Nicola talks about the wide variety of ELVis services she has been involved with

From swimming to chess to visiting Hindu temples, when I first got this job I didn’t realise just how varied it was going to be. Since I started in this post two and a half months ago, I’ve been able to help facilitate meals out, Christmas parties, several trips including visits the Greenwich Royal Observatory, the Houses of Parliament and the aforementioned Swaminarayan temple, members’ meetings with visits from Living Paintings and from a troop of firefighters, and I’ve been to many other meetings in preparation for planned events such as the swimming and chess sessions mentioned above.  It certainly keeps things interesting!  And of course, one of the best perks of the job is the fact that I get to attend most of these events myself!

The fact that we have been able to support such a variety of activities and events is great for our service users, as it means that we can help to improve the social opportunities for people with a wide range of different interests.  From people who want to get fit to people who are looking for more of a mental workout; from people who want to get creative to people who just want to have a good time.  We have held activities that have appealed to people with interests in anything from history to culture to design to food (and let’s face it, who doesn’t have an interest in food?).  There have been people who are just starting new hobbies to those who are picking up an old skill.  And these hobbies don’t necessarily have to be confined to the hour or two a week our users spend with us.

Take, for example, the chess classes that are going to be starting this Friday (more information on the News section of our website). Once our new users have learnt the basics of the game and practised with the other members of the group, they’ll be able to build up confidence in their own abilities and find that their newfound hobby has turned into a skill that they’ll have for life.  They’ll be able to play against VIPs and sighted people, take part in online games, complete chess puzzles, or even try out a tournament if they’re feeling brave!

We very much hope that the services we provide do help to improve the overall wellbeing for our service users, and a big part of that is offering a variety of different opportunities to them. And of course, we’re always open to suggestions.  So if there’s something we’re not currently offering that you would like to see happening, be sure to let us know and we will see what we can do for you!


Celebrating local societies – Chris

Normally January can be boring and seem like a very long month, depending on what type of Christmas and New Year you have had.

All I can say is this January went off with a bang. East London Vision hosted a Local Society Celebration Event,  where ELVis attended. I grant you not the real one that would be something, but the one and only Chinese ELVis.

There was an Awards Ceremony, speeches and cutting of a huge cake. Socialising and finger buffet followed by dancing with ELVis.  Everyone who attended enjoyed themselves it was a great way to start the New Year.

Peer Support Groups play such an important role they help people from feeling isolated, allows people to meet up and have a chat, make friends, build up peoples confidences in all sorts of ways. Help to make vision impaired people be and become more independent.




Masuma talk’s about the successful Local Society Celebration event

Hello to our lovely readers. Belated happy new year. This week I’m going to tell you all about our local society celebration event.

And so, after months of planning, the East London Vision Local Societies Celebration Event finally arrived at the splendid venue of The Museum of Childhood in Bethnal Green. And with over 60 guests, a performance from Chinese Elvis and an awards ceremony to rival the Oscars, how could it have been anything other than a great success?

Gallagher and ELVis team before event started.jpg

With the support of East London Business Alliance (ELBA) we were fortunate to have an excellent team of corporate volunteers from Arthur J. Gallagher to assist us on the day. Having provided the Gallagher team with a crash course in sighted guiding it was time to throw them in to the deep end to put it in to practice before they had an opportunity to change their mind!

Gallagher volunteer trying sim specs

Emily Franklin, Project Manager from ELBA said: “It was fantastic to work with ELVis for their event! It’s a pleasure to work with a community partner who are so warm and welcoming. The training was brilliant and very insightful while still being fun, I’d recommend it to anyone.”

Masuma Ali, ELVis’s Operations Manager added: “it is always a pleasure to be able to work with corporate organisations for events that we hold, as not only does it provide us with hands on practical support for the day, but it allows us to ensure that there are enough volunteers to be able to assist vision impaired people attending, as well as break down barriers and myths around vision impairment to people in a positive way. Huge thanks to ELBA and Gallagher for their support!”

With the introduction speeches out of the way, we got straight down to the important business of food and cake. A sumptuous buffet was provided with sandwiches, spring rolls and samosas, our guests were also treated to a slice of our massive cake, which was decorated with a map of East London and was labelled with the names of each of our local societies.  Steve Garbutt, our trustee had the honour and challenging task of cutting the cake.

