Monday, 31 August 2015

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.

Monday, 24 August 2015

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! 

Monday, 17 August 2015

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)

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Sharon Schaffer the Development & Vision Strategy Implementation Manager, shares her views on the Local Vision Strategy London Implementation Programme

The Vision of the Vision Strategy London Implementation Programme?

When we started the Local Vision Strategy London Implementation Programme 3 years ago it was, for me, a step into unknown territory… I had project managed before, but never in the public sector, and the thought of engaging with the ‘powers that be’ was somewhat intimidating.

Three years on and I have discovered that we all have a job to do, and are, more often than not, very thankful if there is help out there to enable us to do it.

With this attitude in mind I have set about drawing together people across the eye health and sight loss pathway, with the clarion call of ‘we are all in this together (even those who may not have known it at the beginning), so lets help each other to do our jobs’.

So where has this got us…. And more pertinently where hasn’t it got us?

Where it has got us is in to a position where we have, in each and every borough of east London:
• a healthy, well represented, cross sector Vision Strategy Group,
• a Vision Strategy (detailing eye health and sight loss needs, and gaps in provision)
• An Action Plan addressing these gaps, being implemented by each Group.
We also have ELVis implementing frontline projects and services to address the gaps identified in the strategies, and user led peer groups in each borough ensuring that support and activities are in place for VI people locally.

Where it hasn’t got us is into local ownership… the road to making each group self-sustainable is rocky. And I have been musing on why this might be so…My thinking is that, as this project was instigated by the Voluntary Sector, the public sectors (health and social care) do not feel bound to it - happy to participate, but not bound – as there is no obligation or accountability to it coming from ‘on high’.

So the emphasis is now on trying to ensure that each strategy is embedded into the local health and wellbeing framework (so that vision can be worked into the relevant priority strategies and remain higher up the agenda than it was previously) and endorsed by the local authority and clinical commissioning group (so that the strategy and action plan’s implementation can be monitored at top level).

The onus, nevertheless, currently remains on the third sector to drive it, and to hold providers to account on delivery…. The best way to ensure this must be to have vision impaired people actively involved, if not chairing, each Vision Strategy Group, and thereby driving it, and the stakeholders in it, forward…ensuring, by their very presence and best interests, that vision remains on the agenda.

But what if, like me when I embarked on this project, those people are not knowledgeable in the ways of health and social care protocols and structures? Or not used to holding a lot of busy professionals to account? …. I find myself echoing Roger’s call to action in his blog a few weeks ago…. “We must create effective and productive partnerships, allowing us all to contribute our specialist expertise, but always focusing on the individual and a genuine person centred approach”.... so that in 10 years time we really can look back and see that we have made a tangible difference.

Onward and upward…..

 And with this in mind… here’s what the rest of the team have been up to this week:
• Good to see that the VS Groups are gaining momentum in terms of becoming recognised as a viable    resource amongst the decision making bodies in the Local Authorities and Health structures
• Chaired the SocialEyes Committee Meeting
• Chaired the VIPON Committee Meeting
• Attended the Waltham Forest Vision BBQ
• Delivered Vision Impairment Awareness Training to Thomas Pocklington Trust staff
• Attended the ActivEyes Redbridge Breakfast Club.
• Attended the Solutions to Everyday Living event, hosted by Action for Blind People at the RNIB
• Met with Metro Blind Sport to discuss various matters, including initial arrangements for the Metro Athletics Open Games next year.
• Held an investigatory meeting to look at how support can effectively be provided to Vision  
  Impaired people wanting to work in the fitness industry.
• Held a meeting with Waltham Forest vision to discuss further their fundraising ideas.

Have a wonderful week

Monday, 3 August 2015

Hassan Khan the project co-ordinator collaboration directorate discusses the importance of his recent visit to Marion Richardson Primary School

Hi all, 

I know some of my colleagues stated that they felt their turn came round rather quickly. I on the other hand feel as if it has been months since my last entry, that’s probably because I have had some career defining changes over the last few weeks or so. To cut a very long story short, since my last entry I'm now no longer an intern, but a project co-ordinator collaboration directorate for Thomas Pocklington Trust, working in the collaboration team. 

