Visionary briefing 2 September 2020

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Your Briefing – 2 September 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 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 through September.

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

Visionary Latest

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

Connect – Develop – Share
This year’s annual conference will be held online across three short days and is FREE for members! It is open to both CEOs and as many staff as you wish from across your organisations, so please save the dates and encourage your teams to do the same – even if only joining parts of the event over the three days. You can build your own individual programme of activities and workshops, jumping in and out of things as suits you.

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.

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 3 September, 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.

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.

Tuesday 8 September, 10am to 11am (and every Tuesday at 10am)
CEO weekly support session
Challenges faced and lessons learnt as social care providers during COVID-19
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 Lisa Cowley, CEO of Beacon Centre for the Blind on ‘Challenges faced and lessons learnt as social care providers during COVID-19’. Future sessions will be a mix of open sessions with no agenda and the following themed sessions (thanks to everyone who has agreed to facilitate):

  • 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

Wednesday 9 September, 12.30pm to 1.30pm
Focus on legacy fundraising
To register and join, click here.
To supplement our regular fundraising forum, join this focussed session, hosted by Alex McDowell, Head of Public Fundraising at RNIB. We know that most of our organisations benefit from legacy fundraising but all too often, we are not proactive about this income stream. In this session, hear Alex’s top tips on building legacy fundraising including how to develop an action plan to actively promote and maximise raising legacy funds. This session would be suitable for any fundraiser (including CEO’s and other staff for whom fundraising is a part of your role) either entirely new to establishing legacy fundraising or hoping to build this area of income.

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.

Wednesday 16 September, 2pm to 3pm
Children Young People and Families – frameworks for parent support groups and service development
To register and join, click here.
Would you like to know more about how to set up and support parents with peer support groups? Donna Stephenson, Families Officer at Thomas Pocklington Trust (TPT) will be talking about the TPT framework which aims to guide parents through some key considerations. Emma Cruickshank, TPT’s Head of Children Young People and Families will also be available to talk about TPT’s updated Children Young People and Families service development framework, with key topics to guide you through designing services for Children Young People and Families.

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.

Tuesday 29 September, 11am to 12pm (monthly)
Rehab forum
To register and join, click here.
Please note, if you have registered previously for this session, you do not need to register again. Simply use the same joining details you received when you registered.
Following the success of our first Rehab Workers Forum, this session will be of interest to any members involved in delivering rehab services. The aim of the forum is to provide you with a space to regularly share new ideas and support each other through these difficult times. It will be an opportunity for you to connect with other people working in rehab who are facing similar challenges to talk about real life practical solutions.

If you missed any of our previous sessions

Opening services and the workplace as COVID-19 restrictions ease, 20 August
As ever lots to talk about at this session as more and more members are opening services and workplaces or are considering doing so. Discussions looked at hygiene protocols – the regular cleaning of shared office/access spaces and cleaning after a known or suspect case of COVID-19 in the workplace. Transporting service users was another key area of discussion, especially how to help someone home should they present with COVID-19 symptoms whilst on the premises.

What to do after recent contact with a COVID-19 symptomatic person was also explored. Guides/policies have been produced for all these subject areas and they can be found on our COVID-19 knowledge hub. Training in COVID-19 H and S practices was explored, with OpenSight sharing some interesting approaches to using online video tutorials for staff/volunteers. We also discussed making clear statements on websites and physical posters in prominent office positions about COVID-19 measures organisations have taken to ensure safe opening.

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

Managing HR issues as COVID-19 restrictions ease and offices and services re-open, 21 August
This session focused on determining how and when a return to the workplace should be considered, working through employee concerns, balancing home and office working and a safe and confidential space for Q&A and discussion. The key question to ask when considering returning staff to the workplace is “Ask, is it necessary? Is it safe? Is it mutually agreed?”

The session highlighted that currently only 5% of workplaces were open for all employees, with 55% of workplaces open for some employees (with no immediate plans to bring others back and others gradually returning furloughed or homeworking staff). Key issues explored were reluctance and barriers employees may face managing a return and possible future issues (local lockdowns and schools closures). Handling employee requests around annual leave and flexible working were discussed, along with managing home and office working.

The Q and A explored dealing with staff reluctance to return to the office, flexible working requests, home based staff wanting office access and supporting staff finding the homeworking situation stressful and difficult. Custom and practice was discussed, especially the impact of changes as a result of (English) government advice that changed in August encouraging employees to return to work.

