Light in the darkness, hope in the face of adversity
Hello Members & Team, It’s Susanette.
2022 has been a year of both possibilities and challenges. Charles Dickens’ words come to mind; “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the winter of despair, it was the spring of hope.” Globally, there have been challenges to peace, nationally to keeping our homes warm and well-lit. And locally, there’s been bankruptcy in Croydon, a £1.6 billion debt and a proposed reduction of £2.6m from the voluntary sector.
This will affect 45 local organisations including Croydon Vision (CV).
In the midst of these challenges we aim to bring assurance and hope to our people. “Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.” — Desmond Tutu. Hope is always available to all of us; by sticking together as a community we know we’re stronger.
Our community has had some big wins lately: We’ve recently been awarded a grant to fund three new CV minibuses to transform lives across Croydon. This is something members requested at our 2018 Away Day and was part of our 2020-3 Strategic Plan. The new vehicles will come into circulation in 2023 and will make a huge difference to what we’re able to do here:
- The 3 vehicles plus MPV will give us full coverage of the borough
- A new Transport Manager will facilitate internal and community services
- Increase community outings such as excursions and exhibitions
2023 is a significant year for CV, our centenary year! Odette and the team are currently planning the programme for how we’ll celebrate, plus we’re talking to committees for ideas and tips, and we’ve had some fantastic ideas from Trinity School (volunteer day). In addition, our strategy beyond 2023 – currently in draft mode – will be available soon!
Trustees Recruitment is now open for 2 roles; treasurer and a more general role as trustee. Please contact reception for a pack or check out our website; www.croydonvision.org.uk/recruitment/
The closing date for application is 7th January 2023, with the goal of appointing and inducting new members by March 2023.
Welcoming 2023 with possibility thinking. “I love the man that can smile and cry in trouble, that can gather strength from distress, and grow brave in reflections.” Thomas Paine. 2023 will come with its challenges both individually and sector wide. At Croydon Vision, we believe that this is a time of darkness but also of incredible hope. So, we will continue to measure success by the way we touch the lives of our people. We continue to learn the tools necessary to turn this moment into an opportunity for our community. Our focus will be:
- To develop our people, because growth is the only guarantee that tomorrow will be better.
- To further embed our 5 Step model; because we believe that transformation is a journey and we celebrate each step as a win.
- To develop our approach into Phase 3 of CV; we’ll continue to embrace Heart of a Charity, Mindset of a Business, so we can build to sustain CV, amidst the challenges.
What we ask of you. Simply be part of our vibrant community, and ask not only what CV can do for you, but also what you can do for CV. You can volunteer; becoming a sight loss ambassador can change lives.
Finally, thank you team (staff, volunteers, trustees) and members for being part of our 2022 journey. We sincerely appreciate your time, support and passion as we transform more lives.
Have a blessed Christmas and hopeful.
AT BEDFORD HALL, AND BEYOND
Our Services and Activities, please check out our page: https://croydonvision.org.uk/whats-happening/
More dates for your diary…
Croydon Vision’s Christmas Party
Croydon Vision’s Children’s Christmas Party
CV will be closed until the 3rd of Jan 2023.
Croydon Vision’s opening hours are Monday-Thursday, 08:30am-4pm and for appointments only on Fridays. Telephone – 020 8688 2486.
Mr Karouko’s Story
I’ve always been a big believer in “You have to look at the bright side of things.” but this year my life came to a standstill when I lost my vision and it put my personal strength to the test.
I became a social worker in 1996, then for the last 8 years I’ve been a manager in youth offending services. My job was busy, pressurised and involved a lot of computer work. Then in June my vision started to get blurry, it was like a fog or a mist and it just wouldn’t go. I was too busy at work to reflect that I was losing my vision and then quickly – we’re talking a period of 2 or 3 weeks and every day getting worse – I realised, “No. This is bad.”
