Covid-19: A sector-wide approach
Important update from Sector Response Meeting
Our CEO, Fiona Sandford, continues to attend the weekly Sight Loss Sector Response Group made up of leaders from Visionary, RNIB, Guide Dogs and Thomas Pocklington Trust. The group’s purpose is to inform a sector-wide, unified response to the current crisis.
The group have agreed that the key priority is to get information, advice and support out to people with sight loss. To achieve this, each organisation in the group is reaching people to all people they have direct contact with and are sharing a template letter for any of you wanting to do the same. You can access the letter here. The group is aware that local organisations have contact with a huge number of people that other organisations do not and hope this letter can reach as many people as possible. In addition, they want to make sure people have local information on sources of support. We would therefore ask for you to send this letter to people who use your services if you possibly can.
We are conscious that you may already have reached out to the people on your contact lists, and if you have done this, you may consider this to be an additional opportunity to make contact.
We understand and appreciate that you may not have the capacity or resource to send at the moment so RNIB are offering to undertake a secure and confidential mailing on your behalf. Please note, if you want to take up this offer, RNIB are not seeking transfer of data – the data will only be used for this mailing and destroyed immediately after the mailing has gone out. The purpose of this is simply to get the priority information to as many people with sight loss as soon as possible. If you would like RNIB to do this on your behalf, please contact Campbell Chalmers.
Please feel free to adapt the content to include local information and add your logo. In order to gauge the distribution, it would be really valuable if you could email Visionary if you do use this letter for a mailing to let them know how many people you have sent it to.
Even if we all reach out to all people known to us, we know that this will still not be enough to reach all blind and partially sighted people. We are also hoping to secure a mailing via CVI registers and more information will follow for local organisations that hold the register.
Policy and influencing
Influencing the Government to work more closely with supermarkets
In previous briefings, we have told you that Visionary has come together with RNIB, Guide Dogs, Thomas Pocklington Trust and Vision UK to ask the government to work with supermarkets and ensure blind and partially sighted people have access to vital supplies. The petition received a total of 22,653 individual signatures and has now been submitted to DEFRA. We will let you know if and when we hear anything!
Demanding action over the lack of accessible COVID-19 information
Visionary and TPT have been working alongside other charities, led by Action on Hearing Loss and RNIB to influence the government over the way the particular needs of disabled people are not being taken into consideration in official communications. Last week, we sent this joint letter to the Prime Minister. This action also resulted in an interesting news feature on Channel 4 news on Monday evening. You can watch this here.
Updates from National Organisations
Thomas Pocklington Trust – Launch new Student Support Service
Thomas Pocklington Trust are delighted to announce the launch of their Student Support Service. The service is aimed at students with a visual impairment in England, aged 16+ that are in or would like to enter Further or Higher Education in England. They have produced a range of resources for students and professionals, including important information in response to COVID-19. You can find out more here.
As part of their web based resources Thomas Pocklington Trust would like to direct students to existing resources, information and events that may be of interest to them. If there is any content that your organisation would like to promote, then please email. Read the full press release here.
Blind Veterans UK and Oxford University Survey
The Impact of COVID-19 on health and well-being
The Research and Innovation Department at Blind Veterans UK are working with the University of Oxford on a survey to explore the experiences of individuals during COVID-19. The captured data will be used to inform appropriate responses in support of those communities.
Having launched the survey on 1 April, they have received responses from a variety of organisations and from countries across the world. The survey, which is currently available in six languages and in an accessible format and should take just 15 minutes to complete, can be found here. The COVID-19 pandemic goes beyond our sector, but this is a great example of how the sector can pull together for the benefit of all.
A reminder that Guide Dogs Covid-19 Sight Loss Information line (0800 781 1444) has now launched to support people with sight loss, and their family and friends, as they face the unique challenges of living with a vision impairment during the coronavirus outbreak.
A reminder that RNIB’s Helpline (0303 123 9999) remains open on weekdays from 8am-8pm and now has extended Saturday opening times from 9am-5pm.