Visionary briefing 5 August 2020

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Your Briefing – 5 August 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 HS 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

Visionary Latest

Welcome to your fortnightly briefing. It has been lovely to still see so many of you at our online sessions over the past couple of weeks despite us now being well into the summer holidays. It’s clear how busy you all are as your organisations navigate challenges and continue to deliver your incredible services to people in your communities. We were thrilled with the success of our ‘Go Digital’ month which saw five different organisations sharing their experiences with over 150 attendees at five online sessions.

As always, below we have summarised all the news that matters to you and share a continued full programme of online sessions! But first, some news on our Annual Conference…

Visionary Online Annual Conference
19 and 20 November 2020
Connect – Develop – Share
We have previously shared with you the decision to move this year’s annual conference online but we wanted to remind you all to continue to save the dates and join us! We promise that the event will be different to other online events you’ve been to and build on the successful online sessions that we have been running since March. Despite being online, we will still be bringing the spirit of sharing, connecting and developing through a range of online events and workshops. We will be trying to minimise the screen fatigue and keeping things fun, fresh and more bite-sized!

There will still be an awards ceremony, there will still be networking, there will still be the national sight loss organisation’s CEO panel, there will still be a range of workshops and this year, we will have more external facilitators and experts joining us than ever before! So far – we have the following exciting speakers confirmed:

  • Debra Allcock Tyler, CEO Directory of Social Change
  • Lucy Edwards, Broadcaster and Radio 1’s first visually impaired DJ
  • Mary Butler, Professor of Occupational Therapy – Otago Polytechnic New Zealand

We are still really keen to hear from you 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 6 August, 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.

Tuesday 11 August, 10am to 11am (and every Tuesday at 10am)
CEO weekly support session
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 – no agenda this week – just an opportunity to share experiences, talk about what is working and find some peer support with what isn’t working so well.

Monday 17 August, 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 18 August, 11am to 12pm (monthly session)
Rehab forum
To register and join, click here.
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.

Tuesday 18 August, 4pm to 5pm
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. Whilst facilitated by Visionary this forum is very much aimed at creating a secure interactive trustee led space for trustees to share their experience, questions, challenges and learning with others.

Thursday 3 September, 11am to 12pm (monthly)
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.

If you missed any of our previous sessions

Small Organisation Forum, 23 July
Hayley Grocock, CEO of Wakefield District Sight Aid led engaging and informative discussions around systems being put in place in order to enable re-opening of services including risk assessment, appointment systems, sanitising and PPE. The group explored different ways of communicating with their communities remotely including Zoom and Speakserve a telephone based system being used by both Aquabats Sports and Social Club for Visually Impaired People and Improving Lives Plymouth Sensory Solutions. Hayley shared a link to a paramedic who uses the Google Live Transcribe app to communicate with patients who lip read. Join us for the next session on Thursday 10 September 11am to 12pm.

CEO weekly support session, 28 July
7 CEO’s from around the country joined in the conversation which started off with a discussion around the practicalities, advantages and disadvantages of delivering a mobile service. This is something we are exploring for a session – if this would be of interest to you please let us know.

We moved on to talk about cafés and social enterprises – again the advantages and disadvantages. Stuart Clayton shared the Galloway’s experience which has resulted in a higher profile for the charity – in addition to increased feelgood factor from the local community. We talked a bit about dementia friendly communities and looking outside of the sight loss sector for good examples of practice and also for potential partners.

Somehow from there we got to talking about change resistant teams and how difficult that can be to manage. We agreed that change can be easier to manage when it is inevitable and much of the change processes arising from COVID-19 are indeed inevitable. Last but not least, we talked about the worrying amount of VI people who do not have WiFi or any ability to use tech and agreed that, collectively, this a situation we could try and improve.

CEO weekly support session, 4 August
Much of this session focussed on return to some form of face to face work. We had an interesting discussion about taking temperatures, equipment used, how to do it, training required and efficacy. This time last year did anyone think we would be discussing how to take temperatures?

