Welcome to Visibility’s Summer 2007 Newsletter!
Visibility is your local charity providing a wide range of services for blind and partially sighted children, young people and adults. As many of you know we are based in the West End of Glasgow at Queens Crescent – however, we deliver
services in many areas throughout the West of Scotland.
Visibility is proud of our history. We were formed in 1859 and for many years we were known as Glasgow and West of Scotland Society for the Blind.
We produce our newsletter a few times throughout the year and circulate it to people who are interested in our work. We want to tell our friends and neighbours about Visibility so that more people can benefit from our excellent services.
If you know someone who is blind or partially sighted, why not tell them about Visibility and ask them to get in touch?
We want to become better known in our own community as your local provider of services. If you would be interested in receiving our newsletter on a regular basis we would be pleased to send you a copy. You can email us at info@ visibility.org.uk or telephone on 0141 332 4632 – simply ask our friendly staff to be
put onto our mailing list and let them know that you read this newsletter.
We would also be delighted if you wanted to know more about Visibility – if you
have internet access you can visit our website at www.visibility.org.uk. Finally, if after reading about our work and the people we work with, you would like to support us in any way – perhaps by holding a fundraising event, running a 10k or half marathon or simply making a donation, then please contact us on 0141 332 4632 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
We look forward to hearing from you!
Recognition for Visibility Volunteering
Visibility values our volunteers and to celebrate the contribution made by our great team of volunteers, we hosted an informal Volunteer Recognition Lunch. The event was held in Massimo‟s restaurant and both the venue and food was enjoyed
Visibility‟s volunteer befriending project was nominated to the Evening Times Local Heroes Award & the Nationwide Awards for Voluntary Endeavour. The nomination was made in recognition of the ongoing commitment from our Volunteer Befrienders who regularly provide support and companionship to some of our most vulnerable and isolated service users.
The great news is that the group were short listed for the award and several representatives attended the Gala Lunch on 9th April at the City Chambers. Although the group did not win,it was a great achievement for all the volunteer befrienders to be recognised as finalists in the event.
Well done to all Visibility‟s
volunteers and Rosemary
Finally, the Nationwide Awards
have acknowledged the
nomination for Visibility‟s
Volunteer Befrienders and will
release information in July with
regards to their chosen regional
winners, so watch this space!!!!
Introducing new members of the Visibility team.
New Trainer for Visibility
Hi my name is Audrey Ward and I‟m Visibility‟s new
trainer. A few years ago I decided to do some
voluntary work. I had heard of Visibility through a
friend from college who was a Visibility service user.
He told me that Visibility was a great organisation
and that the staff were very helpful and
understanding. Through first hand experience, I now
know that this is most definitely is true!
I initially wanted to work with providing support for blind and visually impaired people as I felt that I could identify with this need. However, after my initial meeting at Visibility in April 2006 I was delighted to become involved in delivering visual impairment awareness training, which has led me to a permanent position with Visibility. My background in sales means that I have really good communication skills and Visibility thought that my skills could be utilised in helping sighted people understand and appreciate the issues which visually impaired people face on a daily basis.
My story is that on the 23rd of December 1996 I was told that I had a brain tumour. In January 1997 I lost my sight as a result of an angiogram. This was a very distressing time for not only me but also my family, especially as I still had the operation to go through to remove the tumour.
Many months passed and when I finally realised that I was not going to regain my sight, I picked myself up and dusted myself down and had my second child in August 1998. It was having a second child that gave me the confidence to further my education and make a career change.
I attended Motherwell College for five years -firstly learning to switch on a computer and culminating with me achieving an HND in Social Science in June 2005. In August 2005 I started to apply for jobs, something along the lines of advocacy or social work. I really did not know what path I was going down, I only knew that I wanted to “give something back”.
During my journey I had the support of various organisations and individuals who encouraged and empowered me. This is what led me to Visibility.
Ten years have passed and there is light at the end of the tunnel. I hope by sharing my experience, other people can learn that there is hope and it is possible to rebuild your life. If you know of any organisation who you think would benefit from Visibility‟s visual impairment training – why not give me a call and we can get
in touch with them?
New Go Co-ordinator!
We are delighted to announce that Michelle Thomson has started with as the new Go! Coordinator. Michelle has been working recently in the south side of Glasgow with a young people‟s project and is really looking forward to her new post with
Visibility. She feels that her own personal experience as a visually impaired person plus her working experience to date means that this job is perfect for her. She said she was “watching for the advert in the paper as she knew it was the job for her.” After two interview sessions with staff and Go! participants, we agreed! We are really pleased to welcome Michelle to the Visibility team.
