Visionary briefing 24 June 2020

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Your Briefing – 24 June 2020

This week including:
It’s all about the money – Funding news, opportunities and updates 
Visionary Latest – Online support and training sessions for you and your staff

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 Matters – HR advice and sources of information

Sharing the love – Great ideas, successes and stuff that works
In the know – Latest Covid-19 Updates, news and resources

Visionary Latest

Welcome to your fortnightly briefing. It has been so nice to see so many of you at our online sessions over the past two weeks. We know from these sessions that this has again been an intensely busy time for all of you as you plan for what your organisations will look like as we slowly emerge from lock down. We again have a full programme of online sessions to share with you. We are excited to launch our new ‘Go Digital’ series of sessions that we hope volunteers and wider staff teams will join too!

Support for Visionary Members

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

Visionary online
Connecting and developing you and your organistions through our programme of regular one-hour support sessions to:

  • Share and connect – Regular theme/subject focused groups for you to come together and share experiences, challenges and successes.
  • Learn and develop – One off sessions to provide you information, updates and practical training on key issues you have told us matter to you.

Thursday 25 June – 10am to 11am
Opening services and the workplace as Covid-19 restrictions ease
To join, click here or use the dial in details below.
This session carries on our popular series of interactive and informative online support sessions with a Health and Safety expert on dealing with the barriers faced as you consider opening services and the workplace. This is a safe confidential space for members and questions can be asked in the session or in advance by emailing us at . Please also consider sharing any resources you have – several members have done so already and they have been of great benefit to many.

Thursday 25 June – 11.30am to 12.30pm
Talking Tech
To join, click here or use the dial in details below.
Hosted by Galloway’s Rachel Watkinson and Andrew Coleman this is the first session of our ‘Go Digital’ month – read more below. Galloway’s virtual tech services are going from strength to strength with their team having worked hard to ensure their community stays connected. They have developed online and telephone social groups as well as new and innovative digital service offers to ensure that they are providing the right levels of tech support to those who need them. Join us to hear about Galloway’s virtual tech advice service and how you might be able to set this up in your area. You will also hear about their Alexa Skill and Be My Eyes services.

Tuesday 30 June – 10am to 11am (and every Tuesday at 10am)
CEO weekly support session
To join, click here or use the dial in details below.
Our regular session for CEOs – no agenda, just an opportunity to share experiences, talk about what is working and find some peer support with what isn’t working so well.

Wednesday 1 July – 10am to 11am
Rehab workers forum
To join, click here or use the dial in details below.
This forum 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.

Other groups in development/to be scheduled:

  • Children and Young Peoples’ Services
  • Small Charities
  • Trustees
  • Fundraising

If you are interested in joining any of the themed sessions above, please let us know at

To join any sessions by phone: 
UK: +44 330 221 0097
Access Code: 780-863-517
Please note, calls will be charged at your local rate – this number is no longer freephone.

Visionary’s Go digital month!
COVID-19 has caused everything to change. Most of us have suspended face to face services replacing them where we can with digital, remote services to ensure we continue to be able to support and connect people. As we emerge from lockdown, it is unlikely that things will be going back to the way they were, and do we want them to entirely? Many members have achieved so much through setting up digital services and supporting people to get online – there are some considerable lessons that have been learnt and opportunities that can be built on that have been presented by organisations going digital. So are we ready to go more digital?

Over the next month, Visionary will be running a series of online sessions on the theme of going digital. Each week will see a new session, always led by one of our amazing member organisations, sharing how they have harnessed the opportunities presented by digital technology. All sessions will be interactive and we hope to share ideas that your organisation can learn from and use to shape your future services. The format will be a talk followed by a Q and A session.

Please do encourage your staff and volunteer teams to join and hear about the wonderful work going on across the UK. Upcoming sessions:

Thursday 2 July at 1pm to 2pm
Getting Teched up!
To join, click here or use the dial in details below.
Hosted by Henshaws this session is aimed at any organisation or staff that want to support people to access the right tech and develop an income stream at the same time. This session explores digital assessments and commercial relationships from Windows 97 to the year of COVID-19 and beyond.

