Activities update by Chris

Summer is taking it’s time in coming except for the few days we have had, hope you are all making the most of the nice weather when it appears.

At East London Vision we have so many exciting activities happening at the moment we have beginners cookery taking place, walks, gentle exercise classes, yoga, dance and bowls  it’s all happening.  These activities have been made possible by Healthier Neighbourhood grant from Hackney Council, Get Moving grant through the Mayor’s Office and Motivate East.

One group visited  Tate Britain we had a guided tour and was allowed to touch some of the sculptures and the Tracey Emin’s My Bed was described in detail.  Everyone had a great day and enjoyed themselves followed by having lunch in the grounds.

Another successful quiz night took place for Beyond Barriers in Tower Hamlets.  The quiz was challenging and it was a great night everyone enjoyed having the opportunity to have fun, to meet and socialise and at the same time raise money for the group.

Laura the teacher explaining the importance of healthy eating to the group.
Graham stirring the lentil mix
Kidney Beans Stew, The Lentils and the Rustik Chips end result.


Accessible sporting opportunities

I have a confession to make:  up until recently, I didn’t do any exercise.  I knew it was good for me, I knew that regular exercise results in a range of physical, mental and social benefits, both short- and long-term, and that exercising is likely to increase not only your lifespan but also the quality of the life you lead.  But I was just too lazy.  It seemed like such an effort to get started on anything- it all looked so tiring and difficult.

The barriers facing vision impaired people are of course often far greater than just a natural predisposition towards perpetual laziness.  Many sports in their original forms aren’t necessary suitable for someone with low vision, and many sports centres or coaches who haven’t had much interaction with VI people in the past are often unsure of how best to adapt their activities to make them more accessible.  Thus, vision impaired people who are as of yet unfamiliar with the sporting world not only have to muster up the mental willpower and physical energy to try a new sport, but they need to take that extra time to ensure that their chosen sport is going to be accessible for them.

However, for any VI people out there who are as lazy as me and think that this gives them a great excuse to not exercise, I’m afraid that I’m going to disappoint you!  Improving access to sporting activities is a key part of the services that ELVis provides, and to this end we have already this year provided our service users with the opportunities to undertake a variety of sporting activities.  From park walks in Hackney to yoga and dance in Barking and Dagenham, and from bowls in Waltham Forest to a multi-sports day in Havering, where people took part in various activities from athletics to rock climbing.  Gentle exercise for those looking for a relaxing session as well as more physically challenging activities for those wanting to work up a sweat, we’ve had it all covered!

And there’s more still to come!  Over the course of the next year we will be working with our partners Metro Blind Sport (who, of course, are also pivotal in providing accessible sporting activities to vision impaired people across London) to provide a series of one-off ‘unusual’ sporting activities for vision impaired people.  These are going to be exciting opportunities for people to try things they might not have had the chance to do before, so watch this space for more information!

So, luckily, there are many opportunities out there for vision impaired people to get active and get fit, and if you would like any more information then please get in touch with us or the aforementioned Metro Blind Sport (

And me?  I can now say that I am a regular rock-climber.  It’s very good fun, and well-worth all the physical exertion!  If even a hopelessly lazy chocoholic like me can find a sport to enjoy, then there should be no stopping anyone else!

First blog entry from Bhavini Makwana ELVis’s Activities Coordinator

Hello and welcome to my first EVER Blog! Firstly, let me introduce myself, my name is Bhavini Makwana and I am the new Activities Coordinator and started mid April 2016. Prior to this I volunteered for RNIB as a Telephone Facilitator, the RP Fighting Blindness Charity as one of their Helpline Assistants and as an Eye Clinic Support Services Officers at one of Moorfields Satellite sites. I also founded and created SocialEyes – a social group for Vision Impaired people in Barking and Dagenham. So you can say I am very passionate about providing support, information and promoting services and opportunities to those affected with any form of sight loss. Encouraging those who need guiding into being independent and showing them different ways of how this can be achieved, for those who are ready. Having being diagnosed with /Retinitis Pigmentosa for the past 19 years, I can definitely relate to the issues, barriers and hurdles Blind and Partially Sighted people have to face. Raising awareness and promoting accessibility is very important to me.

