End of year Team Blog Part Three

Third instalment of end of year Team Blog

Well 2018 is nearly coming to an end and what a year it has been. Personally, I have won several awards to highlight the work I do to raise awareness, campaign, advocate and create engagement opportunities relating to sight loss and try my best to empower those less confident outside work on a voluntary basis.

As an Ambassador for Retina Uk, I was invited to Westminister Palace for a special celebration event. Introducing the Celebrating Diversity and Disability Category to a typical Beauty Pageant Talent show which vision impaired people had the opportunity to showcase their wonderful wisdom, tantalising talents and beautiful personality. If you would like to find out more about the next event, then please email bhavini@visualeyeswithbhavini.com I also became a Lady of the organisation Ladies of All Nations International where I am a representative for anyone wishing to find our more around vision impairment, raise awareness with living, dealing, coping and managing sight loss and still aim to achieve ambitions, aspirations and more.

This year has gone far too quickly and perhaps I feel this way as most of my weekends were taken up training for the Peak 50 Bronze Challenge which we, The Look Who’s Walking Team undertook in September 2018. Definitely the biggest and hardest challenge I have taken part in.

However my biggest life changing moment was being matched to my Guide Dog. he has certainly made a positive impact to my life and made me feel a great sense of confidence tackling routes and travelling in the dark. Of course I still feel that we need to still work on a few things but overall he has bought so much joy to my life already.

I am planning to take it easy in 2019 but honestly who am I kidding, I have so many ideas, hopes, bucket lists both in and out of work that I would like to work towards.

Hope you had a good Christmas and wishing you a very Happy New Year.

Written by
Bhavini Makwana

End of year Team Blog Part Two

Second instalment of End of Year Team Blog

We are coming to the end of 2018 just wanted to say we have had so many great outing and get togethers’ with members this year like going to various seaside places, museums, meals, quiz’s and many more. It’s been a pleasure to meet up with everyone seeing everyone making friends and building up their confidences in going out and socialising and building new skills.

It is been my pleasure and privilege to be part of these gathering and meeting so many great people. Looking forward to 2019.

Written by
Chris Edmead

I have really enjoyed working with the Elvis team over the last few months especially supporting and getting to know groups such as Beyond Sight Loss, SocialEyes and Vipon. I have been lucky enough to accompany the groups to lots of different places including Kensington Palace, Natural History Museum and the Olympic Park. As a West Ham United fan, it was really good to liaise with the club re accessibility in advance of the VIPON group trip to the London Stadium in November and I have to say the staff were extremely helpful and cooperative We all had a very enjoyable day as West Ham won the game against Burnley and it was so rewarding for me that all the group enjoyed the day especially those who had never been to a football match before.

Written by
Paul Vassilliou

The 3 years I’ve spent with Elvis have seen considerable changes in technology. One of the biggest changes to mainstream technology has been the introduction of voice controlled technology such as smart speakers as well as the evolution of voice assistants on both Apple and Android mobile phone platforms. This has been possible due to improvements in voice recognition technology and artificial intelligence, but the technology is still really in its infancy.

The Android platform has become more accessible, allowing people to have more of a choice than they have ever had when it comes to accessible mobile phones.

Electronic books have become more accessible. In particular, Kindle books are now accessible across a range of devices including mobile phones, computers, tablets and smart speakers.

One area where we are still somewhat lacking in accessibility is DAB radio and television. There are still no truly accessible DAB radios that I am aware of, and accessibility of television is more ;promising but information on the subject is scattered across a range of sources and generally quite hard to research.

Numbers of people requiring home visits or help by phone or email to help resolve accessibility issues have continued to increase. Rehab officers and other charities have made use of the service I have been able to offer and other services such as the Macular society and other parts of what will be London Vision have introduced similar services.

Written by
Graham Page

Wishing you all a Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year



End of year Team Blog Parts One, Two and Three

1st instalment of End of year Team Blog

It’s that time of the year where most of us reflect on the goings-on of the past 12 months, as well as the desires and wishes for the forthcoming year. We at ELVis will not be straying from the notion, thus over the coming week blogs from the team will be sharing some of their personal/professional memorable moments, in addition to aspirations for 2019.

Over the past 12 months I have been fortunate to have had various holidays, attended theatre shows, was the B1 runner up for the Tennis Nationals, as well as numerous things in between. Yet for 2018, there is no doubt that for me my greatest attainment for the year is being the first blind person to have completed the Peak District 50K challenge. It has granted me the opportunity to have built new connections, taken me out of my comfort zone in more ways than I had anticipated, and certainly taught me a thing or two about endurance training and stamina. One of the areas at work this year that has stood out to me would be the creation of our vision impairment awareness training videos on sighted guiding and the simulation of the most common eye conditions. These have proven to be an excellent tool for awareness raising despite my preference to not be featured in the videos!

Call me a cynic, but the realist in me never sets New Year’s resolutions because I don’t believe in setting myself up for failure. It doesn’t feel like a fresh start to the new year if you are doubting yourself by the end of January.

As many of you are aware we are currently in the process of merging with London Vision and therefore we’ll no longer be continuing with the ELVis blog. I know I know it is super sad, but you can put the tissues away because you can still hear what the team will be up to on the London Vision website. We’ll not be returning in 2019 as ELVis, but as LoVE (London Vision East) instead!! The first LoVE newsletter will be coming your way in January.

Wishing everyone a festive holiday and happy New Year.

Written by Masuma Ali


Last week marked International Volunteers Day which made me reflect upon my own volunteering I do and also how important and valued our volunteers are to us.