Steve Garbutt Cutting ELVis cake.jpg

Gallagher interacting with a member

It was wonderful to have representatives from all seven of our boroughs at the event, and following the food we were able to applaud each of the societies in turn, highlighting their past achievements and sharing their hopes for the future. Each society was also given a very snazzy award as a tangible reminder of our appreciation.

Sharon giving award to Neil

With the awards ceremony completed, it was time to put on our blue suede shoes and get all shook up as we had our own very special performance from Chinese Elvis! By the end of the hour we were all up and dancing, singing along to ‘Viva Las Vegas’ and having a whale of a time!

Elvis Singing.jpg

Nicola Stokes, ELVis’s Service Development and Delivery Officer said: “It was fantastic to see people from all over East London getting together and sharing in each other’s successes, and the event itself went brilliantly, with the whole ELVis team and everybody else who was involved working together to pull off a fun and memorable evening.”

The event was also a great opportunity to remind people to support our 2016 London Marathon runner by texting EAST10 and the amount you wish to donate in pounds to 70070.


Wrap up and stay warm. Catch you all in a few weeks 🙂




A Special New Year’s Message From Our CEO Roger Clifton

The advantage of writing the first Blog of the year is that I can still wish all readers a very happy, healthy and successful 2016 before it becomes fashionably too late to do so.


I was amazed over the festive period how anyone who’s anyone, and a good number of people who aren’t, published Christmas or new year messages, and indeed some of them even did both! So I thought I’d get in on the act and give you my simple new year’s message which is “let’s get on with it”.


I know that’s a sentiment that few would disagree with, so I got to thinking, what’s the reason we don’t do it as often as we should. And my totally unscientific conclusion is that we all hide behind the “I haven’t had time” excuse. But when you think about it, that’s not true. All of us, no matter who we are and what position we hold, have exactly the same amount of time available to us: 7 days a week, 24 hours a day, etc. Of course we all have different commitments, but often when we say “I haven’t had time”, we actually mean that we have had time, but have prioritised other things above it.


So, from a work perspective, what can we do about this and how can we create more time? Here are just 2 personal thoughts about changes to our working practices to show how this can be done. I’d like to give you more, but our Blog master, he who must be obeyed, has set a 450 word limit on our submissions!!


  1. Meetings. It amazes me that, with the variety of modern technology available, we still hold far too many face-to-face meetings and that these are often too long and not overly effective. I once worked with someone, admittedly he was in a senior position, who would leave a meeting if it hadn’t started within 5 minutes of the scheduled time. His argument was that it was disrespectful of people’s time to allow this. It’s a stance I admire, but have never quite had the nerve to copy!
  2. Communication. How often to we send stuff to others that don’t really need it or receive information that is irrelevant to us (yet still read it, operating with the view that we must know everything, rather than on a need to know basis? Also, how often do we postpone responding to a communication, meaning that the sender has to chase it up and unnecessarily waste more of their time?


So, in 2016, let’s commit to managing meetings and communications more effectively, stop saying: “I haven’t had time” and let’s get on with it!:)



An update from Graham Page (Assistive Technology Advisor)

It’s been very busy since I last wrote a blog entry.  Nicola is our newest member of staff so welcome to her. I am no longer the new boy!

I have worked with some rehabilitation officers who have introduced me to service users of theirs. I have attended user group meetings in 5 boroughs and I have attended strategy consultation meetings in 3 boroughs. This has lead to me visiting approximately 15 clients as well as making follow up visits. I know that rehab officers are planning plenty for me to do in the new year and their referrals are much appreciated.


I have been working closely with the RNIB Online project which has already referred a few clients and again this is much appreciated.

Plans for working with local libraries to make services accessible and encourage local people to use them are also progressing well. I will be working closely with Redbridge Libraries in the new year to provide various kinds of technology training.


I have been interviewed by InfoSound magazine and prepared publicity leaflets which have already been emailed to various people.


The world of Information technology and the accessibility of new technology is changing at a fast pace. Keeping up with the latest challenges and innovations is challenging yet extremely rewarding and I very much look forward to working with both technology users or potential users and technology providers next year.


For now I wish all who read this a relaxing fun Christmas and a happy and positive new year!



