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: http://lvif.co.uk/category/news-bulletins/


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



Have a wonderful week:)


Chris’s update

Some exciting news we have had a new addition to the ELVis Team who started

with us on 11th November.   So let us welcome Nicola Stokes our Service

Development and Delivery Officer.


ActivEyes Redbridge held their Vision Strategy service user Consultation on 25 November, which was well attended.  Great discussions took place and presentations from a variety of speakers covering benefits, employment and Vision Redbridge regarding the Leisure Strategy. This was followed by a finger buffet (which everyone enjoyed) and socialising.  A really great time was had by all.


I know everyone is getting ready for Christmas and it seems to be upon us all of a sudden, but we say that every year.  Most of the Peer Support Groups are preparing for their Christmas activities.

I would like to take this opportunity to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a great New Year.

Ryan Jones runs for ELVis in the 2016 Virgin Money London Marathon

Hello to all our lovely readers. Winter has truly arrived with the wind and rain. The question on everyone’s mind is, will it snow this winter? This week I’d like to tell you more about our new venture of having a runner for the 2016 London Marathon, which Hassan mentioned in his last blog entry.

We are joining in on the fun of the 2016 Virgin Money London Marathon, with Ryan Jones as our runner

Earlier this year we successfully secured a place for the 2016 Virgin London Marathon! We are pleased to announce that Ryan Jones is the lucky athlete who has been chosen to run for us with his guide runner Tim Hampton. 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 the Metro blind cricket team. He is an avid runner and can often be seen pounding the streets of Bermondsey.

In his first Marathon Ryan achieved the immaculate time of 4 hours 28 minutes. However, the high-achieving Jones tells us that he would like to smash that target.

We caught up with Ryan, who said: “Being vision impaired I am aware of many of the challenges face by blind and partially sighted people, such as going to buy the weekly shop at the supermarket. I have chosen to run for ELVis because I know the difference support can make in improving independence for blind and partially sighted people. Having run a marathon 2 years ago, I feel like I can use that experience to achieve a better time. I will train hard, however in order for me to complete such a challenge, your support will be vital, so anything you can donate would be gratefully appreciated!”

Tim, aged 24, who works for Westminster City Council is an enthusiastic runner and will be Ryan’s guide on the day. Whilst Tim has only completed a half marathon and a few smaller charity runs, he informs us that he is raring for opportunity to test his mettle on the streets of London. When talking to Tim about the challenge ahead he said: “Running such a well-known marathon is an exciting prospect for me and knowing I’m supporting a really deserving charity motivates me to pull on my running shoes and brave the cold to train. It’ll be a significant personal challenge and test of character but I feel privileged to be doing my part for ELVis at the London Marathon and I hope with your support we can have a real positive impact on partially sighted and blind people.” Please support Tim by donating to his My Donate page.

Tim (Left) and Ryan(Right) before training

We are fortunate to be able to offer Both Ryan and Tim with pre-marathon training from Jeffrey Darko, manager of Physique Trans4mers. Jeffrey has trained professional cricket players and aided football coaching for under 21’s for local teams. So we know the boys are in safe hands for training and extremely grateful to Jeffrey. Jeffrey said: “I’ve been a personal trainer for several years now, but being approached to train a marathon runner is an exciting and challenging opportunity. I am determined to help Ryan and Tim achieve their personal best, while making sure they suffer no injuries during training sessions and on the big day. Helping a charity such as ELVis who raise much needed awareness for blind and partially sighted people is a matter that is close to my heart, making the work I am doing with the boys that extra bit special and personal.”

Remember the more money we raise, the more people living with sight loss we can help. Every penny we raise goes towards improving the quality of life of Vision impaired people, so any donation will be appreciated. Please donate to Ryan’s Virgin Money Giving page.

Your support could help us achieve a range of things such as:

  • £2.50 giving a Vision Impaired person the opportunity to attend a Tennis session and increase their physical and social well-being
  • £3.00 enabling a Vision Impaired person to attend a monthly breakfast club and meet new people
  • £9.00 allowing us to give an audible ball to a school for use by a Vision Impaired child, meaning that they can play alongside their sighted peers
  • £12.00 helping a Vision Impaired person to participate in a 6 week cookery course and learn a new skill
  • £17.50 providing a Vision Impaired person with the opportunity to join in on a social outing tailored to their needs
  • £25.00 meaning we can provide technology advice to a group of blind and partially sighted people for an hour, improving their ability to communicate.

colin and volunteer doing assault course 3

We have set ourselves an ambitious target to raise at least £2,500 and to help us get there we are hugely grateful to our sole runner Ryan Jones – who, being blind himself, is running with the assistance of Tim Hampton his guide runner during the event. You can help us smash our target by either donating to Ryan’s Virgin Money Giving page or Tim’s My Donate page.

You can also follow us on Twitter and Facebook to keep up-to-date with Ryan and Tim’s journey to the finish line!

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

We would be extremely grateful if you could help us spread the word to family, friends, colleagues and anyone else who will listen!! 

Thank you for reading and we hope you will make a contribution to our work to make a difference to blind and partially sighted people across east London.

Catch you all in 2016! It is probably far too early to say it, but I’m going to anyway, Happy Holidays to all over the Xmas break!:)


Roger shares the views of one of our newer members

Staff colleagues reckon I’ve struck lucky with my Blog this time and, to a certain extent, they are right. But it’s for a very good reason, in that I am passing on the views of one of our newer members, Andrew, who lives in Tower Hamlets. What’s great about this is that Andrew read the Blog, thought there was something missing, and has taken the trouble to make contact, asking us to rectify the matter. So, if like Andrew, you want to communicate something, please feel free to leave a comment, or drop us an Email at enquiries@eastlondonvision.org.uk.

Very topically, after the Blog from our new Assistive Technology Adviser last week, Andrew has some comments regarding Sight village that took place recently in London. He says: “I did not go to Sight Village with the intention of writing about it, but because I am a user of VI (Vision Impaired) products myself and so wanted to know about the latest tech and other supporting groups. However, reading the ELVis site for the first time, I did not see this event mentioned and so thought an overview could be helpful for others. By the time you read this, it will have passed for another year, as it has been held at the start of November at Kensington Town Hall for some years, but it will return next year on 1 and 2 November.

Sight Village is London’s largest gathering of providers of services for the VI community and the crowd attending mostly carry a white stick or have a guide dog. I learned about everything from a weekly run in Mile End Park on Saturday mornings, where Vision Impaired people are welcome, (visit www.parkrun.org.uk for a park run near you) to a camera that clips onto the frame of your glasses and tells you who you are looking at or reads out what you point at, such as a menu or a newspaper.

The designer of the World’s most popular white canes explained to me that in America they do not recognise the short guide cane that some of us use here, so we should take a long cane if travelling abroad. He has developed a series of long telescopic canes that are lightweight and space saving. One cane he specially made for Stevie Wonder and covered it in gold. Currently he is researching distributors in the UK, albeit these canes are preferred in other countries to the heavy folding canes available here.

I also gathered that, driven by the demand from young users, more reading devices will be developed to work with Mac laptops next year. The myriad of CCTV reading machines, OCR word recognition cameras that attach to laptops and hand held devices were so numerous, I was exhausted trying to differentiate the features of them all. However, whether we pay for our aids ourselves, via an Access to Work grant, or with student funding, the choice of supporting equipment is wide, so it is worth investing the time to determine the appropriate device for your precise needs.”

Thanks Andrew and we will ensure Sight Village is featured on the ELVis Website next year when details are available.