A big thank you must also go to Tabassum and Sandra who have kept things going over recent months and we welcome back
Sarah who has returned from maternity leave to
complete the team.
We hope to give Michelle a few weeks to settle in
but we aim to organise two day trips over the
course of the next four months and details of these
will be sent out to all participants and will be
published on our website. The residentialtrip to
Oban that was discussed earlier this year
willhappen later on in the year and we are also
organising a residential weekend for young people.
The classes that are currently running in Visibility will stop for the summer months at the end of June and a new programme will start in September. If anyone has ideas for new classes, then please let us know.
New Administration Worker
We are delighted to welcome Balzinder Bhatti to our
admin team. No doubt many of you will meet
Balzinder when you next visit us at 2 Queens
Visibility‟s Community Support Team are delighted that recent developments have provided the opportunity to work in partnership with the Visual Impairment Services in both East and West Dunbartonshire.
East Dunbartonshire‟s Visual Impairment Service haveinvited Visibility‟s Paul McArthur to work alongside them for two days per week and Paul is greatly enjoying working with social work colleagues and providing support to the visually impaired residents of East Dunbartonshire.
Initially for three months, Paul‟s post involves conducting comprehensive assessments for visually impaired, hearing impaired and dual sensory impaired people. Together with the emotional support side of the role, there is a more practical approach with a large array of aids and equipment being installed in individuals homes together with general trouble shooting should any equipment be faulty or need replaced. The wider remit of the post is to assess any other social work involvement if required and to refer to the appropriate department. Anne Harkins and the sensory impairment team have been extremely welcoming to Visibility and the partnership working relationship has benefited both parties and the individuals we have been supporting. Should anyone need their phone to be interfaced for a speech plus unit or need a liquid level indicator, please see Paul!!
West Dunbartonshire Council has provided members of the Community Support Team with the opportunity to provide similar support within the West Dunbartonshire area. These are exciting developments for Visibility and we hope that this, and similar developments will continue into the future.
Glasgow City Council and West Dunbartonshire Council have continued to provide financial support to Visibility. Both councils recognise the value of our specialist welfare rights service and given generous grants to support our work.
Out and about!
Visibility‟s Community Support Team have recently provided a series of successful information evenings within East Dunbartonshire and would like to extend this service by offering residents of East Ayrshire the opportunity to access useful information and advice.
We are currently in the planning stages of this development and we hope to hold the first session in late June/early July. We would greatly welcome ideas and suggestions for possible venues and topics to be discussed and would really like to hear from you.
If you would like to discuss the sessions or would like to be notified when further information becomes available, please contact the team on 0141 572 0746.
Visibility is continuing to hold information sessions for families with visually impaired children who live in North and South Lanarkshire. These sessions always receive positive feedback and seem to be very useful for those who come along. The next session will be held on 12th June and will once again take place from 7-8.30 pm in Knowetop Primary School in Motherwell.
The theme of this session will be „Mobility and Independent Living‟, and our speaker will be leading a general discussion and answering individual questions from parents.
Childcare will be provided by staff from Mobile Play in Action. During the last session, one 4-year-old boy told Visibility staff that he had been waiting far toolong to come to the creche again, so the serviceis obviously popular with the children! If any parents are interested in joining us, please contact Kerrie Brown at Visibility.
Visibility‟s most recent development within the Lanarkshire Family Support Project
has been the formation of a youth group for young people aged 12 to 18. This group is run in conjunction with Visibility‟s Go! Project, and offers social and recreational activities as well as opportunities to build self esteem and confidence.
The group met for the first time in March for a social evening at Pizza Hut, and everyone is looking forward to our second session in May which will be a workshop on image and style. So far we have eleven participants in the Lanarkshire youth group who are keen to become involved in all of our upcoming activities such as a trip to Cumbernauld Outdoor Centre for an off-road driving experience.
Any 12 to18 year-olds who live in Lanarkshire are welcome to join the group and should contact either Kerrie Brown or Tabassum Sarfraz at Visibility.
Visibility has achieved great success in attracting donations from Charitable Trusts over the past few months. For example, we have received funding support to organise our first Go! Teen residential weekend which will be a fantastic opportunity for teenagers to mix and mingle and take part in outdoor activities.