Sandra Ackroyd offered to share her risk assessment for attending resource centre appointments – it can be found here (Sight_Support_Risk_assessment_Resource_Centre_COVID_19_v2) and Sandra is very happy for you to use or comment! Sandra also shared some information on questions asked before attending that you can access here (record_returning_workplace_lockdown_conversation_master_form.doc). A few members are also using our Visionary risk assessment which can be found here and also includes our stress at work policy and specific COVID-19 stress risk assessment. We also have a section of our knowledge hub dedicated to this subject which can be accessed here.

David Anderson shared information on an appointment booking system which he is using – either by people completing it themselves or with staff assistance.

Fiona asked RNIB if we can share a copy of their risk assessment for ECLO’s returning to work – it can be found here (Covid_19_Risk_Assessment__ECLOs_). RNIB also shared that for personnel risk assessments, they use: England_Interim_guidance_workforce_risk_assessment_in_primary_eye_care.

We talked about staff who go on holiday to countries where they have to self-isolate on return. Some organisations are making a statement that they will not pay staff (for the period of self-isolation) who do this because it is a personal choice to go on holiday to destinations where they know they will have to self-isolate when they return. We talked about what happens if the guidance changes when they go on holiday – i.e. it was not an isolating situation but becomes one. See ‘HR Matters’ below for more on this!

We discussed ideas for future sessions and in addition to the topics listed below, we agreed that it would be useful to look more at the future opportunities around income generation and collaboration and revisit a discussion around forming regional partnerships whilst retaining a local identity.

Please join us next week on 11 August by clicking here and look out for these future sessions with a huge thanks to the CEO’s who have agreed to facilitate. Peer to peer support – amazing

  • Philippa Crowther – forming partnerships outside of the sight loss sector: 18 August 2020
  • Lisa Cowley – Challenges faced and lessons learnt as social care providers during COVID-19: 8 September 2020
  • Stuart Clayton – staff wellbeing: date TBC
  • Mike Jenkins – financial modelling and the new landscape: Date TBC

And in the pipeline:

  • Understanding fundraising of the future
  • Understanding and using statistics
  • Partnership working at a local level
  • Public health discussion

AbilityNet’s Tech Q&A, 28 July
As a national charity supporting people with disabilities to use technlogy, AbilityNet hosted this session to share how they can support you and your organisation to get the most from technology. As well as answering members tech questions, AbilityNet volunteers shared their top tips and favourite tech and apps for visually impaired people. These included:

Please email AbilityNet to ask about support and access to their 300+ tech volunteers.

Setting up a volunteer befriending service, 29 July
Back by popular demand, Karen Dunderdale, Befriending Coordinator at Sight Support Hull and East Yorkshire led this session, sharing her expertise in setting up and coordinating a successful volunteer led befriending service. Karen shared her insights into volunteer befriending training, safeguarding, external support options and co-ordination tips. Karen shared Befriending Network’s New Interim Volunteer Toolkit which includes 6 useful videos on essential information about befriending.

Running a remote tech support service, 30 July
Mark Owen, IT Support Officer and David Quarmby, Founder and Chair of Kirklees Visual Impairment Network delivered a highly informative Q and A session focused on running a remote tech support service. The group explored remote group sessions, individual support and remote access. They shared their experience and learning on how they get people up and running online by using online tutorials and books followed by 1:1 remote support. Mark and David have put together some tutorials and podcasts which can be found on their YouTube channel. Participants on the session were keen to establish a regular tech forum – Team Visionary will make this happen!

COVID-19: A sector-wide approach

Vision Rehabilitation – Draft Interim Practice Guidance July 2020
Through the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS) Physical and Sensory Impairment (PSI) network 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.

As this is a developing position the ADASS PSI network would welcome feedback on this guidance which could feed into revisions before finalising and seeking formal ADASS endorsement. To provide feedback by 30 September please email Phil Ambler.

Access to information for blind and partially sighted people during COVID-19: Sight Loss Sector Response Group
As most of you are aware, the Sight Loss Sector Response Group (RNIB, Guide Dogs, Vision UK and TPT) developed priority information at the outset of the COVID-19 crisis and agreed that a joint mailing would be sent to blind and partially people via the sight loss registers across the UK. The group did not know if local authorities would agree to disseminate the priority information or have the capacity to support the distribution via the sight loss registers. However, by the end of the project 108 out of 151 (71.5%) local authorities in England disseminated the priority information to an estimated 205,500 out of 294,000 (70%) people registered blind or partially sighted in England, at little cost to the sight loss sector.

