Visionary briefing 8 July 2020

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Your Briefing – 8 July 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 and HS 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 another busy fortnight for you all and we are again excited to share perhaps our fullest and most varied programme of upcoming online sessions to date! Our ‘Go Digital’ month continues – building on the amazing learning shared by Henshaws, Galloway’s and Sight Advice South Lakes in their sessions, all of which were attended by over 30 members! We are also providing some new opportunities for member CEO’s; both through a slightly different approach to our regular CEO sessions and a new ‘People Styles’ practical session.

Thanks once again for the continued willingness you all show to sharing and talking with us.

Firstly, a bit of fun….
Friday 17 July 2020, 3pm – 5pm
Visionary Good Vibrations Summer Quiz
Following the success of our online Spring quiz in April, we are again hosting an online quiz open to all Visionary members. Teams and solo players are very welcome. Just to remind you that you do not need to physically be in the same place as your team members. First prize will again be a £20 Amazon voucher for all members of the winning team. If you are interested in entering then please email Sarah Cosby at

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 9 July, 10am – 11am
Opening services and the workplace as COVID-19 restrictions ease
To join, click here or use the dial in details below.
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 the provision of visitor/service user toilet facilities. Come prepared to share your queries, experiences and documents. Also visit the Visionary website for resources.

Tuesday 14 July, 10am – 11am (and every Tuesday at 10am)
CEO weekly support session
To join, click here or use the dial in details below.
Our regular Tuesday 10am sessions are taking a slightly different turn from this week and are going to be themed for some of the time!  Don’t worry, there will still be enough time for random and unplanned conversation, but we thought it might be interesting to talk about a specific issue for some of the time. This week’s session we are going to talk about change – why do it, when to do it, processes, management, benefits, difficulties and anything else that comes up. To help facilitate a good chat, Philippa Simkiss will join us. Philippa is committed to genuine partnership working that delivers better outcomes for blind and partially sighted people. She has worked for national and local sight loss charities so understands the tensions and sees the benefits from both sides.

Wednesday 15 July, 11am – 12pm
Fundraising forum
To join, click here or use the dial in details below.
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, successful campaigns and marketing pitches. The first session facilitated by Sue Piper, Head of Fundraising at Kent Association for the Blind will be exploratory, designed to gauge interest and identify priority themes.

Wednesday 15 July, 2pm – 3pm
Children and Young People Services
To join, click here or use the dial in details below.
Join Clare Sweeney who leads the Children and Young People Services for Visibility to share ideas on how you have been keeping the children, young people and families that you support connected. This session would be useful for any organisation delivering children and young people services or wanting to start!

Friday 17 July at 11am – 12pm
How to run a volunteer-led tech support service
To join, click here or use the dial in details below.
Hosted by Lucy Martin, CEO at Southend InSight with the ‘Tech Team’ volunteers. Southend InSight have been delivering an innovative tech support service for the past year through their volunteer ‘Tech Team’. Join them for this practical session to hear about their services and for a Q and A; offering you the chance to ask questions about how they do it and the main difficulties they support people with.

Thursday 23 July at 11am – 12pm
Small Organisation Forum
To join, click here or use the dial in details below.
Join other leaders of small organisations at this informal session. It’s a space for small organisations to meet and share their challenges, frustrations, ideas, opportunities and successes. Led by CEO of Wakefield District Sight Aid, Hayley Grocock.

Monday 27 July at 2pm – 3.30pm
People Styles at Work
Attendance at this session is limited to 10 member CEOs – if you would like to secure a place (on a first come, first serve basis), please email Sarah Cosby At a time that many of us have been focused on getting services up back up and running, the softer, more internally focused elements of management can be forgotten. We are therefore facilitating an opportunity for up to 10 members CEO’s to be introduced to a practical “people styles model” that offers insights into human nature that you can apply in your organisation. This will be an interactive session, that outlines the Bolton and Bolton model and will explore how it can be used practically, day to day in the workplace. Carole Theobald, CEO at iSight Cornwall will also be joining us to talk about her experiences using the model and the benefits it has had for her organisation.

Who is this session for?

