“Happy Volunteers Week to our Amazing Team! – A Member said, They are my eyes when I can’t see.”- AJ.

A Year in Review – from Susanette Mansour
2023 was not for the faint-hearted, there were many twists and
turns, some big wins, and hard losses. Life has moments of
mountain tops and valleys – we are choosing to reflect, to learn
from failings and more so, think about the positive things that
happened in life this year and continue being a lighthouse.
Firstly, a thank you. Thank you to my team (volunteers and staff),
contractors, members, trustees, friends of Croydon Vision, funders
and partners for continuing to believe that together, we can make a
difference. Thank you for continuing to demonstrate resilience.
Thank you for giving back. Thank you for every single bit of feedback
that has propelled us to make 2023 a memorable year and motivated
us beyond that too. I am grateful.

This year started with a bang. We walked down roads we’ve never
walked before; however, we know this too shall pass! We also saw
the replacement of our minibuses ULEZ compliant. With your
support, our centennial year has provided us with the opportunity to
celebrate our Strong Past; Focused Present; and laying the
foundations for an Ambitious Future. Your unwavering support made
these events, including the Gala dinner a huge success, thank you
for being part of our celebrations.

And we’re finishing the year with big news!
Croydon Vision received the King’s Award for Voluntary Service,
becoming the first group of recipients in the reign of HM King Charles
III. This was announced via the Gazette in November 2023,
celebrating the King’s birthday. What an amazing achievement and
testament to the great voluntary service by past and present teams –
thank you.

2024 & Beyond – Call to Action:
At the Gala dinner, we unveiled Phase 3 plans, a new bespoke
multi-functional centre for our community, driven by our model:
‘Heart of a Charity, Mindset of a Business’ – see video below:

Going forward, we want to amplify the message of giving back and
seeing more members becoming volunteers, ambassadors, and
more business engagement, all towards a confident Croydon.
Historically we’ve heavily supported the severe sight community,
whilst avoidable sight loss levels continue to rise. Now we want to
widen our scope because every day, we see the prevalence of mild
as well as severe sight loss increasing. In Croydon today, there are
10,500 people with sight loss, this makes up 1 in 37 people living
with some form of sight loss. By 2032, this is projected to increase by
21%. So we will continue to focus on our purpose as we accelerate
growth in the coming year, from surviving to thriving:
● Young people: Developing future leaders.
● Working age: Encouraging employment and entrepreneurs.
● Over 65: Promoting well-being, volunteering, and giving back.
Finally, I would like to wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Blessed
New Year. Wishing you the very best in the year to come and hope
that your holidays are full of joy and memories.
Thank you for being part of my life and for making me better!

Game On (fortnightly) – 10.30am–12pm
Music Appreciation (fortnightly) – 10.30am-12pm
Tech drop-in sessions – 10:30am-4:30pm

Quiz Group – 11am-12pm
Mental Aerobics – 1.30pm-3pm
Tech drop-in sessions – 10:30am-4:30pm
Advice & Advocacy drop in sessions between 1.30-2.30pm
(each session lasts 15 minutes)

Cooking Class – 10am–11.30am and 1pm-3pm *Cost £5
Keep Fit – 10.30am–12pm *Cost £4
Route to Success sessions – 1.30pm – 3pm
Art / Pottery – 1.30pm–3pm *Cost £4

Breakfast Club 9.15am-10.15am *Cost £5
Counselling – 9am-5pm
Dancing – 10.30am-12pm
Social Group – 10.30am-12pm
Community Choir (fortnightly) – 1.30pm-2.30pm
Outreach & Home Visits:
We provide home visit service 4 days a week from tech training,
Advice & Advocacy etc, if you know someone in need, do refer, please call reception or send an email to info@croydonvision.org.uk

Lunch and transport are available Monday to Thursday and can be
booked via reception on 020 8688 2486. Lunch price: £7 (£5 main
course and £3 dessert). Transport price: £8 both ways (£4 one way).

