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Our aims

SSW, the year ahead: developing a volunteer/member buddy befriending scheme, to match people by shared interests

We’ve said it before and we’re very happy to say it again: our volunteers are vital to the success of SSW. Without this team of dedicated and helpful people we’d not be able to provide all that we do. And now, due to one of our objectives for the year, we’re hoping to increase our team of volunteers again.

 

Objective number 4 is to ‘develop a volunteer/member buddy befriending scheme, to match people by shared interests’. Over the next year or so, we’d like to build a pool of volunteers who are happy to be paired with members (and members-to-be!) based on either a practical need (say, gardening, for example), a shared hobby, or just getting together to do something fun. Volunteers and members can specify their interests, time availability, location or any other factor that might affect who they’re paired with. Some people may want a regular slot with their ‘buddy’ whereas others might like to meet as and when. Even meeting up isn’t essential; a phone call or online chat might suit the situation. We won’t have any set criteria and both parties will have a say on what their expectations and requirements are.

 

There are also supporting objectives related to the creation of a befriending scheme: improving our volunteer ‘experience’ and ensuring we have dedicated resourcing to grow our volunteering capabilities. In fact this second point is already underway with the appointment of Katie as our new Volunteer Coordinator (you can read more about Katie here). As well as working with our volunteers on a day-to-day basis Katie will also be working with the rest of the team to update how we communicate with our volunteers. In addition, Katie will be honing our induction processes so that all volunteers feel confident in carrying out their role.

 

We hope lots of you will be keen to join our buddy befriending scheme, in whatever capacity is right for you. Do get in touch with Katie if you’d like to volunteer for us, whether for our new scheme or in any other role.

 

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Our aims

Sight Support Worthing, the year ahead: reinstating popular activities and planning new ones

If you’re a regular visitor to our blog, you’ll have seen our posts about our objectives for this year. If not, you might like to look back at the one about improving our communication with members and the one outlining our plans to develop our technology for VI service.

Our third post looks at our plans to reinstate popular activities for existing members and plan new ones to reach new participants.  

It goes without saying that our usual activities have been somewhat interrupted and different in the last 15 months or so. It now looks like we can start to return to in-person activities which gives us the opportunity to evaluate what we’ve previously offered (both pre-Covid and during the pandemic), what’s worth keeping and what new and exciting activities, groups or events we should offer.

So one aspect of this objective is to resurrect our regular schedule of events, both weekly or otherwise. We’ve already got our classical music group meeting back at the Centre, and the Art Group is currently experimenting with a hybrid face-to-face and Zoom based group. We’ve a trip to Cycall taking place shortly (and more planned!) and our weekly outings on the mini bus will start shortly. We are also planning to maintain our Chair Yoga sessions by Zoom each week. While in-person activities offer an added social aspect, online get togethers do suit people who aren’t able to get to the Centre for whatever reason. 

A Van Raam EasyGo Trike being used at Brooklands Park Worthing

In addition to our regular programme we’re also planning to provide activities for the over 30’s who outgrow the young persons’ VI charity support locally. We have noticed a gap in the availability of interesting, inspiring and accessible activities for the over 30’s and we’re looking at ways to fill that gap. If you are between 30 and 55 and interested in sports, music or any other hobbies – get in touch and we’ll look at what we can offer.

We’ve really missed seeing everyone when the Centre has been closed and it’s highlighted how much dropping into the Centre means to our members. The second part of this objective is to adapt the opening hours of the Centre based around the activities we offer. This may mean, for example, that we open longer into the evening to accommodate activities taking place later in the day. Younger members may be more likely to want to socialise in the evening if they’re busy with work or college in the day time. This will be a fluid process that will take time to settle in but we hope it will suit more people, more of the time! 

man assisting visually impaired woman on walk

We hope our plans sound exciting and we will keep you updated as new activities and events are planned. Don’t forget to provide feedback to any member of the team; we are here to provide services and support to our members and we want to get it right! 

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Our aims technology

Sight Support Worthing, the year ahead: developing our technology for VI service

We’re highlighting our objectives for the year in a series of blog posts. If you missed the first one (about improving our communication with members) you can catch up here. In this one, we’re focusing on how we’re going to develop our technology for VI service.

We’ve been offering some technology products for VI in the last couple of years but this is an aspect of our services that we really want to improve. Part of that effort is to keep up to date with assistive technology, as well as other relevant technologies. It’s one thing going out and buying a stack of ‘things’ but actually knowing what’s on offer, how each item works, the benefits or drawbacks of each product and making sure we’re recommending and buying products that will not be obsolete within six months is crucial.

With that in mind, we’re actively researching and testing products so we have the best choices to offer our members.

an older person and a child sharing a game on a tablet

Although our current team is excited about the prospect of learning more about technology for VI we’re aware that there are very few of us. For that reason, we’re recruiting both staff and volunteers who will be the ‘go to’ on VI tech issues. We’ll all make sure we’re up to speed but there will be specific people who are dedicated to assisting members make decisions about which tech to use, explaining how to use it and fixing problems, should they arise.

And it’s not just our people who will be key to this improvement; our Centre at Rowlands Road will be sufficiently equipped and resourced to provide training, tech support and guidance to members and guests.

Clearly, acquiring technology – whether for VI or otherwise – generally comes at a cost which not everyone is in a position to afford. The final aspect of our objective is to provide a loan-to-buy service for those who are unable to access devices on their own. This may be because cost is a factor but also because no-one wants to buy something that they not long after decide isn’t for them (but would suit someone else better). This format is perfect: try the product at home, and on a day-to-day basis (rather than just testing it in a shop or showroom) so you establish whether it’s right for you. When you decide it is what you’re after, there’s no need to hand it back, you just carry on using it seamlessly. We’re also securing discounts with suppliers so if you order through us or get a referral code, you’ll be able to make a saving on certain products. 

