Author: Zeme Davey Ross

Poor eyesight and hearing loss costs billions

The UK’s first vision and hearing survey aims to capture vital data on UK issues.   A lack of accurate data is contributing to a £58billion bill for vision and hearing loss in the UK, according to a report published today that calls on the Government to support the first ever national survey of the UK population’s sensory needs. It is estimated that around 2 million people in the UK are affected by partial sight loss, and this is expected to rise to 2.4 million by 2024. The number affected by hearing loss is estimated at 11 million, and...

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Optician shortlisted for top national award

A dispensing optician has been shortlisted for a top national award from Macular Society. Jayshree Vasani is one of the nominees for this year’s Macular Society Awards for Excellence. Dispensing optician Jayshree has been shortlisted in the Optician or Optometrist of the Year category, which is open to practitioners working in any environment, such as a high street business, hospital or local society, who provide outstanding services to people with macular disease. Jayshree has been a dispensing optician for three decades, qualifying in 1989. She divides her time between working in practice at Skye Optometrists in Harpenden, Hertfordshire, and...

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Behind the Scenes with the Volunteering Team

Behind the scenes here in the Volunteering Team at Thomas Pocklington Trust (TPT), we’re busy shaping future opportunities. From revised policies to brand-new training – we’re rethinking, redesigning, and rewriting what it is to volunteer, all with the aim of creating a volunteer experience with real impact. Here we think back to some of the recent volunteer activities which have helped inspire our plans. During Volunteers’ Week 2019, we opened up our London offices to Herbert Morrison Primary School and the National Literacy Trust. Teachers, children and parents all experienced an amazing lesson in visual awareness and assistive technology.       The organiser, Kirsty Palmer, Volunteering Development Manager, said: “The pupils and parents were excellent – asking so many brilliant questions about sight loss and how we help people. To have the community involved in our work is so important, and really showcases just what volunteering can do for everyone involved.” In other parts of TPT, volunteers supported the well-received pan-disability jobs fair in Birmingham. Organised by the Sight Loss Councils, the busy event offered up job opportunities and helped employers add to their understanding of accessibility.     Elsewhere, volunteers got active in inclusive sports. We joined forces with Metro Blind Sport and Barnett Waddington to get a taste of ‘futsal’ in East London. Futsal – a flavour of five-a-side football – was true to form, impressing...

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DBC report finds that disabled people are hardest hit because of changes to the welfare system

Disabled people are four times worse off financially than non-disabled people, according to new research commissioned by the Disability Benefits Consortium (DBC). Disabled people typically have lost around £1,200 per year as a result of welfare changes with households with one disabled adult and one disabled child losing out most. Changes to the welfare system over the past ten years have left disabled adults four times worse off financially than non-disabled adults, according to new research commissioned by the DBC, a coalition of over 80 UK disability organisations. While many people who receive welfare support have experienced cuts of...

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Services to move out of Balham Resource Centre

After more than ten years of running the Balham Resource Centre, Thomas Pocklington Trust (TPT) is to move services to new homes in surrounding boroughs. This follows a strategic review undertaken by TPT which will us have a greater focus on Education, Employment and Engagement. Services currently hosted in the Balham Resource Centre will transfer to other sight loss organisations providing support to blind and partially sighted people in the south west of the capital. This will ensure that services, including lunch club and the ongoing IT Project, will continue in new and better equipped locations. Moving activities to...

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Making the inaccessible accessible: the role of personal assistants at work – Kirsty’s story

Kirsty Palmer, Volunteering Development Manager at TPT, wants to raise awareness about the many benefits of having a personal assistant in the workplace. With support from her Personal Assistant Lydia, Kirsty has been able to maintain her independence and feel fulfilled in her job. I have worked with TPT for over 5 years in a variety of roles supporting our volunteering offer. I am now a Volunteering Development Manager supporting our volunteering function in the South. I enjoy my job because of the diversity that it entails, and because I am passionate about supporting blind and partially sighted people...

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Making the inaccessible accessible: the role of personal assistants at work – Lydia’s story

Lydia James is a Personal Assistant at TPT, she wants to tell people about her diverse and rewarding role supporting blind and partially sighted people. Working with Volunteer Development Manager Kirsty, Lydia has learned about the value of the Access to Work scheme. I joined Thomas Pocklington Trust last June as a part-time personal assistant to support blind and partially sighted employees, funded by the government scheme Access to Work. For a while I was a floating support worker, which meant I worked with anyone who needed my support, but now I work with Volunteer Development Manager Kirsty one...