This finalised project closure report (Project_Closure_Report_FINAL_July_2020), compiled by RNIB, is now available to ensure the outcomes from the communication are recorded, feedback is noted and crucially, we learn from the exercise. The scale and pace of this work was challenging and the group recognises there are lessons we have learned to ensure that any future joint communications will be more effective for everyone involved.

The COVID-19 crisis has reinforced the benefits of collaboration as a sector and the added value that it can bring. Everyone on the Sight Loss Sector Response Group has committed to continue to work in this way to ensure we can urgently communicate with blind and partially sighted people in their preferred format and in an appropriate manner, at a time of crisis. If you have any questions or comments on this report, please email Campbell Chalmers.

Sight loss sector advice on use of e-scooters
In response to the increased use of e-scooters and a number of local authorities planning to trial the use of e-scooters across the UK, RNIB have led work with TPT, Guide Dogs, Visionary and London Vision to raise awareness of the challenges blind and partially sighted people will face from e-scooters. They have produced guidance for local authorities and would encourage you to use if you would like to influence your local authority. This document (Sight_loss_sector_advice_for_LAs_considering_escooter_trials) provides advice for local authorities considering hosting e-scooter trials and this document (Sight_loss_sector_advice_for_e_scooter_rental_operators) provides advice for e-scooter operators and manufacturers to help make e-scooter rental schemes more accessible. RNIB are also keen to collect experiences of blind and partially sighted people in e-scooter trial areas via this survey. If you would like support influencing your local authority or hear of any schemes in your local area – email RNIB who would be happy to support.

RNIB and Guide Dogs have also drafted this letter (Guide_Dogs_and_RNIB_pavement_licences_letter) to go to local authorities on pavement furniture.

Welsh Government Public Transport Strategy Consultation
The Welsh Government are consulting on their Public Transport Strategy and Guide Dogs will be submitting a response. It is important that the views and concerns of people with sight loss are heard and included. Therefore, if you would like to contribute to by sharing your experiences, good or bad, please email Andrea Gordon.

RNIB appoints new Chair of Trustees
RNIB have appointed Anna Tylor as their new Chair of Trustees. Anna is currently Chair of the Vision Foundation, a role she will step down from at the end of August in order to take on this role with RNIB. In her current role as Chair of the Vision Foundation, Anna has overseen a transformation of the charity’s branding, strategy and finances. She is a long-time advocate for greater inclusion of disabled people, and blind and partially sighted people in particular.

Eye health “thank you” film
During the COVID-19 lockdown eye health professionals across the UK have been working hard to continue to be there for blind and partially sighted people, even in the most challenging of circumstances. RNIB therefore now want to create a new film in a different style to say a big thank you to all the eye health professionals who have provided critical eye care services during this difficult time (and are continuing to do so). RNIB are keen to collaborate with sector partners on this film and are also looking for up to six blind and partially sighted people to share their experiences and feature in the film. There is sadly no opportunity for joint branding with Visionary members on this but if you do know of any people who might wish to be contributors who have had positive experiences then you can read more here (Eye_care_appointments_thank_you_film_brief_for_sector_partners.doc).

It’s all about the money

National Lottery COVID-19 fund to close on 17 August 2020
Small charities in England have until 17 August 2020 to apply for Government funds from the Coronavirus Community Support Fund. The £200m scheme is funded by the government and managed by the National Lottery Community Fund (NLCF).

Some small charities will not get emergency government grants until October 2020
Have you applied to the (mentioned above!) NLCF Coronavirus Community Support Fund? It seems that if you have (or might do) then you may have to wait. See more at Civil Society.

£1000 Job Retention Bonus – Furlough
Find out more information about the eligibility requirements and what employers need to do now to claim the bonus. Details on the government website with full guidance to be published by the end of September 2020.

Furlough scheme changed on 1 August 2020
Remember that the furlough wage subsidy has begun to drop. Since 1 August 2020, employers have to pay National Insurance and pension contributions for their staff and in September, employers will have to pay 10% of furloughed employees’ salaries – rising to 20% in October.