Tuesday 7 July at 11.30am – 12.30pm
Building digital communities
To join, click here or use the dial in details below.
Hosted by Sight Advice South Lakes (SASL), this session is aimed at any organisation/staff that wants to get people Zooming and develop a virtual sight loss community. Hear about how SASL got people zooming, what worked, what didn’t and get some top tips on setting up your own online community. SASL now offer a full virtual suite of social groups, peer support and information sessions. Amy Pearman will talk about how Sight Advice South Lakes successfully developed a thriving online community, increased talking news uptake and boosted their social media presence at the same time

If you missed any of our previous sessions

Health and safety and overcoming obstacles to returning to the workplace post COVID-19 lockdown – follow up session – 11 June 2020
This session is a follow-up from the one in May 2020 but was still relevant to those who only attended this session. Thank you to Carl Harrison, Galloways Trustee and Health and Safety expert who hosted this interactive session, focussing on re-opening offices and services as the COVID-19 restrictions are being eased and the issues around this.

The following areas were discussed:

  • Follow the COVID-19 risk assessments.
  • Create a plan for services to resume and staffing levels.
  • Communicate regularly with staff, even if there are no updates.
  • Consultations to be held with staff for changes to work conditions and concerns addressed.
  • Inspect premises to ensure safe return for staff and make necessary changes, i.e. spacing for 2 metre distance, fire and safety checks etc.
  • Establish a return to work programme where staff have an induction and are taken through changes.

Useful resources for re-opening your office and services, can be found on the Visionary website’s COVID-19 Knowledge Hub.

Cyber and data security – 11 June 2020
The cyber and data security training session was hosted by Roger Burgess, Founder and Director of Scoria Tech. This session identified key risk areas and steps to take to ensure organisations remain secure, especially at a time when more people are working from home, accessing systems remotely and may be using their own devices. Practical suggestions were also provided.

Don’t think this is not going to happen to you as apathy is the biggest cause of cyber breaches! Even small organisations have valuable data and are just as responsible for data protection as larger organisations.

Email was identified as the largest security risk with more than 95% of threats via phishing, whaling etc. where someone tries to trick you into providing your personal information. Tips for data security included having an up-to-date password policy, multi-factor authentication and encrypting data.

The government’s National Cyber Security Centre has some COVID-19 specific guidance. Also Cyber Essentials and Cyber Essential Plus, National Cyber Security Centre government backed scheme help protect organisations against various cyber attacks.

CEO Support session – 16 June 2020
7 CEO’s joined the weekly CEO session to talk, share and find out more about how we are all coping. Again we discussed issues relating to return to offices, when and how this might happen. Members shared their thoughts, concerns and as always, lots of practical advice and support for each other.

David Anderson from Accrington Blind Society offered to share his Resume and Recover Plan which can be found here. David has also developed an online questionnaire to assess volunteers and whether or not they can return to volunteering. Members raised the issues of the cost of returning to office bases – for example the cost of buying gloves, face masks, increased cleaning etc. Some members shared where they have been able to source funds to help with these costs.

We moved on to talk about the return from furlough and how this was being implemented in various organisations. We discussed the recurring theme of how to attract good trustees and members shared experiences and offered some good advice. We touched on how different things will be for people when they cannot be physically close to people and chat in the way that they could before COVID-19. We talked about issues relating to mental health and wellbeing and acknowledged that this was most definitely an emerging and important theme.

Eithne shared her plans to celebrate KAB’s 100th birthday – Happy Birthday Kent Association for the Blind!

Finally, there were some lovely comments for Visionary which we hugely appreciate!  People on the call said that they know they are not alone because of the Visionary sessions with one person described Visionary as her lifesaver. Everyone agreed that having a forum to connect with each other on a regular basis was really helpful and supportive.  Thank you so much for all the kind words which come our way, we really do appreciate how supportive everyone is of our small team.