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Meet Charles Colquhoun, our new CEO!

Thomas Pocklington Trust (TPT) has appointed Charles Colquhoun as its permanent Chief Executive. Charles joined TPT in 2016 as Director of Resources and has been working as Interim Chief Executive since February of this year, following Peter Corbett’s retirement. Charles said: “I’m very proud to have been appointed and be part of the team at Thomas Pocklington Trust, improving the lives of blind and partially sighted people.” Alison Oliver has already been appointed as Director of Strategic Partnerships and Projects, and Emma Hughes is now our Director of Services. With Charles, they make up the Trust’s Executive Leadership Team....

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Employment at TPT

Employment is how most people earn a living, but it is also often how we define ourselves and what gives us our sense of self-worth. It also provides opportunities to meet new people and learn new skills. earning your own money is important to many in relation to identity and independence and our research has shown that blind and partially sighted people are financially better off in work than they are when receiving out of work benefits. It is estimated over 20,000 blind and partially sighted people are currently working in every main category of employment in a wide...

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Student devises a clever solution for blind and partially sighted rail travellers

A student from the University of Northampton has devised a simple solution to help blind and partially sighted people navigate railway stations. Danny O’Beirne’s research found that many people with vision impairments are put off travelling by train in the UK due to the potential for confusion when they arrive at a station. Danny who is in the final year of his Product Design course, said: “I found there’s often a lack of clear information about platforms, train times, delays and service cancellations which is putting people off using trains altogether. For example, when entering a station, a person...

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Keep using the drops! – Glaucoma Awareness Week 2019

By Karen Osborn, CEO of International Glaucoma Association (IGA) It’s June and it’s Glaucoma Awareness Week! And as always, the most pressing thing we need to shout about is eye health checks. It’s a scary fact, but there are about 700,000 people living with glaucoma in the UK but half of them don’t know they have it. And once sight is lost to glaucoma it’s gone forever – as there’s still no cure. So every June our main call to action is: have regular eye checks! Glaucoma is unlike a lot of other eye conditions – if it’s detected...

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As a partially sighted or blind person, can I find an easy-to-use washing machine?

Yes, you can now, thanks to unique research from the Research Institute for Disabled Consumers (RiDC). The research reveals the top ten washing machines which are the easiest for blind and partially sighted people to use. This washing machine information is available online and, on request, in Braille, please phone 0208 9950 880 if you require this. It is also available over the phone as an audio recording for the cost of phoning a landline. Dial 0330 223 53 55 and follow the instructions. With funding from Thomas Pocklington Trust (TPT), RiDC ran a workshop with blind and partially...

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Vision UK CEO given the Freedom of the City of London

Vision UK is pleased to announce that their CEO Matt Broom was given the Freedom of the City of London at a ceremony at Guildhall, London on 10 June 2019. For that day at least, he became their youngest Freeman! Vision UK is the independent partnership organisation which works with organisations in the eye health, sight loss sector and beyond for the benefit of blind and partially sighted people, their communities and the general population including those at risk of sight loss. Matt Broom joined VISION 2020 UK on 2011 to implement the organisation’s strategic plans and operations. He was...

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New opportunities for volunteers coming soon

Thomas Pocklington Trust’s new strategy will bring new opportunities for volunteers to engage with! Thomas Pocklington Trust has recently completed a strategic review involving a wide range of stakeholders. The review set out to provide clarity and focus with regards to our purpose, who we will support, services provided, how we will be organised to provide these services, the governance supporting our activities and the funding strategy. Our redefined focus will be on: Acting as an advocate and positive change agent for blind and partially sighted people Creating opportunities for blind and partially sighted people seeking employment Facilitating the...

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Sight Loss Councils Survey

Sight Loss Councils have a vision for change – they want blind and partially sighted people to have access to goods and services at the same level as everybody else. They have produced a survey to find out what you really think about the accessibility of services offered to blind and partially sighted people in your local area. They will use your collective opinions to challenge service providers and work with them to provide more inclusive services. The survey focuses on the themes of Education, Employment, Health and Social Care, Sport and Leisure, Technology and Transport. The survey has...

