Sharon Schaffer assesses the nuances of National Eye Health Week!

Here I sit behind at stall at Valentine’s Mansion during Age UK’s Older People’s Fair, as I sat last week behind a stall in King George’s Hospital, Ilford… and in Queens Hospital, Romford, pondering the nuances of National Eye Health Week.

The main message of National Eye Health Week is to get your eyes tested regularly so that any eye conditions can be detected as early as possible and that sight loss becomes as preventable as possible.

It strikes me as somewhat ironic that it is majorly the Sight Loss sector and Sensory Impairment Teams, (ie the charities and bodies that support people with vision impairment), that coordinate and undertake most of the awareness raising activities in this week.  Surely the onus should be on Public Health to promote this major prevention campaign?

Whilst I am delighted with the support Public Health reps involved in the Vision Strategy Groups in their borough have given to the local sight loss societies and Sensory Teams (that have organised a plethora of activities across the region – detailed by Chris in her blog a fortnight ago), I can’t help feeling that it should be them coming to us, instead of the other way round.

Is it more or less pertinent to receive information on eye health from someone who is blind…and is a person with a vision impairment better of worse equipped to offer advice on sight loss prevention?

A national public health campaign might go a long way to encourage people to visit their optician regularly (regular sight checks, and timely services to deal with the results, will save a lot of money in the long run)…. Indeed, the Barking & Dagenham Health and Adults Services Select Committee (HASSC), as part of its 2014/15 review into Local Eye Care Services, includes the following recommendation:

“The HASSC therefore recommends that the Health and Wellbeing Board oversees a local communication campaign undertaken by the Council’s Public Health Team emphasising the importance of having regular eye tests, whilst also delivering other important eye care messages.”

Not sure how this might work on a local level, with recently announced cuts to the Public Health budget, but such a campaign could highlight the link between smoking, obesity and sight loss, and reiterate the fact that a sight test can highlight other health conditions, such as diabetes and high blood pressure….

Maybe, armed with this knowledge, we might overcome our hesitation about visiting an optician…. I know many people (my husband for one!!) who put off their eye test because they don’t want to be pushed into paying for overly expensive glasses. The ‘shop front’ nature of the high street optician is, undoubtably, a barrier to regular testing for many of us….

A study carried out in Leeds, on behalf of RNIB (Shickle, D. et al, Address Inequalities in Eye Health with Subsidies, Public Health 129; 2015)
highlighted the strong relationship between optometrist practices and the sale of glasses and showed that the true cost of providing eye examinations is at least twice the amount paid by the Government via fees to optometrists. The sale of glasses, therefore, effectively subsidises sight tests by enabling optometrist practices to be profitable, which in turn, allows them to remain in business and carry on offering tests.

I must say, that in my experience of dealing with optometrists, through my work with the Vision Strategy Groups, they are clinicians before they are salespeople, and much more interested in eye health than designer frames.

The fact remains that currently over the course of National Eye Health Week it was mainly people involved in sight loss trumpeting the need for eye health, and at the same time blowing their own trumpet about the things they have put in place (peer support, activities, information) to support those that are living with sight loss.

Hope to see you on the trail….



ELVis confirm Ryan Jones is to run in the 2016 Virgin London Marathon

“If you want to live a happy life, tie it to a goal, not to people or things.” Albert Einstein.

I’ve always believed in dreaming big and pursuing goals, regardless of how lavish or difficult they may be! Whether it was daring to believe that I would be able to play Cricket for my country or to work for a prodigious charity such as Thomas Pocklington Trust. I have always dared to dream big and fingers crossed will continue to do so! My father always says to me: “You just don’t know how to give up!” witnessing the work we’re carrying out during this National Eye Health Week, I truly feel blessed to be working in the collaboration team, this has evidently allowed me to work for and alongside some inspirational people, not to mention having the opportunity of working for ELVis, who under 2 years have achieved so much.

Talking of dreams and achievements, I’m so pleased to report that earlier this year ELVis successfully secured a place for the 2016 Virgin London Marathon! I’m all for promoting and supporting the Marathon as an event, but that’s as far as my loyalty goes, running is out of the question, I do wish I could run one but perhaps in another life! Although I am over the moon that we have chosen Ryan Jones as the candidate who will be running for us in the 2016 Marathon. 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 Metro blind cricket team. He is an avid runner and can often be seen pounding the streets of Bermondsey.

image1 Ryan Jones

In his first Marathon Ryan achieved the immaculate time of 4 hours 28 minutes. However, the high-achieving Jones would like to smash the 4 hour barrier for East London Vision. Ryan is a hard working athlete and will receive support from ELVis and Physique Trans4mers with his training.