Finance forum – 18 June 2020
The Finance forum was is an opportunity for those interested in the management and oversight of finances and other infrastructure to meet and discuss approaches, challenges and practices in a safe and secure space.

Attendees welcomed the opportunity to meet in a safe space with other finance colleagues and have practical conversations covering areas of interest and current challenges. Discussions included independent examination versus audit, furlough and financial implications, generating funds, liability insurance and costs of re-opening the workplace and services. Attendees also discussed work/life balance and apps to record hours which is useful when you are working at home and do not have set ‘working hours’.

CEO Support session – 23 June 2020
8 CEO’s joined the weekly CEO session to share, talk and laugh with each other.

Owen started off the conversation with a request for information on accessible platforms for which could be utilised by the Welsh Government when communicating with sensory impaired people. We talked about the latest communications from Zoom which seemed to indicate that passwords and waiting rooms would be essential elements of joining meetings – and of course this can cause accessibility problems.

Bob was speaking from his office and not his house – always the trail blazer! This led to a discussion about priorities around returning to office bases – if, why, when and how. We also talked a bit about local lockdown plans if there is a second wave of COVID-19.

Mike shared some information on his recent survey of people who use Cam Sight services and we talked about bringing together some of the useful survey information gathered by various Visionary members. We talked about the potential to create a useful resource of headline facts and figures which could be used in fundraising applications. Watch this space for further information!

Yet again a really interesting and wide-ranging conversation for an hour – please join us in our next session on Tuesday 30 June at 10am, hosted by Visionary’s chairperson Owen Williams as Fiona is on holiday. It would be great to have you there!

Visonary goes global

Fiona Sandford, CE of Visionary had an interesting interview with Sight Unseen, New Zealand. Read the blog and listen to the interview here.

COVID-19: A sector-wide approach

Priority access to shopping in England
In our last briefing, we shared that you can now refer people to access priority shopping slots through the RNIB Helpline following our joint campaigning with other sight loss charities to Defra. This has now been formally announced by RNIB via Radio 4’s In Touch programme.

The priority shopping slots are available through referral via RNIB’s Helpline and are intended for blind and partial sighted people who are unable to access food and have no local family or friends who can help them shop. People who are eligible can access this new support via RNIB’s Helpline on 0303 123 9999, from 8am-8pm on weekdays and 9am-5pm on Saturdays.

Guide Dogs call for public to help those with sight loss trying to social distance
As lockdown starts to ease and communities across the country begin to enjoy fewer restrictions around travel and socialising, Guide Dogs highlight that lockdown being lifted doesn’t mean greater freedom for everyone. Read more about their campaign here.

Thomas Pocklington Trust – Children and young people survey
TPT are reviewing young people’s experience of Careers Education Information Advice and Guidance (CEIAG) in mainstream education in England since the national Connexions service ended and the duty to provide careers education passed from Local Authorities to individual schools and FE colleges.

They are calling on visually impaired young people and their families to inform this study if they have had careers support in mainstream school or college in the last eight years. Please encourage people to complete the survey found here.

Final Call! Offer closes tomorrow – Thursday 25 June
Amazon Fire Tablets for visually impaired people

As a result of an established business partnership, RNIB have been approached by Amazon to support the distribution of a gift of Amazon Fire HD8 32GB Tablets (spec here) to blind and partially sighted people who would benefit most. Visionary have agreed to help with this – along with Guide Dogs, Macular Society, International Glaucoma Association, Blind Veterans UK and Scottish War Blinded.

Visionary are seeking 50 organisations to get involved based on a first come basis. If you would like to take part and know blind and partially sighted people who would benefit from this gift please contact us at

Reopening of hospital eyecare services
Listen here to an RNIB Connect Radio interview with Professor Bernie Chang, President of the Royal College of Ophthalmologists, about the reopening of more routine hospital eye care services.