Lloyds Bank Foundation launches £7.4m Covid recovery fund for small charities
Charities with an annual income between £25,000 and £1m and which are engaged in “tackling complex social issues such as mental health, homelessness and domestic abuse” will be able to apply. Applications for the Covid Recovery Fund will open on 3 August and close on 11 September. See details at the Lloyds Bank Foundation.

Instagram to roll out feature to fundraise for personal causes
Instagram is rolling out a fundraising feature that will allow users to raise money for a personal cause they care about. While Instagram already lets users fundraise for charities via its donation stickers and during Instagram Lives, the “Personal Fundraiser” feature will allow them to raise money for themselves, their business or other types of personal causes. Read more at Civil Society.

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. Details on the government website.

Member Spotlight

Member insight: Experiencing local lockdown in Leicester
By Susan Hoath, Chief Executive of Vista
At the end of June, just like everyone else in England, we were looking forward to and planning for the easing of restrictions after weeks (and weeks and weeks) of lockdown. At Vista, again like all other sight loss charities, we were worried about the people that we had stopped visiting and meeting: although we tried to keep in touch with as many as possible over the phone and this contact is better than no contact, it’s not the same as being able to sit with, connect with and listen to real people is it?

I would not wish what we’ve been through on anyone and can see that later local lockdowns are better planned and managed with guidance and information to help people and organisations. The list of tips below, then, are based on our shift (literally over-night) from planning to re-open to going into even stricter restrictions. I imagine you’ve already got this covered, because you are fab and know what you are doing, but even if only for reassurance I’d recommend:

  • Keep doing what you are doing – we’d got some really good virtual and remote services in place so they carried on going and we’re now planning to keep them in place even after we’re released into the open;
  • Make plans that are flexible – our Leicester re-opening project-plan dates have shifted from 04 July to 18 July to 01 August to 15 August
  • Communication is Key – not news I know, but the confusion and fear didn’t help. As members and as a sector we have learned how to get accessible information out quickly to those who need it – we’ve done it before and will be needed to do it again.
  • Actively counter blame – it was frightening to see the language used to imply that we were to blame because we had “failed to control the spread of the virus”. Our people felt they were blamed because of their ethnicity, post-code, keyworker-role, need for support etc. so we have actively countered this with messages of solidarity and support and built this into our story of who we are and what we do.
  • Grab the opportunity – sounds odd I know, but this has really helped us retain volunteers, create fund-raising ideas; build on new ways of working and strengthen links with local supporters.

You can read Susan’s full, open and honest account of Vista’s experience of local lockdown and key learnings here.

Esme’s Friends – a telephone chat service for people living with Charles Bonnet Syndrome
Judith Potts, Founder of Esme’s Umbrella, has recently shared details of partnership work being undertaken with Christopher Grange and their Esme’s Friends telephone chat service. Read more on the Visionary website.

Vision West of England to become ‘Sight Support West of England’
Visionary West of England have announced that from 1 September, they will be changing their operating name to ‘Sight Support West of England’. They are making this change in response to consistent feedback from clients and supporters that their current name does not work well, neither describing what they do, nor sounding like a local charity worthy of support. All of their client services will continue unchanged, and anyone being directed to Vision West of England will of course be redirected and will still be able to access the same level of service.

Blind Celebrity Masterchef contestant presents sight loss charity appeal
Amar Latif, a semi finalist on Celebrity Masterchef, is presenting a BBC Lifeline Appeal for Retina UK, a national charity that works for those affected by inherited sight loss conditions.

The appeal was broadcast twice on the BBC in July and is now available to watch online. By telling the stories of three families who are affected by inherited sight loss conditions, the appeal raises awareness of the information and support the charity provides as well as the vital research it funds.

Amar, who lives with retinitis pigmentosa, is an active supporter of Retina UK and is an adventurer, entrepreneur and TV presenter.

Watch the BBC Lifeline appeal.
Find out more about Retina UK.

HR and Health and Safety Matters

HR Matters

Furlough scheme changed on 1 August 2020
Remember that the furlough wage subsidy has begun to drop. Since 1 August 2020, employers have to pay National Insurance and pension contributions for their staff and in September, employers will have to pay 10% of furloughed employees’ salaries – rising to 20% in October.