Naturally we are delighted to welcome Ryan aboard and there will be further tweets, posts and blogs as he takes on this tremendous challenge. Your support will be much appreciated and Ryan will have a donation page up soon, so watch this space!

Your support is always very much appreciated, if you would like to donate to ELVis, please click on the following link and remember every penny raised goes towards improving the quality of life for Vision impaired People:

For further developments, why not follow us over at twitter

You can also follow Ryan’s progress over at his personal twitter account:

For further information on what Physique Trans4mers do, why not visit:

I hope you continue to read, share and enjoy our entries, until next time, warmest regards, Hassan

National Eye Health Week Events by Chris Edmead

Hi all and I hope I find everyone well.

Let me begin by sharing some sad news with you, as Richard mentioned in his entry last week, Laura Ross who is the Service, Development and Delivery Officer is leaving us this week.:( I’d like to take the opportunity to wish her well in her move to Manchester and her new role. It has been a great pleasure in knowing and working with Laura.  I know the local societies who Laura has been working with will miss her, I know they would like to send her their good wishes for the future.

On a happier note, National Eye Health Week is beginning next Monday. Please put the following dates in your diaries, so you don’t miss the upcoming events which raise awareness of such an important week. Here is a list of events:

From the 21st September, each day next week there will be a stall at  Queens Hospital from 10am – 3 pn.

Following establishments will be holding stalls during this very special week:

On the 21st September  a Stall at King George Hospital 10 am – 3 pn

21st September Forest Gate Library 10.30 am – 12.30 pm

21st September Green Street Library 2 pm – 4 pm

22nd September Manor Park Library 10.30 am – 12.30 pm

22nd September Stamford Hill Health Hub 2 pm – 5 pm

23rd September Homerton Hospital 11.30 am – 1.30 pm

23rd September Yew Tree Resource Centre All Day

23rd September East Ham Library 11 am – 4 pm

23rd September ActivEyes Redbridge, Redbridge Sports and Leisure Centre 11 am – 1 pm

24th September Hackney Service Centre 10.30 am – 12.30 pm

25th September  Sight and Information Day 10 am – 4 pm (Tower Hamlets)

It would be great to see as many of you at the above events, why not bring your friends and family along with you and support this prodigious week. It is so important for all of us to look after our eyes and to get regular check ups.

For further information about the events please visit our website and view our Events and Activities Calendar.




Have a wonderful week.


National Eye Health Week

A personal story of how Richard Hart our intern lost his sight

Hi it’s Richard again; I hope everyone is doing well!

I’m humbled that my entry is to be the first one on this new platform. Accessibility is crucial to Vision Impaired People and we moved from Blogger for that reason alone.

I’d like to provide you with an update of my time with the ever so delightful ELVis team. In addition, with the national eye health week fast approaching, I thought it appropriate to also tell you a little about my own story about how I lost my eye sight.

For most of my life I was actually fully sighted, I had the pleasure of taking on all kind of jobs. From deep sea fishing, hotel work, security to working for London underground as a guard and train driver. I did this for 26years of my life. I covered the prodigious central line, which obviously covers ELVis region, the Piccadilly line and the jubilee line. I was a busy man indeed, my work also stretched across the waterloo station and Canary Wharf and this is where I was retired on 14th February 2013.

My life was certainly different and I enjoyed the hardship of my work with the underground, I faced many challenges which I’m sure the underground staff deal with still on a daily basis.

In 2007 my sight started to deteriorate, I was sent to Newham Hospital and after some time I was told that my sight was likely to get worse, but that for the time being it would be stable. 3 years later, I was put on the register as severely impaired. Although on hearing this I was even more determined to fight and to understand my condition better. I have managed to live my life so far to the fullest and even along the way collected some amazing Vision Impaired  friendly Equipment.

On the 2nd of June 2015 I started work for East London Vision as an Intern for six months. It certainly has been an interesting time so far. I’ve had the pleasure of aiding my manager Laura Ross in attending local societies meetings to helping out with various events. Prior to the events I ring round ensuring the members are still available to attend events and meetings. It is sad to hear that Laura is moving on, but I’d like to wish her the best of luck with her new job.

With National Eye Health Week approaching, regardless of who you are I’d urge you to get an eye check. I believe Charities like ELVis are valuable to Vision impaired people living in East London. As with all charities, despite applying for a range of grants, commercial sponsorship and generating income through commissioned services, ELVis relies heavily on the generosity of individuals to enable us to deliver the wide range of services to improve the quality of life for blind and partially sighted people. Every penny raised goes directly towards improving the quality of lives of Vision Impaired people, so please donate today! So that we can continue to provide a high standard of service to blind and partially sighted people.