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London Vision pledges support for the Inclusive Transport campaign

London Vision has pledged to work collaboratively with governing bodies, other charity sectors and Transport for London to improve services across London, in line with their objectives. The Department for Transport will be launching a campaign that aims to create a supportive travelling experience for disabled people when using public transport. Disabled people face many barriers but the ability to travel should not be one of them. On 8 May 2019, Bhavini Makwana joined over 100 guests at the Inclusive Transport Reception hosted by Nusrat Ghani MP, Accessibility Minister at the Department for Transport. Bhavini joined Members of Parliament, Peers,...

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Meeting between Chris Skidmore MP and students with vision impairment

Last week, we hosted a roundtable event with Chris Skidmore, Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation in partnership with the University of Birmingham. During this event the minister heard powerful accounts from students with vision impairment about the difficulties they faced with Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA) and their wider experience of university. We are delighted that the Minister made a commitment to support students with vision impairment in the future. Chris Skidmore MP, Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation visited the University of Birmingham to take part in a roundtable discussion to hear...

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Mental Health Awareness Week 2019 – Top Ten tips for managing Stress by Laura Greaves

Laura Greaves from the podcast Suddenly Sightless shares her top ten tips on how to deal with stress. Everyone will become stressed at some point in their life. It may look or feel different to different people, and many may not even recognise it – but everyone will experience it. The most stressful time period in my life was during my career transition. I was still coming to terms with my sight loss and tried to keep things as normal as I could. I was no longer able to complete my work duties as I was based in a...

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The stress of travelling to work as a blind person

Stress awareness month has been held every April, since 1992. During this annual period, health care professionals and health promotion experts work to increase public awareness about both the causes and potential cures for this modern epidemic. According to the Mental Health Foundation 74% of UK adults have felt so stressed at some point over the last year they have felt overwhelmed or unable to cope. In fact, millions of working age people around the UK are experiencing such high levels of stress that their health is at risk. Despite stress being a significant factor in mental health problems such...

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Consultation response to Ofsted Education Inspection Framework 2019

TPT has responded to the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills’ (Ofsted) consultation on their proposed Inspection Framework in partnership with VIEW and RNIB. There is much to welcome in the proposed Inspection Framework, and we are pleased to see that there is more of a shift towards looking at the whole student experience and not just academic outcomes, with more of a focus on the experiences of special educational needs and disability (SEND) learners. However, as our response highlights there is still more to do, particularly in ensuring that an education provider is meeting the...

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Retina UK events

Retina UK are holding a number of events throughout 2019. Check them out! Retina UK Information Days Retina UK Information Days feature research updates, information about vision technologies, presentations from local sight loss charities, question and answer sessions and they offer a chance to meet members of the Retina UK community. Free to attend, these events always prove popular with delegates. 16 May – Newcastle Information Day 18 June – Brighton Information Day 24 October – Northern Ireland Information Day Family event – Usher Kids UK Retina UK are joining with Usher Kids UK to organise an event specifically...

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World Health Day 2019: what it means to me by Louise Dickson from Illuminate Freedom

This World Health Day 2019, there are millions of people across the world that still have no access to health care at all. Living in the UK, we are fortunate enough to be able to access the NHS for a multitude of health conditions, ailments and disabilities; but what about those of us that still struggle to find the help or relief we seek through the power of modern medicine? Many of us suffer daily, whether it be from pain, fatigue, or mental health conditions; challenges that often have no known ‘cure’. But does that mean that those of us...

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Standard Chartered Bank’s Volunteers: Quizzing to win!

Our vision is to live in a world where people with sight loss can fully participate. With the support of like-minded organisations such as Standard Chartered Bank (SCB), we are closer to achieving this vision. We have been working in partnership with volunteers from SCB for several years, and through their volunteering they have been making a real difference to the lives of blind and partially sighted people. It is a privilege to continue working in collaboration with such a supportive organisation. As part of this partnership, volunteers from SCB worked with blind and partially sighted people back in...

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Bank Support Worker (London)

We are actively recruiting for a Bank Support Worker to cover the London region. You will provide sighted one to one support for TPT employees who are blind or partially sighted enabling them to retain employment and succeed within their job. You are required to work flexibly, undertaking the work as directed by the employee. The nature of the role and specific requirements of the role may change in accordance with changes to the work and role of the employee. Role: Bank Support Worker (London) Department: Various Reporting to: Assisted Staff member Location: London Duration: Zero Hour Contract ‘How to Apply’ If you would like to apply for this role, please follow these steps: Read the Job Description and Application Guidance Notes Complete an application form Complete an Equal Opportunities Monitoring Form Email the completed forms to: applications@pocklington-trust.org.uk (please ensure you include the job title in the subject...

