Your Briefing 29 April 2020

Your Briefing – 29 April 2020
Supporting you through this current crisis.


This week
Visionary latest – how Visionary can support you
Covid-19: A sector-wide approach – How the sector is working together
It’s all about the money – Funding news, opportunities and updates
HR Matters – HR advice and sources of information
Sharing the love – great ideas, successes and stuff that works
In the know – Latest Covid-19 Updates, news and resources


Visionary Latest

Welcome to another Visionary weekly briefing. We wanted to start this briefing by saying a big thank-you for the commitment so many of you have shown to sharing and supporting each other. Over the past week you have shared time, template resources, your staff and expertise to allow us to pool knowledge and ideas and connect you all. This is something we want build on over the coming weeks.

We are aware of the volume of information we have been sharing with you over the past two months and that this briefing has been far from brief! We are looking at alternative ways to get information to you but for now, we hope you continue to find this briefing useful.

Enter a team in the Visionary Bank Holiday quiz!
We will be hosting a quiz on 7 May 2020 at 3pm for members. There will be prizes and we will be welcoming Simon Curtis back as quiz master! If you would like to enter a team please email Sarah Cosby.

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

Online support sessions
Tuesday 5 May 2020 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

Wednesday 6 May at 2pm
‘It’s the Future Jim but not as we know it!’
To join, click here or use the dial in details below.
In response to this ongoing crisis, we have all had to make significant changes to the way we run both our services and our organisations. As we emerge from it all, will it be as simple as just going back to the way things were or will life as we know it have just changed too much?! Hosted by Pete Hoey, CO at Halifax Blind Society, join this session for an open discussion on how to approach strategic planning in the post COVID-19 world.

Monday 11 May at 3pm
Trustee Support Session
To join, click here or use the dial in details below.
A session for Trustees – a safe confidential space to seek advice, share experiences, challenges and learning from the current crisis. We will discuss how trustees can best support CEOs/Leaders at this time and what trustee priorities should be along with sharing key legal and regulatory updates. Please share these details with Trustees and encourage them to join us.

Tuesday 12 May at 2pm
Small Societies follow up session
To join click here or dial in on 0800 389 5276 (access code 389-706-965)
This session is aimed at small sight loss societies and is a follow up from the session held last week. New attendees are very welcome!

To join any sessions by phone (apart from Small Charities session – see specific joining details above) call:
(Toll Free): 0800 169 0432
Access Code: 780-863-517

Cancellation – Visionary Connect Events 
We are sorry to confirm that this week we have made the decision to cancel the Visionary Connect online events in May. We have heard from many of you that giving up a large chunk of time and with so many staff still furloughed means the format of the events proposed would not be ideal for you.

We have therefore rethought and instead of holding these full day events, will enhance our existing online support sessions. We will still be engaging some external speakers and developing sessions on the themes of Fundraising and ‘Steering a New Path’. These will still be open to both CEOs and your wider teams but will instead be run as one hour interactive sessions and be free of charge.

Details of all upcoming sessions are above and we will continue to share details of new sessions in this briefing and on our website.


Covid-19: A sector-wide approach

Sector Response Meeting
Our CEO, Fiona Sandford, continues to attend the weekly Sight Loss Sector Response Group (led by RNIB with Guide Dogs and TPT). Last week we shared a template letter and offer of support with mailings from RNIB for any of you who wanted to reach out in writing to those in your contact lists. We would still encourage you to look at this and contact Campbell Chalmers at RNIB with any questions/requests for support.

The group continues however to be aware that even if we reach out to all people known to us, this will not be enough to reach all blind and partially sighted people. RNIB are therefore continuing with the joint plan to secure a mailing via CVI registers to share priority information. Those of you who hold the register for your local authority should received direct communication about this.

National Organisation Updates

Thomas Pocklington Trust lead work to address Access To Work issues during COVID-19
Thomas Pocklington Trust is leading work with national partners to address Access To Work issues during COVID-19 including the current need for physical signatures to make a claim. They have held detailed discussions with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) on this issue and as a result DWP is now introducing new options for submitting claims. You can read DWP’s announcement on this here.

RNIB Helpline and FAQs
A reminder that RNIB’s Helpline remains open on weekdays from 8am-8pm and on Saturdays from 9am-5pm. Anyone can call the RNIB Helpline on 0303 123 9999 from anywhere in the UK to get information and support relating to living with sight loss. They will refer people to local and national sight loss organisations to better serve blind and partially sighted people. Further information on RNIB’s current services can be found here.

Please also continue to share the Sight Advice FAQ which is an online one-stop-shop for sight loss related questions. You can find answer’s relating to COVID-19, how to get groceries, benefits and welfare advice, get access to reading services, connect with others in the community or specific advice for parents with visually impaired children.

RNIB’s Library and Talking Books Service
RNIB continue to operate a full Talking Book service as they have done throughout these challenging times. There are a number of factors that are affecting current service levels including loss of volunteers and performance of the postal service which has a significant impact on RNIB’s ability to get new talking books to customers with there having been numerous days where no postal deliveries or pickups took place.

Despite this, RNIB are still operating a 4 day turnaround (postal delays notwithstanding) for CD and USB books and expect to maintain these levels. In response to issues, RNIB are working to provide more reading material to people in many ways including broadcasting books on RNIB Connect Radio and supporting customers to join their new online Reading Service to download books themselves which over 5,000 have already taken up. We would encourage as many customers as possible to receive Talking Books via the new digital service here.

People constantly tell us what a lifeline the Talking Book service is for them and they are telling us that that is even more so right now.  Please be assured RNIB are doing everything in their power to get books to customers to keep them reading during these unprecedented times.

