Visionary briefing 4 November 2020

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Your Briefing – 4 November 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
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 November.

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

Visionary Latest

Visionary Online Annual Conference, 18 to 20 November 2020

This is your final chance to register for your place on the Visionary Annual Conference – deadline is tomorrow, Thursday 5 November 2020 at 5pm. Visionary members (and this year also your staff, Trustees and volunteers) can attend for FREE! See the full conference programme and workshop choices here.

Visionary annual awards
Thank you to everyone who submitted their nominations for the Visionary annual awards. We’ve had a great response and it’s clear what amazing work you’re all doing. We’re currently in the process of shortlisting so that members can vote for the winners in the four categories. Look out for the shortlist and details on how to vote later this week!

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 and special themed one-hour support sessions.

Thursday 5 November, 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.

Thursday 5 November, 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 5 November, 12.30pm to 1.30pm (monthly)
Fundraisers forum
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 session will be facilitated by Sue Piper, Head of Fundraising at Kent Association for the Blind.

Tuesday 10 November, 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 10 November, 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 12 November, 2pm to 3pm (one off)
The Coronavirus Act and social care easements: what does this mean for people with sight loss?
Danny Dooney, Legal Rights Officer at RNIB will give an informative presentation on the Care Act easements applicable to England and the potential impact on people with sight loss accessing support followed by a Q and A. Please feel free to email Sarah Halliwell with any questions you have about the “easement” prior to the session.

Monday 16 November, 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 24 November, 2pm to 3pm (one off)
Tech for Success – how we transformed our services to ‘bricks and clicks’
Join CEO Susanette Mansour of Croydon Vision and her team to hear how they quickly adapted their services when the COVID-19 lockdown first hit to provide both face to face, physical services (their ‘bricks’) and virtual events and services (‘clicks’). They have now launched their own virtual tech hub and studio to deliver their weekly programme of live events.

Wednesday 25 November, 2pm to 3pm (one off)
Moving Charles Bonnet Syndrome and its community to centre stage
Join Judith Potts, Founder of Esme’s Umbrella to hear more about Charles Bonnet Syndrome (CBS) and its impact. Judith will share updates on research and talk about the new collaborative venture with the sector, ‘Esme’s Friends’ as well as her hopes for future collaboration.

Tuesday 1 December, 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

Design for Everyone
RNIB have launched a new campaign called “Design For Everyone” which aims to highlight that everyone should have the right to privacy. And that’s not always true for blind and partially sighted people when it comes to the design of products and information. From dealing with finances to accessing private medical information, privacy matters no matter who you are. But blind and partially sighted people are often denied their right to privacy due to inaccessible design and information. Taking a pregnancy test is a poignant example of this, as blind and partially sighted users often have no choice but to involve other people in reading their results. Accessible design matters, and to prove it’s possible, we’ve created a pregnancy test prototype that would allow users and couples to be the first to know their own news. For more details visit the Design for Everyone website.

Thomas Pocklington Trust (TPT) note on new national restrictions in England
Announced last Saturday, TPT have put together this really useful note on the new national Covid-19 restrictions in England – Covid-19 national restrictions guidance Nov 2020. This includes links to all general guidance and some signposting of advice for blind and partially sighted people.

Building on experience, one Sight Loss Council at a time
Sight Loss Councils (SLC), funded by TPT, are led by their blind and partially sighted members, who influence positive change locally under the six priority themes of education, employment, technology, health and social care, transport, sport and leisure. The first SLC was established in Birmingham in 2017 and since then active SLCs have been formed in the Black Country, Bristol, Gloucestershire, Greater Manchester and Merseyside. With three years’ experience, TPT and the SLCs have learned a great deal and in this really interesting report, SLC’s share their key learning and fundamental principles – Building on experience, one Sight Loss Council at a time.

Ensuring people with sight loss can vote independently
The potential of an audio device that allows those with vision loss to vote independently is being explored by the Cabinet Office. RNIB has highlighted that only one in ten blind voters (13%) and less than half (44%) of partially sighted voters were able to vote independently and in private in the 2019 General Election. RNIB chair of trustees, Eleanor Southwood, said: “Rolling out the audio device widely is definitely a step in the right direction. There is still much more that needs to be done to make the system fully accessible, such as introducing polling cards in people’s preferred formats and reviewing the postal voting system.” For more details on RNIB’s work in making voting accessible, visit RNIB’s web pages.

RNIB Scotland has also been working with the Scottish Government on this issue. RNIB’s Scotland manifesto for the 2021 Scottish Parliament elections, ‘A Vision for the 2020s’, has now been launched and highlights the need to ensure people with sight loss can vote independently and details some specific asks. You can download a PDF and Word copy on the ‘Reports and Publications’ page on the RNIB Scotland section of the website.

