Visionary Briefing 3 June 2020

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Welcome to your weekly briefing. This week are again hosting a range of follow up and brand new online sessions for you and your staff to ensure we continue to provide the best possible support we can during this time. We also wanted to take the opportunity this National Volunteers’ Week to say a big thank-you to all the other volunteers out there (including our fab Trustees) whose commitment means that local sight loss charities can continue to do the amazing work you do!

Welcoming Tayyaba Kamal
We are so pleased to share that this week we have welcomed Tayyaba Kamal to the Visionary Team. Tayyaba joins us as Communications & Events Administrator – working to ensure we continue to share information and knowledge with you all and assisting with Visionary meetings, support and training sessions. Tayyaba joins us from Vision UK where many of you may know her from and I’m sure you will all join us in welcoming her to the wonderful Visionary network!

Benefits for Visionary Members

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

Online resources
We are continuing to build on our online resources found in both our general knowledge hub and specific COVID-19 knowledge hub. Please note, following membership renewal, these will again only be available to Visionary members – accessed by logging in to our site.

Online support sessions
Since COVID-19 started Visionary has funded a free phone facility for anyone dialling in to our online sessions from a landline or mobile. From 22 June 2020 this free phone facility will end so if you dial in via phone after this you will be charged your national call rate. The vast majority of people connect online via a computer/smart device and we would encourage you to download and use the GoToMeeting app to connect in to sessions. Connecting online is free, though if using your phones data connection you could incur charges.

Thursday 4 June 2020 at 2pm
Care Home Forum 
To join, click here or use the dial in details below
We know that a number of you operate care home provision, many of which have been hit hard by COVID-19. This forum is an opportunity for members to meet and share with each other how they have coped and discuss the successes and challenges you are facing.

Friday 5 June 2020 at 10am
Member Finance planning session
To join, click here or use the dial in details below
An opportunity for those involved in the management/oversight of your organisation’s finances to meet, share and discuss approaches to effective financial management practices. This isn’t about income generation, but about how people actually do things. Several members have requested such a forum.

Tuesday 9 June at 10am (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.

Thursday 11 June at 10am
Overcoming obstacles to returning to the workplace post COVID-19 lockdown
As members look at re-opening offices and services with the ease of restrictions, a range of obstacles are presenting themselves. This interactive session, supported by Galloways trustee and Health and Safety expert Carl Harrison, will be a safe confidential space for Visionary members to discuss issues. Please do come with your questions, individual scenarios and barriers and be prepared to share. You can submit queries in advance here or let us know if you’d prefer us to raise issues/queries anonymously on your behalf.  This session compliments a previous session held last week. You may also find resources in our COVID-19 Knowledge Hub useful if you are considering re-opening your office and services.

Friday 12 June at 10am
Cyber and Data Security
To join, click here or use the dial in details below.
With many people now working from home, accessing systems remotely and often using their own devices for work, people are rightly concerned about cyber and data security. This session, led by Roger Burgess of Scoria Tech, will help you identify your key risk areas and what steps you can take to ensure you remain secure and compliant. If you have any specific areas of concern or would like to ensure specific issues are addressed then contact us in advance here let us know if you’d prefer us to raise issues/queries anonymously upon your behalf. In the meantime we are developing guidance and resources which will be available here.

To join any sessions by phone call:
(Toll Free): 0800 169 0432
Access Code: 780-863-517

If you missed any of our previous sessions
Delivering Children and Young People Services – 29 May 2020
Hosted by Clare Sweeney, Senior Development Worker from Visibility Scotland 22 people joined this session to talk about services provided locally for children and young people. The majority who attended have moved their interactions online and host regular meetings via Zoom and WhatsApp. This is on the whole really popular. We talked however about digital inequality as not all families have access to the internet and sadly, many young people have no or limited access to technology. Also, many are using technology that does not meet their accessibility needs.

People felt the Ideas Machine created and presented by Gwyn McCormack from Positive Eye were very useful, relevant and accessible for younger children. Laura Hughes has also subsequently shared two free webinars that Positive Eye are running next week – details here.

The Scottish Book Trusts Bookbug programme was mentioned. They provide an app as well as live sessions on social media where families can enjoy songs, stories and rhymes. Vista shared some good practice regarding some inter-generational work they were carrying out where people are encouraged and supported to be part of a Pen Pal scheme. Some practical issues were discussed around assisting families with benefits and as always, fundraising for services was a hot topic!

Participants felt the session was worthwhile and enjoyed hearing from others so we are planning to host a regular CYP going forward. If you would like to join this or have anything to share please email us.

CEO Support Session – 2 June 2020 
8 CEO’s joined the weekly CEO session where we talked quite a bit about tech – what we offered before, what we do now and what we might do in the future.  We talked about the importance of testing assumptions that are often made about older people in order to shape service delivery. Everyone was in agreement that peer support is important in tech (and most other things) and we talked a bit about the wide-ranging advantages of having visually impaired volunteers assisting with tech service delivery.