Guide Dogs – Customeyes Books
From Dr Seuss to Shakespeare, from inspirational fiction to educational textbooks, Guide Dogs Customeyes service has over 4,200 large print children’s books available. Each one is custom made, with font size, spacing, colour and more all tailored to your child’s individual needs. To find out more and sign up, click here.


It’s all about the money

Manage financial difficulties in your charity caused by COVID-19
See this guidance from the Charity Commission covering COVID-19 related financial difficulties in charities and how to work through them. Areas covered include financial advice and guidance, considering the best interests of your charity, and what to do if your charity cannot continue to operate because of the financial problems caused by COVID-19

Third Sector Fundraising Conference 2020: 20-21 May
Now Free and online!
The annual Third Sector Fundraising Conference will take place online on 20-21 May and is now free for any registered charity to attend. There is a really exciting programme of events that you can dip in and out of. Sign up for your free place here.

Do you deliver publicly funded contracts/services?
Charities delivering public services during this pandemic are facing considerable challenges. From changes in demand, to having to adapt or even suspend services. We have supported a number of members recently as they explore furloughing staff and public contract delivery. Last week the government issued this guidance to encourage all contracting authorities to support suppliers. You can also read a useful summary from NCVO here.

Aviva Community Fund
Applications for the second round of the Aviva Community Fund programme are now open until 5th May. Find out more here.

Coronavirus funding updates from the DSC
For the latest updates on COVID-19 funding opportunities visit the DSC blog and funding pages here which are updated on a daily basis. For wider funding information covering over 8,000 funders check out their Funds Online portal.

Giving Tuesday Now – 5 May 2020
#GivingTuesdayNow is a new global day of giving and unity that will take place on 5 May in addition to the regularly held December event as an emergency response to the unprecedented need caused by COVID-19. Read more here.

Larger charities could receive the Government emergency funds this week – but there are delays for the small charities
The government could start distributing their emergency COVID-19 grants to large national charities this week according to the government minister in charge. Read more here. However, the £350m of grants designated for smaller charities, which are being handled by the National Lottery Community Fund may not be distributed right away. The Government and National Lottery have recently being criticised over “bureaucratic wrangling” which was delaying the release of the funding. Read more here.


HR Matters

Furlough update
There were some important updates on the governement’s Job Retention Scheme last week, check out our update here developed in partnership between Visionary and our HR partner Roots HR.

Employee Wellbeing and Home Working webinar –  30 April 2020 at 3pm
Join the free webinar with Roots HR here. The session will explore how to care a and support employees as well as your responsibilities as an employer.

Support for Front line workers portal launched  
Members are increasingly highlighting the need to support and care for their staff and volunteers as they support blind and partially sighted people in such difficult times. Samaritans, Mind, Shout, Hospice UK and The Royal Foundation have launched ‘Our Frontline‘ to support front line staff to look after their mental health and well being.


Sharing the love

Top tips for remote IAG from Henshaws
In this current time where all of you are now offering online services, we wanted the share these really useful guidance documents from Henshaws in word version and PDF. These ’10 top tips for providing remote IAG during a pandemic’ can support any of your staff who may be new to or need support in delivering these types of serves.

Free Webinars from National Centre for Voluntary Organisations
Governing during a pandemic – 30 April at 3pm
Sign up for this free webinar here. The session will cover what trustees’ priorities should be right now, key legal and regulatory updates and how to begin to plan for the future.

Making decisions in tough times – 11 June at 2pm
Sign up for this free webinar here. The session for trustees and senior leaders will explain the big strategic challenges and decisions (and some opportunities) facing charities, how to balance immediate and strategic choices, and how to make good decisions in a time of crisis.

Volunteers and COVID-19: How to use them well
COVID-19 is seeing many members work with their volunteers in different ways with some of you using volunteers for the first time. Volunteers can do a fantastic job, especially when managed and supported correctly and that takes time and effort to do properly. On this page we’ve collated links to useful resources to help you manage, support and train your volunteers. This includes advice and webinars on involving, safeguarding and managing volunteers during the COVID-19 outbreak. If you would like further advice and support on volunteers please contact us.

Monitor The Impact Of COVID-19 On Your Organisation
To help charities navigate these challenging times Socialsuite has launched a free COVID-19 Social Impact Assessment Tool. We haven’t assessed this tool but they say “it enables organisations of all sizes to rapidly listen, understand and act to help people during this constantly evolving health crisis.”

New Eye Health Pathways in response to COVID-19
The Scottish Government/NHS Scotland COVID-19 have written this new National Eye Health Framework to address the current situation. For England and Wales, this document outlines the COVID-19 Urgent Eye Care Service – a
temporary service to support NHS eye care during COVID -19.

NHS volunteer responders: Self referrals now open
As of this week, people can now refer themselves for help from an NHS volunteer. This may be relevant to the people your charity works with. There is more information here.


In the know

COVID-19 and governance: what charity trustees need to think about
COVID-19 will have implications for charities as well as their staff, volunteers and beneficiaries. In this blog, NCVO set out some key questions that trustees should consider when thinking about how best to support their organisations.

COVID-19: How to help safely
Across the UK people are playing their part and providing essential support to friends and family. This government page has essential information about staying safe as a volunteer.

Charities are #NeverMoreNeeded
We know that many charities are facing a real funding crunch, and the government’s funding won’t reach everyone who needs it. That’s why NCVO  are making the case that charities are #NeverMoreNeeded. Read about the campaign here and share your story using the hashtag on social media.

Implications of COVID-19 for the Government’s health and social care agenda
Some members have already begun to raise the issue that funding for sight loss provision may be under threat following COVID-19. There is a risk that commissioners and funders could point to the work currently being done in restricted circumstances and suggest that these cut back, remote service delivery models become more permanent as a way to cut funding. This paper by Richard Sloggett explores some of those issues.


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