It’s all about the money

Is your local Council offering a discretionary grant scheme?
Thanks to David Anderson from Accrington Blind Society who shared these details from his local council about a discretionary grant scheme that is currently available. We know that many of you were able to secure Rate Relief Grants from your councils at the start of the pandemic but if you were not eligible for this, it would be worth you contacting your local council to ask if they are running a similar grant scheme.

eBay’s Big Charity Sell Campaign
eBay is calling for the nation to sell their preloved items on eBay, opting for up to 100% of the proceeds to be donated directly to a charity of their choice. eBay’s Big Charity Sell has been created to help tackle some of the issues charity retailers. Charities are not charged any eBay fees on eBay for Charity when they sell or receive funds, allowing more money to be raised for good causes. Supporters wishing to sell for their favourite charity can donate from 10-100% of their sale and will receive the equivalent percentage reduction in fees. For more information on how your charity can get involved in eBay’s Big Charity Sell get in touch.

The Joseph Rowntree Charitable Foundation (JRCF)
The JRCF have made additional funding available for their next grants phase, running from May to December 2020. There are new funding opportunities for existing grantees and in the summer, the Trust will launch a new COVID-19 Initiatives Fund, which will be open to both grantees and non-grantees. Find out more at Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust.

Unrestricted grants of between £5,000 and £50,000 available
Were you generating at least 30% of your income from trading before COVID-19 hit? E.g. Charity shops, public sector contracts (not grants), building lettings or other commercial income. If so then you be eligible for a Social and Community Capital grant. Further details at NatWest.

The slow return of our charity shops
They closed for the same reason as nearly every other shop on our high streets. It soon became clear that charities were going to take a huge financial hit as a result. after so many weeks of lost revenue, charity shops are opening up again, in line with other businesses. But they are doing so slowly and cautiously. The road ahead is likely to be very tough indeed. See more at Civil Society.

Charities face £12.4bn shortfall due to COVID-19
New research published today shows that charities are facing huge income losses due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic and continuing social distancing measures. Read more at Directory of Social Change.

Number of people giving to charity is lowest in a decade, poll finds
Guys this now surprise, but it does highlight that online giving is increasing – are you active online with your fundraising? Read more at Civil Society.

Member Spotlight

Kent Association for the Blind celebrate their 100th birthday!
2020 marks a very special year for Kent Association for the Blind (KAB), as they celebrate their centenary year. KAB works with over 12,500 people in Kent and the surrounding areas making them one of the largest local sight loss charities in the UK. Happy Birthday KAB! Hoping you have another 100 years.

International Glaucoma Association becoming Glaucoma UK
From next week – Glaucoma Awareness Week – we’re launching our new name of Glaucoma UK, together with an exciting new visual identify.

A key pillar of our strategy is to reach more of the people who need our support, and crucially, those people at highest risk of glaucoma sight loss. That means being clear about who we are and what we do, and the name Glaucoma UK helps us achieve that clarity. The decision follows lengthy discussions with our members and professional colleagues, and I’m pleased to say that all the feedback so far has been overwhelmingly positive. Alongside the new name and branding, we’re also reviewing our information and advice materials and later this year will be launching some new easy-read guidance and infographics to make sure we’re as accessible as possible to everyone who needs our help.

From next week our emails will change from to but anything sent to @iga will continue to reach us for the next few months. We’re also launching a new website next week at, and our revamped online forum at Health Unlocked is already up and running, details here.

We’re excited about these changes and we hope you are too. Working collaboratively is vital in helping us to achieve our vision of a world where preventable glaucoma sight loss is a thing of the past, and we look forward to working with you to meet the challenges that lay ahead.

HR Matters

Coping with the crisis checklists
The COVID-19 pandemic has presented a whole host of new and difficult challenges for charities. Some challenges are practical, like how to meet and manage staff remotely. Some are financial like how to balance falling income with increasing demand. Many are about how and how well we communicate with our staff, volunteers and beneficiaries. The DSC have a series of simple Coping with the Crisis checklists which are very useful, and there’ll be adding more over the coming weeks.

Maintaining motivation in uncertain times
At the outset of the Covid-19 pandemic everyone rose to the challenge. Three months later the trajectory of the pandemic remains unclear, the future is uncertain, it’s impossible to plan anything, even a holiday. This can be tiring, demotivating, and team morale may suffer. A sort read on addressing this at the King’s Fund.

