Visionary Briefing 27 May 2020

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Your Briefing – 27 May 2020
Visionary Latest

Welcome to your weekly briefing. As part of our ongoing support to you, we have been continuing to build on our range of online support sessions and resources. Thanks to the challenges you are sharing with us, we are identifying key themes & emerging issues to continue to shape the support we offer.

Membership Renewal – June 2020
We will be contacting you all about renewing your Visionary membership at the beginning of June. Look out for your organisation’s individualised renewal form to complete if you want to renew your membership with us (we really hope you do!) Once completed, we will invoice for fees, backdated to April.

Benefits for Visionary Members

Advice and support
We can provide immediate advice and support via our Telephone Helpdesk on 020 8090 9264 or 

Online resources
We are continuing to build on our online resources found in both our general knowledge hub and specific COVID-19 knowledge hub. Please note, following membership renewal, these will again only be available to Visionary members – accessed by logging in to our site.

The Impact of COVID-19 on the Eye Health and Sight-loss Pathway
In this really useful briefing prepared by Eamonn Dunne for Visionary members, we share some key messages for you when supporting people using eye care services during and beyond the pandemic. This briefing brings together information on the impact of the pandemic on eye care services and how they are currently being delivered (as of mid-May 2020). It also explores how services are being adapted for a future where – for a least 12-18 months – COVID-19 and the various mitigation and distancing measures will continue to have a significant impact.

Online support sessions
Thursday 28th May at 10am
Returning to work post COVID-19 lockdown
To join click here or use the dial in details below
Hosted by Carl Harrison (MSc CFIOSH) a Galloways Trustee and health and safety adviser with over 30 years’ experience, the session will explore managing a safe return to the workplace. Carl and Galloways have generously shared this detailed information. The session will explore the practical use of these documents and include an interactive Q and A. If you have any questions or subject areas for Carl to consider then please email them to us in advance.

Friday 29 May 2020 at 10am
Delivering Children and Young People Services
To join, click here or use the dial in details below
Join Clare Sweeney who leads the Children and Young People Services for Visibility to share ideas on how you have been keeping the children, young people and families that you support connected. This session would be useful for any organisation delivering children and young people services or wanting to start!

Tuesday 2 June at 10am (and every Tuesday at 10am!!)
CEO weekly support session
To join, click here or use the dial in details below.
Our regular session for CEOs – no agenda, just an opportunity to share experiences, talk about what is working and find some peer support with what isn’t working so well.

Thursday 4 June 2020 at 2pm
Care Home Forum 
To join, click here or use the dial in details below
We know that a number of you operate care home provision, many of which have been hit hard by COVID-19. This forum is an opportunity for members to meet and share with each other how they have coped and discuss successes and challenges you are facing.

Friday 5 June 2020 at 10am
Member Finance planning session
To join, click here or use the dial in details below
An opportunity for those involved in the management/oversight of your organisation’s finances to meet, share and discuss approaches to effective financial management practices. This isn’t about income generation, but about how people actually do things. Several members have requested such a forum.

To join any sessions by phone call:
(Toll Free): 0800 169 0432
Access Code: 780-863-517

If you missed any of our previous sessions
CEO Support Session – 26 May 2020 
In addition to meeting the lovely 3 year old daughter of one of our regular CEO’s and hearing about her dress (very nice way to start the call!), we talked about when we were likely to return to face to face work and how different services will need to be. We talked about social distancing and challenges around that for visually impaired people. Travel was highlighted as a concern and we talked about how some people may continue to prefer online service provision, in addition to face to face.

We shared concerns about fundraising and the challenges around not being able to organise events but on the positive side, we talked about opportunities presented by having an increased online presence. Finally, we talked about up and coming Visionary sessions and extending participation in Visionary events to the wider staff team.

Fundraising Master Class – The Post COVID-19 Fight Back – 26 May 2020
Fiona Ashcroft, CEO of Alder Hey Children’s Charity hosted an online session for Visionary members. Fiona shared ideas, sector trends and her personal experiences leading fundraising strategy at Alder Hey. The session included Fiona’s reflections on strategic planning and what the sector trends are looking like. You can access Fiona’s slides as well as an accessible word version of her main points here.

Introduction to small bid writing – 21 May 2020
The session was led by Tim Atkinson, Fundraising Manager at Thomas Pocklington Trust. You can listen to the session and access the handouts here. We are aware that technical issues meant that some people were unable to access the session and that we experienced a delayed start. Apologies from us for this – we hope you will listen to the recording!