Have a wonderful week.

Richard Hart:)

In her last blog entry for ELVis, Laura Ross discusses the benefits of having local societies

Hi All, so this will be the last blog I write for ELVis as I will be leaving the organisation on September 18th to start a new job in Manchester. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the ELVis team, all the local societies, members and partner organisations for making my time at ELVis a great one. I have enjoyed getting to know everyone and all the great events we have put on over the last year. That being said, I would also like to make a mention to each of the 7 local societies within the ELVis patch for anyone who is not aware of these incredible groups:


Sight Action (Havering)  operate a free ‘Telephone Befriending Service’ providing regular contact to those vision impaired people who are isolated or housebound because of their sensory disability.

We work closely with other groups and agencies within Havering and beyond, to ensure that the needs of people with sight loss are not overlooked. We also run the ‘Sight Support Service’ in the Eye Clinic at the Queens Hospital in Romford, providing advice, information and support to patients, their family and carers, on issues relating to sight loss.

Tel: 01708 434392




Hackney VI Group are putting on a series of events and activities with refreshments for blind and partially sighted people living in Hackney. Each meeting will take place on the second Tuesday of each month at Navarino Mansions, Dalston Lane, E8 1LB from 13.30 – 15.30. Sometimes the time and venue may change so please ensure to get in contact with the details below.

Tel: 020 3697 6464


Barking and Dagenham

Meet everything 3rd Monday of each month from 18.00 – 20.00 at Crowlands Heath Golf Club, RM8 1JX. The group provides peer support, information and multiple social events. Previously we have had technology speakers, a pub quiz and a summer BBQ.

Tel: 020 3697 6464


ActivEyes are a user led organisation for blind and partially sighted people living in the London Borough of Redbridge and the surrounding area. We run a range of social and physical activities such as a monthly Breakfast Club on the first Friday of each month, quarterly members meetings, meals out, tennis sessions, and cinema visits.

Tel: 0203 697 6464


Tower Hamlets

If you are visually impaired and living in Tower Hamlets why not come and join Beyond Barriers social and activity Group. We meet regularly twice a month, as well as having additional courses such as Money Matters run by Toynbee Hall and will also be running the course in Bengali.   Some of the activities that we have had in the past include: Trip to the seaside, dinner and dancing, sailing experience, shopping and much more.

Tel:  07956 510 008,



VIPON is a new social and peer support group for blind and partially sighted people in Newham. Meetings are held on the third Wednesday of each month at the Star Lane Hub, from 14.00-16.00. Previous meetings have included: Drama activities, speakers on the Care Act and mystery shopping.

Tel: 0203 697 6464


Waltham Forest

Waltham Forest Vision is a user led peer support group for Visually Impaired people living and working in Waltham Forest. We have a range of different social activities such bi monthly meetings, monthly culture club, organised walks, dinner out and much more. A Newsletter in alternative formats is also available.


Tel: 07940 747 133

Thank you for reading my entries, sadly it is goodbye from me, I wish everyone the best of luck.

ELVis’s Operations Manager Masuma Ali discusses the importance of corporate partnerships

Hello you lovely people, it is time to check in with you again with my third blog entry. Six weeks still go by far too fast, I thought I’d have got used to it by now. Some will tell me it is called getting old, but I say time flies when you are having fun!! Sounds a whole lot better wouldn’t you say?

This week I want to tell you about the importance of corporate partnerships, and our recent work with Lloyds Banking Group (LBG).

The time finally arrived, and the much anticipated Sight Information Day took place on Thursday 23 July at the Epicentre in Leytonstone. The day was a huge success and attended by over 50 members of the public, 10 exhibitors, Thomas Pocklington Trust staff and staff from Lloyds Banking Group (LBG) who volunteered for us on the day.

Through the auction, selling of refreshments and exhibitor fees we raised £786.76, which will be match funded by Lloyds Banking Group up to £500 giving us a grand total of £1286.86. This will allow us to continue to support blind and partially sighted people across East London. Thank you to LBG for the opportunity of match funding us!

I feel the day was a great success and judging by the feedback everyone who attended thought so too, with one member of the public saying: “I live in East London, but didn’t know about ELVis and the services it offers until today, so I’m glad I came along”. Hearing statements such as this is extremely frustrating, yet great all at the same time, because it clearly highlights the importance of events of this nature. There are 9,015 registered blind and partially sighted people in east London and reaching them is a challenge, but one I hope we can try and overcome by holding, or attending events to promote the work of ELVis.