I had a lot of trips to Moorfields, got a second independent opinion and was diagnosed with Optical Retinopathy. I thought that was it. I’d lost my vision. I was, you know, taken aback. No, that’s an understatement. I was shocked to the core. I had to give up my job. I couldn’t cross the street. I couldn’t see cars coming. Reading was out of the question. My life came to a standstill.
It was one of the most difficult things anybody can go through.
Croydon’s Sensory Team referred me to Croydon Vision in July, as an agency in the community who could support me through my visual impairment journey. Glen offered support and encouragement, sitting with me and going through some of the support I could receive, such as access to work and disability living allowance.
I like to think I’m resilient. After all, the nature of my career has been working with people who have gone through adverse life situations.
But it was the support I got from friends and family – to whom I’ll be forever grateful – as well as Croydon Vision that helped me deal with such a huge shock to the system.
I started making some major lifestyle changes. I have diabetes, so I went on an aggressive diet, eliminating carbs and sugar. I did more exercise and got more rest. Then incredibly, around August, the fog started clearing. That was the beginning of a turning point for me.
By mid-September I went back for more tests and got new prescription glasses. Suddenly I could read again. I couldn’t believe it. At my next review in December I think – I hope – I’ll be taken off the register.
I’m not clear yet but this whole experience has rocked my world. I’ve always been the kind of person to take life as it is and I’ve enjoyed good health, so I’m reevaluating now. This is no time to be unemployed, plus I love to work, so I quickly started to prepare for interviews. I decided to take a step down from management, away from pressure and computer time and began to apply for things. I had options.
Now, with help from Croydon Vision, I’ve found more flexible employment as a safeguarding coordinator. I’m slowly putting the pieces back together and I’m glad to say I’m in a much better place now and the prognosis is good.
It’s made me realise you need to be a very resilient person when you’re visually impaired; there are so many challenges. But you have to hold onto the fact that you have your own internal strengths to cope with what life has dealt you. You’re more than your eye condition; as a person you’re still there, and you can draw strength from that.
Shalini’s inspiring journey.
Since October 2020 Shalini has transformed herself from a Croydon Vision member joining in with keep fit via Zoom, to an empowering member of the team, working and volunteering in the kitchen at Bedford Hall. Her story was part of this year’s Annual Review, and audio version of which can be found at www.croydonvision.org.uk/downloads/
“I joined Croydon Vision back in October 2020, when lockdown was becoming part of our lives. At first I just took advantage of their Advice & Advocacy, then I joined social groups online.
Cookery and sharing joy through food is my ‘why’ but back then I was letting my visual impairment hold me back. Then I saw Croydon Vision were doing online cooking classes for members like me and I thought ‘I want to be part of that’! So I offered to help, cooking something for people to try themselves. It was a full achievement for me. It gave me so much joy and happiness and pride too.
I had a lot of emotional baggage at that time – to do with confidence and hope – but I don’t really like to show it. I don’t let it work on me. Instead I prefer to be busy and helpful and the team at Croydon Vision helped with that; offering me so many opportunities to feel valuable. Over time I looked at Odette and the way she hosts workshops and things and I thought ‘if she can do it, I can do it as well’. She showed me I could do more; she made me look at my strengths, not what I couldn’t do.
Soon I went from hosting VI cookery workshops online to volunteering in the kitchen at Croydon Vision. I now work as a chef alongside my volunteering and I just want to help other people have the life-changing journey I’ve had here.”
STAFF VOICE: Nabeela is all about perseverance.
I joined Croydon Vision as the Employment Officer in June and I am excited to be working directly with people. Providing assistance to those who need it without discrimination is what I’m all about. I’ve been through a number of challenges in my personal life and I know that my resilience is the reason I’m here and I want to share that resilience with others.
Previously I’ve worked with Marie Curie, helping vulnerable people who’ve hit rock bottom. Motivating people to fight for a better life required the same skills and tenacity at Marie Curie as it does here.
I think the secret to motivating people is understanding, so I’ll always listen to someone’s situation before making any suggestions. With me, members will find that it’s never “you should”, it’s “shall we”; changing mindsets takes sensitivity as well as perseverance.