If you want to explore any HR issue then members are reminded that they can access up to 1 hour of free HR support at any time by contacting Roots HR – details here.

CEO weekly support session, 25 August
This session, on ‘Using Sight Loss Statistics With Confidence’ was hosted by Philippa Simkiss. We had an interesting discussion around what is included – and critically what is not included – in the registration statistics. We talked about social prescribing and the advantages of local organisations linking into these initiatives. Somehow we got to the importance of rehabilitation services and how the wider world didn’t really understand or appreciate how crucial they were in ensuring independence. We wondered if a different job title would enable a wider understanding of this important role? This was a fantastic session with lots of really interesting and useful information on Using sight loss statistics with confidence.

CEO weekly support session, 1 September
Mike Jenkins, CEO of CamSight facilitated and hosted this CEO session to talk about financial modelling and the new landscape. Mike opened the session by sharing how he had formed CamSight’s new strategy, fundraising and budgeting by asking the questions ‘who would really miss us if we weren’t here’ and ‘why do we matter’? We talked about using the answers and responses to this question to inform choices around what to do and how to do it. Mike talked about splitting budgets into ‘core’ and ‘non-core’ which makes it clear what must be paid for and what is essentially, an ‘add on’ service. We talked about risks associated with chasing grants without assessing the full cost of delivering the funded projects and discussed how this can lead to mission drift and organisations taking on projects which do not fit with their objectives.

We moved on to talk about fundraising and how important it is that everyone who works or volunteers with a charity understands where the money comes from and act as ambassadors in either generating, nurturing or maintaining donor relationships. Mike finished his interesting and thought provoking session with a sentiment from his previous life in the armed forces ‘no plan survives contact with the enemy’ – a reminder that no matter how robust and well planned out things are, it might not work out that way! See Mike’s slides here – Cam Sight slides for Visionary.

Join us for our next session on Tuesday 8th at the usual time of 10am hosted by Lisa Cowley, CEO of Beacon Centre for the Blind on Challenges faced and lessons learnt as social care providers during COVID-19.

COVID-19: A sector-wide approach

Social distance indicators – coming soon!
RNIB have been working with the Hidden Disability Store (who also produce the sunflower lanyard) to create social distancing indicators that people can wear when they go out to signal to others around them that they need to pay attention and be given space. The products are due to be available from 22 September and more information will follow soon!

Sight Loss Councils built environment campaign
This September will see Thomas Pocklington Trust launch an 18-month built environment campaign to influence the development of accessible street environments so that blind and partially sighted people can independently and safely enjoy and use public spaces in the same way as every other pedestrian. Sight Loss Councils have identified this as a key area for action.

Issues have been exacerbated by new street design in response to COVID-19 in addition to other local authority initiatives such as pavement parking/blockages, street furniture and cafes, shared space, e-scooters and pop up cycle paths. These all pose a real threat to the independence and confidence of blind and partially sighted people who no longer feel they can safely and consistently use pavements for their intended purpose.

TPT will be working with local Sight Loss Councils to influence change. They also want to encourage your organisations to get involved to influence your local authorities on the areas that matter most to people in your local areas. They are hoping to develop policies that reflect good practice guidance and recommendations and lobby government for national legislation if that’s needed. As the campaign develops they will have resources and templates that they would happily share and are keen to support you and hear about any successes or challenges you have as influence change locally. To be put in touch with the relevant TPT lead please email.

First campaign success on e-scooters
As we know, the government has taken the decision to roll out the e-scooter programme to include all cities and towns that wish to provide a service in their area. Sight Loss Councils are therefore working with e-scooter contractors tendering for contracts in certain areas to raise potential dangers and seek solutions. Following work with once such provider, ‘TIER mobility,’ they have now committed to including an acoustic alert system on their scooters. You can read more here.

So far, TIER only have the contract in York, but they have tenders in for Salford, Newcastle, Bristol, Luton and London. These new safety features from TIER show that contractors can act on feedback from blind and partially sighted people. If your organisation is thinking of influencing tenders locally, tell them about this feature from TIER and encourage them to adopt something similar!

Study into the lives of blind and partially sighted people
RNIB, Guide Dogs and Thomas Pocklington Trust are jointly carrying out an important piece of research to uncover the realities of life for blind and partially sighted people in the UK today. This research will be used to help us deliver better services and work jointly to make a positive difference to the lives of blind and partially sighted people. To read more or complete the survey, click here.

