2019 Visionary Award for Life Changing Impact sponsored by the Thomas Pocklington Trust

Through the awards we aim to recognise and celebrate the impactful services delivered by local sight loss charities and the positive difference made to the lives of blind and partially sighted people. Highlighting the achievements of local charities helps share good practice across the sector and draws attention to the talent and expertise out there! The awards are open to Visionary members who can nominate their own organisation, or another they feel deserves recognition.

The category winner will be announced at the Visionary Annual Conference during the awards dinner on Thursday 14 November 2019 and will receive £500, thanks to sponsorship from the Thomas Pocklington Trust.

Competition was strong and the short-listing panel had to work hard to select the final nominees. Whilst the individual 200-word summaries below are a concise description of the award category submissions, be assured that all short-listed nominations clearly demonstrated how they met the individual award criteria and evidenced the positive difference they make to the lives of blind and partially sighted people.

Life Changing Impact (sponsored by Thomas Pocklington Trust)

This could be related to a single intervention or an initiative accessed by any number of people. We want to hear about the people and what life was like for them both before and after the intervention. This can be illustrated through case studies, interviews, images and/or videos.

BASIS Befriending – Blind and Sight Impaired Society (BASIS)

The Befriending project matches volunteers with VI people to deliver a range of support – companionship, assistance on shopping trips, hospital appointments, participation in sporting activities, gardening, letter writing and so much more.

Isolation and loneliness are well-known issues for VI people, with many not knowing where to turn to for companionship or support with essential daily activities. Matching volunteers with VI people now sees many benefiting from weekly contact and a great deal of emotional and practical support with day to day living.

One of the keyways that this project is inspirational in it’s delivery is through its use of VI volunteers. BASIS have matched VI volunteers to provide companionship and peer support to other VI people, both in their homes and out and about in the community. This has led to several VI people taking up activities such as guided running at local park runs which they would never have considered doing before.

The project has no barriers to the challenges it will support VI people to overcome with the help of a volunteer, whether that be to attend social groups, tackling loneliness through companionship, person centred support – all of which can lead to more independent living.

Peer Support Group – My Sight Nottinghamshire

Diagnosis of sight loss has overwhelming consequences for the individual and also for those around them. Fear, panic, isolation and anger can seem overwhelming. Support and early intervention minimise the potential negative impacts on mental health, loss of independence and reduced quality of life.

The facilitated Peer Support Group has been life changing and even life saving for VI people, helping them come together to share their fears for the future and their feelings of loss, which they often feel they cannot share with family and friends. It is a safe environment to explore feelings with a VI counsellor and with others who understand the challenges they face. Participation has a positive impact on mental health and coping strategies, helping people to see beyond their sight loss to a more positive future.

The groups focuses upon people of working age, as younger VI people face different challenges from older people.

All engaged report benefiting from meeting people in a similar situation and developing the confidence, skills and knowledge of managing both the emotional and every-day practical challenges of living with sight loss. Awareness is also raised on where to go for information and support, with links made to other agencies/provision.

The Tech Team – Southend in Sight

Technology moves fast – bringing amazing advantages to help with daily living for VI people, but equally it can be frustrating and scary.

The Tech Team was developed by a VI volunteer. Two sighted volunteers are paired with two VI volunteers and work together to support VI people with their everyday ‘tech’ needs – mobile phone, tablet, signing on to talking books, setting up useful apps, helping with access to online shopping etc.

Often people come in feeling exhausted – their new piece of kit isn’t going as well as they’d hoped. The team work with them, sometimes over a number of weeks, to reassure them and give them confidence and to reduce the fears that new technology can bring.

Referrals come from the Sight Loss Centre and/or ECLO. Working in pairs, the visually impaired volunteers are crucial in delivering this service as they can understand what people are going through first-hand and link with other people who use certain types of technology.

The Tech Team build peoples conference, research new technology to identify “good buys”, provide ongoing support, trouble shooting and helping people develop new skills so that they can use new technology to improve the quality of their lives.

Voting

Only Visionary members are eligible to vote, with one vote per member organisation.

The lead contact at each Visionary member has been sent an e-mail inviting their organisation to cast their vote. (If you feel that your organisation has not received such an e-mail please contact us at Visionary).

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