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What we have been up to

Meeting with MPs As part of the Alliances’ ongoing parliamentary work, we have been busy meeting MPs to discuss our report and the importance of SEND support for learners with vision impairment. Alliance members met with Marsha De Cordova MP, the Shadow Minister for Disabled People. Marsha was shocked to hear how parents are having to fight for the support that their children are entitled to, often through lengthy tribunal processes. Marsha has agreed to table further questions for the Alliance and has signed a joint letter to the Secretary of State for Education. Presenting at VIEW Young Vision Alliance members George Holroyd and Tara Chattaway jointly presented at the VIEW annual conference. VIEW is a professional network for the vision impairment education workforce. It was a great opportunity for the Alliance to share the report and update the workforce on what we have been up to. The presentation was really well received. You can read the presentation here. Parliamentary launch – December 2018 The Alliance launched our report Our Futures Matter at an event at Parliament in December. The event was well attended by a range of MPs and Lords who took the time to meet with parents and young people to find out about their experiences. Here are a range of photos from the day:                 Education Select Committee The Alliance submitted...

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Case studies

Romilly’s Story Romilly is nine years old and lives with her mum Clare, dad Adrian and sister Astrid in London. Diagnosed as severely visually impaired from birth, Romilly initially got excellent support for her education. When Romilly reached school age, the support she received dropped dramatically. It was down to her parents to fight for the support she needed. Romilly now receives support from a specialist teaching assistant and a habilitation specialist, but this support was threatened recently when, due to budget cuts, the local authority looked to remove most of the funding Romilly relies on. Jorja’s story Jorja is ten years old and lives with her mum Laura in Chichester. Due to her vision impairment, her school years have been a source of constant struggle in accessing the information and support she needs. Every day, Jorja faces challenges which affect her learning, with large print reading materials repeatedly forgotten about and equipment which would enable her to participate fully in class not provided. Laura has had to buy equipment for Jorja, including a kindle and laptop, with her own money, due to delays in the local authority providing them. Laura says: “The stress and anxiety that these repeated issues cause is phenomenal. I don’t feel I get much support. It’s often just me winging it, trying different things to see what will work.” Help the YVA raise awareness...

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Spring Statement 2019

TPT sets out some thoughts on the Spring Statement and their implications for the sight loss sector. Sustainable social care In his first budget as Chancellor, two years ago, Phillip Hammond said that the government would produce a green paper on social care to establish a way to deliver sustainable long-term funding. Since then, the green paper has been repeatedly delayed. The Chancellor offered no update on this in his statement, so we are still no further forward. We remain worried about what continued austerity in local government means for blind and partially sighted people. This is at a...

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Our Right to Study – Holly’s story

Holly is a final year student studying Spanish at Coventry University. This is Holly’s personal account of Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA). Her experience emphasises what the government should do to ensure that students with vision impairments have fair access to university.  When applying for university, I knew that as a blind student I would face challenges that others wouldn’t have to consider. Would I be able to access the books in the library? What technology would I need? How would I handle orientation and mobility on campus? These were questions I had to ask myself and find solutions to...

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VI Zumba with Illuminate Freedom at TPT hub

Attend VI Zumba at the TPT hub! VI Zumba is a Latin-inspired, gentle yet exhilarating dance fitness session. It is moving blind and partially sighted people of all ages and abilities towards joy and improved health. Through this Zumba class, you can lose weight, strengthen your muscles, get fitter and have plenty of fun! Location: Thomas Pocklington Trust, Entrance D Tavistock House South, Tavistock Square, London WC1H 9LG Times: 5:30 to 7:00pm every Tuesday Meet and Greet Services: Euston Station Mobility Access room – 5:00pm Contact: connect@illuminatefreedom.org or 07852 886...

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Seeing Beyond the Eyes: Roadshow success for TPT funded project

Patients with low vision are benefiting from an initiative developed by Visualise Training and Consultancy, and funded by Thomas Pocklington Trust. Seeing Beyond the Eyes, an initiative launched in May 2018 to forge stronger connections between the sight loss and optical sectors for the benefit of patients, has released its first impact report. The project benefits patients by connecting the optical and sight loss sectors, and has trained over 2,200 delegates since its launch. It aims to increase awareness of, and referrals to, local and national sight loss organisations and promote inclusivity across all eye care services for people...

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