Ryan Jones runs for ELVis in the 2016 Virgin Money London Marathon

Hello to all our lovely readers. Winter has truly arrived with the wind and rain. The question on everyone’s mind is, will it snow this winter? This week I’d like to tell you more about our new venture of having a runner for the 2016 London Marathon, which Hassan mentioned in his last blog entry.

We are joining in on the fun of the 2016 Virgin Money London Marathon, with Ryan Jones as our runner

Earlier this year we successfully secured a place for the 2016 Virgin London Marathon! We are pleased to announce that Ryan Jones is the lucky athlete who has been chosen to run for us with his guide runner Tim Hampton. Ryan has won numerous accolades as a sportsman; he has represented the England Blind cricket team at the 2014 blind Cricket World Cup in South Africa and continues to play for the Metro blind cricket team. He is an avid runner and can often be seen pounding the streets of Bermondsey.

In his first Marathon Ryan achieved the immaculate time of 4 hours 28 minutes. However, the high-achieving Jones tells us that he would like to smash that target.

We caught up with Ryan, who said: “Being vision impaired I am aware of many of the challenges face by blind and partially sighted people, such as going to buy the weekly shop at the supermarket. I have chosen to run for ELVis because I know the difference support can make in improving independence for blind and partially sighted people. Having run a marathon 2 years ago, I feel like I can use that experience to achieve a better time. I will train hard, however in order for me to complete such a challenge, your support will be vital, so anything you can donate would be gratefully appreciated!”

Tim, aged 24, who works for Westminster City Council is an enthusiastic runner and will be Ryan’s guide on the day. Whilst Tim has only completed a half marathon and a few smaller charity runs, he informs us that he is raring for opportunity to test his mettle on the streets of London. When talking to Tim about the challenge ahead he said: “Running such a well-known marathon is an exciting prospect for me and knowing I’m supporting a really deserving charity motivates me to pull on my running shoes and brave the cold to train. It’ll be a significant personal challenge and test of character but I feel privileged to be doing my part for ELVis at the London Marathon and I hope with your support we can have a real positive impact on partially sighted and blind people.” Please support Tim by donating to his My Donate page.

Tim (Left) and Ryan(Right) before training

We are fortunate to be able to offer Both Ryan and Tim with pre-marathon training from Jeffrey Darko, manager of Physique Trans4mers. Jeffrey has trained professional cricket players and aided football coaching for under 21’s for local teams. So we know the boys are in safe hands for training and extremely grateful to Jeffrey. Jeffrey said: “I’ve been a personal trainer for several years now, but being approached to train a marathon runner is an exciting and challenging opportunity. I am determined to help Ryan and Tim achieve their personal best, while making sure they suffer no injuries during training sessions and on the big day. Helping a charity such as ELVis who raise much needed awareness for blind and partially sighted people is a matter that is close to my heart, making the work I am doing with the boys that extra bit special and personal.”

Remember the more money we raise, the more people living with sight loss we can help. Every penny we raise goes towards improving the quality of life of Vision impaired people, so any donation will be appreciated. Please donate to Ryan’s Virgin Money Giving page.

Your support could help us achieve a range of things such as:

  • £2.50 giving a Vision Impaired person the opportunity to attend a Tennis session and increase their physical and social well-being
  • £3.00 enabling a Vision Impaired person to attend a monthly breakfast club and meet new people
  • £9.00 allowing us to give an audible ball to a school for use by a Vision Impaired child, meaning that they can play alongside their sighted peers
  • £12.00 helping a Vision Impaired person to participate in a 6 week cookery course and learn a new skill
  • £17.50 providing a Vision Impaired person with the opportunity to join in on a social outing tailored to their needs
  • £25.00 meaning we can provide technology advice to a group of blind and partially sighted people for an hour, improving their ability to communicate.

colin and volunteer doing assault course 3

We have set ourselves an ambitious target to raise at least £2,500 and to help us get there we are hugely grateful to our sole runner Ryan Jones – who, being blind himself, is running with the assistance of Tim Hampton his guide runner during the event. You can help us smash our target by either donating to Ryan’s Virgin Money Giving page or Tim’s My Donate page.

You can also follow us on Twitter and Facebook to keep up-to-date with Ryan and Tim’s journey to the finish line!

You can also follow Ryan’s progress over at his personal twitter account: www.twitter.com/RAJURyan93

For further information on what Physique Trans4mers do, why not visit: www.physiquetrans4mers.com

We would be extremely grateful if you could help us spread the word to family, friends, colleagues and anyone else who will listen!! 

Thank you for reading and we hope you will make a contribution to our work to make a difference to blind and partially sighted people across east London.

Catch you all in 2016! It is probably far too early to say it, but I’m going to anyway, Happy Holidays to all over the Xmas break!:)

 

Roger shares the views of one of our newer members

Staff colleagues reckon I’ve struck lucky with my Blog this time and, to a certain extent, they are right. But it’s for a very good reason, in that I am passing on the views of one of our newer members, Andrew, who lives in Tower Hamlets. What’s great about this is that Andrew read the Blog, thought there was something missing, and has taken the trouble to make contact, asking us to rectify the matter. So, if like Andrew, you want to communicate something, please feel free to leave a comment, or drop us an Email at enquiries@eastlondonvision.org.uk.

Very topically, after the Blog from our new Assistive Technology Adviser last week, Andrew has some comments regarding Sight village that took place recently in London. He says: “I did not go to Sight Village with the intention of writing about it, but because I am a user of VI (Vision Impaired) products myself and so wanted to know about the latest tech and other supporting groups. However, reading the ELVis site for the first time, I did not see this event mentioned and so thought an overview could be helpful for others. By the time you read this, it will have passed for another year, as it has been held at the start of November at Kensington Town Hall for some years, but it will return next year on 1 and 2 November.