Other services and activities you can book via reception:
● Activities for Children & Young People
● Low Vision Clinic: 25th Jan, 29th Feb, 28th of March
● Chiropody: January 16th, Feb 13th
● Macular support group meeting: 8th Jan, 12th Feb, 11th March
● Living With Sight Loss workshop: 7th of March
● Accessibility Tech training home visits Wednesday & Thursday
● Advice & Advocacy Home visits – Thursday & Friday
● Croydon Glaucoma Support Meeting: Monday 5th February –
both at Bedford Hall and online (2-3.30pm)

Winter Excursions
Our weekly excursions will continue every Tuesday and Friday and
once a month on Saturday! This past year both members and
volunteers have enjoyed trips to some wonderful places including the
seaside, Thames River Cruise and a new favourite Bluebell Railway.
For the latest excursion programme, contact reception. Thank you to
members and volunteers for all your support. Members are
encouraged to bring a family member or friend to support at no cost.

New price list for Tech Outreach
Interested in our Tech Outreach services?
Here’s a taster of services for home visits below – for a full list, please
contact reception:
£25/hour – Phone tutorial OR Computer tutorial
£25/session- Data transfer session
£45/session – Phone setup and data transfer (bundle)
£25/hour – Tips and phone tricks
£15/hour – Printer issues (price include another tech)

New services January 2024: Braille class, a 2nd Low Vision Clinic and a Monday social group.
Calling Croydon Vision – 020 8688 2486
Croydon Vision’s opening hours are Monday-Thursday, 8:30am-4pm and appointments or excursions on Fridays. Our lines may be busy
at times so if you are unable to get through and you’d like to make a booking, please leave a message and we’ll return your call.
Remember, you’ll need to book lunch by 10am on the day you wish to reserve and allow 24 hours notice for transport booking.
For Hall Hire enquiries email hallhire@croydonvision.org.uk

Christmas party – Thursday 14th December – 10am-3pm
Join us for a Christmas celebration to remember, with a Christmas gift market, live choir, raffle and pantomime. A festive two-course
meal will also be served at £15 per person, so book your place now to make sure you get some of Isha’s legendary roast!

Service Closure (Christmas Break) – we are closed from Monday 18th December and reopening Tuesday 2nd January 2024.

Accessible documents: Our members are at the heart of our community and so we want you to be able to access the Annual
Review 2023 on audio, electronic, braille or hard copy. The report summarises our progress and ambitions as an organisation.
Annual Review PDF & audio: https://croydonvision.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2023/10/Croydon-Vision
-Annual-Review-23.pdf https://croydonvision.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2023/10/Croydon-Vision

Festivities & Feedback
Since the last edition of Our Voice we’ve had a fun-packed few months, which included the Gala Dinner we hosted to celebrate
Croydon Vision’s (CV) Centenary. Below we’ve shared some of the wonderful feedback we got following the Gala and some of
our other services and excursions too!

AN UNFORGETTABLE GALA: “Thank you very much for a wonderful Centenary Gala Dinner. […] I am incredibly grateful for
your kind invitation and feel very fortunate that I was able to be there for this special historic moment. The memories of meeting lovely
people (‘old’ and new) will stay with me forever. The inspirational talks and presentations (including the video about the plans for a
new building/Centre of Excellence) made me feel very emotional and highlighted Croydon Vision’s pivotal role in our beloved borough and
beyond. Let’s build a new century of innovative work empowering and supporting VI members across a well-connected community!”
From Croydon Vision volunteer, Ines.

THANKS FROM OUR MAYOR: “I would like to thank Croydon Vision for the excellent work you have done for our community over the last
100 years. Your organisation has been instrumental in ensuring the independence, confidence and well-being of the blind and partially
sighted community in Croydon, […], it is clear that you ensure members of our community who are impacted by impaired vision or
blindness never feel alone. I truly believe that Croydon is a great, resilient borough with wonderful communities and Croydon Vision
exemplifies this.” Executive Mayor of London, Jason Perry.

TAKING CONTROL OF FUEL BILLS: “I was having trouble with my gas bill, so I needed to get the British Gas app on my phone. I came
to Croydon Vision and Daniel helped me to setup the app and connect it to my smart metre at home. He was patient with me and
explained how I can use my phone to check my gas and electricity bill. Now I can monitor how much I spend on gas and electricity from
anywhere. Daniel is a star.” CV member, Mary.

COUNSELLING THAT MAKES A DIFFERENCE: “When I first met Helen I wasn’t sure what to expect. Honestly, from the moment I sat
down I was made to feel at ease. Helen is always calming and reassuring influence on me and very patient with me. Since our
sessions began I have almost looked forward to our weekly sessions, I can express myself verbally and through art and always feel safe to
do so. I highly recommend her services and plan to continue myself.” Croydon Vision member – prefer to remain anonymous.

