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Opchat Magazine Charity PageCharity News, July to September 2019



New picture book will promote better eye health for people with learning disabilities
Report from the Royal National Institute of Blind People Scotland on their assistance for National Eye Health Week
Blindness is no barrier to Charity Walking
Autumn push for VCHP fundraising urged
Kilimanjaro Climb for Croydon Vision
Read archived charity news from April to June here

New picture book will promote better eye health for people with learning disabilities

October 2019

Adults with learning disabilities are 10 times more likely to have serious sight problems than other people, yet research shows that 50% of adults with learning disabilities haven’t had a sight test for at least two years.

Most will need extra support to recognise and report changes in their vision, and also to access the eye care services to which they are entitled. For this reason, publishing charity Beyond Words and disability and sight loss charity SeeAbility, have teamed up to launch a new resource, carefully designed to open up conversations, improve awareness and understanding, and support informed decision-making around eye health.

The wordless story, Looking After My Eyes, raises awareness of the importance of regular eye tests and everyone’s right to good quality eye care that meets their own particular needs. It demonstrates the reasonable adjustments that eye care service providers are legally required to make to ensure their services are accessible.

Looking After My Eyes tells a story completely through pictures which anyone can follow, whether or not they can read words. The pictures follow the journeys of two characters – one who gets her first pair of glasses and a second who undergoes surgery for cataracts. Professional best practice is demonstrated throughout and the characters’ emotional responses to their experiences are central to the story. Supplementary text at the end of the book gives useful background information on eye health and eye care, and signposts other relevant resources.

Over 18 months of research and development, authors Baroness Sheila Hollins (Beyond Words), Stephen Kill (SeeAbility), Scott Watkin BEM (SeeAbility) and Prof. Margaret Woodhouse (Cardiff University) worked together with artist Beth Webb, advisors with learning disabilities, their supporters and other eye care professionals to create the book. Throughout the development process, feedback was sought from over 70 adults with learning disabilities so that their ideas and experiences could be incorporated into the pictures.

The book is printed in a larger landscape format to make it easier to see and can be used to prepare someone before having an eye test, hospital visit or operation. It can also be used to help someone to understand the adaptations that are available for people with sight problems. Eye care professionals will find it an invaluable communication tool during consultations and before treatments.

Baroness Hollins said: “Being able to see is something we may take for granted until we experience sight loss ourselves. Losing one’s sight can have a devastating effect on almost every aspect of our lives. I hope that this book will help to inform and prepare everyone who reads it for if and when their own sight is impaired.”

Scott Watkin BEM, Head of Engagement at SeeAbility said: “No one is too disabled to have a sight test and no one should have to live with vision problems. It took me a long time to find the support I need but this book will help more people with learning disabilities get the right support in time.”

The book was launched at the Beyond Words 30-year anniversary event on 3 September at the House of Lords.

Report from the Royal National Institute of Blind People Scotland on their assistance for National Eye Health Week

October 2019

RNIB ScotlandThe new V&A Dundee Museum and the Callanish Standing Stones are among four iconic Scottish landmarks to feature in a nationwide campaign to promote healthy eyes.

The landmarks were pictured on a series of specially produced coasters as seen through the eyes of someone with a common sight loss condition. The coasters have been produced by the charity RNIB Scotland to mark National Eye Health Week last week.

The charity distributed these to selected pubs and cafes throughout the country with a message urging everyone to go for regular eye examinations, which are free in Scotland, at local optometrists.

Images on the coasters in the series feature Edinburgh Castle (as seen through age-related macular degeneration), the Callanish Stones in the Western Isles (as seen through diabetic retinopathy) the Dundee Victoria and Albert Museum (as seen through glaucoma) and Buchanan Street in Glasgow (as seen through cataracts).

Cate Vallis, campaigns officer for RNIB Scotland, said: "With many sight loss conditions, damage to vision can be arrested or even reversed if the symptoms are detected early enough. Glaucoma, for example, can usually be successfully treated. That's why it's so very important that people do get their eyes examined every two years."

Both RNIB Scotland and V&A Dundee benefit from the support of the People's Postcode Lottery, which welcomed today's joint-event. "The players of People's Postcode Lottery are pleased to support the fantastic work that both bodies do," a spokesperson said. "But it's especially rewarding when those we help find ways to reinforce each other's messages."

