Author: Zeme Davey Ross

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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Budget 2018: Little extras and missed opportunities

In this year’s Budget, the Chancellor set out his spending plans for the year ahead. While the Budget goes some way in addressing the issues faced by blind and partially sighted people, Thomas Pocklington Trust remains concerned that more needs to be done. Cuts to social care in recent years have impacted on vision rehabilitation and other services needed to support blind and partially sighted people to live independently. With three quarters of blind and partially sighted people of working age not in work, individuals need to know they can have a roof over their head and food on...

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White Cane Awareness Day 2018: How the humble white cane changed my life by Darren Paskell

I’m Darren and I work in the Technology Services team at Thomas Pocklington Trust. From the perspective of a blind person with a professional interest in the field of technology, I cannot overemphasise the positive impact that using a white cane has brought to my life. At a time when driverless cars, automated recognition apps and a range of accessible navigation solutions are emerging, it really is hard to overlook the importance of perhaps the most revolutionary invention enhancing independent living for the blind and partially sighted people of the twentieth century. A bit more about me – I...

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White Cane Awareness Day: Using a white symbol cane by Barbara Smith

I’m Barbara Smith, I am a representative of the Kingston Visual Impairment Parliament as MP for Independence. We are a group of blind and partially sighted residents who raise awareness of issues for people living with sight loss, and we campaign for a more inclusive community. I use a symbol cane when I go out to the shops or travel on public transport, which includes buses, trains and the London Underground. A symbol cane is a small white cane that a blind or partially sighted person holds to let people around them know that they are partially sighted. It...

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World Sight Day: A day in the life of Martin Sigsworth

I am the senior employment manager at Thomas Pocklington Trust and have been registered blind since I was 11. On World Sight Day, I want to show that with a few minor adaptions, my life is pretty similar to anyone else’s. My day starts at 6:00. Hauling myself out of bed is always a struggle but my partner Charlie and I have a pet greyhound called Jammy and his barking is an alarm you just can’t snooze through – when that pooch wants his food, you’d better make a move! Time is tight in the morning, so Charlie and...

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World Sight Day: Why I love my job by Cathy Low

My name is Cathy Low and my experience of sight loss started in adolescence when I was diagnosed with an incurable, inherited, degenerative eye condition called Stargardt disease which results in central vision loss. I have some peripheral vision but cannot see anything if I look straight ahead. I cannot see detail, read without assistive technology or recognise people even when they are very close to me. Despite this, I have been the CEO of London Vision for the past year. I am probably amongst the minority of people who can genuinely say I love my job. At London...

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World Sight Day: A day in the life of Maxine Plowden

I was diagnosed with the eye condition coloboma at 3 months old, and as a result, I have never known what it is like to have good sight. Coloboma is when part of the eye does not develop properly during pregnancy. It usually affects the iris, lens, or, in my case the retina. A large part of my retina is missing. It is most notable in my right eye because the pupil is small. I have very little vision, but I can see the outlines of objects and people. I have more sight in my left eye and this...

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Thomas Pocklington Trust turns 60

This year we celebrate the 60th anniversary of Thomas Pocklington Trust. Twenty-one years after that fateful day when Thomas Pocklington, Sheffield born jeweller-turned- property developer, was accidentally shot in the eye by his chauffeur, TPT began working to improve lives for blind and partially sighted people. Since then, TPT has undergone many evolutions – from providing care and accommodation for elderly people living with sight loss, to our current aim of improving lives for blind and partially sighted people across the UK. Some of our recent work has focused on influencing the national agenda on important issues. This has...

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