The last 2 weeks have been incredibly busy for me, all of which have been valuable and no doubt will stand me in good stead, in improving and gaining useful skills needed to be successful in this post. 

Over the last 4 months it has been an honour to work alongside some inspirational people in organising the East London Vision Sight and Information Day, which I'm now pleased to report went smoothly and rather successfully. Although, I was shall we say, a little frustrated in the lack of donations we received from shops and well-known companies. I approached about 60 shops and organisations. Sadly many of them refused us on the basis that they were aiding other charities. Though Boots in Wood Green were fantastic, the Entertainer and Nandos in Westfield Stratford were also extremely generous, to name a few. Lloyd's banking Group who volunteered at the event itself and match funded us up to £500 have been tremendously generous and a pleasure to work with. 
At the East London Vision table I had the opportunity of demonstrating the iPhone, which I sincerely hope people found useful. I even managed to get a few tweets out there, not to mention to do a bit of networking. One of my colleagues has something special coming up in regards to the Sight and Information Day, so I shall leave the rest to her, but can I just add, the cakes on the day were to die for and our sincere thanks to everyone who donated. 

Information Day

On the 24th of June, I was asked to attend the Marion Richardson 'cluster' of schools' Paralympic sports event in Tower Hamlets. 
Thirty nine children with differing disabilities, who attend 6 mainstream schools in East London, gathered at Marion Richardson School, to take part in a day of multiple sporting activities and to celebrate sporting accomplishments. 

I had the honour of talking to year 6 and year 5 students. I must admit I was a little frightened, as I felt I may not have their full attention and they may choose not to listen. However, they were so engrossed and genuinely interested in every word I uttered, which was rather pleasant. Predictably I spoke glowingly about sports and in particular Blind cricket and how it changed my life for the better. I then spoke and demonstrated the importance of Braille and education, displaying medication boxes and books, which were written in Braille. The Year 6 students had the unique opportunity of receiving some vital tips on how to guide Vision Impaired people.

The presentation ended with an half an hour Q&A session, surprisingly I had a bucketful of questions to answer and later on at lunch time, the same children had further enquiries and questions for me. I believe, they wanted to know more about how to guide and in general how to communicate with a Vision Impaired person. I did explain that ELVis offer such a service and it would be our pleasure to offer VI Awareness training to Year 5 and year 6 students in the future free of charge. We’d be happy to deliver such a session to any School and I know Schools tend to have Non- Uniform days or sports days where they raise funds for activities and charities. I suggested to the teachers, to perhaps use one of these days, to raise funds for ELVis in return for our Vision Impairment Awareness Training. I know the staff certainly supported this idea and I do hope Schools take this offer up!

The day ended with a medal ceremony, where I was required to give a short speech, in which I spoke about dealing with sight loss, breaking barriers in order to achieve my goals and my experiences of playing for the England Blind Cricket Team. I also underlined the importance of having aspirations and that anyone, regardless of their disability can achieve their dreams, as long as they work hard for it. Finally I had the absolute privilege of handing out medals to all participants and to children who had volunteered on the day. I deem this visit to be successful, as I had the chance to do a little bit of networking during the lunch break, which will allow me to visit other Schools in the upcoming months. 

I'm passionate about visiting the local communities in East London, in order to speak to Children, parents/Guardians, teachers and schools to discover and encourage Vision Impaired Children to register with ELVis and Metro Blind Sport. Through my work for Change Foundation, formally known as Cricket For Change, I had the opportunity to visit mainstream schools that contain VI Units. And it was so sad to learn that during PE lessons Vision Impaired children sat on the side-line whilst their peers played sports and got the benefits of physical exercise. In my personal opinion, I would have had a better standard of education at a mainstream School, but the lack of sports and social activities may have had a negative effect on me and for this reason alone I’m pleased that I attended a specialist school, where I was given the opportunity to study, learn living skills and take part in sporting and physical activities. 