Sustaining a Low Vision Service during COVID-19 – 27 May 2020
This morning Carole Theobald, CEO of iSightCornwall and their Low Vision practitioner Shannon Walker hosted a session attended by a whopping 56 of you! iSightCornwall shared how they have adapted their low vision service in response to COVID-19 to deliver it remotely so that people can still get the information, aids and equipment they need. If you would like to know more or attended the session and are interested in receiving the session round up please email us.

Managing and supporting those who are home/remote working – 22 May 2020
Led by Alison Smith, Director and Lead Consultant at Roots HR CIC, the session talked about the approaches to managing individuals and teams who are home/remote working and the challenges of returning to the workplace. Access a recording and the downloadable resources here.

Covid-19: A sector-wide approach

MCG Meeting – 27 May 2020
This morning we hosted our fortnightly MCG meeting involving our member regional reps along with representatives from Guide Dogs and RNIB. The following issues were raised by organisations across the board. Visionary will use these themes to inform our activities and support going forward.

  • Income generation
  • Offering and access to counselling services
  • Resuming front line services and the return to some sort of face to face activities vs how virtual delivery could continue/compliment this (for low vision etc)
  • Insurance issues around staff working from home and returning to work
  • The future of rehabilitation and habilitation provision
  • Social distancing and transport challenges for people with sight loss
  • Employment in post COVID world/recession
  • Challenges to care homes
  • Metal health and wellbeing of staff
  • How we can think about the new normal

Visionary reps also raised some challenges around the letter sent by the Sight Loss Sector Response Group sharing priority information during the COVID-19 crisis to blind and partially people via the sight loss registers across the UK. The group discussed how both Visionary communications around this and the approach and tone of the Sector Response Letter could have been different to achieve the best results for visually impaired people and the organisations who work with them at a local level.  All agreed that the driver was ensuring people received support and information but the group reflected lessons could be learnt for future information campaigns. Visionary will take forward the discussion. RNIB have shared an update on this below, along with some other updates from National Partners on other key campaign activities.

COVID-19 Sight Loss Sector Response Group – Update 
As most of you are aware, the Sight Loss Sector Response Group comprising of the national sight loss charities (RNIB, Guide Dogs, Thomas Pocklington Trust, Vision UK and Visionary) developed priority information during the coronavirus crisis and agreed that a joint mailing would be sent to blind and partially people via the sight loss registers across the UK (as per Visionary Briefing 22 April).

Representatives from the above sight loss organisations have been in regular communication with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA). DEFRA have now included information for people with sight loss within a toolkit they have sent to all Local Authorities in England via the Local Government Association and asked them to disseminate it.

RNIB have also successfully engaged with Utility Companies via the Distribution Network Operator groups in the UK. This network has a combined reach of 344,375 self-declared blind or partially sighted situational vulnerable customers on their Priority Service Registers. All six Distribution Network Operator groups have agreed to help with disseminating the priority information letter through their channels.

A project closure report is being developed by Campbell Chalmers, Sector Response Strategic Advisor at RNIB, to ensure we record the outcomes from the communication and learn from it; particularly in relation to how to effectively communicate with blind and blind partially sighted people at the time of a crisis. If you would like to contribute to this report, please email Campbell.

COVID-19 and Street Design Changes 
As we shared in last week’s briefing, RNIB are worried that rapid proposed changes to street design to encourage cycling and support social distancing could make walking more difficult for blind and partially sighted people. This tool from RNIB enables you to write to your local Councillor to ask that they make sure any changes that happen locally don’t affect blind and partially sighted peoples’ ability to get out and about. Please note – this is only available if you live in England.

RNIB Scotland policy statement
RNIB Scotland have shared with us their policy position on pop-up cycle lanes. You can read this here where you will also see they are calling for the introduction of a Coronavirus Courtesy Code to enable safe social distancing for all road users.

Guide Dogs produce new guidance for transport providers
As the UK begins planning for the future post lock down, Guide Dogs have started to think about what support will be available for people with sight loss who are trying to travel safely and observe social distancing rules while making their essential journeys. They have put together this guidance for transport providers on how they can best assist their passengers with sight loss whilst observing social distancing.

RNIB Research – How the lockdown is affecting blind and partially sighted people
New research from RNIB shows how social distancing is near-impossible for many blind and partially sighted people, while inaccessible signage and fears about how the public will react to them are causing additional stress and worry. You can read the full research report and recommendations here. In summary:

  • 66% of blind and partially sighted respondents feel less independent now compared to before lockdown.
  • 80% of all respondents reported that the way they shop for their essential shopping has changed since lockdown, with half as many blind and partially sighted people visiting stores independently.
  • 74% of respondents were either very or quite concerned about getting access to food while 21% of people reported that they had had to ration food.
  • A quarter (26%) of respondents said that they had struggled to get written information in a format that they could read and 17% said that they had struggled to access online information. 