Sight Village is London’s largest gathering of providers of services for the VI community and the crowd attending mostly carry a white stick or have a guide dog. I learned about everything from a weekly run in Mile End Park on Saturday mornings, where Vision Impaired people are welcome, (visit www.parkrun.org.uk for a park run near you) to a camera that clips onto the frame of your glasses and tells you who you are looking at or reads out what you point at, such as a menu or a newspaper.

The designer of the World’s most popular white canes explained to me that in America they do not recognise the short guide cane that some of us use here, so we should take a long cane if travelling abroad. He has developed a series of long telescopic canes that are lightweight and space saving. One cane he specially made for Stevie Wonder and covered it in gold. Currently he is researching distributors in the UK, albeit these canes are preferred in other countries to the heavy folding canes available here.

I also gathered that, driven by the demand from young users, more reading devices will be developed to work with Mac laptops next year. The myriad of CCTV reading machines, OCR word recognition cameras that attach to laptops and hand held devices were so numerous, I was exhausted trying to differentiate the features of them all. However, whether we pay for our aids ourselves, via an Access to Work grant, or with student funding, the choice of supporting equipment is wide, so it is worth investing the time to determine the appropriate device for your precise needs.”

Thanks Andrew and we will ensure Sight Village is featured on the ELVis Website next year when details are available.

The newly appointed Assistive Technology Advisor Graham Page introduces himself

My name is Graham Page and I have been working at East London Vision for about 1 month. I am the Assistive Technology Advisor. This is a new role and in this blog post I will introduce myself and broadly describe what I will be doing.

So, a few words about myself! I have been working in the field of Assistive Technology, sometimes called Access Technology, since 1996. In those days, the World Wide Web had been invented but very few people other than academics really had access to the Internet or even Email. Were just starting to take off. I am blind myself and I was immediately struck by the potential of the World Wide Web and other internet services to provide me and other blind people with access to information and opportunities that just did not exist before. I clearly remember being unemployed in 1994 and being unable to look for jobs independently let alone apply for them. All the jobs were in the paper or on boards in the job centre and, in Preston; there was not even a job club to go to. This was not a good situation to be in at the age of 24!

In 2014, according to the Office of National Statistics, 38 million people in the UK access the internet every day and the number of people accessing the internet on a mobile device has doubled since 2006. Many vision impaired people do not have access to the internet however, and my experience is that many people with full sight assume that if you have difficulty reading the screen of a mobile phone or a computer then these devices are totally unusable for visually impaired people.

A large part of my role will involve helping vision impaired and blind people in the Elvis region to use and access devices of various kinds including desktop, laptop and tablet computers as well as a range of mobile phones. People have said they want to know more about these kinds of technology so I will be involved in giving advice and demonstrations as well as providing individual and group training.

Alongside this, many organisations such as libraries and education providers do not have equipment that is accessible to visually impaired people so that they can write essays, use email and browse the web among other things. I will be working with local organisations to help them implement accessible technology and provide training so that they can provide a more accessible service in general.

So if you have questions or want help with something related to technology please do contact me.

If I don’t know the answer to a question, or if there is a service already set up and providing the help you require, then I will certainly point you in the right direction!

My email is:

graham@eastlondonvision.org.uk

Tel:

020 3697 6464

Service User Consultations update from Sharon Schaffer

Not another consultation!

The Vision Strategies are now entering their second round of service user consultations…

Each year, each Vision Strategy Action Plan has, built into it, a consultation with service users, with the two fold aim of

  1. Updating local people on the milestones, achievements and challenges faced by the Vision Strategy Group in implementing the Action Plan over the past year
  2. Identifying and discussing the priorities for action in the year to come.

This year, having heard the priorities and areas of concern from the previous year’s consultations, I wanted to not only report and invite feedback on the Vision Strategy Group’s activities, but also bring the ‘horse to the water’, so to speak, so that service users could hear it from the horse’s mouth, and hold providers to account…

The first such consultation took place in Waltham Forest on 12.10.15, and was run in association with local user support organisation, Waltham Forest Vision, and Healthwatch Waltham Forest.

The very next day Hackney VI Group hosted a consultation on behalf of the Hackney Vision Strategy Group, and on 25th November a similar event will be held in Redbridge where attendees will receive updates from officers from the London Borough of Redbridge on:

  • Welfare & Benefits Advice
  • Work Redbridge: employment and training opportunities
  • Care Act: Implications and changes
  • Redbridge Fairness Commission Recommendations
  • Redbridge Leisure and Culture Strategy

My hope is that it will be as informative for the officers as it is for the service users/residents.

With the Seeing It My Way outcomes providing an excellent measurement framework, and the emphasis moving away from ‘for the blind’ to ‘with’ vision impaired people, consultation, user involvement and the gauging of impact, has to be at the heart of what we do, otherwise it just becomes a hotch potch of ‘do-goody’ intentions at best, or self-serving career justification at worst.

My thanks, therefore, to all those who have, or are planning to, participate in these consultations. I hope to have more positive developments next year, but in the meantime, if you have any thoughts and comments please contact me on

E: sharon.schaffer@lvif.co.uk

T: 07875 541133

NB: A more detailed article on this theme is available on the ELVis website: http://www.eastlondonvision.org.uk/index.php/news.html

Have a wonderful week:)

Sharon