When it comes to helping visually impaired people get into work there are so many tools, equipment and opportunities out there, all ripe for the taking. Access to Work is a prime example, I just need to let people know it’s there to assist and empower them!
The journey to employment can start with something small, like getting someone used to using a mobile phone and suddenly the world will open up. We’ve just had some funding from The Vision Foundation to scale up our Route to Employment Programme, working alongside businesses to raise awareness and challenge the status quo. At CV, we use the 5 steps model, celebrating small wins that leads to big wins; I’ll even look and apply for jobs sitting alongside someone if that’s what it takes. After all, I’m here to change mindsets and make a difference!
If you or someone you know is looking to join the world of work or socials, please email: Nabeela.Ali@croydonvision.org.uk.
PERSONAL GROWTH: How Creativity Can Improve Your Health.
Watching the news is no picnic at the moment. Financial and political insecurity, the knock-on effects of Covid-19 and of course international unrest in Europe. “It’s hard enough to deal with one of those—but when there are so many stressful matters orbiting at once? It’s a lot.” says psychologist Victoria Egizio, PhD. But this newsletter is all about finding hope in the face of adversity, so we’ve compiled a top 3 list of actionable ways you can do just that:
1) Turn off the TV/radio. We all know that knowledge is power, but that’s only trus up to a point. Now we can access the news 24/7 there’s no limit to how much we can fuel our anxiety. Instead get some perspective by listening to an audio book or calling a friend.
2) Move your body. Exercise as a tried and tested stress reliever cannot be understated. Staying active – even if it’s just going for a walk or changing positions throughout the day, so you’re not just sitting still all the time—is a great way to calm down and refocus your mental energy. Croydon Vision’s Keep Fit classes are for all ages and abilities and come with a guaranteed feel-good buzz afterwards.
3) Take comfort in good people. As TV’s Mr. Rogers once said,“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’” So realising we’re all in this together and there are lots of people rolling up their sleeves to help their fellow man is a start.
The next step is being one of those helpers, to volunteer at Croydon Vision please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
4) Take comfort in a good audio book. The Croydon Vision Audio Book Club has been up and running since September 2022. We’re currently all listening to the brilliant self-development book ‘The Happiness Project’ by Gretchen Rubin. CV member Theodore says: “The book is interesting, it helped me to have a more positive mindset. I got great advice from it, that I should block out the light every night, for a better sleep; it really helped me improve my sleep! I hope to see more members attending the audio book club in the future.”
We also have a staff audio book club, where we’re listening to and reading ‘Search Inside Yourself’, by Chade-Meng Tan. It’s about how to enhance mindfulness and emotional intelligence in life and work.
Our staff member, Debbie, says: “I love reading but have never really invested myself in self-development books. Our book club is encouraging me to discover tips and advice that I can apply to all areas of life. I really look forward to reading and discussing together, knowing each and every person wants to strengthen themselves and add value to the organisation. I think it’s a healthy habit to get into and I am glad we are sharpening each other as a team.”
Anca, the Member Liaison Officer says: “I enjoy listening to audio books on self development. It’s an area that helps me understand myself better and improve my wellbeing.”
The Cost of Living
In our last newsletter we shared lots of tips on simple ways we can all try to curb our household expenses this winter. Top tips included using energy-efficient microwaves over ovens and not filling kettles to the brim every time you brew. If you’re still struggling with high energy bills then we’re here to help…
We’re in Your Corner
If you’ve not had a chance to read or listen to this year’s Annual Review you might not be aware of some of the great work we’ve been doing on your behalf this year. We were proud to report that thanks to Croydon Vision, 24% of members either have more money themselves or greater control over their finances, and through our Advice & Advocacy service we’ve been able to generate £100,804 for 16 individuals. If you’d like assistance with your finances, please contact Glen on 07458301453 ext.3 or by emailing email@example.com.
He’s in the office Tuesdays and Thursdays and visits members on Wednesdays and Fridays.
A Treat for Your Ears!