RNIB issue guidance on how businesses can support customers with sight loss during pandemic
RNIB is calling on businesses to ensure that physical changes to their facilities are accessible for people with sight loss. They have created this new practice Business_Guidance for retail, sport and leisure and hospitality, outlining how measures introduced to keep customers safe can be made accessible.

Confirmed guidance on resuming rehab services with letter to local authorities
In our previous briefing we shared draft practical guidance of Vision Rehab from the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS), Physical and Sensory Impairment (PSI) network and the Rehabilitation Workers Professional Network supported by Visionary, RNIB, Guide Dogs and Thomas Pocklington Trust has developed practical interim guidance for Vision Rehabilitation. This guidance is intended to help service managers and staff to review and implement as appropriate, recognising the risks posed by COVID-19, balanced against the risks associated with delays to clients not receiving vital vision rehabilitation support. Please share this guidance with your teams as a useful tool for planning of service delivery in this evolving situation.

The guidance has now been finalised and sent out to local authorities. You can read the final guidance here – Interim Vision Rehabilitation COVID-19 guidance – and the letter that accompanied it here – ADASS_PSI_network_provides_interim_guidance.

Statutory Service Reductions – Share your experiences
Further to some concerns raised by Visionary members around statutory services being reduced over coming months, with COVID-19 related budget cuts being cited as the reason, Fiona raised the issue at the Sector Response Group on 1 September 2020. Both Guide Dogs and RNIB are very keen to take this forward and would welcome involvement, participation and ideas from local organisations. To help with the process, it would be really useful to have some anonymised case studies which will be channelled through Fiona to ensure that no organisation is identified unless they wish that to be the case. If you have any examples of services being under threat, in particular rehab services, please email Fiona with a summary by Friday 25th September.

Guide Dogs Children and Young People Survey
Guide Dogs are currently running a survey for parents and guardians to help them understand the lived experience of children with a vision impairment and their families. They hope that the information generated from this work will lead to a better understanding of the needs of blind and partially-sighted children across the UK and that understanding will in turn generate change for the better in children’s lives.

They would like to invite you to take part in this survey; which will take approximately 20 minutes to complete. The survey will be open until 6 September. Participation is entirely voluntary and all information collected will be treated as strictly confidential and responses anonymised. The information you provide will be anonymised by Guide Dogs.

It’s all about the money

Lloyds Bank Foundation Infrastructure Fund
Lloyds Bank Foundation are looking to work with national and local infrastructure organisations through their new funding programme. They “hope to provide the breathing space local and regional infrastructure organisations need to develop new ways of working and to ensure that they can continue to advocate for small and local charities at this critical time.” We are looking at how Visionary could access such funding, in particular on behalf of our regional groups who are active in the areas the fund want to focus on. In the meantime if you’ve any ideas then do get in touch with us. Details here.

Coronavirus funding updates from the DSC
Checkout the latest COVID-19 funding updates as provided by the Directory of Social Change (DSC) research team. Details here.

Member Spotlight

Open Sight – campaign calling for all children to have a mandatory pre-school eye test
As schools start the new academic year, we wanted to share this short video (use Internet Explorer to access) produced by Open Sight to promote their campaign calling for all children to have a mandatory pre-school eye test. Please do share and continue to encourage people to sign their petition.

Sight Action – Delivering Remote Rehab
By Gillian Mitchell
This may become a reality as we struggle to deliver services to those VI people under our care. Here at Sight Action in the Scottish Highlands, we are trying to deliver services over one of the most remote and rural areas in Europe. As with every other rehab team, not all service users have internet access, for various reasons.

The first question we faced was how to keep offering support to those service users who needed our help. We began immediately lockdown was announced, telephoning all our open cases and those on the waiting list. It quickly became clear that Low Vision Aid Assessments needed to be completed somehow, without a home visit. We began sending out our standard reading chart which decreases from N72 down to N6 printed on one A4 double sided sheet of laminated paper. We then made a follow up phone call, to ascertain what they could read with their current aids, glasses, or both together. This forms a base line. We could then post out a magnifier of a sufficient strength to keep them safe and to help them in the short term be able to read their medication, cooking instructions etc.

