Visionary briefing 2 December 2020

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Your Briefing – 2 December 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 details of our continuing programme of online sessions taking us up to the Christmas break and into 2021!

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

Visionary Latest

Welcoming our new members of team Visionary!
On Monday we shared the news that we will be welcoming two new people to our small team in January. Amy Pearman will join us as Communications and Events Lead and Lucy Williams as Partnership and Innovation Co-ordinator. Read all about our new team members on our website.

Visionary conference 2020 – what did you miss?
Last week we shared this full round up of the Visionary Annual Conference 2020. We have now also launched 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

New member benefit – 25% off Health and Safety and HR Complaince Training courses from iHASCO
iHASCO provide online Health & Safety and HR Compliance training through their extensive library of accredited courses and easy-to-use video based eLearning platform. Visionary have negotiated a 25% discount on all courses for Visionary members. You can read about what iHASCO have to offer you as a Visionary member and access their full list of courses here.

To access this member benefit, please contact us or contact James Bradley at iHASCO, quoting our Visionary members discount code found in the leaflet linked above.

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 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
Special 90 minute fundraising session with Ben Swart from Bright Spot Fundraising
We are delighted to bring you an exciting Fundraisers forum this week with Ben Swart from Bright Spot Fundraising who is an outstanding fundraiser and highly respected as one of the best in the business. It is a chance to learn Pandemic busting tactics to help you influence the people you meet, write for and the income you raise. Helping you turn complex projects and concepts into moving elements of your work. So you will find people more generous than they have ever been. In the 90 minutes you will:

  • Learn how to find, keep and tell stories with impact.
  • Practise tactics to improve telling others the impact of your work.
  • Build a magic formula to find people more likely to support your organisation.
  • Come away with actions to help build momentum.

Tuesday 8 December, 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 8 December, 1.30pm to 2.30pm (one-off)
Insights and challenges of social care leadership during times of crisis
Dr Donald Macaskill is the Chief Executive of Scottish Care which is the voice of the independent care sector in Scotland. Donald regularly writes insightful and perceptive blogs reflecting on the experiences of providing and receiving care during COVID-19 – his most recent blog, “Yearning for Christmas past in COVID times: a personal reflection” can be found here.

This session will discuss and share insights and challenges of social care leadership during this time of crisis. As well as identifying the positives from this year, Donald will talk about how it is to be a front line leader and manager, the looming staffing crisis as good people leave the care sector, the impact on care staff of dealing with grief and bereavement and discuss how best to look after yourself in addition to colleagues. This session is suitable for anyone who has a leadership or management role within an organisation delivering care.

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.

Thursday 10 December, 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 15 December, 2pm to 3pm (one-off)
Elderly, alone, visually impaired, non-English speaking: Engaging BAME communities
Presentation followed by Q and A delivered by Jayshree Vasani (FBDO an ABDO Practical Examiner, ABDO Practice Visitor, sessional optician at RNIB) and Subhash Suthar (Development Manager at Glaucoma UK). Jayshree and Subhash will talk about how they engaged with BAME communities and why it’s important. They will share some surprising insights and learning along the way to help your organisations to engage with BAME communities!

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.

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.

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.

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

Age UK and COVID-19
Age UK reach out to older people, who also often form a key group within the sight loss sector. Steph Harland, CEO, speaks about how Age UK are tackling some of the similar issues to sight loss organisations in this article.

RNIB launches new Talking Microwave
RNIB have recently launched a new talking microwave which is easy to use, with simple tactile controls and has been designed with customer feedback in mind. All functions are spoken in a clear male voice while other features include tactile controls and five power modes. There are no complicated menus or features, people just select the cooking power, the length of time, and press ‘Start’ to cook. Visually impaired Chef Kim Jaye demonstrates the new talking microwave in a video on Facebook.

For individual customer’s, the microwave is £222,00 inc VAT. For trade enquiries please contact RNIB. To find out more and purchase the microwave visit the RNIB Shop or call RNIB’s Helpline on 0303 123 9999.