  • Have you ever found yourself wondering why you seem to be able to get on really well with some people, and find it more difficult with others?
  • Can you see problems that your teams members are having whilst working together, that you wish could be easily talked through?
  • Do you find it hard to tackle some aspects of people performance or behaviour, without worrying about stepping on their toes in the process?

Everyone thinks, makes decisions, handles emotions, manages stress and deals with conflict differently. This model offers a “people styles model” that identifies people according to their levels of assertiveness and responsiveness, and that explains the characteristics of each style. Understanding these styles could help you/your direct reports work with people with difficult personality traits and anticipate their behaviour.

Wednesday 29 July at 11am – 12pm
Setting up a volunteer befriending service
Pre booking required!
Want to know how to recruit, train and manage volunteers to run a successful befriending service? Then book on this session! Back by popular demand Karen Dunderdale of Sight Support Hull and East Yorkshire will share her expertise in setting up and coordinating a successful volunteer led befriending service. Karen will share insights into volunteer befriending training, safeguarding, external support options and co-ordination tips. This will be an interactive session with lots of opportunity to ask questions. Places are limited to 15 people (on a first come first serve basis) please email us at to book.

To join any sessions by phone (apart from the People Styles and Befriending sessions for which you need to register): 
UK telephone: 0330 221 0097 (Calls charged at your local rate.)
Access Code: 780-863-517

If you missed any of our previous sessions

Opening services and the workplace as COVID-19 restrictions ease, 25 June
This session continued our popular series with Carl Harrison, Galloways Trustee and Health and Safety expert. It focussed on dealing with the barriers faced as organisations consider opening services and the workplace as COVID-19 restrictions ease.

When considering opening services and the workplace it is essential risk assessments are carried out to demonstrate you understand the risks. This should then be used to produce procedures, guidelines and control measures which must be communicated to employees and volunteers. As long as you have these, home visits should be ok. You can even have the home visit in the garden if possible since an outdoor meeting reduces risks.

PPE was discussed. Masks are not required to be worn to prevent COVID-19 if they are not normally worn for work purposes. Risk assessments and control measures are sufficient in reducing the risk of infection. However, staff can choose to wear a face covering, in which case employers must support this, i.e. give guidance on hygiene, how to wear it properly, washing it vs disposal, washing of hands, etc. It is important to consider potential allergies to protective gloves, alcohol gels etc. Employees must be consulted about allergies and a process established for dealing with allergic reactions. More information and resources can be found on the Visionary website’s COVID-19 Knowledge Hub.

Talking Tech, 25 June
We had a great turnout of 39 people join our first tech session in the ‘Go Digital’ series! Rachel Watkinson, Head of Services and Andrew Coleman, Assistive Technology Co-ordinator at Galloway’s hosted and shared the great work Galloway’s have done in building their virtual tech to keep their community connected. The technology services discussed included:

  • Alexa Skill which provides information on Galloways services, Talking News its own audio publications
  • Be My Eyes app
  • Talking Together telephone social groups
  • Team Viewer used to remote onto a person’s device to deliver training

CEO weekly support session, 30 June
8 CEO’s joined the weekly CEO session to talk, share and find out more about how we are all coping. Thanks to Owen Williams, Chair of Visionary for chairing this meeting whilst Fiona was on a well-earned holiday!

With staff working from home, we talked about risk assessments and equipment needed by staff. Access to Work was also discussed and how it is open to home-based working. In future, blended working could be an option for organisations which would reduce the need for office space. Members reported the advice provided by Visionary was extremely useful.

We also discussed all things IT, including software for remote working such as Slack, accessibility issues, access to IT and file sharing for staff. Members shared their experiences of increasing their virtual activities and services. We talked about what the longer term landscape for funding looks like and shared plans for adapting workstreams and exploring opportunities to do things differently. New funds may need to be accessed that have not been accessed before.

Rehab forum, 1 July
53 people participated in this session which provided an opportunity for rehab workers to get together and share experiences. People shared that it would be useful to meet regularly so we will look to get another session set up in a few weeks time. A great deal of best practice was shared so we will be collating good practice and sharing the new/creative ways people are working in response to COVID-19. We had some issues capturing email addresses so if you have not received the follow up email from this session, did not attend but want to be kept in the loop or have good practice to share, please email us at

Getting teched up, 2 July
Mark Belcher, Community Services Digital Development Manager at Henshaws shared how Henshaws have been supporting people to access the right tech from pre-COVID-19 to the present. He talked about how his team undertake assessments to identify the right tech for each individual. Henshaws have also been delivering free tech training over the phone, via remote access or in person.

