Author: Zeme Davey Ross

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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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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My Blurred World – Retinitis Pigmentosa Awareness Month

This Retinitis Pigmentosa Awareness Month, award winning blogger Elin Williams writes for TPT about her own experience of living with the eye condition. I’m Elin, a 20-year-old blogger and Open University student who is passionate about beauty, fashion, music and writing, just to name a few. Retinitis Pigmentosa I was diagnosed with a degenerative eye condition, Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP) when I was six years old, three years after my parents realised that I couldn’t see in the dark. This month is RP awareness month and I’m sure many will be sharing their stories and experiences both on and offline,...

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Dry January and Eye Health

Lucas Weatherby, Communications Officer in Engagement and Advocacy for Sight Loss Councils, reflects on Dry January, writing about the links between sight loss and eye health. Dry January can be an excellent time to reflect on how drinking can affect you and your health – including your eye health. Refraining from drinking can be a challenge but it can have great health benefits. Taking part in Dry January can help you reassess your relationship with alcohol, making drinking a pleasure rather than a habit. Drinking and links with eye health We all know that alcohol consumption impacts on your...

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The World of Storytelling: more accessible than ever before

On Storytelling Week 2019, Darren Paskell, Technology Champion from Vital Tech shares some of the ways that storytelling is becoming increasingly accessible for blind and partially sighted people who love to read. My love for stories goes so deep that it’s hard to trace its beginning! The oldest tapes in my collection are full of nursery tales of adventuring young pilots and train drivers. My passion for stories was noticed by my first teachers who often asked me to recite some of my favourites in class. I gladly performed these without a thought, having heard them often enough to have...

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Peter Corbett retiring from his role at TPT

It is announced that Peter Corbett, Chief Executive, Thomas Pocklington Trust, is to take retirement and stand down from his position. Pocklington’s Chair of Trustees, Rodney Powell, said: “The Trustees and I want to thank Peter sincerely for his work with Pocklington. Under his stewardship, Pocklington has contributed significantly to the lives of many visually impaired people and introduced many new initiatives. We are extremely grateful to him and wish him a very happy retirement.” Arrangements for the appointment of Peter’s successor are in hand and we hope to make further announcement regarding these plans...

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London Vision – strengthening service provision for blind and partially sighted people across London

London Vision’s 2019 strategy to strengthen the service provision for blind and partially sighted people across London. 2019 will see London Vision establish itself as the first sight loss organisation dedicated to serving blind and partially sighted people across all of London’s 32 boroughs. London Vision is focused on strengthening the capital’s sight loss community and striving to ensure that blind and partially sighted people living, working and studying in London are able to access equal opportunities. London Vision will work to increase awareness of the issues facing blind and partially sighted people and foster a better networked sight...

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Disability Benefits Consortium write letter to the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions

The Disability Benefits Consortium (DBC), which represents over 80 disability organisations and which TPT co-chairs, has written to the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Amber Rudd MP. They are calling for an orderly transition to Universal Credit (UC) from benefits such as Employment and Support Allowance and Housing Benefit, rather than just stopping existing benefits and leaving people to sort out a UC claim. Geoff Fimister, consultant to TPT and DBC Co-chair, said: “A Minister suggested in Parliament that disability organisations were OK with the “stop-start” approach, so we needed to put the record straight. Claimants need continuity...

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Our response to the NHS Long Term Plan

On Monday, the NHS published its anticipated Long Term Plan. There is much to be welcomed, as well as a note of caution, as we await the outcome of Brexit and the promised Green Paper on Social Care. We welcome the NHS’ ambition to be more joined-up and coordinated in its care. We hear far too often from blind and partially sighted people about the barriers they face when transitioning between primary care, secondary care and social care. Many do not currently receive the support they need when they need it, including vision rehabilitation. This can mean people risk...

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Making the festive season fun for all

The festive season is upon us! As we plan for a host of social gatherings and prepare to spend time with our friends and family over the holidays, it’s the perfect time for playing games. Our accessible technology experts Vital Tech have compiled a list of games designed specifically for blind and partially sighted people, making the perfect gift and promising festive fun for all! More than ever, technology is empowering blind and partially sighted people in social situations, as well as in daily tasks. Vital Tech provides impartial guidance through the world of assistive technology for blind and...

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Researchers investigate how our natural ‘body clock’ could influence short sightedness

TPT are working with eye research charity Fight for Sight to fund research looking to understand how a disrupted ‘natural body clock’ plays a role in the development of short-sightedness (myopia). Researchers from Ulster University will be studying children at low and high risk of developing myopia by taking saliva samples and analysing melatonin levels combined with data about family history, sleep quality and personality type. The information from this research could provide evidence for the promotion of a healthy circadian rhythm to help prevent myopia. While there are many genetic and environmental factors that can influence the development...

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International Volunteer Day at Thomas Pocklington Trust

On International Volunteer Day 2018, we reflect on recent successes with corporate volunteering events, and the fantastic support of all our corporate partners. International Volunteer Day celebrates the power and potential of volunteering. For us, the day is an opportunity to celebrate the efforts of our volunteers and promote volunteering across sight loss organisations. Head of Volunteering, Rachel Wilkinson, said: “In the coming year we aim to expand our volunteering initiatives across the country. Corporate volunteering will be a key part of our volunteering offer. “We want to build on past successes, such as the partnership with the Bank...

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United Nations envoy speaks out on poverty

The United Nations Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty, Philip Alston, has published his highly critical report on poverty in the UK based on his recent visit. His findings focus on the impact of austerity, benefit cuts and problems with Universal Credit. Much of this is relevant to the findings of recent research commissioned by Thomas Pocklington Trust (TPT) from the highly respected Centre for Research in Social Policy at Loughborough University. This found that blind and partially sighted people generally struggled to achieve a Minimum Income Standard that would enable them to fully participate in society. This could make...

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Children at the Heart of Funding – the power of one voice

At Thomas Pocklington Trust, we believe that working together to have one clear voice is powerful – which is why we supported the campaign calling on the Government to put Children at the Heart of Funding. We proudly put our name on a letter to the Minister of Education, calling for increased funding for Specialist Educational Needs and Disability (SEND). The evidence that services and support that children rely on are at breaking point is compelling and cannot be ignored. The campaign has won the support of parliamentarians and garnered significant media coverage. That there was no mention of...

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Why I launched Esme’s Umbrella by Judith Potts for Charles Bonnet Patient Day

Three years ago, I launched Esme’s Umbrella at the House of Commons to raise awareness of Charles Bonnet Syndrome (CBS) and to fund research into this distressing condition. Named after my late mother, for whom CBS tormented her final years with multiple hallucinations, Esme’s Umbrella – which is still just me – has moved apace and today I am hosting the world’s first Charles Bonnet Syndrome Patient Day at Moorfields Eye Hospital. CBS has been acknowledged by ophthalmologists and optometrists since Charles Bonnet first documented his grandfather’s experience of vivid, silent, visual hallucinations in 1760, but it has always...

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DWP announce further changes to the managed migration to Universal Credit

Esther McVey, the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, yesterday laid out the regulations to roll out Universal Credit (UC) over the next few years to claimants of existing benefits, including extending the period people have to claim from one month to three months. Great concern has been raised by disabled people, disability organisations including Thomas Pocklington Trust, MPs and others about the intention simply to stop existing benefits and give claimants a month to claim UC. The obstacles, including the challenge of people normally having to submit digital claims, raise the real possibility that large numbers of...

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