Please give me space: Training video launched
Last week, a video that can train local businesses in staff awareness of the ‘Please give me space’ initiative to promote safe social distancing was launched. It was developed with RNIB and forms part of the free training pack and promotional materials for businesses to join the Please give me space initiative. You can encourage your local businesses to join here. Upon joining, businesses will have free access to:

  • Training video and powerpoint presentation
  • Customer Service Q&A leaflet
  • Please give me space posters (space for company logo)
  • Certificate of awareness training for business
  • Certificate of awareness training for staff

The Please give me space initiative will increase confidence for people that have a health condition, experience anxiety, or have a disability that causes them difficulty in maintaining and judging a safe space.

Guide Dogs Christmas Card competition for children with sight loss
Guide Dogs has launched a Christmas card competition for children and young people under the age of 18 with a vision impairment. They have Number 1 Illustrator in the UK Tony Ross as judge, some great prizes on offer, and all entries will be used in campaigning work with MPs, so it’s a great opportunity for children and young people to get involved. Download an entry form here – Christmas_card_competition_entry_form_2020 – and you can read all relevant information here. The deadline for the competition has been extended to close on 6 December 2020.

It’s all about the money

COVID Winter Grant Scheme
Read this guidance for information on the COVID Winter Grant Scheme providing funding to support vulnerable households.

Funding Opportunity: National Academy of Social Prescribing
The National Academy of Social Prescribing has launched its Thriving Communities programme offering multiple funding opportunities for systems to help sustain a thriving voluntary, community and social enterprise sector. The programme includes Learning Together, a regional support and development initiative, and a £1.4m Thriving Communities Fund to provide grants of up to £50k for partnerships led by voluntary, community, faith and social enterprise groups. Sign up to the Thriving Communities network to learn more about the learning and funding opportunities available.

Charity finance week
Although this was last week – we wanted to share the following articles that trended during that time that we thought would be interesting reads:

Partner Spotlight

TAVIP: Technology Association of Visually Impaired People
TAVIP are a UK-wide organisation of visually impaired people that supports people of all ages, abilities and ethnicities to access technology in its many guises: computers, smart phones be they specialist, IOS (apple) Android and smart speakers. Some of you may have known TAVIP in their former guise of BCAB (British Computer Association of the Blind). They rebranded and refreshed in 2018 in a bid to broaden appeal and make their offering more relevant.

What services do TAVIP offer?
TAVIP offer tutorials on a wide range of topics over Zoom. They run a discussion list where members can have their queries answered by those who have often grappled with and solved the same issues. In addition, they run a helpline for members on the first Thursday of every month between 7:30-9:00pm. You can also always leave a message on their answerphone. Call: 0203 637 6070.

How to Join
To join TAVIP, visit their website. Membership is free from now until the end of the 2020 and costs just £10 per annum from 2021.

Member Spotlight

Sight for Surrey –
Two very talented vision impaired young people, aged 10 and 14, both supported by Sight for Surrey, have each designed a Christmas card that is available to buy and send online here. Visit the website and search for Sight for Surrey, where you can make a donation of your choice (from £2 to £100) and up to 100 cards can be sent via email. Alfie, aged 10, designed a festive Father Christmas inspired card, using Apple pens on his iPad, with the words Merry Christmas written across the card. Rowan, aged 14, also took to the iPad to design her brilliant snowman themed card, using an app called Pic Collage using the drawing function, with a bit of help from Mum on selecting the colours.

Both young people are delighted to have their cards featured and Rowan said “the fact that this is all electronic means that less trees will be cut down to make paper. Subsequently this will help the ongoing struggle against the climate crisis even if only in a small way.”

Halifax Society for the Blind chosen as one of Co-Ops supported charities
This week, Halifax Society for the Blind (HSB) have been successful in being made one of Co-op’s supported charities for the next 12 months. Across Calderdale, partner stores in Brighouse, Greetland, Hebden Bridge, Lightcliffe, and Ripponden will be picking a charity to support – one of which is HSB. If the store chooses to support HSB, the level of funding secured will rise. Additionally, Co-op members can nominate HSB as their charity, and a small proportion of what people spend in store will come to them. With all of the great work currently taking place at Halifax Society for the Blind (including the fantastic AVIATORS project that we featured in our last briefing), this support is so welcome, and will help them to continue providing innovative and practical services to local people with sight loss.