We also attracted funds to help buy equipment and to help train people for our New View project. Charitable Trusts are an important source of income for Visibility and we thank all the Trusts who have kindly supported us.
Seeking company support!
Over the course of the year, Visibility wants to encourage support from the private sector and get companies more involved in our activities. With this in mind, we are organising our first Corporate ?1k Challenge event which will take place on Friday 14th September at Lomond Shores, Balloch. We are looking for companies (between four and six participants in each team) to compete in a one-day outdoor challenge involving canoeing, raft building, Highland Games and a blindfolded sensory trail.
This is a fantastic team building event which will help raise staff morale and get them involved in the community. Each team is being asked to raise at least ?1,000 for Visibility. If you know of any companies who might be interested in participating, contact Nuala our Fundraising Manager for further information.
Jacqueline Clougherty, Visibility Visual Support Worker arranged a charity night for Visibility at the Good Year Club in Glasgow and raised over ?1,000. Many of our readers will know that Jacqueline‟s son Ryan is one of our youngest service users.
Ryan (age 8) was recently featured in the Herald and the Evening Times displaying his talent for wall climbing at the Xscape centre. Ryan wanted to raise money for Visibility and he undertook a sponsored climb which not only brought great publicity to Visibility but raised the fantastic sum of ?400.
Well done to Jacqueline and her son Ryan for all their hard work and their contributions to Visibility!
Image courtesy of the Herald
Visibility Service Update
End of Welfare Rights Contract
As many people will be aware Visibility was fortunate to attract financial support from the Department of Work and Pensions for two years. This grant allowed us to work with people over the age of 60 in specific local authorities. The two year pilot partnership contract between the Department of Work and Pension and Visibility is due to end on 31st July 2007 as the funding has come to an end.
This joint partnership has resulted in a very successful outcome for service users aged 60 years and over who live in North and South Lanarkshire, East Dunbartonshire and Inverclyde catchment areas. The partnership has also resulted in Visibility and The Pension Service having a greater understanding of how each organisation works, which can only be beneficial to visually impaired service users.
Unfortunately, due to the end of grant funding, as from May 2007, Visibility are no longer available to offer welfare rights services to new service users who reside in any local authority area other than Glasgow and West Dunbartonshire. However, people who live in other authorities and are currently receiving an ongoing Visibility service will be assisted to the finalisation of their current case. Any person, not living in Glasgow or West Dunbartonshire, who wishes assistance with welfare benefits after May 2007, should contact their nearest CAB or local authority Social Work Department.
Visibility will continue to provide a Welfare Rights service in Glasgow and West Dunbartonshire. This serviceisjointly funded by thelocalauthorities and Visibility.
Good news for Welfare Rights
On a brighter note in May of this year our welfare rights department successfully assisted a registered blind East Dunbartonshire service user at appeal to obtain a reduction in his council tax benefit through the Council Tax Disabled Person‟s
Reduction Scheme. The Council Tax (Reduction for Disabilities) (Scotland) Regulations 1992 states that there must be, within the sole or main residence of the disabled person, at least one of the following:
• an additional bathroom;
• an additional kitchen;
• the use of a wheelchair inside the house;
• a room, other than a bathroom, kitchen, lavatory,
which is used predominantly (whether for providing therapy or otherwise) by
the disabled person
The Local Valuation Panel for Argyll & Bute, Dunbartonshire and Glasgow Committee unanimously agreed to allow the appeal on the grounds that the room was required for meeting the needs of the gentleman.
This appeal was the first successful case to be brought before East Dunbartonshire Council and only the second appeal to be successfully challenged at the Valuations Appeal since 2003. On both occasions Visibility Welfare Rights represented the Tax Payers at the Valuations Appeal. Well done to our Welfare Rights team!
North Lanarkshire Council recently inspected our Home Support Service and we are delighted to report that feedback was all positive. We were pleased to pass on a letter to the council received from the daughter of one of our service users. The letter praised Visibility‟s Visual Support Worker, Stephanie McLean for the
dedicated support Stephanie provided to her mum and also for the professional conduct of Visibility. This was great to receive as it demonstrated the appreciation and importance the home support service has on not only our service users but their families too.
If you find difficulty using a zip on a hand bag, shopping bag or purse, why not try fixing a ring such as the type found on key rings and attach it to the small metal tag that opens the zip. The ring is easier to locate and makes opening the zip easier, especially if you have trouble with your fingers. If you are unable to fix one yourself, ask a friend or neighbour to fix one for you.