It’s all about the money

PM says he will do more to help charities, as public fundraising is paused by regulator
Boris Johnson has promised to do more to support the charity sector through the coming lockdown, while fundraising bodies have said that charities will have to pause public fundraising activities. Read the full article about Boris’s promise to the charity sector on the Civil Society website.

CAF resilience fund
The CAF resilience fund will initially distribute £20 million made up of grants ranging from £10,000 to £100,000 to deliver rapid relief from the impact of COVID-19. You can apply for project specific funds as well as contribution to core running costs. All funds must be spent by 31 March 2021. The deadline for applications is midday on 10 November 2020 and you should have an answer by the end of December. Despite the timescales involved you can claim for any expenditure between October 2020 and March 2021.

£1.4m fund opens for innovative coronavirus response
A £1.4m fund has opened for charities developing or adapting their services in response to the coronavirus crisis. The Peter Sowerby Foundation has invited charities to apply to its Increasing Access Fund which will make grants to ensure key services can continue amid COVID-19 restrictions.

Virtual fundraising during a pandemic
The world of fundraising looks very different now than it ever has. Nobody could have predicted what charities would be up against now compared to this time last year. A short read on exploring virtual fundraising.

‘Forgotten’ charities need government funding for second lockdown, says shadow minister
Over the weekend Boris Johnson announced a second lockdown for England, which is expected to come into effect tomorrow and remain in place until 2 December 2020. After the announcement, the shadow charities minister tweeted that without added support, many charities may not survive the pandemic.

Essential fundraising workshops
The Chartered Institute of Fundraising and Small Charities Coalition have teamed up to produce a series of free fundraising workshops from 2 to 20 November 2020, giving you the tools, tips and techniques to deliver excellent fundraising on a small budget. Each session will feature a short presentation from a fundraising expert – with experience of working for and with small charities – and will be followed by group discussions on key topics, and an open Q+A. Registration is free and restricted to individuals working or volunteering for small charities.

Return to Play Fund launched
Sport England have launched a new £16.5 million fund to give additional help to the sport and physical activity sector during the coronavirus pandemic. The Return to Play Fund will support groups, clubs and organisations who’ve been impacted by restrictions brought in to tackle the disease, and is part of our overall response to the crisis that now includes more than £220m of government and National Lottery funding.

Member Spotlight

Wales Council for the Blind (WCB) launch RESET project
WCB’s RESET project will produce information packs and online resources to assist people with sight loss in negotiating the measures put in place under the COVID-19 pandemic. WCB are concerned that blind and partially sighted people face additional barriers and attitudinal challenges to combat. Therefore they want to ensure that the best information gets out to people with sight loss and to people who work with them. WCB will produce information packs and online resources to assist people with sight loss in negotiating the measures put in place under the COVID-19 pandemic. They will look at a number of domains:

Social Care and health

This initiative has been made possible with funding from the National Lottery Community Fund. Further information about the RESET project can be found on WCB’s website.

Wilberforce Trust’s The Big Give Christmas Challenge
Wilberforce Trust’s Club Wilber supports families with visually impaired children, children with complex needs and other sighted children to enjoy accessible and inclusive activities, events and trips. We want to make sure they all have a wonderful Christmas. From 1 December 2020 for one week only we are asking people to consider donating whatever they can afford to our Christmas Challenge Appeal in the knowledge that whatever they donate will be doubled via Big Give’s pledge. Twice the impact, twice the love and we will give you all twice as much gratitude! You can donate to The Big Give Christmas Challenge here and see further details in the Big Give Christmas flyer – Big Give flyer.

Wakefield District Sight Aid ask supporters to think of them when shopping online this Christmas
This week Wakefield District Sight Aid have launched a Christmas campaign asking supporters to think of them when they’re buying online by shopping via easyfundraising. Easyfundraising has over 4,000 shops and sites which will donate to Wakefield District Sight Aid at no extra cost to shoppers. Shops involved include lots of big name retailers like John Lewis, Argos, M&S, Just Eat and Now. All you have to do is go through the easyfundraising website or App whenever you shop online. You can find Wakefield District Sight Aid’s easyfundraising page here.

Northumberland Community Blind Association – Redress to Reassess project
Redress to Reassess is a partnership of Citizens Advice Northumberland and Northumberland Community Blind Association. The project aims to link two organisations with a history and footprint of delivering support to some of the county’s most vulnerable residents and will provide in depth and individually tailored face-to-face specific energy efficiency, accessibility and fuel related solutions to vulnerable fuel poor households across Northumberland.