The Croydon Vision Podcast is soon to be returning for a special centenary trilogy. The three episodes will be looking into the past of Croydon Vision (or the Croydon Voluntary Association for the Blind as it was known!), what Croydon Vision offers its members today and finally a look into what Croydon Vision’s future might look like. If you’d like to be involved in the recording of the podcast, please call reception on 07458 301453 and ask for Joanne – she’d love as much input from our community as possible!
CROYDON VISION’S FESTIVE QUIZ
- What’s the name of the snowman in the Disney film ‘Frozen’?
- True or false: There are three towns/cities in the United States named Santa Claus?
- The lyrics, ‘Holidays are coming, Holidays are coming,’ feature in Christmas adverts for which famous drinks company?
- True or false: In Japan, millions of people eat KFC for their main Christmas meal?
- What might a naughty child find in their stocking on Christmas morning?
- What is the name of the 25 days leading up to Christmas?
- What is lucky to find in your Christmas Pudding?
- In the nativity, who were the first to visit the baby Jesus? a) Shepherds b) Kings c) Queens
- Which reindeer is it said will ‘go down in history’?
- How many ghosts visit Scrooge in A Christmas Carol?
Thanks to members and volunteers who have helped create quizzes for Our Voice. If you’d like to contribute, please email your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org
Answers: 1. Olaf 2. True 3. Coca Cola 4. True 5. Coal 6. Advent 7. A six pence 8. Shepherds 9. Rudolph 10. Four.
WALKING WITH BOLDNESS INTO 2023!
What are you looking forward to as we cross over into 2023? Below CV members, volunteers and staff share their thoughts:
“I look forward to the next Route to Employment sessions I have at Croydon Vision! It has been quite engaging and staff members are supportive with me in looking for jobs. For 2023 I aim to find a part time job, with the help I get from Nabeela, the Employment Officer.” T. Arthur
“I look forward to developing the Talking News service, working with more volunteers and members to bring their suggestions for this service.” J. Smith
“I look forward to CV’s 100 years celebration and the preparation for the centenary! I look forward to welcoming new members to CV, to increase the Breakfast Club and Lunch service.” Isha
“I look forward to celebrating CV’s Centenary and welcoming new members that would benefit from Croydon Vision service, especially more younger members.” Dave
“I look forward to seeing Croydon Vision develop even further, finding new ways to expand our services, and discovering new possibilities to become bigger and better. Personally I am looking forward to new challenges and reaching my career goals.” Aga
“I look forward to moving with the time. Maintaining what we are doing whilst encouraging new thoughts and ideas in this world of change.” Janet Anne Broughton
We can’t wait to celebrate Croydon Vision Centenary with you in 2023, more details to follow!
We’re going full-tilt fundraising for a multi-function braille machine, given the recent inspirational story of 23-year-old Jessikah Inaba. Jessica became the first black, blind female barrister and completed her entire course using Braille. Check out the full story here: www.tinyurl.com/yvf3tmtd
To help encourage the use of braille within our community, we’ve been applying for funding’s to get our own braille machine that can be used for communication, learnings and raise awareness about sight loss in our community. One-off donations, standing orders and legacy donations will help with our ambitions plans. If you’d like to donate you can call reception on 020 8688 2486 (we accept cash, card and cheques) or visit: www.justgiving.com/fundraising/croydon-vision
In the meantime, we would like to extend a huge thank you to everyone who has made donations to Croydon Vision over the last couple of months, including Christine Rose, Kennedy Jothimunthu, Karon Chatterton, Masonic Charitable Foundation and the generous donation from Frederick Lodge of Unity.
Fancy being in Our Voice?
We’d love for you to email us with stories, experiences, tips and tricks and reviews, so we can share then with the rest of our community!
Please submit via: email@example.com
Croydon Vision – Charity Number: 1165086
Bedford Hall, 72-74 Wellesley Road, Croydon CR0 2AR firstname.lastname@example.org 020 8688 2486
Monday- Thursday: 8.30am–4pm
Friday: Appointments only.