I believe with the help of Thomas Pocklington Trust and Metro Blind Sport, we will be able to reach out to younger VI people in order to involve them in sporting - social activities and consequently improve the quality of life for them. 

Until next time, kind regards 

Monday, 27 July 2015

Our Administration and Information Officer Chris Edmead discusses the importance of having Peer Support Groups in East London

Hi all
Just wanted to share with everyone how important Peer Support Groups are and what a great job East London Vision is doing by supporting these groups. I know I might be a bit biased, but I want to share my opinions with you all.
Peer Support Groups help people from feeling isolated, allows people to meet up and have a chat, make friends, helps people to build up their confidence in going out, helps to improve the socialising aspect and also helps with building new skills. Peer Support Groups also help with making vision impaired people become more independent.
This week we had two great days, one going to Southend with one peer support group it was great fun, a day by the beach, the weather was perfect. Lots of different activities took place: fun fair, arcades, the members had fish and chips, buy rocks and fudge. What fun we had, everyone had a great day!
The second one was the East London Vision Sight and Information Day, great to see so many people from the local peer support groups supporting the event. There were cakes and drinks on sale, an auction and various exhibitors including: Waltham Forest Sensory Team, Human Ware, Optelec, Metro Blind Sport, Guide Dogs, Transport for London and of course East London Vision. What a great time was had by all!
Rest of the team have been extremely busy this week too:
Met with staff from Lloyds Banking Group in advance of them volunteering for us.
Held the first East London Vision Sight Information day, where we were supported by Lloyds Banking Group staff as volunteers for the day.
Handed over administration of Redbridge Vision Strategy Group to the Sensory Team.
Attended Stakeholder Group meeting of the Royal College of GPs - regarding the Clinical Priority in Eye Health meeting.
Attended meeting to discuss opportunities to work collaboratively across Barking, Havering and Redbridge with the Vision Strategy Group Chairs.
Attended Southend with Beyond Barriers, it was a really good day out, everyone enjoyed themselves.
Demonstrated the iPhone at the ELVis table, at the Sight and Information Day.
Having provided Vision Impairment Awareness training to the performers, attended the Tether play at the Omnibus Theatre in Clapham

Monday, 20 July 2015

You can now read this week's excellent entry from our Service Development and Delivery Officer Laura Ross

Hello again everyone, it’s my turn this week to let you know all the things I have been up to on the East London patch, and luckily for me it has been quite an eventful one. Firstly, I would like to say Eid Mubarak to all those who celebrated over the weekend.  This week I have done a lot of work with the Challenge Network in Hackney. For those of you who don’t know about the Challenge Network, they are an organisation who work with groups of 16 – 17 year olds over the summer on various different ‘challenges’. Part of the programme requires getting involved with local communities and we are lucky enough to be working with them in 6 of the 7 boroughs ELVis cover. So this week we worked with the Challenge Network in Hackney over two days wherethe group of young adults met the Hackney Vision Impaired group and had the opportunity to ask them questions, have some Visual Awareness training and gain new skills. I have met with them again today, as they will be putting together a campaign and volunteering with us in September, where we will hopefully have a picnic and some games.
I’ve been helping out with the final preparations of the ELVis Sight and Information Day, or SID as we’ve been calling it, which is on Thursday 23rd of July from 10.00 – 16.00 so hopefully I will get to meet some of you there! I am also pleased to say, that added to the list of stall holders will be ‘Extant’, who have pioneered theatre practice with the express inclusion of visually impaired audiences and performers.
The rest of the Team have also been busy around East London:
Chaired Redbridge Vision Strategy Group meeting.
Presented Vision Strategy to Redbridge Health & Wellbeing Board.
Chaired Team ELVis meeting.
Attended Tower Hamlets CCG Planned Care Board meeting.
Attended LVIF Planning Group meeting.
Attended Hackney Drama Challenge.
Attended the Bulldog Trust’s ‘Get Social & Get Noticed’ Social Media Workshop
Attended VIPON Meeting, very interesting learning all about mystery shopping.
Have a good week:)