We moved on to talk about Charity Log and there was a few generous offers of help, support and advice made and accepted. Requests were made for help and advice with the next steps in relation to furlough and the return to offices – both of which Visionary will follow up on. After some discussion, we have agreed to continue with the weekly sessions – so if you haven’t already tried it out – come along!

Online support sessions – we want your feedback!
Knowing what works for you, what doesn’t and what you’d like to see really helps us ensure our support meets your needs. If you have been on one of our recent online support sessions please take a minute or so to share you feedback with us here and if there is anything you’d like to see in the future then contact us.



Covid-19: A sector-wide approach

Update on RNIB Helpline and Guide Dogs Information Line
As many of you know Visionary has been providing regular information to RNIB and Guide Dogs for their helpline staff to use by providing local information. RNIB and Guide Dogs have provided us with some useful updates on how they have used the information so far. You can read the full updates from RNIB’s Jamie Dormandy (Head of Advice and Customer Service) and Guide Dog’s Kirstie Bower (Service Director – Skills Information and Support services) here.

Guide Dogs produce new guidance for transport providers
In last week’s briefing we shared this guidance for transport providers on how they can best assist their passengers with sight loss whilst observing social distancing. This page is being updated to include guidance for taxi operators and to state that when sighted guiding is required, this should be done using PPE. We understand a couple of rail companies will be using this approach but are waiting to get an update on the sector as a whole. Guide Dogs have had conversations with Department for Transport and are hoping that they will  weave something on social distancing into the ‘its everyone’s journey’ campaign.



It’s all about the money

Funding Talk for Small Charities – featuring UK Communities Foundation
Thursday 4 June at 2pm – Sign up here
This free online session from the Small Charities Coalition will provide a round up of the latest funding opportunities and announcements this week, including the UK Community Foundation and National Emergencies Trust. This presents an opportunity to hear from key funders and discuss the opportunities and challenges talking to grant makers for small charities.

Financial support for voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) organisations to respond to COVID-19 
The government has pledged £750 million to ensure VCSE’s can continue their vital work supporting the country during COVID-19, including £200 million for the Coronavirus Community Support Fund, along with an additional £150 million from dormant bank and building society accounts. Details here.

National Lottery Community Fund sees record number of applicants for £200m government pot 
The £200m government fund for smaller charities, run NLCF received a record-breaking number of applications when it opened last week. A spokesperson for NLCF said that they had received bids worth “multi millions of pounds”. Read more here.

Charity shops make plans to reopen from 15th June amid return of non-essential retailers as COVID-19 restrictions are eased
The Charity Retail Association have updated their comprehensive guide to reopening charity shops. Some charity shops will reopen next month after introducing new guidelines for customers and donors to reduce the risk of spreading coronavirus. Read more here.

90% of charities expect income to drop over six-month period
Not surprising news, but a difficult situation for many – read more here. We are developing support for members to deal with the longer-term impacts of COVID-19. In the meantime do contact us to discuss any concerns or support needs you may have.



Member Spotlight

Southampton Sight
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit in mid-March, Southampton Sights reacted quickly to ensure their members continued to receive contact and support by using and building on their unique role in the community and the knowledge they have about their members and what they need.

Brokering Hospital Appointments
Southampton Sight heard from many members that their essential eyecare appointments had been cancelled, leaving them unsure of what to do and reluctant to contact the hospitals to follow up. In response, Southampton Sight contacted their two local hospitals and secured the direct line for rescheduling and enquiring about eyecare appointments. They were also able to establish the current status for eyecare treatments and operations (eg cataract operations and injections for AMD). They arranged for members to receive direct phone calls from the hospital to schedule new appointments. This resulted in them being able to give concerned members much needed information and reassurance. Further to this, Southampton Sight asked members how members would get to appointments and, where there were concerns, linked them directly with the hospital transport service. This partnership work has made a huge difference to members and shows the power of building relationships locally.

Keeping members socially connected when they can’t be physically connected
Aware that their face to face social groups will likely be on hold for considerable time to come, Southampton Sight have arranged with the Macular Society to borrow one of their befriending phone lines at no cost. This has allowed them to continue to run a variety of social groups every week, from quizzes to history talks by the local museum. In partnership with Love Southampton and the Care Foundation, Southampton Sight have been able to deliver meals, cooked by chefs to their members at home. The Care Foundation has a partnership with Harvester UK who get chefs from the Ivy and Bills restaurants to cook up meals for vulnerable people. They have had 5,000 meals so far with many more coming! This results in valuable contact for members, with them receiving a lovely meal in addition to the phone call organising it and the visit from the person delivering it. The meals are delivered to Southampton Sight where volunteers check them, package them up, label them with large print instructions and then deliver them to their most vulnerable members.

Croydon Vision TikTok Challenge with Synergy Dance
Croydon Vision are challenging people of all ages to create a ‘TikTok’ video (ask a teengager!!) of one the platform’s dance challenges or sharing your own dance routine to win a £50 gift card of your choice. Synergy dance have created an audio described tutorial of a TikTok dance which you can follow here. This is open to visually impaired people across the UK and Croydon Vision will be choosing winners on 10th June – announcing via twitter. You can email your videos or post them to our twitter page @croydonvision using the hashtag #Croydonvisiontiktokchallenge.



