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Opchat Magazine Charity PageCharity News, July to September 2020



The Worshipful Company of Spectacle Makers launches a new Charity
RNIB Scotland warns of E-Scooter dangers
Could you and your friends be up for a marathon to help RNIB?
New novel features Vision Care for Homeless
Read Charity News from April to June 2020

The Worshipful Company of Spectacle Makers launches a new Charity

October 2020

WCSM Spectacle Charity
The oldest optical organisation in the world has launched a new charity this week, to coincide with World Sight Day.

The new Spectacle Makers’ Charity combines two previous grant giving trusts - one promoting support for optical education and the other for organisations helping vision impaired people get the most out of life.

These trusts have previously given over £70,000 a year in charitable support, benefiting students of dispensing, optometry and orthoptics, trainee ophthalmologists and charities working across the United Kingdom and abroad.

Bringing the two elements together will allow the Charity to be more efficient and impactful in its giving and set a clear direction for ongoing support from members of the Company and other donors who have so generously given in the past.

Newly appointed Chairman of The Spectacle Makers’ Charity, Liz Shilling said: “This is a very exciting development. Our new Charity looks forward to supporting all aspects of optical education and enhancing the lives of vision impaired people and their families. In this pandemic year there are extra challenges, both for vision charities and their recipients and for young people starting their careers in eye health. The Spectacle Makers’ Charity will play its part in helping them, as part of our ongoing mission to support better vision for all”.

RNIB Scotland warns of E-Scooter dangers

September 2020

Sight loss charity RNIB Scotland has welcomed news that moves to trial the use of rented e-scooters north of the border have been put on hold.

To date, no Scottish local authority has confirmed plans, but the charity fears their later introduction could have unintended consequences for blind and partially sighted pedestrians and wants regulations tightened.

Although the use of privately owned e-scooters remains illegal, the UK Department for Transport has invited councils throughout the country to carry out trials on the use of rented e-scooters in their areas. The move is part of a drive to reduce the number of cars on roads and manage demand on public transport now that social distancing requirements are in place.

But the Scottish Government has said guidance and legislation will take longer to amend to allow for their use north of the border.

RNIB Scotland will press for tighter safeguards to protect people with sight loss and other disabilities.

E-scooter users must be aged 16 or over with a full or provisional car, motorcycle or moped licence. But already there are reports of problems in Middlesborough, (see news clip here) the first town in England to introduce a trial scheme, involving underage users and near misses with elderly pedestrians, while one local shopping centre has considered lodging a formal complaint about the scheme.

RNIB Scotland director James Adams said: "While we support moves to encourage active travel and reduce congestion, our concerns about e-scooters are that they are silent, so people with sight loss won't know if they are approaching, and also that the maximum speed permitted has been set at 15.5 miles per hour, when we pressed for no more than 12.5.

"E-scooters are not light and a collision with anyone travelling at 15.5 mph could potentially result in a serious injury."

The charity is urging any Scottish local authority considering a trial scheme to set a maximum speed limit of 12.5mph; ensure e-scooters are only used on roads or cycle-lanes; and that they are left in designated parking bays after use which are separated from pavements.

Mr Adams said: "Just as people with sight loss won't be able to see or hear an e-scooter, it may not always be obvious to someone riding one they are approaching a pedestrian who won't know they're there.

"We are concerned, too, that without robust enforcement e-scooters will probably be used on pedestrian walkways. These vehicles can be heavy, so we have serious worries about the risk of collisions.

"We are calling for effective enforcement along with a nationwide awareness campaign to inform the public about the dangers this presents to disabled people. We'd also like a full public consultation at the end of any 12-month trial period on whether e-scooter rental schemes and private-use e-scooters should be legalised in the longer-term."

Meanwhile, the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety has questioned the rationale of promoting e-scooters as active travel. ‘"E-scooters are not active travel," it said. "They involve no physical exertion and provide no health benefit to the user. Because e-scooters largely replace walk, cycle and public transport trips, all of which involve physical activity and have the associated health benefits, e-scooters will tend to reduce active travel."

Could you and your friends be up for a marathon to help RNIB?

July 2020

Allan Russell for RNIBEver thought about doing a marathon to raise funds for a charity but been daunted by the distance? Now sight loss charity RNIB is inviting you to double up with a partner or friend and split the distance.

