A New Year reflection from CEO, Charles Colquhoun

As we enter 2021 Thomas Pocklington Trust’s Chief Executive, Charles Colquhoun, reflects on 2020 and looks forward to this new year.

 

Head and shoulders shot of Charles Colquhoun

“2020 was a really difficult year for everyone but was particularly tough for blind or partially sighted people who faced additional challenges such as increased isolation and issues around online deliveries and social distancing, resulting in reduced independence for many.

“We responded to the crisis by changing our grants programme to support local sight loss charities get through this difficult period.  We also forged even closer alliances with our partners in the sight loss sector to co-ordinate our campaigns to Government and publish guidance for supermarkets, transport providers, education establishments and more.

“Like many charities, we have been impacted financially by the pandemic but still launched services in education, employment, engagement and technology and expanded our network of Sight Loss Councils to support blind and partially sighted people live the life they wish to lead.

“A particular low point in the year was the loss of our trustee and friend, Rodney Powell.  Rodney, Thomas Pocklington’s great nephew, was a trustee at the charity for 37 years of which 26 were as Chair.  The Powell family has been instrumental in the success of the charity since it was established in 1958.

“Looking forward to 2021, our strategy is virtually unchanged with our core focus on employment, education and engagement.

“We will continue to raise awareness among careers advisers, recruitment firms and employers that, with assistive technology, blind and partially sighted people can perform roles in the workplace as well as their fully sighted colleagues. Our VitalTech website provides advice and guidance on the assistive technology available for blind and partially sighted people in the UK both for the workplace and home. We have plans to develop this further.

“We will offer paid training and development opportunities to blind and partially sighted people through our internship programme and offer those at risk of redundancy a professional coaching service in collaboration with the Centre for Resolution. We will also offer one-to-one support and promote our accessible tools to help those looking for work including creating CVs and completing application forms.

“We will encourage engagement and volunteering and expand our national network of Sight Loss Councils (SLC).  Led by blind and partially sighted volunteers, SLCs advocate the needs of blind and partially sighted people and influence positive change in their local areas.

“We will also continue to support and champion the needs of children and students with vision impairment and will lobby Government to ensure the needs of these young people are considered in national policy changes. We will facilitate local organisations to establish frameworks to support families and create careers advice and resources for young people.  We are working closely with the Student Loans Company and pushing the Department for Education for urgent change to the Disabled Students’ Allowance to help students with vision impairment.

“We aim to launch a revised grants programme in the next financial year and, building upon the close collaboration we have forged with our partners, we will work together on joint projects and provide a unified and amplified voice for the sector.

“In May we will be moving from our base at the Pocklington Hub within the BMA building.  We are exploring options for alternative accommodation and will announce developments on this in due course.

“As you can see, even though it may be a bleak start to this New Year with greater restrictions for most of us, there is much to do in 2021 and we are excited to get started.

“So, from all of us here at TPT, here’s to a happy and productive 2021.”

 

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