Author: Zeme Davey Ross

Volunteering gave me my life back!

Laura Kennedy lost her sight overnight at the age of 31. It was a devastating diagnosis.   She had developed the rare condition of Acute Retina Necrosis following a virus. Her full sight would never return. A self-confessed workaholic, Laura worked as a PA to two directors in the NHS but as she lay in the hospital bed for five weeks and twenty operations/procedures later she just couldn’t imagine how it would be possible to continue with her career. Like many young people who become blind and partially sighted, she had to leave her dockside apartment because of the...

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Volunteering

Volunteering not only benefits the organisation or sector where an individual is volunteering through shared skills, ideas and lived experiences, but it can also have a profound impact on the volunteer themselves.   This includes increased confidence, learning new skills, making new friends and opening up opportunities. We have a number of volunteering roles available for blind and partially sighted people as part of our Sight Loss Councils (SLCs). We have SLCs in Birmingham, the Black Country, Merseyside, and Bristol, with plans to expand these into new areas over the coming months and years. Find out more about our Sight Loss Councils on the website. We also offer opportunities for corporate organisations to get involved in various ways – from sharing their expertise and skills with us to sighted guiding. In addition, our Volunteering Development team is working to create new roles for volunteers. We are looking at opportunities within our core service areas of: Education Employment Engagement For further information on volunteering opportunities please email us on...

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Engagement

Delivering positive change for blind and partially sighted people through engagement.   Thomas Pocklington Trust’s mission is to enable and empower blind and partially sighted people of all ages to live the life they want to lead. One of the ways we will achieve this mission is through our engagement work. Our regional Engagement Managers are establishing a network of Sight Loss Councils across England.  The councils, made up of volunteers who are all blind and partially sighted, tackle local issues in priority areas such as education, employment, technology, transport, health and social care, sport and leisure. They work with public, private and voluntary organisations to improve the accessibility of their services to make a positive impact for blind and partially sighted people in their areas. We currently have Sight Loss Councils set up and running in Birmingham, the Black Country, Merseyside and Bristol with plans to establish more Sight Loss Councils over the coming months and years. You can find out more about Sight Loss Councils by visiting the...

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Put children at the heart of this general election

We are joining 140+ organisations in a call to all political parties to put children and young people at the heart of this General Election.   Our open letter calls on all political leaders to set out their solutions to the pressing issues facing children and young people, including child poverty, mental health, domestic abuse and serious youth violence. You can show your support on social media using the hashtag #ChildrenAtTheHeart.  Children and young people are joining our call and raising their voices on social media, using the hashtag #IfIWerePM to share their priorities for the next...

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Four recommendations for increasing voting accessibility

The UK is getting ready for its first Christmas General Election since 1923.   Following the June 2017 election, Thomas Pocklington Trust and RNIB published a report on the experiences of blind and partially sighted people who voted in the 2015 General Election, 2016’s London Mayoral election and Referendum and the 2017 General Election. The report showed 74% of blind and partially sighted people felt either partially or totally unable to vote in secret and without assistance. 54% felt that the voting was inaccessible and that new accessible ways to vote are needed – such as telephone, electronic and...

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In conversation with Mervyn Williamson, Chair of Trustees at Thomas Pocklington Trust

Mervyn Williamson, Thomas Pocklington Trust’s new Chair of Trustees shares his views on the role and rewards of being a trustee and highlights his aspirations and vision for the future. In the below video, watch Mervyn in conversation to find out more. We would like to say a massive thank you to all our trustees who have given their time to support and lead the work of TPT. Find out more about our...

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A year in view by Iain Mitchell, Engagement Manager (North West)

I’m in a reflective mood as I am just about to complete my first year working for Thomas Pocklington Trust (TPT) as its North West Engagement Manager, tasked with setting up and overseeing Sight Loss Councils (SLCs) in that region.   Joining the SLCs I remember seeing the job advert and thinking “interesting” which quickly turned into “how exciting, what an opportunity to make a difference.” Previously, I worked in social care with adults with autism and learning difficulties. SLCs offers a new, innovative and creative opportunity for blind and partially sighted people to come together ensuring the voice...

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Me, a Trustee?