I started volunteering for RP Fighting Blindness back in 2014 on their helpline, and then for the RNIB as a Telephone facilitator. This was a group of around 6 Ladies who got together over the phone from across the UK and Ireland and it allowed them to share their views on sight loss related topics but also just things about general life, share tips on anything and discuss Ladies issues in a non-intrusive space

I also volunteered for RP Fighting Blindness by raising awareness by hosting charity fundraising events to support those affected with RP, their family and friends and bring information and other support services available to them. I later volunteered for the Pocklington Trust as an Eye Clinic Support Services Officer at an East London satellite site for Moorfields.

All my volunteering experiences allowed me to offer advice, information and guide them in the right direction to help them cope and deal with their sight loss and manage their day to day life, no matter what their age, how far along their sight loss journey they were on, what other family support they had but the fact that I was able to make a difference in a positive way made me feel greatly satisfied.

The reason I started volunteering was to give back to others that I had received from other volunteers in fact. RP Fighting Blindness was a life changing charity who supported me to get back on my feet and I wanted to show my appreciation and soon started volunteering for them. The rest just came up as opportunities and I just simply loved impacting and helping others whilst they adjusted and accept life as a vision impaired person. It’s a worthwhile and humbling feeling, knowing that someone has benefitted from what you shared with them, the time you gave them or just listened when they needed to talk.

Whilst working as an Activities Coordinator, I heavily liaised with the volunteering department to request volunteers to support our members to enable them to attend meetings, activities, or events which are organised, Our volunteers support by guiding, describing, listening and much more. Without our volunteers, some of our members would not be able to attend, which would only lead to increase isolation.
I recently took a group out to Madam Tussaud’s s part of a Focus Group, to test out their accessibility, I was delighted to have some corporate volunteers from the Standard Chartered Bank, who supported our members, which enabled them to attend and thus provide feedback.

Volunteering is so rewarding and empowering and it is wonderful to see more and more corporate organisations getting involved. If you would like to find out more about volunteering for either TPT or London Vision then please do get in touch with volunteering@picklington-trust.org.uk

For me volunteering enabled me to enhance my skills, give me the confidence to believe in myself and helped me start socialising, therefore improving my mobility skills. Volunteering can bring about so many opportunities both for Disabled and Abled individuals. If you do not know where to start, then, find your passion and research organisations from various sectors and approach them, what have you got to lose? If the organisation you approach has never had a vision impaired volunteer or employee, then please do get in touch and we can certainly point you and them in the right direction.

Written by Bhavini Makwana, Activities Co-ordinator, ELVis

A Focus on Healthwatch

For this week’s blog, I thought I would focus on the services provided by Healthwatch.
Firstly, what is Healthwatch? Healthwatch acts as an independent champion for local people with regards the health and social care services provided in their area. There is a local Healthwatch in every area in England and therefore there is one in each of the boroughs within East London Vision’s reach.

What does Healthwatch do? Each local team hosts local meetings and events to discuss services such as those provided by local hospitals, GP services, care and nursing homes and capture opinions, experiences (positive or negative), concerns, suggestions and feed this back in the form of reports that will be shared with the service providers, members of the public and the local Health and Wellbeing Board.

Each local authority has a Health and Wellbeing Board which meets routinely to discuss the service delivery and effectiveness of local health and social services taking in to account the needs of the local population. Members of the Health and Wellbeing Board include representatives from the NHS, adult social care and children’s services and elected representatives. Healthwatch representatives sit on this board in order to inform the views and opinions of local people and hold services to account where delivery is failing.

It is this process of feedback and accountability that makes Healthwatch a powerful resource for local people in getting their voices heard and I would encourage residents to become familiar with their Healthwatch to find out what is going on in their area. The local websites also promote local events for charities and organisations from the voluntary sector and provide a good resource for residents and services alike.
For example, residents of Redbridge may be interested to know that Healthwatch Redbridge’s next Annual General Meeting will take place on Thursday 13th December at 12.30pm at the Salvation Army Hall, 15 Clements Road, Ilford, IG1 1BH to review the work of this year and plans for the coming year – further details can be found on the website provided below.

Should you wish to find out more about your local Healthwatch, please find below the contact details of those situated within East London Vision’s area –

Healthwatch Barking and Dagenham, Lifeline House, 25 Neville Road, Dagenham, Essex RM8 3QS  Tel: 0800 298 5331 – web https://www.healthwatchbarkinganddagenham.co.uk

Healthwatch Hackney, The Adiaha Antigha Centre, 24-30 Dalston Lane, London E8 3AZ
Tel: 020 7923 8358 – web – http://www.healthwatchhackney.co.uk/

Healthwatch Havering, Queen’s Court, 9-17 Eastern Road, Romford RM1 3NH
Tel: 01708 303300 – web – https://www.healthwatchhavering.co.uk/

Healthwatch Newham, The Resource Centre, 200 Chargeable Lane, London E13 8DW
Tel: 0203 866 2969 – web – http://www.healthwatchnewham.co.uk/

Healthwatch Redbridge, 103 Cranbrook Road, Ilford, Essex, IG1 4PU
Tel: 0208 553 1236 – web – http://healthwatchredbridge.co.uk/

Healthwatch Tower Hamlets, Room 23, Block 1 (Trust Offices), Mile End Hospital, Bancroft Road, London E1 4DGTel: 0800 145 5343  web – https://www.healthwatchtowerhamlets.co.uk/

Healthwatch Waltham Forest, Waltham Forest Resource Hub (Central), 1 Russell Road,
London E10 7ES  Tel: 0203 078 9990 – web https://www.healthwatchwalthamforest.co.uk

Written by Paul Vassilliou, Development Manager, Central West London & North London Vision