EXCURSIONS ARE FANTASTIC: “Members enjoyed a trip to Kew Gardens in spite of some awful traffic on route! As for myself and a
few ‘sea dogs’, we went on the River Thames trip with a running commentary by a member of the crew of all the sights worth
mentioning. We eventually disembarked at Greenwich and were escorted to a refreshing local restaurant. All of these trips would not
be possible without all the kind and patient volunteers and staff who escorted as well as funders (Motability Foundation). On a later date a
group of us went to Fairfield Hall for a Kensington Symphony Orchestra. This was a first for me. I had seen and heard concerts on
TV and film but never live. It was fantastic. I did struggle to identify at some stages, the individual instruments played! Yet again our helpful
volunteers were on hand the whole time.”- CV member, Jim S.

Hager sees herself as a friend at Croydon Vision.
Hager moved to this country four months ago with her dad and started volunteering at Croydon Vision in September.
She’s been made to feel so welcome by all the members of our community, members, staff and other volunteers and wants
to thank everyone for being so warm.

How did you find out about Croydon Vision?
I was at the GPs and I got chatting to a lady called Shalini. She said she noticed I was friendly and easy to get on with so she thought I’d be a good fit for a volunteer role at Croydon Vision. Shalini said she is the Cooking Lead & Outreach Officer at Croydon Vision and that she started out in a volunteer role.

What did you think when you first came along?
When I went there everyone was so friendly, especially the staff, it made me want to be part of the team. Everyone is so nice I quickly
became friends with many of the members, apparently they ask where I am when I’m not there! I help people get around, to the
bathroom, fetch tea and coffee and go on excursions. I know I’m there to help other people but actually being there is also nice for me!

How did you find the excursions?
I went to the Bluebell Railway, bowling and also to Eastbourne. A lot of my country is desert, this is the first time I’ve been to the UK and I
can’t believe how colourful it is. At the seaside I loved the view and the food, I don’t like fish but the chips were very good. I had an ice
cream too, vanilla, my favourite!

How often are you at Bedford Hall?
At first I helped out Monday-Thursday but I’m now studying digital media at Croydon College, so I support when I can.

What’s your favourite thing about volunteering?
The members. People living with sight loss sometimes need a little bit of help but mostly they can do things on their own or with a
support worker. They want to do their own thing, like dancing or quizzes and they joke around all the time. I think they’re more
powerful than I am. Honestly, I think sometimes that if I was in their place I don’t know if I could do what they could do. So really, it makes me feel like they don’t need my help, just my friendship, which I like so much.

Sarah Morgan; the singing Member Liaison Officer!
Since joining Croydon Vision in March, Sarah Morgan has loved embracing her role in welcoming members, both new and familiar
faces, to Bedford Hall for all the services and activities we offer. And she’s enjoyed a bit of improve and Celine Dion along the way…

How has your career brought you to Croydon Vision?
I worked in Waterstones for a while, both in-store and in the head office, where I enjoyed my work and had lots of friends. But I wanted a change and knew that I found my volunteering role for South London Cares more fulfilling. I was a ‘Younger Neighbour’ and my role was to spend time with ‘Older Neighbours’ to combat loneliness and isolation. I loved it. So when I saw this opportunity at Croydon Vision, to forge my passion for people into a career, it felt really fortuitous.

What’s it like to be Croydon Vision’s Member Liaison Officer?
My role has a lot to it – in a good way! Our goal is to reach more people in our community, so I induct new members from all sorts of
places, referrals from councils, other organisations, family members and even self-referrals. Having the Moorfields clinic here is also great
for letting potential members know about who we are and what we can offer. Sometimes, people’s responses when they first learn about
us tend to be that they never knew we were here, which feels quite sad and surprising but I suppose Croydon is a big place and it shows
how much opportunity there is for us to help more people. Besides looking to induct more members I’m passionate about improving things for the members we already have. So many are on our Five Step Journey, which is helped by things like our Advice and Advocacy, excursions and clubs. I like to spend as much time as possible with members, and I join everyone for lunch whenever I can.