Blindness is no barrier to Charity Walking

September 2019

David Clarke Being registered blind isn't stopping David Clarke from walking 24 miles as part of the Edinburgh Kiltwalk this Sunday [September 15th].

Nor did it stop him pursuing a highly successful 24-year career in the banking sector, working for HSBC, Royal Bank of Scotland and Clydesdale and Yorkshire Bank - or an international football career in which he represented Great Britain and England’s blind football team 144 times, for which he was their highest goal-scorer with a total of 128 goals.

'I have Glaucoma and no longer now have any useful vision,' says David (48). 'In my early years I could see light and colours but this had faded away by the time I was around seven or eight years old.

'But I am known to my friends as the king of underestimation - I never let myself admit how hard things such as the Kiltwalk will be. I love to test myself and take on endurance events which are a challenge, with or without sight loss.'

Now director of services for national sight loss charity RNIB, David is doing the Kiltwalk's Mighty Stride this Sunday with colleagues Matt Stringer, chief executive of RNIB, James Adams, director of RNIB Scotland.

Originally from Wigan, David lives with his wife and two children in Hertfordshire. He played football in eight European Championships, five World Championships and three Paralympics culminating in the London 2012 Paralympic Games.

He was five times a European Championships “Golden Boot” winner and five times European Championships Silver Medallist. He has been inducted in to the National Football Museum Hall of Fame and recognised with a Life Time Achievement Award at the 2013 England Football Awards Ceremony. He is also a director of the British Paralympic Association.

Doing the Edinburgh Kiltwalk is just the latest in an endeavour to prove that people with sight loss can achieve, given the right support.

'I am hugely grateful to everyone who is taking part in the Kiltwalk and supporting the urgent and essential work of charities such as RNIB,' says David. 'RNIB is determined to create a world where there are no barriers stopping blind and partially sighted people living the life they wish to lead, and funds raised through the Kiltwalk will support these efforts.'

Altogether, almost 60 walkers are supporting RNIB across all three Kiltwalk options on Sunday. They include 14 staff from Aberdeen Standard Investments joining David on the Mighty Stride, four people from the Department of Work and Pensions in Edinburgh doing the 14.5-mile Big Stroll, and two staff from RBS doing the five-mile Wee Wander.

Meanwhile, nine staff from Sainsbury's Bank have also volunteered to act as guides on the Wee Wander for those taking part with sight loss.

* You can support David in raising money for RNIB Talking Books at

Autumn push for VCHP fundraising urged

August 2019

VCHP Cycling
Fundraisers for Vision Care for Homeless People are going the extra mile and are urging others to do the same to keep the regional clinics going – either by raising funds or volunteering.

Michael Offord, (pictured) an Optom from Newcastle, cycled from the west coast at Whitehaven to Tynemouth on the east coast, covering a distance of 140 miles, raising just over £1400.

“I have come down to London and volunteered in the past for the Crisis eye clinics and I was keen to do something else to support this home-based charity. It has been lovely to get friends and family to support me and to help to make a difference – it is a very worthwhile cause.”

Scott Mackie, an optometrist from Lanarkshire, and his son, Rory, have also been pedalling hard: they took a gruelling cycle route through the Outer Hebrides from North Uist to Benbecula, to South Uist, to Eriskay, to Barra, finishing at Vatersay. The three day cycle in strong prevailing head winds saw them raise over £600.

To find out more about supporting Vision Care for Homeless People – either as a volunteer in your area, or through fundraising visit

Kilimanjaro Climb for Croydon Vision

August 2019

A team of 3 will be taking on a challenge in October - the Kilimanjaro Climb Lemosho Route.
Croydon Vision’s Director (Susanette), will be heading to Tanzania with Reshi (Working age member) and a colleague from NHS, John Hartley.

Purpose: to purchase an accessible 7-seater vehicle. A Multi-Purpose Vehicle to improve transport-waiting time for our members; promote inclusivity; reaching many more people with sight loss whilst reducing emission.

During the challenge, the team will possibly experience different temperatures (hot, cold and rain) all in 9 days. Extreme altitude above 5,500m/ 18,044 feet. Physical fatigue from multi-day hiking, lack of sleep plus excellent but different food, not to with stand sleeping in a sleeping bag and tent. Therefore, we need your help to make this challenge worthwhile and a success.

Please support us through just giving, link here:

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