Mark shared how Henshaws have developed an income stream by establishing commercial relationships with suppliers and generating commissions from sales. Henshaws are open and transparent about this approach and ensure the blind and partially sighted people they work with are aware of this. The money from commissions is put back into the organisation. Mark shared Henshaws Knowledge Village which is a free resource anyone, including professionals can use. The resources include 120 videos, blogs and eBooks. They cover various areas including daily living, life hacks, rehab, specialist and mainstream technology and CPD.

Building digital communities, 7 July
Amy Pearman, Services Manager at Sight Advice South Lakes (SASL) shared how they developed a virtual sight loss community and got people zooming. SASL have successfully developed a thriving online community and offer a full virtual suite of social groups including weekly quizzes and poetry as well as peer support and information sessions. Establishing partnerships with statutory services and other organisations has been beneficial with this. The uptake for Talking News has increased and SASL’s social media presence has also grown. If you attended this session and did not give your email address and would like to receive the follow up information, please email us at

Visionary on RNIB Connect Radio
Every 2 weeks, RNIB Connect Radio’s Allan Russell talks with Visionary to learn more about latest projects and members great grass roots services for people who are blind or partially sighted. This week there’s news on sport, digital communication and eye health. Listen to the Visionary update here.

COVID-19: A sector-wide approach

COVID-19 Street Design Campaign
Visionary have been working with Guide Dogs to support their Street Design campaign (England only). Guide Dogs have now sent the street design guidance which has gained cross sector endorsement including from Visionary’s Members Consultative Group to Local Authority Transport Managers across England. They have also produced a template letter that it can be used by local organisations and edited to include local organisation logos, highlight locals issues etc. to send to appropriate Local Authority representatives. For more information and to download the street design guidance and template letter, please go to the Visionary website.  

RNIB turns Piccadilly Lights billboard upside down
RNIB partnered with household name brands to show their support for the sight loss community and raise awareness,of the difficulties they are facing during coronavirus by turning Piccadilly Lights upside-down on 6 July 2020. There are various ways to show your support including taking the quiz. To find out more click here.

People in Scotland with sight loss can be guided, but limit time spent at less than two metres
Blind and partially sighted people in Scotland can be guided by someone living outside their household if necessary, the Minister for Older People and Equalities Christina McKelvie MSP has confirmed. The Scottish Government, however, is emphasising the importance of limiting the time spent at less than two metres from each other, and of wearing a face covering and maintaining good hand hygiene. To find out more click here.

TPT welcome the announcement on the significant changes to Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA)
Read TPT’s full statement here, welcoming the announcement from the Minister of State for Universities, Michelle Donelan, on the significant changes to Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA).

RNIB Sight Loss Counselling Team – Emergency Mental Health Sessions
The RNIB Counselling team, despite being in a very busy period, are trying to stretch themselves to widen out their service. Amongst the initiatives they have introduced are the Emergency Mental Health Calls. RNIB counsellors, are making space to offer a one-off conversation to VI people who are impacted emotionally by the changes happening in their lives as a result of COVID-19 It is a temporary measure, but so far it has proved very valuable.

It is not counselling as such, but a chance to offload, explore some strategies, maybe get some tips… a kind of ’emotional fresh air’. The ‘Emergency’ of the title refers mainly to the fact that these calls can be sorted out quite quickly. If you would like to refer someone who you think could benefit email RNIB’s counselling team at and they can forward you a simplified referral form.

It’s all about the money

Success for Sight Support Hull and East Yorkshire!

Tackling Inequalities Fund from Sport England
This Fund from Sport England forms part of their £210 million support package to help the sport and physical activity sector through the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. They are keen to fund any organisation wanting to reduce the negative impact of COVID-19 on people. All information can be found here which includes a link to a map where you can click on your local area and find which one of their 43 active partners is processing the fund in your area.