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

HR and Health and Safety Matters

HR matters

What you can and can’t do in your tier
Some members have been expressing concern that they are coming under pressure from several angles (service users, volunteers, staff, trustees) to “bend or flex” rules and to be creative in interpreting the new tier restrictions. Much of this comes from genuine concerns about isolation and loneliness. However, there appears to be a growing sense that it is also coming from people’s fatigue and frustration with restrictive measures. Links to what you can and can’t do in the new tiers from 2 December are below:

To shield or not to shield
This came up as an issue recently with several members asking for guidance on shielding of individuals and those in their households. This applies in various contexts – staff/volunteers/service users themselves and those living with vulnerable people. This latest guidance on shielding and protecting people who are clinically extremely vulnerable makes it quite clear – only those who are clinically extremely vulnerable need to shield.

Steps to take before calculating your claim using the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
Find out what steps you need to take before you calculate how much you can claim for furloughed and flexibly furloughed employees using this calculation guidance. More information about fixed hours employees whose first pay period ends after 30 October 2020 has also now been added.

Health and Safety matters

Small charities face ‘strain’ of dealing with mental health concerns
Nearly two-thirds of leaders at small charities reported in this recent survey on employees mental health during COVID-19 that they are worried about the impact of “stress and mental ill health” on their staff.

Sharing the love

A fun morale boosting idea – Dessert Island Discs
At the Visionary Annual Conference last week, as part of our workshop on Leadership during COVID-19, Chloe Birr-Pixton, Operations Manager for Guide Dogs in their Hull and East Yorkshire Community Team, shared a brilliant idea that she has used to raise morale among her remote team. Chloe asks her team to come to a catch up with a nice drink and something to eat, and to imagine they are stranded on a desert island on their own. The team are then asked to have a think about the following to then share:

  • Your Luxury Item – what it is and why you have chosen it
  • A book – what it is and why you have chosen it – people then post their titles in the chat in case anyone wants to follow up later on
  • 2 songs you couldn’t live without, the artist – and why you have chosen them – again people then post song titles in the chat for people to listen later on
  • 3 essential items, why you chose these and the impact they would have on your solitary island experience

Chloe even found the Desert Island Discs theme tune on Youtube and had it playing at the start and the end of the meeting. Chloe shared that, “I even did a silly intro over the top of the music at the start as if we were really on the radio, which made everyone laugh (possibly at me rather than with me!)”.

We LOVE this idea – thanks so much to Chloe for sharing – why don’t you try it with your teams?

Wales Council of the Blind’s RESET project
Wales Council of the Blind’s Lottery-funded RESET project aims to inform people with sight loss of changes to services and facilities as a result of Covid-19 measures. Over the coming weeks and months they will be issuing guidance on the following areas: Retail, Education, Social care and health, Employment, and Transport. Their most recent guidance booklet is on education. You can download this guidance and see all other information being produced as part of this project on their website.

Free webinars and events

In the know

COVID-19 Winter Plan
The government’s plan for managing COVID-19 through to the end of 2020 and into the start of 2021 can be found here.

Staying mentally well: winter plan 2020 to 2021
The government’s plans to support people’s wellbeing and mental health during during the COVID-19 pandemic this winter can be found here.

‘People want to change the world; our challenge is to show charities are the best way to do that’
In this article from Civil Society, Karl Wilding, chief executive of NCVO speaks about their new strategy, the challenges that lie ahead for the sector, the “moral imperative” to work collaboratively, and what keeps him optimistic about the future.

Charity Commission chair warns charities not to engage in ‘culture wars’
Baroness Stowell, chair of the Charity Commission, has said charities need to leave party politics alone and not engage in culture wars. Read Baroness Stowell’s artice here which caused quite a stir in some charity circles!


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