Its 'Marathon Mates' challenge lets you pair up and run the distance of a marathon (26.2 miles) between the two of you during September. You can split the distance however you want. Take 13.1 miles each or find a more natural middle ground - it's up to you - and you can spread the distance out over the month. You don't have to run side by side either, you can do it in separate locations.

All money you raise will all go towards supporting blind and partially sighted people. All RNIB is asking is that you to set a target of £150 in sponsorship.

Allan Russell from Bishopton near Glasgow has signed up with guide-dog Quigley and his daughter Laura (27). Allan lost his sight in 2001 to an inherited degenerative condition called Leber's Congenital Amaurosis. He works as a producer-presenter for RNIB's multi award-winning Connect Radio station based in Partick, Europe's first station run by and for people with sight loss.

"We've all been working from home during the lockdown period," Allan says. "I haven't done much running since I was in the high school athletics team, competing around Scotland.

"I will be pounding the streets around Dargavel Village, where I live, beside Bishopton. I have a route I've planned with a circuit that's two miles. My daughter Laura will run in Renfrew, where she lives, and we will keep in touch via our Smart phones. We're going to do 13.1 miles each, probably two or four miles a day, depending on work and the weather. But if we get through it quickly, we may go for the 26.2 miles in one go.

"Quigley, my guide-dog, turned five in May. If we do more than two miles a day, I'll need to make sure his paws are ok, as the ground can be quite rough in parts and he's never guided for that kind of constant distance. This can be very mentally tiring for him.

"I'm still wondering why I chose to do it with no sighted guiding in a busy area, and in September when, let's face it, the Scottish weather may be a little harsh. I am actually looking forward to it though.

"With Covid-19 hitting the charity sector hard, it's more important than ever to try to support their great work and I can't encourage others at such a difficult time without actually stepping up to the plate.

"RNIB was there for me when I lost my sight and helped me regain my IT skills and get my mojo back. And through their volunteering scheme, I found employment again. I know, first hand, what a positive and tangible difference RNIB makes to the lives of blind and partially sighted people. It's vital we all do what we can to help the charity weather the coronavirus storm, to be there when people need them, and to show that sight loss is not the end of the road."

James Adams, director of RNIB Scotland, said: "Marathon Mates is open to every kind of pair, whether you team up with an old running buddy, a guide-runner if you have sight loss yourself, or a partner who hasn't worn trainers since the 90s.

"You can support each other through every mile and every penny you raise towards your joint £150 sponsorship target. Whether you run side-by-side or as a virtual pair, you’ve got each other’s back.

"Like almost every charity, RNIB's usual fundraising events have had to be constrained or even cancelled outright during the current situation. So we want to find ways to help those who support us to take part in something that's fun, worthwhile, and not too onerous.

"Marathon Mates is a great way to keep fit with a partner or friend and raise funds to help blind and partially sighted people, many of whom have struggled in recent months with isolation, social distancing, and access to information and shopping."

* To take part in Marathon Mates, sign up here [] To sponsor Allan, you can donate to his Just Giving page

New novel features Vision Care for Homeless

July 2020

Paige Toon

Staring into the eyes of strangers is the leading thread in popular Australian/British author, Paige Toon’s latest book “The Minute I Saw You”.

Hannah, the main character, is a Cambridge-based optician who falls for a photographer. The twists and turns of the story include the challenges of homelessness and a plot thread which is centred around a girl with peripheral vision problems who walks out into the path of a cyclist.

Vision Care for Homeless People features, which is a wonderful boost for the charity, as Paige explained.

“I always try to mention real organisations in my books. Much of the story is about the connections which people make through eyes and includes an inspired photographic exhibition of homeless people’s eyes, shot in macro, with their stories minutely written around the edges of the iris.”

The paperback version is out on 6 August, although advance Australian published copies are available via an auction which raises funds for VCHP and other homeless charities at

The Minute I saw You

Instagram/Facebook/Twitter@PaigeToon author

Elaine Styles, Chair of VCHP, said, "To have our charity highlighted in such an inspired way is truly fantastic. We hope that it will lead people who are not yet supporters to join us in reaching more homeless people, and for them to gain a better view of the world.”

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