What have been some recent highlights at Croydon Vision?
Our excursion to the Bluebell Railway was brilliant! We took more than a dozen members to East Grinstead, where we rode the train
and shared lunch together. We had a lot of fun and since Magic FM is our bus driver’s favourite we even had a bit of a sing-song on the
way there and back. I seem to remember Celine Dion was a big hit! We also had Extant Theatre Company come to Bedford Hall to run a
very interactive session in November. We played a game where members had to collaborate in making up a story together. It ended
up being called ‘Sarah the Shark’, which was a story about me – I’m not sure it was very flattering but it was very funny. A few members
also did a hilarious improvisation, the characters were a barman, a man and a lady on a date and the man had to pretend to be too
cheap to pay for anything. Everyone was laughing, the members who took part were brilliant!

What are some common misconceptions about people with sight loss?
People make false assumptions that blind and partially sighted people are limited in what they can do. The way people interact with
visually impaired people sometimes feels patronising and inappropriate, even if the intentions are good. It seems to me that
sometimes people with disabilities are an afterthought, which makes me quite angry. The people I work with inspire me because they’ve
learned how to adapt and still do things. Losing your sight could happen to anyone one day, the way members at Croydon Vision
have learned to adapt and want to participate and make friends and do the same things everyone else does, it’s really powerful.

Can you describe Croydon Vision in three words?
Joyous, warm and welcoming.

How do you feel about your job?
I know that some people wake up and think about going to work and just don’t feel up for it. I never get that. I know when I go to Croydon
Vision, everyone there will be so funny and lovely and I don’t think I’ll ever take that for granted. And what we do is important, I know that
so many members have a routine built around Croydon Vision, our activities and the transport we provide stops people’s worlds from
becoming smaller. Members have told me that Croydon Vision gives them a chance to be themselves and have a change of scenery and to connect with people who face similar challenges. I love being part of that.

PERSONAL GROWTH: ‘Atomic Habits’ by James Clear
The staff team book group tends to focus on books that promote growth within their personal as well as professional lives. The latest
book for the team, Atomic Habits by James Clear is no exception. The team are already applying a clear approach to habit formation, to
accomplish more by focusing on less. Five things the book aims to teach:
1. How to build a system for getting 1% better every day by breaking bad habits and sticking with good ones.
2. How to avoid common mistakes most people make when changing habits including lack of motivation and willpower.
3. How to develop a stronger identity and believe in yourself.
4. How to manage your time and environment to make adopting new habits easier.
5. How to make tiny, easy changes that deliver big results in life.

Feel like you could do with a hand with any of the above?
Chat to a member of staff about what they’ve learned so far. They’d be happy to share: “I am enjoying learning the concepts in Atomic
Habits. For example, the idea that setting goals is less fruitful than learning to enjoy the process to an outcome. I would like to apply this
to my own role by not being so concerned if a task or project is long-term, or open-ended. I typically derive satisfaction from the
completion of tasks, but if I learn to enjoy the system to get there, I will be better equipped to manage them.” Sarah (Member Liaison)

WORKING TO CONNECT: Jennifer is all about enrichment!
Jennifer Smith, our Working Age & Enrichment Officer won’t stop until CV is a beacon within the sight loss community…
A fresh opportunity. I’ve been part of the Croydon Vision community for years now, so when I needed to give my CV a boost it
was the obvious place to turn. While I was at Bedford Hall, someone from the team suggested that I volunteer at Croydon Vision while I
was looking for my next role so I did. Getting to grips with the landscape. I took on a three-month role trying to get to grips with what was available for the Working Age Group. It helped me to realise that Croydon has changed in the last few years, and employment opportunities have changed. There is so much more people can do flexibly and from home, which would make you think it might be easier for blind and partially sighted people to get jobs, but that’s just not the case. The landscape may look more inclusive but because of employer attitudes, it isn’t. Changing perceptions. As of September, I’ve taken a permanent role here and part of that is changing both employer perceptions but
also members’ perceptions of what they’re capable of and what they should be able to expect from employers in the name of inclusion.
When it comes to employers. I think there’s a lack of trust and understanding of disability. They see the job they want done in
simplified terms, not from the point of view of an employee, who is perfectly capable of doing it but might have additional needs. That
needs to change across society if people mean what they say about inclusion. We can’t tackle that change alone, so I’m building
connections with RNIB, Thomas Pocklington Trust and hosting a Working Age Forum with people across Merton, Sutton and
Kingston, to get people sharing experiences and perceived barriers.