PPE portal: how to order emergency personal protective equipment
Official government portal for Healthcare providers to order additional PPE in an emergency.

Sharing the love

Henshaws survey with blind and partially sighted people: A final report on survey findings
We have previously shared Henshaw’s survey and interim findings with you through this briefing and Henshaw’s have been really open and encouraged you to use their survey to find out more about peoples’ experience of COVID-19 in your areas. Now, in this same spirit of sharing, Henshaw’s have made their findings available to you all in this report, published last week on their full findings. Henshaw’s conducted this survey to establish the impact on thier community of COVID-19 so that they could track how best to support people and evidence the issues they are facing. The survey had responses from 955 people, carried out from week 1 to week 11 of lockdown. It highlighted the following key issues:

  • The overwhelming majority of our respondents were not contacted by their local authority sensory team during the early stages of this pandemic.
  • 41% of the people we spoke to did not receive any of the public health messaging about coronavirus/Covid-19 in a format which was accessible to them.
  • One quarter of respondents were informed they were at very high risk from coronavirus (extremely vulnerable and should be shielding). 
  • There was considerable variation across Greater Manchester with regard to the support people with sight loss received during this time

As a result of sharing their interim findings with partners across Greater Manchester, and the wider sector, across Greater Manchester all ten Local Authorities have now agreed to send priority information out to the 11,000+ people who are registered blind or partially sighted in their areas. The findings and insights from this survey, could equally support your organisation in influencing your local authorities and give you strong evidence of need for funding bids. If you would like more information on this survey, please contact us at

CEO’s perspective of the world during COVID-19
Nicki Deeson, host of one of Visionary’s first online CEO support sessions and qualified Leadership coach has shared this video/podcast. Made with the the Charity Finance Group and the CEO of War Child, Nicki discusses the CEO’s perspective of the world during COVID-19 and how we can all learn from this.

PPE procurement site for the Optometry sector open to sight loss charities
Thanks to Mike Silvey at Vision West of England for sharing this PPE site where you can order items should your organisations require access to PPE. Contact them directly to ask about charity discounts. As we have discussed at our online health and safety sessions, make sure your organisation requires actual PPE (generally only required for clinical settings).

Kent Association for the Blind (KAB) Social Distancing guide
Thanks for KAB who have shared this guide to social distancing that they have developed. The guide would be useful for you if your organisation is hoping to influence and educate your wider communities on the challenges of social distancing for blind and partially sighted people.

Radical CV masterclass, 25 June at 5pm (deadline for registration, 25 June 4pm)
Emma Freivogel, CEO and co-founder of Radical Recruit, will host a 60-minute masterclass, specifically for blind and partially sighted people, with top tips on how to write an impactful CV that grabs the reader’s attention and converts job applications into interviews! Find out more or book your place at Thomas Pocklington Trust.

In the know

COVID-19 restrictions are being eased from 4th July – up to date government guidance

Help and support if your business is affected by COVID-19
Watch videos and register for the free webinars to learn more about the support available to help you deal with the economic impacts of coronavirus. Government advice available here.

COVID-19: Information for individuals and businesses in Scotland
Official updated information to help navigate the guidance on COVID-19 for people in Scotland on the government website.

Home Truths: Undoing racism and delivering real diversity in the charity sector (report by ACEVO and Voice4Change England
Home Truths is not a report that asks if there is a problem with ‘race’ equity in the charity sector. It has long been known that there is an under-representation of BAME people working in the charity sector, and that under-representation is worse in senior leadership roles. Instead, this report seeks to reframe the ‘diversity’ debate, saying that racism is a significant and unresolved issue in the charity sector just as it is in the rest of society. Read more at ACEVO.

ICO cookie rules, COVID-19 and what it all means
We are living through exceptional times, and thinking about whether your website cookie policy is compliant is probably quite low down on your priority list. But you do need to ensure you are compliant. Check out this DSC guide on what to check.


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