An introduction from Nicola, the new Service Development and Delivery Officer at ELVis

photoHi everybody! I’m Nicola, the new Service Development and Delivery Officer here at ELVis. Being the new kid in the ELVis team, I thought that I’d spend my first blog post introducing myself and talking a bit about my first impressions of the role that I’ve found myself in.

I studied History at Durham University, where I spent some interesting (and some not so interesting) times learning about anything from Cold War politics to Robin Hood. I had a particular interest in international history though, so took any opportunity I could to do modules on places that we don’t tend to learn about in standard history lessons, such as China and Sudan.

As well as History, my other big interest is travelling. Before going to university, I took a gap year and spent a couple of months working in France and then did some backpacking and volunteering in southern Africa (including a month helping out on a boat which sends tourists out to cage dive with great white sharks). After I’d graduated, I decided that I wasn’t ready to settle down into the nine to five quite yet, so I alternated backpacking trips with spending a few months at home to earn money in preparation for the next trip! I travelled round South East Asia, India and Latin America, and finally I went to China to spend a year there teaching English. I had some amazing times and my confidence and independence really grew as a result.

When I came back from China, I decided that now was the time to stay at home on a less temporary basis so I started looking for jobs, and here I am! The third sector has always been the only area that I’ve ever had much of an interest in working in, and before coming to ELVis I had completed a couple of voluntary internships. The first of these was during one of my university summer holidays when I spent two months in Ghana working for a human rights organisation, and then after uni I spent a few months working in London with a charity called Ace Africa, which helps to alleviate poverty in rural areas of Kenya and Tanzania. Human rights is an area that I am extremely interested in, and as part of ELVis I am able to assist people who may have had fewer opportunities to fully participate in society in the way that they want to, and that is something that is very important to me.

I had never worked in the VI sector before I started with ELVis, and being fully-sighted myself I have to admit that as such I was not aware of a lot of the issues that VIPs can face. Before, I may have seen a sign written in Braille, or seen a guide dog in training, but other than that the VI world was largely invisible to me. Or rather, my eyes were closed to what was there. Since starting working with ELVis, I have come to see that this lack of awareness from sighted people quite often leads to a lack of opportunities for VIPs. It means that sighted employers are less sure about the provisions necessary for VI employees, or that there are very few sports or arts clubs which are accessible for VI participants.

A large part of my role here at ELVis is helping to run the local societies, and I have come to see how important it is for VIPs to have these opportunities to engage socially, both to be able to spend time with each other but also to be able to interact within the wider community. Not only will this lead to a growth in confidence for the VIPs, but seeing more VIPs in the public domain will also show fully sighted people just how much they are capable of.

In our society, where often it is actually the sighted people who are blind to the VI world, we can hope that with time and education and further exposure to VI life, attitudes will shift so that people will start to focus on what VIPs can do and not what they can’t.  People will be more confident interacting with each other and sighted people will be more welcoming of VI participation. In this way, I hope, that we will one day see that whether in the VI world or in wider society, VIPs will have the same opportunities as everybody else, and sighted people will feel as confident interacting with VIPs as VIPs are with them.

The London Vision Impairment Forum

The London Vision Impairment Forum


As well as managing the Vision Strategy Groups in east London, with my other hat on I manage the London Vision Impairment Forum…. so I thought it might be timely to focus on the Forum in this blog.


The London VI Forum was born in 2008 out of a desire to link the sight loss charities and local societies across London, and to provide a platform where issues could be discussed and best practice shared.


One of the major pieces of work the LVIF undertook in its early days was ‘A Vision for London’: a comprehensive mapping of organisations and services available to vision impaired people across London.


The Forum is a flexible and fluid network of representatives of VI organisations and sensory teams across greater London and surrounding areas. It currently has 75 member organisations.


It meets quarterly, where a varied range of speakers are invited to address pertinent issues and introduce activities & services of interest – this year the session on the Care Act proved very popular, as did discussions on tactile paving…


The Planning Group also meets quarterly to coordinate campaigns, partnerships and Forum meeting topics.


The LVIF produces a fortnightly E-Bulletin. Distributed to around 200 members, and cascaded to a further 2000 people across greater London, this much appreciated bulletin contains items of news and events of interest across greater London.


Whilst the forum meetings themselves are only open to representatives of organisations, the fortnightly bulletins are freely available to one and all via the LVIF website:


If you have any items of interest for inclusion in the bulletin please email them to me at


Have a wonderful week:)