Read Masuma Ali’s latest blog all about our partnership with the NCS The Challenge

Hello, it is time for me to check in with you all again! I’d like to tell you about our work with NCS The Challenge over the past few months.

Another year, another summer and another extremely beneficial partnership with NCS The Challenge. This is our third year working with The Challenge across the East London Boroughs, as either part of the Team Challenge, the Social Action Challenge, or both in some boroughs.

NCS is a government-funded initiative that supports community engagement, social action and social mixing among young people. We have worked with over 65 young people and staff, and in total have taken part in 18 different sessions in Barking and Dagenham, Hackney, Newham, Redbridge and Waltham Forest. We provided the young people with basic vision impairment awareness training in order for them to feel comfortable and confident in assisting vision impaired people.040IMG_0032The young people volunteered with us in September where they gave up their Saturday or Sunday to assist with events, which ranged from a multi sports day, to tandem cycling, to preparing lunch and entertainment.

At the end of their volunteering day, one Young person said: “I’ve really enjoyed today and would feel confident in helping a vision impaired person in the future.”

Also as part of The Social Action Challenge, the young people fund-raised for the local voluntary organisation for vision impaired people in each borough that they had worked with. The funds raised will help each organisation to continue providing a wide range of activities for blind and partially sighted people.

As part of the young people’s skills visit in Newham, drama went down a treat with all involved, allowing an excellent opportunity for everyone to work together on a drama piece.

IMG_0087

One Participant who attended the Redbridge event said: “What an extremely lovely bunch of young people, so polite, helpful and full of energy.”

Some of the young people’s campaign days fell during National Eye Health Week (21-27 September). They were keen to ensure their campaign took this in to account and promoted the benefits of keeping your eyes healthy and having regular eye tests. They also used various resources that we provided, to show the general public the 6 most common eye conditions using simulation spectacles.

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed working with all the staff and young people from The Challenge over the summer, each year is completely different, but equally exciting. It is a great partnership, which is not only beneficial to us as an organisation, but allows young people to engage with their local community and gain new skills such as vision impairment awareness.

We look forward to working with the NCS programme again in 2016!!

Have a good few weeks until next time!:)

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CEO of ELVis discusses the topic of employment for Vision Impaired People

Hello to all our wonderful readers

First of all, a warm welcome to our new platform.

2 recent events have made me think that employment for blind and partially sighted people should be the topic of the Blog this week.

The first of these was that I have just been involved in the recruitment of a new member of staff for ELVis. We received 52 applications, and although about 40 of them were discarded immediately because the applicant hadn’t submitted the required information, or clearly hadn’t properly read the job description, it does show that, whatever the Government statistics, there are still plenty of people out there looking for a job. Or, does it indicate, with my more cynical hat on, that job hunters have to prove that they have applied for a certain number of jobs to maintain support or benefits and, with the ease of applying online these days, this is relatively simple to do, even if the applications aren’t appropriate.

Of more relevance though was the second event, which was the output from an employment session run by a colleague of mine at a recent RP (Retinitis Pigmentosa) fighting blindness weekend. Just a few or the work related problems raised were:

  • Where do I get information about training and re-skilling?
  • Feeling hopeless during interviews when trying to convince employers that you are just as capable as the next person.
  • Government schemes to get people into work are often not accessible to people with a disability.
  • I don’t know how my employer will react when I tell them about my deteriorating sight.
  • There is little information to support employers
  • One bad experience can put off employers from then taking on another person with a disability.
  • Access to work support is getting more and more difficult to obtain and the support is often of poor quality.

This is only a flavour of the discussion, which also included looking at solutions. But it does show that with 70% of Vision Impaired people of working age not in employment (and that’s the best estimate), that there is an undoubted need for the sight loss sector to provide collaborative advice and support. I am absolutely not promoting positive discrimination, but assistance with obtaining and maintaining a job will clearly help reduce the startling statistic of blind and partially sighted people who are currently unemployed.

I am sure we will return to this topic in a future Blog!

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….

Sharon:)

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:

https://mydonate.bt.com/charities/eastlondonvision

For further developments, why not follow us over at twitter

www.twitter.com/ELVis_Vision

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

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.

Website: http://www.eastlondonvision.org.uk

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/EastLondonVision

Twitter: www.twitter.com/ELVis_Vision

Have a wonderful week.

Chris.

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:)

https://mydonate.bt.com/charities/eastlondonvision

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:

Havering

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

Email: enquries@sightactionhavering.org.uk

Web: http://www.sightactionhavering.org.uk

Hackney:

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

Email: enquiries@eastlondonvision.org.uk

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.
Email: bhavinimakwana660@hotmail.com

Tel: 020 3697 6464

Redbridge

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

Email: enquiries@eastlondonvision.org.uk

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,

Email: ashrafia1@btinternet.com

Newham

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

Email: enquiries@eastlondonvision.org.uk

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.

Email: neil@walthamforestvision.org.uk

Tel: 07940 747 133

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