The project will target those households not currently engaged in existing services or support, as they are unable to travel due to their rural exclusion, physical/mental health conditions and/or disabilities, and have been identified as unable to engage with existing programmes of activity. Their collective team of countywide specialist and qualified energy advisers will support vulnerable individuals to seek and make adjustments to their consumption of energy and how they manage and interpret that with their mental/physical/sensory impairment. You can read more about the range of support this project will bring in this article from Julie Boyack Chief Officer of Northumberland County Blind Association – Summary_of_Energy_Redress_Project.

This project was made possible through funding secured from Energy Redress. Visit the Energy Redress site and learn more here.

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

HR and Health and Safety Matters

HR matters

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme aka Furlough
Well it was due to have ended by now – but the furlough scheme is being extended. Here are links to key information:

Health and Safety matters

New National Restrictions from 5 November
Information on the new national restrictions, including what they mean for working from home and business closures, why they are being introduced and the financial support available.

Sharing the love

Registrations for the See My Voice Conference 2020 are still open!
British Blind Sport’s Young Leaders will be hosting the See My Voice Conference aimed at all sport sector organisations who work with volunteers. This unique event will provide the opportunity to share learning shaped by the experiences of See My Voice Young Leaders, in order to help other organisations improve the experience of their volunteers, and ensure that inclusivity is a natural part of their volunteering process. It will run on 25 and 26 November 2020, from 1:00pm – 3:30pm on both days.

Infoshare is a new information service for blind and partially-sighted people, run by the charity Infosound, that enables anyone to phone-in and leave a message on any subject relating to living with sight loss. Messages are then shared across Infosound’s sizeable UK-wide audio distribution network, heard on a number of mainstream and specialist audio players. Messages could include news of local support services and (when circumstances allow) events, which sight loss charities are welcome to call-in to Infoshare whenever they like. Infosound says this has already proved a powerful way to reach vision-impaired people in all parts of the UK in the universally-accessible format of audio. Full details can be found on the Infoshare website.

British Blind Sport adapts virtual delivery programme
As with many other sport and physical activity providers, the coronavirus pandemic has encouraged British Blind Sport (BBS) to adapt its delivery of services and explore the world of audio-led, virtual exercise classes specifically for people living with sight loss. The weekly “Workout Wednesday” classes have been changed to offer more flexibility and permanence. Read more about BBS’s new online workout series.

Blind and partially sighted Londoners needed for new London Sight Loss Council
London Vision is calling blind and partially sighted Londoners to join a soon-to-be-launched London Sight Loss Council to effect positive change in the capital. The London Sight Loss Council will be led by blind and partially sighted volunteers and facilitated by London Vision with funding from Thomas Pocklington Trust and the Vision Foundation. It forms part of a national network of Sight Loss Councils, which advocate the needs of blind and partially sighted people and influence positive change.

Access to eye care for people with learning disabilities
SeeAbility have seven Eye Care Champions – three in London and four in the northwest of England. Many adults and children with learning disabilities and autism are not getting the right help to look after their eyes properly. Eye Care Champions can tell people why it is important to have regular eye tests and help them find an optician who will take the time to help people with learning disabilities understand what’s happening.

See the easy read information about looking after your eyes on the SeeAbility website. Download the Word document for more information about Eye Care Champions and resources including videos about eye care – Access to eye care for people with learning disabilities.

Free webinars and events

In the know

What to send to the Charity Commission and how to get help
Find out what your charity must send to the Commission and what services to use to help you get things right.

The new Corporate Insolvency and Governance Act: what does it mean for charities and social enterprises?
The Act introduced several temporary measures due to expire on 30 September 2020, which have now been extended. However, very importantly, other provisions have not been extended. The temporary rules offering trustees/directors some protection from ‘wrongful trading’ expired on 30 September 2020 after which they will no longer be effective. Trustees/directors could be liable to contribute personally towards the debts of their company if it is heading towards insolvency and they fail to take steps to minimise losses. For further details on the Corporate Insolvency and Governance Act, read more from our preferred legal advisors Russell-Cooke.

Charity Commission guidance to help you set up and run your charity
Whilst the Charity Commission guidance has been around for a while now, it has just been updated to add links to 5 new ‘5-minute guides’. The guides cover charity purposes and rules, making decisions, managing charity finances, managing conflicts of interest and what to send to the Charity Commission.

The Charity Commission’s new “5-minute guides” to support charity trustees to meet duties
The Charity Commission’s new “5-minute guides” cover five key aspects of charity management – a ‘core syllabus’ covering the basics that the regulator expects all trustees to be aware of. They explain the basics of financial oversight, achieving a charity’s purposes, good decision making, addressing conflicts of interest, what to file with the Commission and what support is available.


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