rights? webinar. Thomas Pocklington Trust are hosting this webinar with Tom Quilter, Senior Development Officer, Information, Advice and Support at the Council for Disabled Children. Tom will provide information about the Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Information Advice and Support Service (SENDIASS) which is available for free to parents of children with disabilities in England. Registration closes 1 September, 5pm.
  • September to October: Learning with Leaders. Cranfield Trust’s new webinar series for charity leaders, hosted by leading experts. Topics include leadership, benefits of working with a mentor and organisational agility to navigate uncertainty. Registration is now open!

Seable Holidays – Survey on your preferred UK holiday destination
Seable Holidays have launched a survey to find out the preferred holiday destination that people with a visual impairment would like to visit once the restrictions are lifted and it’s safe to travel with confidence. Complete the survey here for your chance to also will £200 off a UK holiday.

In the know

Rethinking operating models and recovering lost income
We don’t have to tell you that the COVID-19 pandemic has been devastating for charities. The income that’s been lost during the past few months is hitting the finances of charities of all sizes hard so we need to change how we do what we do. For some inspiration read more at Civil Society.

Access to Work: factsheet for customers
Many blind and partially sighted people will use the Access to Work scheme to help them overcome barriers to starting or keeping a job as the result of having a disability or long-term health condition. The Government has just released updated guidance upon the scheme and COVID-19. See more on the government website.

Charity Code of Governance to be “refreshed” by end of 2020
The steering group for the Charity Governance Code has said it plans to refresh the code, rather than do a full rewrite, after consulting with the sector. The most recent version of the Charity Governance Code was published in 2017 and was a significant update on previous versions. A refreshed version of the code was planned for July, but has been delayed by COVID-19 and will instead be published towards the end of this year. See more at Civil Society.

Learning from experiences of COVID-19: four top tips for leaders
Practical advice for learning from the experiences of the first months of COVID-19. Four top tips – Bear witness to people’s experiences, pay attention to who you should be learning from and with, and how, Capitalise on the learning that is already happening in practice and be seriously curious about the positives. Read more at the King’s Fund.

Diversity study: Has the picture changed?
In the three years since Third Sector last completed its diversity study, relatively little has changed at the top of the 50 featured fundraising charities. Read more at Third Sector.

E-signatures are allowed on audited accounts/annual reports
Check out Companies House for their latest guidance when submitting documents.


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