This will be followed up by a home or office visit to enable a complete and holistic assessment of their low vision needs to be done, as soon as circumstances allow. These calls have allowed us to continue to replace broken equipment and essential safety items to our clients using a tried and tested series of questions.

Mobility has proven to be a little challenging. There is some scope here for technology to help. We asked the parent of an urgent children’s case, to video her daughter’s lessons. It must be emphasised that these videos are not a tool for the parents to teach the child themselves, but this has however, helped the parent to understand “why”, we do things the way we do. While these video clips cannot replace one to one mobility lessons they have allowed these parents to help re-enforce their daughters training. They may also serve as a film record of this child’s journey for her family.

Finally, we have supplemented staff training in a supported housing, unit where a young blind man is moving into in September. Using a colleague as the blind long cane user, and with the help of his social worker as the camera operator. We made a short series of videos to demonstrate how to enable this young person get around safely outdoors. We were able to teach sighted guide and trailing indoors also. We will do further sessions for the staff as needed to allow them to support the young man fully. Where urgent home visits have been required, risk assessments have been done, full safety measures have been put in place and PPE worn by our staff.

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

HR and Health and Safety Matters

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme: step by step guide for employers
This guide explains the information that employers need to provide to claim for their employees’ wages and has been updated to reflect changes to the scheme from Tuesday 1 September. Also checkout this updated guidance via a YouTube video about the extension to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and flexible furloughing.

Sharing the love

Macular Society Virtual Clinic – Dry AMD and potential for treatment webinar
8 September at 7pm
Next week, the Macular Society will host a free webinar for patients with dry age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD) to learn more about the potential treatments. Consultant ophthalmologist Clare Bailey will be sharing information on ongoing research and the potential for treatments in clinical trials for dry AMD. Register here.

British Blind Sport and UK Coaching launch e-learning resource, Coaching People with a Visual Impairment
British Blind Sport and UK Coaching have created an e-learning course “Coaching people with a Visual Impairment” to raise awareness of the crucial role coaches play in helping people with visual impairments (VI) overcome barriers to participation in sport and physical activity. The course is designed to enable sport and leisure providers to feel more confident including people with a visual impairment. Find out more here. At a recent CEO Conference Call there was a discussion about how local sight loss organisations could make the most of national awareness days.

Sight loss sector key events
At last week’s CEO support session, David Anderson from Accrington and District Blind Society agreed to compile a list of key events which might be relevant to the sight loss sector. This Health_Awareness_Days_2020_2021_ Excel spreadsheet lists these dates from June 2020 to June 2021 and is filterable so that it can be refined as required. The list includes specific eye related events, medical awareness days and other dates of interest to the charitable sector. For the majority of events there is a link to a website which provides further details and links. Some include social media hashtags. Thanks so much to David!

2021 GSK IMPACT Awards: funding for health charities
The closing date for the 2021 GSK IMPACT Awards is fast approaching. Winning organisations will receive core funding of up to £40,000 plus access to excellent training and development to support their leaders. Closing date for applications is Monday 14 September. Details here.

In the know

Volunteering in strange times – more questions than answers
The COVID-19 pandemic has shaken the world of volunteering, raising fundamental questions about how we volunteer to help each other and how we organise and support volunteers. This article from the Directory of Social Change (DSC) provides some perspectives on how we may need to adapt some of our thinking about and practices in working with volunteers. Read more here.

Telephone befriending: a valuable service during lockdown
Like many Visionary members, Healthwatch Enfield, in response to COVID-19 staffed a telephone befriending scheme from April to August 2020. This report gives a snapshot of issues raised by residents identified as being vulnerable or at risk by the scheme. It highlights the impact of social isolation on health and wellbeing including mental health issues on residents, with those with ongoing health needs being particularly affected. Add a visual impairment then the issues and their impact can be magnified. The report maybe useful in evidencing the impact of your telephone befriending services.

Department for Transport launch consultation on options to tackle antisocial pavement parking
Parking on pavements disproportionately affects people with visual or mobility impairments. More than 95% of wheelchair users and people with visual impairments say they had problems with vehicles parked on pavements. Three options are proposed in the consultation launched this week:

  • Improving the traffic regulation order process to make it easier for councils to prohibit pavement parking in their areas
  • Giving councils powers to fine drivers who park on paths, and;
  • A London-style nationwide ban on pavement parking

The consultation will run until the 22nd November – you can find more details here. Please share this widely to encourage as many local societies and individuals as possible to respond to the consultation.


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