Bringing people back to work

As government advice on returning to the workplace develops and changes, it may be hard to identify what it all means for you. Operating in this difficult time is a huge undertaking for all employers with so many different variables. It is worth asking yourself 3 key questions:

  1. Is it essential?
  2. Is it safe?
  3. Is it mutually agreed?

This CIPD article is a very useful read as you consider your next steps.

£1000 Job Retention Bonus – Furlough
Find out more information about the eligibility requirements and what employers need to do now to claim the bonus. Details are here on the government website. Full guidance will be published by the end of September.

Leading teams virtually
Many have been working remotely for a while now. “Leading teams virtually” needs a different approach to recreate the connections, trust and energy of the past, manage performance or have difficult conversations online. Here are some tips on the King’s Fund.

Employees returning from holidays/abroad and the requirement to self-isolate
As restrictions are eased people are taking advantage of this to go on holiday, with some already away becoming caught up in sudden changes in travel advice and others still traveling after advice has been changed. ACAS does not differentiate between the two scenarios and there is no entitlement to statutory sick pay for anyone having to self-isolate upon returning from personal or business travel. Therefore the decision on how to handle such situations is an individual one for employers to consider. Working with Roots HR, our retained HR advisors, we have developed guidance on how to handle such situations.

Health and Safety Matters

What to do in the event of one or more confirmed cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) in your organisation
If you have one or more conformed cases of COVID-19 in your organisation, then you have to take action as outlined on the government website.

Working safely during COVID-19
As restrictions ease and more and more workplaces and activities are re-opening then you need to keep abreast of how to comply with guidance and ensure your workplace is COVID-secure. This government guidance has all the current guidance and is regularly updated.

Update on policies for visiting arrangements in care homes
A number of members operate care home and supported living facilities. There has been a recent update upon visiting. Details on the government website.

Sharing the love

Local authorities reducing, ceasing or changing statutory service delivery for sensory impairment
Our online CEO group would be interested to hear from anyone who is experiencing a change in statutory service delivery – if you have any information to share, please email Fiona. We would like to try and build up a UK wide picture of how things might look going forward.

Tate Galleries – Audio Description Tours consultation
Last month, all four Tate Galleries reopened. Before lockdown, Tate offered monthly Audio Description tours. They have however received precautionary guidance not hold these for the time being due to the continued challenges of social distancing when providing physical guiding and tactile tours. Before they resume these tours, they are interested to hear what sort of additional safety precautions and features you would expect to be in place at an event specifically for Blind and Partially Sighted people – if you have any thoughts you would like to share, please email.

In the meantime, Tate are offering online Audio Descriptions of their popular paintings, you can listen to their latest description of John Singer Sargent’s Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose here.

In the know

Free Zoom talks by the DSC on key challenges for charities
Charities are navigating serious challenges relating to COVID-19, but also other long-term problems – such as racial inequality and racism not just in society but within our own sector. To help you meet these head-on, the DSC running a new series of free DSC Zoom Talks – see the below for details:

Ten things terrible trustees do and brilliant trustees don’t
Ok the title is a little tongue in cheek, but the issues addressed in this amusing but useful reminder are real and are sure to be present in many organisations boards. Read about the amusing, but serious and to the point issues at the Directory of Social Change.

It’s a Battle on the Board – Wouldn’t charity governance be so much easier if it wasn’t for all of your fellow trustees?
Being knowledgeable and experienced as a trustee is important, but having the ability to interact effectively with fellow board members, that is where good governance really starts. Get it wrong and, very quickly, you’ve got a battle on the board. Debra Allcock Tyler’s approach to this challenging subject is characteristically engaging in her new book “It’s a Battle on the Board”. Further details on the book can be found at the Directory of Social Change. Deborah Allcock Tyler, CEO of DSC and trustee at In-Kind Direct, delivered the keynote address at the 2016 Visionary Conference which was very engaging and delivered in a great down to earth style, going down very well with delegates. Debra will be joining us again for our online conference in November this year.

Regulator to launch new register of charities
The Charity Commission is to launch a new online register of charities, replacing the two that are currently available. Read more at Civil Society.

Exemptions on the wearing of face coverings
The Government have now produced guidance on face coverings and when and where they must be worn, this also includes a list of exemptions and a link to an optional exemption card that people can use to show that they are exempt if they wish e.g. for a mobile phone or to print out. You can read the full guidance here and access the exemption card template here.


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