Latest NewsFirst AGM for VisualEyes Torbay combined with our indoor 'Summer Garden Party' held on Saturday 21st July 2018. What a great time we all had and Chris our Chair of Trustees updated everyone on how well we have done as a charity and how many people we are reaching, helpng and getting out into the community!
The lovely party food was organised beautifully by Shirley and a small team of volunteers, thank you to everyone!
FAIR ProjectCitizens Advice Torbay is the lead agency for the FAIR project, a multi-agency partnership, funded by the Lottery, and designed to support older people in Torbay with Financial issues.
One of the partner agencies is VisualEyes Torbay – formally Brixham Blind Club, attended our last meeting and told us about the problems visually impaired people are having with the transition from Disability Living Allowance to Personal Independence Payments. Many of their members have seen their benefit income fall or stop altogether.
The FAIR project will be helping VisualEyes Torbay members to challenge some of these decisions.
There are two stages to challenging your PIP assessment decision. The first stage is known as mandatory reconsideration and involves asking the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to take a second look at your assessment decision.
Normally, you’ll need to contact the DWP within a month of your assessment decision being made, and it’s best to do so in writing. Under some circumstances, you can ask for mandatory reconsideration up to 13 months from your assessment decision date.
Your letter should list all the reasons why you don’t think your PIP award should be reduced. Make sure you provide evidence to back up each point your make, such as practical examples, medical records and supporting letters from specialists who are treating you. If you don’t have the required evidence available, you can submit it separately at a later date.
Once the DWP has looked again at your assessment decision, you’ll receive a Mandatory Reconsideration Notice which says if your request has been successful or not. If it is, your original award will be reinstated and your payment backdated.
If you’re unsuccessful, you could choose to progress to the second challenge stage. This is where you appeal your assessment decision by taking your case to tribunal. For help filling in the tribunal form and preparing your hearing, contact your nearest Citizens Advice or visit the website.
We strongly recommend you get help with challenging PIP assessments which you think are unfair. If you are visually impaired and are facing this problem please contact Chris Sumner at VisualEyes Torbay. He will be able to put you in touch with someone who can help but will also be able to tell you about the wide range of support and social activities available to visually impaired people in Torbay.
To contact VisualEyes Torbay Tele: 07951 659514. For help with PIP and a wide range of other advice issues you can also contact Citizens Advice Torbay on
0300 3309026. Full details of our opening times can be found on www.citizensadvicetorbay.org.uk
New to VisualEyes - Health and Care VideosTake a look at our new 'Health and Care Videos' at the top right hand of the home page. Lots of really useful information videos produced by our own local NHS professonals. Go on give it a go just press the button!!!
‘Losing your sight can have a profound impact on a person’s life,’ says Chris Sumner, Chair of VisualEyes Torbay, ‘with everyday activities - from making a cup of tea or using the internet to going shopping - becoming a real challenge. On top of that, sight loss can lead to isolation and loneliness: the more severe someone's sight loss is, the higher the probability that they never leave their home.’
With that in mind, the new charity ‘VisualEyes Torbay’ - formerly Brixham Blind Club - offers advice and support alongside a wealth of fun activities to the sight-impaired people of Torbay and South Devon, helping them lead happier, more fulfilling lives.
Running clubs in Brixham and Paignton and subsidising a ‘Spoken Book’ club, VisualEyes brings people together to share their experiences and to have fun together, the club’s activities running from golf, bowls, yoga, sailing, shooting and swimming, to shopping, cinema and theatre trips, as well as giving people the chance to learn new crafts and hobbies. Run by Volunteers completely, VisualEyes has recently been awarded a BIG LOTTERY GRANT, in order to expand its operation into all Torbay, and work hard at reaching into the Community to find the many individuals who have withdrawn out of society and are not aware of the many positive activities that Torbay can offer.
Beating Loneliness and Isolation
‘Almost half of people with poor vision or blindness say that they consciously limit the amount of activity they take part in outside the house,’ Chris tells us, ‘while older blind and partially sighted people are three times more likely to experience depression than those with good vision.’
While for most of us personal likes and dislikes play a crucial part in what we choose to do, for blind and partially sighted people choice isn’t always an option. Because of that, VisualEyes plays a vital role in helping people avoid becoming isolated and lonely by giving them a whole range of activities to take part in.
Giving people choice helps them live fuller, active lives, helping battle depression.
‘We provide peer support networks that can increase feelings of belonging and improved feelings of well-being,’ VisualEyes tell us. ‘Having access to a wide variety of experiences enables people to express themselves in things they enjoy doing – it helps connect people and reduces isolation. We believe in a “can do”, not “can’t do” approach, and offer social, recreational and sporting opportunities to blind and partially sighted people of all ages.’
Reading lots of really positive feedback from a VisualEyes Torbay club session, I was struck by how many enjoyed not just the amazing range of activities they could choose from but – crucially – the chance that the club gave them to simply relax and chat with people. As one person put it, ‘It helps lonely people with disabilities to have a positive life,’ while another said, ‘It helps people communicate – it’s easy to talk about anything!’ Outings are obviously a real plus, too, while others talked about the visiting speakers they’d enjoyed and how much they’d learned: ‘Information – you get the information you need here – I found out more about my sight condition here than from the doctor,’ was one telling comment.
Given that visual impairment in Torbay is higher than the UK average, with 5,750 people living with some registered degree of sight loss living here , a club like VisualEyes clearly has a truly life-enhancing role to play, especially as RNIB figures predict this number growing to over 7,500 by 2020.
Finding Out More
The VisualEyes Brixham Club meets at the URC Hall on New Road every 1st Monday of the month 2pm-4pm, the one in Paignton meets every 1st Wednesday of the month 10.30am-12.30pm in Paignton Library. The ‘Spoken Book’ Club is at Paignton Library on the 2nd Tuesday of the month 10.30am-12.30pm.
‘We also offer transport within Torbay,’ they add ‘at a cost of £5 return trip from your front door.’
For more information, you can call 07951 659 514, email Info@visualeyestorbay.org.uk
or visit the new website: www.visualeyestorbay.org.uk
Bob Jope: Healthwatch Torbay