By Alex Henderson, Communications Intern at Thomas Pocklington Trust and Trustee at Haringey Phoenix Group I’m Alex Henderson, I am partially sighted, and work for Thomas Pocklington Trust in the Communications Team, not only that but I am also a Trustee for Haringey Phoenix Group (HPG), and as it’s Trustees’ Week, I want to share my story of becoming a trustee.   Joining my local society I remember the day I was asked to be a Trustee well, I was sitting in the pottery-making class organised by HPG, a local sight loss charity in North London, when Tom Stapleton the General...

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Response to the House of Commons Education Committee SEND inquiry

First Report of Session 2019–20   Overview The Select Committees findings are damning and show what we have long suspected and known, that a system with the right intentions to support children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) is failing the very people it is meant to help. “This generation is being let down—the reforms have not done enough to join the dots, to bring people together and to create opportunities for all young people to thrive in adulthood.” The committee has identified a concoction of a lack of oversight, leadership, joint working, funding and...

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Survey finds that blind and partially sighted people want to cycle, swim and go to the gym

The three activities people with a visual impairment most want to get involved in are cycling, swimming and going to the gym.   This is just one of the significant insights lifted from a comprehensive survey by Metro Blind Sport exploring the attitude, preferences and behaviours of its visually impaired network with regards to physical activity. The survey, completed by 60 Metro Blind Sport members and 111 non-members, was conducted via an online survey. All participants were in some way already engaged with sport either directly through Metro Blind Sport or through one of the charity’s partners.   Key...

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Seeing Beyond the Eyes project wins Vision UK award

Vision UK, the umbrella organisation which leads collaboration with partners across the eye health and sight loss sector recently recognised the groundbreaking work being done by the Seeing Beyond the Eyes team at their joint conference with the Royal Society of Medicine. The team faced stiff competition from 5 other nominees in their category so were delighted when it was announced that they’d been awarded The Vision UK John Thompson Award for Excellence in Services, Support and Care 2019, one of the new thematic awards at this year’s event. The team’s achievements in bringing the optical and sight loss...

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Vision UK announces the winners of their new awards

Vision UK recently announced the winners of three new thematic awards and the Astbury, and David Burt OBE Awards at the Forward View Eye Health and Sight Loss Conference held in collaboration with the Royal Society of Medicine (RSM).   Other awards focused on the recognition of work across four key themes: Evidence and statistics Services, support and care Research, cures and treatments The 5 awards were presented at the after-conference reception by Nigel Clarke, Chair of Vision UK and Michele Acton CEO of RSM. The awards were sponsored by Mr Nick Astbury the former Chair of VISION 2020...

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Vision UK and the Royal Society of Medicine celebrate a successful conference

On 9 October, the Royal Society of Medicine (RSM) hosted the Vision UK Forward view: Vision and eye health conference, a joint conference between the RSM General Practice (GP) with Primary Health Care Section, Vision UK and in association with the RSM Ophthalmology Section and Digital Health Section.   With 190 attendees, there was a real buzz on the day. Bob Hutchinson, President, RSM General Practice with Primary Healthcare Section and Matt Broom, Chief Executive Officer, Vision UK began proceedings by welcoming the delegates, with the key message focusing on collaboration and co-operation across all professions and specialties for...

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RNIB training rolled out to jobcentre staff

Jobcentre Plus (JCP) staff will now be able to access new training through an online portal, which offers information and advice to better support people with sight loss to find a job that’s right for them.   The Department for Work and Pensions has worked with the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) to establish the scheme. In addition, some jobcentres will also be kitted out with virtual reality headsets designed by RNIB, that when used with an RNIB app mean JCP staff can experience what it feels like to have sight loss. Minister for Disabled People Justin Tomlinson said: “Sight loss affects...

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Blind and partially sighted people celebrated on Disability Power 100 list

By Steph Cutler, Head of Employment at TPT Last year I attended the Shaw Trust Power 100 event as someone who had been recognised as one of the 100 most influential disabled people in the UK. The roll call in 2018 was hugely impressive, and I felt honoured to be in the same company as the other nominees.   I was invited to be a judge for this year’s Power 100 list. The nominees were of such a high calibre, we received literally hundreds of nominations and deciding upon just 100 was almost impossible, as the standard was so...