When it comes to individuals. I can help to smooth the relationships between prospective employers and employees, to explain specific needs and the assistance available to help meet those needs, to bridge gaps and help employers pave the way for more inclusive hiring. I also have a background in life-coaching, so I have a few tricks to build people’s self-esteem. So many people are so worn down that I need to find ways to inject them with positivity and belief; like with a vaccination! We work on a one-to-one basis because everyone is unique and needs a bespoke boost. There are some easy wins available to us all. You know people who work in security are taught to stand a certain way, so they appear in control should confrontation arise? It’s like that. I teach people to present as confident through body language and belief, which is tricky to do when you can’t make eye contact! Simply sitting up straight means more oxygen gets to your muscles and brain and presents as a feeling of being in charge of your own destiny.

The BEAVER trick. As I help people look for opportunities in their lives, I always get them to keep in mind the word BEAVER:
BE = Benefit – Anything you take on should benefit you; volunteering, befriending, and even socialising should make you feel good.
AV = Add Value – Your actions should add value to your life. This could be through enhancing your CV or making new connections.
ER = Extra Rewards – Can include money or practical assistance. Equity is everything. If I could click my fingers to make one magic
change for our community, it would be to give everyone equity of opportunity. Things are never equal, even if you have sight, you’re naive if you think they are. But I believe opportunities should be open to everyone, regardless of their background or circumstance. To get in touch with Jennifer about volunteering role or paid employment email jennifer.smith@croydonvision.org.uk

1. What are the traditional 12 days of Christmas?
2. What Hollywood actor played six different roles in The Polar Express?
3. How do you say Merry Christmas in Spanish?
4. Where does the royal family traditionally celebrate Christmas?
5. Which animal carried Mary before she gave birth to Jesus?
6. In what year was the Queen’s speech first televised?
7. Approximately how many mince pies are eaten in the UK every year? a) 8 million b) 80 million c) 800 million
8. What are adult male turkeys called?
9. What is the most recorded Christmas song in history?
10. How many times does the number 1 appear on an advent calendar with 24 doors?

Thanks to members and volunteers who have helped create quizzes for Our Voice. If you’d like to contribute, please email
your questions to newsletter@croydonvision.org.uk
Answers: 1. The Twelve Days of Christmas are the last six days of the old year (26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31 December ) and the first six days
of the New Year (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 January) 2. Tom Hanks 3. Feliz Navidad 4. Sandringham 5. A donkey 6. 1957 7. c) 800 million 8. Gobblers 9. Silent Night 10. 13 times

SO FAR… We’ve achieved 30% of our fundraising initiatives, that’s £6,150 out of £20,450. We have our new chest freezer thanks to
Andrew Lillicrop and our new defibrillator is on-site and training is complete, thank you Jim Smith. Ian Peck has donated generously,
and Gift Aid has increased their donation further. STILL TO GO… We appreciate all ongoing support through your generous donations. Why not share our wish list with friends, family or perhaps even local businesses you’re connected with?
£2,820 – Tactile ground lights for our courtyard.
£2,860 (each) – Three accessible electronic notice boards with audio.
£6,300 (annual cost) – Weekly Braille tutor.

If you’d like to donate you can call reception on 020 8688 2486 or visit: www.justgiving.com/campaign/croydonvisionfundraising
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, David Madell, Hiwot Haile, Adam Cobby, Debra Bell, Hakim, Shirley Wright, Claire White, Chaz Schokman,
and Sue Lawrence have given donations. Thanks also to our volunteers across the organisation.

Fancy being in Our Voice? Email us with stories, experiences, tips and tricks and reviews, so we can share them with the rest of our
community! Please submit via: info@croydonvision.org.uk

Fond farewells…
We’d like to send our sympathy and best wishes to the friends and family of Malcolm Sines, Margareth Florence Cobby, Hanna Elahi,
Horace Irwin and Elsie Warrack, who passed away in the last couple of months. We were so glad to have them as members of our
community and they will be missed.

Croydon Vision – Charity Number: 1165086
Bedford Hall, 72-74 Wellesley Road, Croydon CR0 2AR
info@croydonvision.org.uk 020 8688 2486
Monday- Thursday: 8.30am–4pm Friday: Appointments only.