Sight Support Hull and East Yorkshire have successfully been awarded £4,600 from this Fund and commented on the ease and encouraging nature of the process. The funding award will allow the charity to develop outdoor activity sessions including tennis and outdoor exercise sessions for visually impaired people to help reduce the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on their activity levels. Read their full press release here.

eBay to launch training programme for online charity retail
Charity Connect will begin next month with a series of free weekly webinars for new and existing charity sellers on how to boost sales on eBay, including follow-up one-to-one sessions with e-commerce experts. Training will begin from Tuesday 7 July and is free for charities – book on Eventbrite. The charity initiative follows the blueprint of Retail Revival , a 12-month pilot programme with small businesses in Wolverhampton, where over 60 companies increased sales by 33% on eBay with revenues of over £7m through intensive eCommerce training and support. See more at Civil Society.

Charity Commission issues insolvency advice

Ok, not the most pleasant of titles to an article but it is an issue we know some members have raised. Read more here and links to official guidance. We do have experience of supporting members/trustees as they make decisions about insolvency and working their way of difficult financial situations. For a confidential discussion contact us at and an experienced member of the team will contact you.

Member Spotlight

British Blind Sport announces Paralympian Podcast series
British Blind Sport (BBS) are bringing a Paralympian Podcast series to their members and services users. It started on 3 July at 11am with the next podcast out next week. Episodes will run live at the same time every other week and feature a different athlete in each podcast. The current timetable is set for the next 7 episodes and will also be available on the BBS website, Facebook and YouTube for anyone who can’t make the live episodes.

Henshaws survey – an excellent result for blind and partially sight people in Greater Manchester
As a result of sharing interim findings in from their report (as shared in our last briefing), all ten Local Greater Manchester Authorities have agreed to send priority information out to the 11,000+ people who are registered blind or partially sighted in their areas.

Henshaws carried out a survey with 955 people, from week 1 to week 11 of lockdown. The survey identified following key issues:

  • The overwhelming majority of respondents were not contacted by their local authority sensory team during the early stages of this pandemic.
  • 41% of respondents 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.

To see the full report and see questions raised by the survey finding that may be useful to your organisation click here.

Congratulations to VISOR – The Visually Impaired Society of Richmond who have been have been honoured with the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service
VISOR are one of only three charities across the whole of London who this year have both been honoured with the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service. This is the highest award a voluntary group can receive in the UK, equivalent to an MBE! This is testament to the amazing team at VISOR – an organisation with no paid staff and run entirely by volunteers.

HR and Health and Safety Matters

HR Matters

“Even superheroes need time to put their capes in the wash”
The burden of working through a pandemic can lead to a drop in resilience and self-confidence. This 2 minute watch at the King’s Fund encourages setting aside time and space to focus on things that restore energy and allow for self-reflection.

Furlough – Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
From the 1 July “flexible furlough” kicked in, meaning that furloughed employees can return to work for less than their usual hours, with the employer being able to claim a furlough grant for the balance of their time. Other areas of the scheme and guidance have also been updated:

Health and Safety Matters

COVID-19: Guidance for the safe use of multi-purpose community facilities
If you are part of a shared community building or operate a resource centre that others also use then you will want to look at this government guidance.

Government COVID-19 updates – email sign up
Much of the information above is from direct Government updates. You can sign up here to receive such updates.

Sharing the love

GSK IMPACT Awards – closing date 14 September
Charities are facing significant challenges as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, while continuing to provide vital services to keep people healthy and connected. The awards are funded by GSK and managed in partnership with The King’s Fund. Winning organisations will receive core funding of up to £40,000, plus access to excellent training and development to support their leaders. View the guidelines and access the application

To be eligible to apply, organisations must be at least three years old, working in a health-related field in the UK, with income between £80,000 and £2.5 million. Up to 20 awards will be made, ranging from £3,000 to £40,000; the training and development is valued at a further £9,500.

Bristol and Gloucestershire Sight Loss Councils (SLCs) VI forums: Share your COVID-19 experiences, 21 and 28 July, 7.30pm – 9pm
Bristol and Gloucestershire SLCs are working closely with Bristol Council, Gloucestershire Council and local health settings, to ensure local providers understand the challenges the pandemic has raised for blind and partially sighted people in Bristol and Gloucestershire. We are dedicated to making positive change and giving blind people in the area a voice. We want to hear your views to help us shape our future work at our forums and/or you can provide feedback on our survey. To find out more click here.