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How Braille Tech is Shaping the Future by Darren Paskell, Technology Information Champion at TPT

Braille continues to be the tactile reading and writing system of choice for blind and partially sighted people all over the world. It remains fresh, relevant and revolutionary today, nearly two hundred years after Louis Braille first demonstrated its practical potential. The emergence of electronic braille When thinking of braille, you may conjure up mental images of permanent dots embossed on a solid surface like those dots present on such physical items as medicine packaging, signage or perhaps vast collections of braille books – my school copy of the Oxford Children’s Encyclopaedia comprised 59 braille volumes, each twice the...

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Finding Braille in Everyday Life by Darren Paskell, Technology Information Champion at TPT

Braille continues to be the tactile reading and writing system of choice for blind and partially sighted people all over the world. It remains fresh, relevant and revolutionary today, nearly two hundred years after Louis Braille first demonstrated its practical potential. Braille in Everyday Life You don’t have to look far to find braille in use in the UK. Here are just a few examples. Medicine An EU directive legally requires pharmaceutical companies to produce braille labels on all medicine packaging. As a braille reader myself, I cannot overstate the importance of this decision and subsequent implementation. Bottles and...

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Act now to stop people losing sight due to delayed and cancelled hospital appointments

In many eye clinics, essential eye health appointments are being delayed, causing some patients to experience irreversible sight loss which could have been avoided with timely treatment.   Increasing demand, treatment requiring lifetime care, and lack of NHS resources, are causing these delays, the See the Light Report revealed. The Government could turn this around by implementing the report’s recommendations, which were compiled by the All Party Parliamentary Group on Eye Health and Visual Impairment with RNIB, based on evidence from over 550 patients and 112 organisations. We need your help to encourage MPs to act. Hearing from local...

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Inherited Retinal Dystrophies (IRD) COUNTS study findings released

Inherited Retinal Dystrophies (IRD) COUNTS is a patient led multi-stakeholder group, managed by Retina International, focused on new therapies and improved services for individuals with IRDs. IRDs represent a group of sight conditions for which, until recently, there have been no effective treatments and where gradual but permanent changes occur that reduce vision. They include Retinitis Pigmentosa, Usher Syndrome, Stargardt Disease, Leber Congenital Amaurosis/Early-Onset Severe Retinal Dystrophy (LCA/EOSRD), Best Disease, Cone Dystrophy, Cone-Rod Dystrophy, Achromatopsia, Choroideremia and X-Linked Retinoschisis, which are the conditions the IRD COUNTS study focuses on. The IRD COUNTS study, part funded by Thomas Pocklington Trust,...

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Director of Resources

Thomas Pocklington Trust (TPT) is seeking a part time Director of Resources.   The successful individual will be responsible through the Chief Executive to the Trustees for the effective management of the Charity’s support operations, including Finance, HR and Governance, and will provide broader strategic support to the Chief Executive as part of the Executive Management Team. This is a fantastic opportunity to step into a well-known Charity and to support our new and exciting organisational strategy. If you can help us to achieve this and have the relevant experience, then we want to hear from you. Closing date: Friday 20 September at 17:00 Interview dates: TBC 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 heading) We look forward to hearing from...

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Rodney Powell steps down as Chair of the Board of Trustees

The Thomas Pocklington Trust (TPT) Board meeting held on 5 September saw our Chair of Trustees, Rodney Powell, step down after 26 years.   Rodney’s involvement with the charity came about because Thomas Pocklington was his great-uncle. His great-grandfather had worked with Thomas Pocklington during his lifetime, as did his grandfather who managed the Pocklington estate along with Rodney’s father, before the charity was created. Rodney’s contribution to steering TPT in its work for and with blind and partially sighted people has been immeasurable, from our beginnings as a housing and care provider to establishing our new strategic direction...

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Disabled Students’ Allowances (DSAs) position statement

What we think All blind and partially sighted university students must have access to the support they need to achieve their full academic potential and the opportunity to obtain the same skills and experiences as their peers. Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA) is a grant that helps university students meet the extra costs they may face as a result of their disability, long term illness or mental health problem. The purpose is to enable disabled students to overcome barriers to their learning that cannot be addressed through inclusive practice and reasonable adjustments. Research evidence shows that without the support provided...

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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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