As part of the Sight Information Day we were fortunate to have the opportunity to partner up with LBG for their “Make a Difference” day. This proved to be an extremely beneficial partnership not only for ELVis, but I believe, equally a worthwhile and rewarding day for the Supplier Management team at LBG who gave up their time to volunteer for us.

In advance of LBG volunteering for us, Hassan Khan and I spent some time with them in the afternoon on Wednesday 22 July to provide some vision impairment awareness covering terminology, sighted guiding and common eye conditions with the use of simulation spectacles. Tracey Walsh from LBG said: “The simulation with the glasses on Wednesday gave a sense of what real life is possibly like with this type of disability. My respect for active vision impaired individuals in the community went up considerably & this experience made me think about how lucky we are & what we take for granted”.

I found it highly valuable meeting the LBG team in advance, as it strengthened and built on the rapport already created with Kelly Moizer-Peace via email, making for an effective working partnership on the day. As well as allowing Hassan and I to meet the rest of the team, it provided an opportunity for the LBG staff to feel comfortable, prepare for the volunteering day and ask any questions. It was fantastic to see their willingness to learn, their eagerness to take on a new challenge and throw themselves in.

I believe that the corporate affiliation with LBG made for an excellent opportunity for us, as ELVis to demonstrate the abilities of blind and partially sighted people in an actual professional working environment. I believe partnerships such as these are important and invaluable as they help in breaking down barriers and allow vision impaired people to be seen in a positive light as independent individuals who can, and do wish to contribute to society.

Kelly Moizer-Peace from LBG said: “My team were absolutely buzzing when we left on Thursday, the nerves we had on Wednesday are long gone. Thanks for being so warm and welcoming to us; it was our Day to Make a Difference but I believe its you that has made a difference to us.” A huge thank you to the team at LBG for their time, enthusiasm and willingness to assist from me and Team ELVis!! We look forward to working with you again in the future.

If you, or your organisation would like to know more about partnership working with us, or learn more about the work of ELVis, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us on 020 3697 6464, or via email at

Have an excellent few weeks, until next time!


Roger Clifton The ELVis CEO discusses the importance of the upcoming National Eye Health Week in September

Hello to everyone reading this week’s entry

As well as providing support to people who are experiencing some form of vision impairment, East London vision is also keen to promote good eye health, or at least to reduce the effect of sight loss. In 5 weeks’ time, we will be at the beginning of National Eye Health Week, 21-27 September. I therefore thought it timely to provide some information about eye health. So, here are 10 did you know that questions:

1. It is estimated that over 50% of sight loss in the UK can be prevented or treated.

2. An eye health check can detect conditions such as Diabetes and Glaucoma, which may not be immediately obvious to you.

3. Fresh fruit, vegetables and oily fish protect against eye diseases such as Age Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) and Cataracts.

4. Smoking doubles your chances of sight loss. If you stop smoking, the risk decreases over time. So, the message is simple – do not take up smoking and, if you do smoke, stop, it’s never too late!

5. Many eye conditions run in families, including conditions such as Glaucoma and Cataracts. So knowledge of family history can help indicate the likelihood of a condition before it becomes serious.

6. Ethnicity affects the chance of developing a visual impairment. Glaucoma is more common in   people of African, African-Caribbean, South-East Asian, or Chinese origins. Cataracts are more common in people of Asian origin. Diabetic Retinopathy is more common in people of African, African-Caribbean, or Asian origins.

7. Exposure to ultra violet light when young can do significant harm – so make sure children wear sunglasses.

8. You should wear protective goggles for all manual work and also when carrying out DIY at home. If you use a computer screen, take regular breaks, about once an hour, to safeguard against eye strain, tiredness and headaches.

9. Eye checks are free if you are: under 16, under 19 and in full time education, over 60, Diabetic, living with (or have a family history of) Glaucoma, registered blind or partially sighted, in receipt of certain state benefits or part of a work scheme that provides free tests.

10. It’s important that you, and your children, have a sight test at least every two years. The earlier a potential problem is picked up, the better, so don’t delay and have a check as soon as possible.

Your sight is precious

Book your eye test today!

This is what the rest of my team have been up to in the last week:

• Held an Online Today technology session in conjunction with RNIB

• In conjunction with The Challenge held the team challenge drama skills visit in Newham with Vision Impaired People of Newham

• Held a meeting with Motivate East

• Attended the Hackney members meeting for a lovely afternoon tea

• Attended a fantastic drama session in with VIPON and the NCS Challenge

• Attended an interesting Beyond Barriers meeting • Attended Barking & Dagenham Vision Strategy Group

• Met with Metro Blind Sport to plan future areas of partnership work

• Attended the Pocklington Vision Strategy implementation Managers meeting.

Until next time, regards

Roger Clifton (CEO)