Walsall Society for the Blind seeking braille micrometer
Walsall Society for the Blind are trying to source a braille micrometer for a registered blind engineer. If you can help please email Amanda Reed at

Tuesday 14 July, 2pm – 3pm
Difficult decision making for values-driven organisations
This is not a session being run by Visionary so the joining details are different and can be found at Bates Wells. With challenging times ahead for the third sector, how can charities approach difficult decisions while staying true to their organisation’s values? Bates Wells and Directory of Social Change are partnering to explore the issues in this webinar.

Tuesday, July 14, 2020 at 10am to 11am
Small Charity, BIG social: 3 easy ways to get growth on Twitter & Instagram
Twitter and Instagram: the stalwart & the trendsetter of the social world. Both with a huge reach and both ideal places for a charity to be. Yet many charities feel they are under-using these platforms because they don’t get how to make them work. Facilitated by the Small Charities Coalition, join Rebecca Bond, a social media consultant working with charities and ethical businesses, as she explains three things you can implement quickly and easily, but will have a big impact on your marketing success. To register click here.

15 July 2020, 11am – 12pm
Q and A: DSA Assessment Webinar
Join the webinar with the National Network of Assessment Centres and Thomas Pocklington Trust if you are a student with a vision impairment about to start your higher education course in England and have applied, or are about to apply for DSA and wondering what the assessment process involves. Registration closes 15 July 2020 at 10am. To find out more click here.

16 July 2020, 5pm – 6pm
In conversation with Jesse Dufton
Martin Sigsworth, Senior Employment Manager at Thomas Pocklington Trust will be in conversation with Jesse Dufton, star of film Climbing Blind, to understand his career journey and the challenges and obstacles he has had to overcome. Jesse will also share his advice for blind and partially sighted people looking to get on or progress their careers. Registration closes 16 July 2020 at 4pm. To find out more click here.

In the know

The Kruger Review – Prime Minister seeks to find out how charities can support COVID-19 recovery
Danny Kruger has today been charged with putting forward proposals to “maximise” the role for charities in the next phase of the COVID-19 recovery.
Kruger, an MP and former Number Ten adviser, will consult with charities to look at how they can support public services and people facing additional disadvantage as result of the crisis, as well as what tools may be needed to support the sector. Read more on this story on the Civil Society website.

Electronic signatures – is this a way out of lockdown difficulties?
Companies House has confirmed that they will accept annual accounts that have been signed by a director using an e-signature. Whilst this is a potential way out of difficulties caused by Covid-19, you still need be aware of witness and registration requirements. This short read at Russell-Cooke gives a brief overview of the use of electronic signatures in some common scenarios that our charity clients may be likely to encounter.

The wrong kind of publicity – your charity and social media
Have you got a social media policy? Who posts/Tweets/RT’s/Likes social media content upon your behalf? To misquote P.T. Barnum “Not all publicity is good publicity”. This short read gives you some pointers to consider. Read more at Russell-Cooke. Russell-Cooke are Visionary’s preferred legal advisors. They offer Visionary members 1hr of free advice.  Details can be found on the Visionary website.

Charity Commission issues regulatory alert to large >£9m service-delivery charities
The Charity Commission has written to hundreds of charities warning them about the risks of weak governance which can be found on the government website and the summary article on Civil Society.

Charity trustees face ‘undue burden’ due to volume and tone of guidance
There is growing concern that there is an “undue burden” placed on trustees by the volume and tone of Charity Commission guidance. We are concerned that, in practice, it is unrealistic to expect volunteer trustees to be mindful or even aware of all of the Charity Commission’s guidance documents. Read more on Civil Society and email Visionary at if you would like support.

Free webinar: Tackling cyber-threats in health and care: learning from COVID-19
An issue we have previously explored in an online support session.  This free online event from the King’s Fund will look at the cyber threats witnessed during the pandemic and explore how to capitalise on the work already done so that we can be ready for future challenges.

Genuine HMRC contact and recognising phishing emails and texts
Find out how to recognise when contact from HMRC is genuine, and how to recognise phishing or bogus emails and text messages. Details are on the government website.


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