RNIB are therefore now calling on the Government to:

  • Issue guidance to service providers, businesses and employers to explain how to make social distancing measures accessible;
  • Communicate to the public why people with hidden disabilities such as sight loss find it more difficult to social distance, and reduce the stigma on people unable to do so;
  • Create tailored guidance for blind and partially sighted people on social distancing, including clear rules around guiding;
  • Ensure all updates about coronavirus are easily available in formats blind and partially sighted people can read, and apps and testing are accessible.

It’s all about the money

Furloughed Fundraisers available to support your organisation
With so many fundraisers currently furloughed from some of the biggest fundraising organisations across the UK, there are some really talented people out there looking to support other charities while they can’t work for their own. Join this facebook group to advertise any help you might need from fundraisers with a particular specialism.

National Lottery launch Coronavirus Community Support Fund – part of Governments £750m package of support for charities
The National Lottery have launched a £200m fund aimed primarily at small to medium organisations in England. The fund is part of the Government’s £750m financial support package for charities and will distribute Government funding alongside National Lottery funding. Full details of what they will fund and how to apply are here.

New Coronavirus funding updates from the DSC
More updates from the DSC, this blog is being constantly updated so check back regularly – for more information on over 8,000 funders check out Funds Online.

Financial support for voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) organisations to respond to COVID-19
The government has pledged £750 million to ensure VCSE can continue their vital work supporting the country during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, including £200 million for the Coronavirus Community Support Fund, along with an additional £150 million from dormant bank and building society accounts. Read more here.

Independent Age Grants Fund
Independent Age have released £2 million from their funds to help smaller, local organisations across the UK working with older people hardest hit by COVID-19. Their fund will comprise four separate funding rounds. In each round they will make £500,000 available where organisations can apply to receive up to £15,000 each. The first round of applications are open now and will close on 4 June. Read more and apply here.

HR Matters

Furlough – Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
Important changes are coming, especially hints that the furlough scheme is very likely to close to new applicants within the next 8 weeks. Likely changes from August: 

  • The government has indicated that they will direct employers to cover between 20% and 30% of an employee’s wage, with firms also paying their national insurance contributions.
  • It is anticipated that furloughed employees could return to work on a part-time basis.
  • The furlough scheme is still expected to end completely in October.

Be assured we are monitoring the situation and will work with our HR advisers Roots HR to provide Visionary members with advice and support.

Working from home and returning to work?
The following links will take you to some interesting articles and thought pieces:
•    Working from home in Scotland – a permanent shift?
•    Three tests before bringing people back to work
•    Regain trust with furloughed employees

Creating space for conversations
When people are stressed and anxious, creating a shared, safe space to keep thinking and to maintain and develop relationships with colleagues is important. Read more here.

Working safely during coronavirus (COVID-19)
Guidance here to help employers, employees and the self-employed understand how to work safely during the coronavirus pandemic.

Claiming back Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) and COVID-19 
Check here to see if you can claim back Statutory Sick Pay paid to employees due to COVID-19 and here for details on how to claim.

Sharing the love

The New Normal
Visit our Knowledge Hub pages here for our latest guidance and downloadable resources to help you journey into the new normal. Key topics covered include:

Where is your head at today, with COVID-19?
Back in April, leadership coach Nicki Deeson, hosted a web session and podcast for Visionary CEO’s on ‘The Secret of Managing Brilliantly Remotely While Keeping your Sanity’. Since then, Nicki has continued to support CEO’s through the current crisis. At a recent session, Nicki polled almost 100 webinar participants to find out where they were at. You can see her results here.

Nicki says: “Over 2 months into lockdown, one in five of us remain in Denial, Frustration, or Depression. Almost half are in the Experiment phase, with a third of us having reached the Decision and Integration phases. Why is this important? The phase you’re at defines what you need most right now. Getting what you need will help you to move steadily through the change curve, to influence, ensure forward thinking, and to enable you and your organisation to thrive in the post-COVID world”.

Do you provide counselling services?
Michael Conroy of My Sight Nottinghamshire and Lisa Cowley of Beacon Vision are interested in connecting with any members who are offering counselling services to service users.  If you are happy to share your experiences or know of any developments then please email Michael and Lisa.

Want to get your charity shop open?
A few things to read:

  • Prime Minister Boris Johnson sets out a timeline for retail to reopen in June. More here.
  • Checkout this guide to reopening your charity shop.
  • Selling on unwanted textiles – “rag trade” collapses.
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