I love to organise events, trips, activities and gatherings/parties and have lots of experience in this. So I guess you can say this is the perfect job for me and I definitely agree. Liaising closely with the 7 Boroughs of East London that ELVis look after, a challenge that I am overcoming is travelling independently on public transport. The thought of getting too close to the platform edge or getting on the wrong train or bus and arriving at an unfamiliar destination, would certainly worry and panic me. Inevitably, travelling is part of my daily routine and sometimes to more than a couple of destinations a day.  I am quite ecstatic to share that I am travelling and conquering one of my fears, I have come to learn that the train staff at Underground and Overground stations are fabulous in assisting Vision Impaired People.  For those who have never used the assistance before, let me describe what a typical journey would be like.

Arriving at my 1st station I will make my way to the sound of the bleeps of tapping Oyster Cards at the barriers. A member of staff will approach you or a kind passer-by by asking if you need any help. Informing them where I would like to travel to, they will plan the easiest route to your final destination. Calling up ahead to the station that you will be arriving to, they will let the staff know what train I am on, what time it left my current station, what time the train will arrive at station I am travelling to and what carriage I am in. Once I arrive, a member of staff will already be there waiting for me to either help me out the station or repeat the process if I need a connecting train. I have found this service really valuable and reassuring and has definitely made me more confident in travelling independently. Some of the staff I meet regularly have come to know me and are extremely helpful by walking me out the station and to the nearby bus stop that I need.

I have also come to discover the acts of kindness of random strangers from simply asking me “Do you need any help?” by helping me cross the road, finding me directions, and some even getting me into the train station and waiting with me until a member of staff is available.

Well I hope I have given an insight into how terrified I was about going out and about on public transport alone but now I am not only travelling in my area, but across East London and occasionally throughout the Capital. Why not give it go with a family member or friend until you can do it independently, it will certainly boost your confidence and help with not relying on others and waiting for them to take you out.

Well look out for my next blog where I will share what activities the groups have been on since I have been with ELVis, but in the meantime you can contact me if you would like to find out more about the Social Groups near you.


Thank You for reading!

Bhavini Makwana
Activities Co-Ordinator
East London Vision
Supporting people with sight loss

T: 020 3697 6464
M: 07976 448824
Charitable Incorporated Organisation number: 1154207

First blog by Karice, new addition to team ELVis

Learning, Guiding and Stephen King

“Barking & Dagenham, City and Hackney… D, E, F, G, H… H… Havering…”

This is me trying to memorise each of the boroughs that ELVis covers.  Mas said it’s easier to remember them alphabetically so that’s what I do – well, try to do.

There are a lot of things to remember: names, faces, places, travel routes… It’s all part of the process of being a new member of staff in a new organisation.

Being a Volunteer Co-ordinator isn’t new to me, I’ve been doing it for about 6 years now for a variety of charities.  Each charity is, of course very different, with different aims and objectives and approaches to volunteering programmes but essentially the role itself is the same: recruit, induct, train and line manage volunteers; ensure that they feel a part of the team and that they are just as committed to the cause and we are; support and motivate them and make try to make the volunteering experience as enjoyable and rewarding as possible for everyone involved.

It’s a great role, I get to meet a diverse range of people and learn about different situations and conditions.  My first month- and-a-bit at ELVis is no different.  Being vision impaired myself, I thought I had a good level of knowledge about what it is to live with limited sight.  Turns out, I don’t know as much as I thought I did! I’ve learned loads, including how to guide which, having never done it before I was absolutely awful at doing.  Here’s the thing though, everyone – including my long-suffering colleague who has borne the brunt of my tragic guiding skills – has been very patient and have all helped me to improve.

Even though I’ve had almost 6 weeks to settle in, I’ll be lying if I said I wasn’t still a little nervous.  Our work is important and, as someone who has some understanding of what it’s like to live with limited sight, I understand some of the challenges that can sometimes present themselves so feel a personal connection to the role.  That said, the support that I have received and the opportunities I have had to learn and develop have been invaluable.

Gaining some understanding of what

Of course, I am more than just a Volunteer Co-ordinator.  I have other interests, my biggest passion being writing short fiction – horror to be exact.  My plan is to follow in the footsteps of Stephen King and be the reason generations of people are scared to close their eyes at night!  I’m also in the process of rediscovering my love of the performing arts.  I have a love of all things creative so try to engage that side of myself wherever possible because I genuinely believe that engaging in creative activities has a positive impact on all aspects of our personal and professional lives.

So that’s me, the new Volunteer Co-ordinator who loves her job; has dodgy eyesight and a penchant for all things creative.  I’m looking forward to my journey with ELVis and, for those of you who may be interested in volunteering with us, don’t be put off by the Stephen King thing, I’m a sweetheart really!