HR Matters

Furlough – Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
As anticipated last week the furlough Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is changing – full details here.  Key points to note:

  • The final date by which an employer can furlough an employee for the first time is 10 June – this ensures the 3-week minimum can be met before the scheme closes for new entrants on 30 June.
  • From July, you can bring people back into work part time – paying them their usual wage for the hours they work and making a furlough claim for the hours they don’t.
  • You will have heard that employers will need to start making contributions to the cost of the scheme
  • August – Furlough grant still pays 80% of wages (up to a cap of £2,500). BUT employer now needs to pay ER NIC’s and pension contributions.
  • September – Furlough grant now only pays 70% of wages (up to a cap of £2,187.50) BUT employers will now pay ER NICs, pension contributions and 10% of wages to make up 80% total up to a cap of £2,500.
  • October – Furlough grant now only pays 60% of wages (up to a cap of £1,875). BUT employers will now pay ER NICs, pension contributions and 20% of wages to make up 80% total up to a cap of £2,500
  • There is currently no change to the rule that employees cannot volunteer for their employer.
  • The furlough scheme is still anticipated to end completely on 30th October.
  • Currently all sectors receive the same level of furlough grant – though there is speculation some sectors may be treated differently.
  • Further guidance on flexible furloughing and how employers should calculate claims will be published on 12 June. We will share details as soon as practicable.

5 top tips for supporting your Chief Executive during COVID-19
Watch this 3 minute video for top tips on supporting your CEO during COVID-19.

Supporting staff and volunteers back to work after COVID-19 
Don’t just focus on the policies and procedures, take time to think about the people. Read this useful article here.

NHS test and trace: workplace guidance
Guidance on the NHS test and trace service for employers, businesses and workers.

Claiming back Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) and COVID-19 
Click here to see if you can claim back Statutory Sick Pay paid to employees due to COVID-19 and here for details on how to claim

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



Sharing the love

Free Webinar: Planning for the next normal in the non-profit sector
18 June 2020 at 11am – Sign up here
Many charities have been affected by the pandemic, seeing their income fall and demand for services rise. So what steps can they take next? Hosted by Third Sector, join a panel of charity CEOs discussing their approach to planning for changing times and for the road to recovery.

An amazing well done to Warwickshire Vision Support and Support4Sight who have both been honoured with the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service
Warwickshire Vision Support and Support4Sight have both announced that their volunteers have been honoured with the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service. The highest award a voluntary group can receive in the UK, equivalent to an MBE! Read more from Warwickshire Vision Support on this here.

Albinism Awareness Day – 13 June 2020
The Albinism Fellowship is celebrating Albinism Awareness Day on 13th June by launching a new baby box service to new members of their charity. The box contains items to help parents meet the specific needs of their young child; sunglasses, a factor 50 SPF sun protection hat, sun cream samples, a high contrast book and sensory toy as well as the Fellowship’s Understanding Albinism booklet. You can read more about this initiative here.

Royal Society for Blind Children’s (RSBC) Families First Service
RSBC Families First is a team of Family Practitioners who provide therapeutic intervention and support to children, young people and their families in England and Wales. All practitioners are trained and experienced working therapeutically and can work with the whole family as well as individually with the young person affected by sight loss. RSBC accept self-referrals and referrals from professionals for children and young people between 0 and 25 and their families.

RSBC’s ethos is to provide psycho-therapeutic support to empower children and young people and their families to develop their resilience and harness their own strengths in order to achieve their potential and meet their goals.
RSBC currently have Family Practitioners based regionally where they work with local authorities and other charities to provide high quality support to the families. If you would like to know more about the service please email Sonia Archer – they are always looking for collaboration! If you would like to refer a family to RSBC email the connections team. You can read more about this service here.


In the know

COVID-19 puts most vulnerable at risk of blindness 
In their recent press release, Macular Society shine a light on the threat COVID-19 presents to the sight of thousands of people across the UK because they are too frightened to go to hospital for sight-saving injections. Macular Society have shared that many eye clinics report that more than half their patients with macular degeneration are failing to attend for essential treatment. In March, all routine appointments in eye clinics were postponed, but injections for wet age-related macular degeneration were deemed essential. Visit the Macular Society COVID-19 web pages to find out the latest advice on eye injections.

Update from DEFRA on food vulnerability
You can read DEFRA’s latest update on their work on food for vulnerable people here.

House of Lords inquiry calls for evidence from charities on public services
Read more about this here.

COVID-19: Information for individuals and businesses in Scotland
Use this page to navigate the guidance on the virus for people in Scotland.

COVID-19 and the voluntary sector: what can we learn?
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused an unexpected increase in demand for the services of voluntary sector organisations, alongside an abrupt decline in fundraising revenue. This blog from The King’s Fund explores the challenges, opportunities and hopes.

Tough challenges but new possibilities
The voluntary, community and social enterprise sector, which includes almost 40,000 charities playing a vital role in the health and care system, is probably facing its toughest-ever test as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. Read more here.

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