We hope that our technology for VI service will benefit a large number of our members and, perhaps, make aspects of their life easier and more pleasurable. We’re always keen to hear from members (and their families, friends or carers) to understand how we can best support independent living but, more than that, enhance enjoyment and fun too. If you’ve got suggestions you’d like us to explore, please do get in touch.

Kindle e-reader, coffee and notepad

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Our aims

Showcasing SSW in the local press

We’re currently publicising the work of Sight Support Charity in local media, with the aim of highlighting our services to potential members as well as other interested partes. Here’s a copy of the article we’ve placed. If you’d like to see the article as it appeared, you can take a look at it here.

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The past year has been full of challenges for all of us, regardless of age, location or situation. For Sight Support Worthing this has meant ensuring its members continue to receive the support, advice and social engagement they’ve been used to. Sight Support Worthing – as the name suggests! – offers a range of activities, events, resources and information designed to inspire and support those who are blind or partially sighted, and their families. Membership is free of charge and open to anyone with a visual impairment.

 

The charity is headed up by Sonia Baker, who started in her role as General Manager in March 2020. Sonia’s first year has seen Sight Support Worthing (SSW) needing to introduce new ways to support members and a number of new initiatives have been introduced: “Along with dealing with the restrictions of lockdown and the challenges that brought, our aim has been to develop the Charity for the future so it meets the changing interests of a wider visually impaired community, while keeping our familiar and welcoming culture.”

Like many other organisations, online communication has been key, especially when it comes to sustaining social interactions. SSW now runs popular weekly sessions including an art group and chair yoga. These are set to continue, with face-to-face classes being held in addition to online options. With lockdown restrictions now reducing, plans are being made to reopen the SSW Centre in Rowlands Road, Worthing for in-person support.

 

One of the areas that is key to the Charity’s vision is technology. Plans include providing demos, tech support and how-to classes for using tech at all levels. “Accessible tech plays an important part in helping enrich people’s lives and open up opportunities for them. However some devices can seem daunting to learn or are priced out of people’s reach. So we’re really trying to help people see what’s out there, as well as giving opportunities to try out equipment to see if it’s right for them. Then once people invest in technology, we’re here to offer them assistance.” says Sonia, who is leading the project.

 

The year ahead is an exciting one for Sight Support Worthing and its members. As well as the expansion of the charity’s technology for visual impairment service, they are launching a volunteer/member buddy scheme, which will match people by shared interests. Naturally, as a charity, volunteers are crucial and muchvalued members of the Sight Support team; new volunteers are always welcome and there are varied roles available.

 

Another important aim for the charity is to introduce activities for its younger members. As Sonia says: “One of the things we’ve been looking at is the gap between activities and services aimed at the very young, and those that appeal to more senior people. There is definitely a shortage of options for those aged between 30-50. These people may be busy with families or jobs and aren’t necessarily looking to engage with a charity on a daily or weekly basis. Equally they might be missing out on some great services simply because they aren’t being offered anything relevant. So we’ll be looking at new ways to reach that missing demographic.”

 

In their quest to attract new members and provide appealing events, activities and  services, the team is looking to collaborate with other organisations, groups or businesses. Sonia and her team are keen to pool resources and share ideas with others who have similar aspirations: “Now more than ever, organisations need to stop working in silos and work together. So many services remain a postcode lottery which doesn’t meet the needs of the community. Logistically we cannot provide everything to everyone, but if we collaborate we can make sure the things we can’t provide, someone else can and vice versa.”


The Charity would love to hear from anybody who would like to to find out more (either for themselves or a family member), those who are interested in volunteering, as well as anyone working within an organisation, group or business who is keen to partner or collaborate on projects and initiatives.

 

“We’re always open to working with anyone who has ideas for inspiring, supporting or promoting accessibility to visually impaired people, particularly those who are themselves are visually impaired, so do get in touch.”

Categories
Our aims

Sight Support Worthing, the year ahead: improving our communication with members

improving our communication with members

Each year the trustees and staff of Sight Support Worthing discuss their key aims and objectives for the year ahead. This year, despite all the unusual circumstances, is no different. We’ve lots of exciting plans in the pipeline, and we’ll be updating you as and when progress takes place.

One objective this year is to improve our communication and how we interact with our members. Historically our main method of communication has been face-to-face, whether at our events, activities or just when members have popped into the Centre for a chat or seeking advice. This changed dramatically last year when that just wasn’t possible. Phone and email have also been well utilised by staff, volunteers and members over the years, and we’ve now added Zoom to the methods we use.Person using smart phone While we were, essentially, forced to quickly implement tools such as Zoom, it has highlighted how communication has moved on, and different methods offer different benefits. It is certainly not a case of one size fits all!

Although we cannot wait to see our members and volunteers again at the Centre, we also want to both keep in place, and improve on, every type of communication that is feasible. Zoom will continue to be used for those who aren’t able to get to the Centre for activities. Why not carry on with those activities, and bring people at home – wherever that might be – to the Centre to join in the fun with their friends?people catching up over coffee We also hope to use email more, not just to keep our members informed, but also to ensure family and friends are kept in the loop, as well as professionals who work and support our members. If you’d like to be added to our mailing list, you can do that here.

As a membership organisation we’re always keen to hear how you prefer to be communicated with. Do you love the opportunities Zoom presents? Are you keen to have weekly updates by email? Perhaps you’re a keen social media user… do let us know your preferences and make sure your details are up-to-date on our database.