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.

Hassan appreciates the importance of East London Vision’s collaboration with Made in Hackney

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Hello readers

I know you’ve had the pleasure of reading some wonderful blog entries on the topic of corporate partnerships and how vital they are to East London Vision.

I am delighted to report that we continue to establish and strengthen our partnerships with other local charities and organisations. I earnestly believe it would be of benefit to build partnerships with local schools, mosques, churches and other religious establishments in East London as well. This will allow us to best represent the views of people living with sight loss and fingers crossed enable us to find and aid other Vision Impaired people. As you may have read in previous entries from me, I intend on visiting schools and building relationships with community leaders in order to reach younger Vision Impaired people. This will also allow us to fund raise and in return we would then offer Vision Impairment Awareness training to year 4, 5 and 6 pupils. I’m thrilled to report that Marion Richardson and Redlands Schools respectively have agreed to fund raise for East London Vision and we are grateful for their cooperation and support. I’m sure I’ll have a further update for you in my next entry, so watch this space!

Talking of Partnerships, over the last 2 months or so we have worked closely with Made in Hackney who deliver fun, supportive, often life changing courses in local food growing, cooking and composting. They work with local charities, community organisations, housing associations and support groups to ensure their wonderful courses are offered to people most in need, such as low income families, children in care, teen carers, young people excluded from school, parents,  children and people suffering from diet related health problems.

Whilst their classes are mainly focused on tackling food poverty, they understand that cooking is incredibly therapeutic and has a real impact on mental health and self-confidence.

Our members have completed a 6 week course, in which they were taught how to make healthy food from scratch. Whether it was making baked beans or mayonnaise as a team we were quick to learn that it was cheaper and healthier to make your own food rather than purchasing over sweetened or extremely salty foods from the market.

The Made in Hackney team including the lovely volunteers were exceptional, considering they had no previous experience of working with vision impaired people

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The sessions were invaluable to the members. One of our Hackney members admitted: “Loved it! Would have never done this, I haven’t cooked in 8 years until now!”

Another member added:

“Having lost my sight, I never thought I’d be able to cook, let alone use a knife independently.”

Taking the general consensus into account, I’m confident the members would like to do this course again in the New Year and I’m sure the phenomenal Made in Hackney team would welcome us back with open arms and long may this flourishing partnership continue.

You can also find out more about Made in Hackney by visiting their website at: http://www.madeinhackney.org

So before I take my leave, I’d like to share the following quote with you:

The only way to keep your health is to eat what you don’t want, drink what you don’t like, and do what you’d rather not.

Mark Twain

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!

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