“I was stuck at home for 3 years, I am so glad to join Croydon Vision’s community!” PH.

A note from Susanette Mansour
2023 brought a mix of opportunities and challenges.
The highs, the lows and the in-betweens were evident throughout, and navigating
them was both rewarding and exhausting.
There’s a saying by Jim Rohn that puts things into perspective,
“Don’t wish life was easier, wish you were better. Don’t wish for less
problems, wish for more skills. Don’t wish for less challenge, wish for more wisdom”.

The current landscape looks bleak,
it comes with many challenges including the 2024 spring budget,
funding, the cost of living crisis and the upcoming election.
This sector as a whole is going through turbulence and locally Croydon council is still experiencing hard
times. It could well take another 10 years to rebuild.
However, amidst all this, there is a growing sense of cautious optimism and
I believe this year will be our best to date.
It is the year of fulfilment and I say this with much boldness that, in spite of the
current challenges we face both nationally and internally, we will come through this.
It is super encouraging to see how the team (volunteers and staff) are pulling together,
ideas and actions to ensure we reach more people in our communities,
and thereby transform more lives. We now have more than 1,006 members and that number continues to
increase. We want to build on this, working smartly to ensure that our resources are maintained for people with sight loss.
BIG thanks to my team – I am grateful!

So, what is our focus for 2024?
1. To continue to drive people and culture development.
2. To achieve financial sustainability for Croydon Vision.
3. To promote giving back – what can you do for Croydon Vision?
I love quotes and the below from Theodore Roosevelt resonates for
a forward focus.

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles,
or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.
The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena,
whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who errs,
who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcomings.
Who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst,
if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those
cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
So, let’s get out there, roll up our sleeves, and get the work done!

WHAT’S HAPPENING
AT BEDFORD HALL, AND BEYOND

MONDAYS:
Drama and Improvisation (fortnightly) – 10.30am-12.30pm *Cost £5
Music Appreciation (fortnightly) – 10.30am-12.30pm *Cost £5
Cooking Class – 12pm-2.30pm *Cost £6 (includes tasters and takeaway meal)

TUESDAYS:
Quiz Group – 10.30am-12.30pm *Cost £5
Mental Aerobics – 1.30pm-3pm *Cost £5
*if you participate in two social groups per day (AM and PM) the total
cost of the sessions will be £8 per day

WEDNESDAYS:
Keep Fit – 10.30am-12.30pm *Cost £6
Art and Pottery – 1.30pm-3pm *Cost £6
*if you participate in two social groups per day (AM and PM) the total
cost of the sessions will be £10 per day

THURSDAYS:
Breakfast Club- 9.15am-10.15am *Cost £5
Dancing – 10.30am-12.30pm *Cost £5
Social Group – 10.30am-12.30pm *Cost £5
Community Choir (fortnightly) – 1.30pm-2.30pm *Cost £5
*if you participate in two social groups per day (AM and PM) the total
cost of the sessions will be £8 per day

Outreach & Home Visits:
We provide home visit service 4 days a week, 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 – half term and summer activities
● Low Vision Clinic: (monthly) 25th April, 23rd May, 20th June
● Chiropody: (monthly) 2nd April, please confirm subsequent dates at reception
● Croydon Glaucoma Support Meeting: 17th June, 5th August- 2-3.30pm at Bedford Hall
● Macular support group meeting: 8th April, 13th May, 10th June, 8th July- 2-3.30pm at Bedford Hall
● Living With Sight Loss workshop: 19th of April, from 10am
● Accessibility Tech training home visits Wednesday & Thursday
● Tech drop-in sessions: every Monday and Tuesday 10:30am4:30pm *please refer to tech price list at reception
● Accessibility Tech training home visits – every Wednesday & Thursday *please refer to tech price list at reception
● Counselling – every Thursday 9am-5pm *Cost £19/Request with Reception to join the waiting list
● Advice & Advocacy service – on hold
● Route to Success/Working Age sessions – end of April.

Spring Excursions
As the weather begins to heat up, our year round excursions include
fun indoor and outdoor trips, such as a river cruise, Fairfield’s
concerts and delicious restaurant lunches. Members are encouraged
to bring a family member or friend to support at no cost. If you are
interested in booking or would like the full excursion programme,
please call or see reception where you can get a physical or
electronic copy via email.
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

Accessible documents: Our members are at the heart of our
community and so we want you to be able to access our latest
strategy document, which is now available in audio format on our
website: croydonvision.org.uk/downloads/

MEMBER VOICE:
How Andrew Lilycrop and CV help each other…
On Friday 10th August 2012, at around 8am, Andrew Lilycrop’s
life changed forever. He’d just put his 4-year-old son on his
shoulder, carried him downstairs and opened the front door to
go out for the day. The next thing he knew he was at St
George’s Hospital with no vision, after having had a massive
stroke. He shares his experience since then and how he and
Croydon Vision have come to help each other…
Saying goodbye to a job he loved.

With 4 children and 11 grandchildren, Andrew is a busy man with a
full life. But since losing his vision over a decade ago, he’s had to
find new ways to feel useful. In the days and months following his
stroke some of Andrew’s central vision returned, though he still felt
as though he was looking through a periscope. His job as a long
distance lorry driver – which he loved – meant the DVLA had to
assess his sight at Moorfields. “I’ll never forget when the visual field
test came back,” remembers Andrew, “30% or less and you lose your
licence and the guy doing the test just said “I’m so sorry, you’re at
10%.” He looked absolutely heartbroken for me. I knew my sight was
bad but I couldn’t believe that number was so low.”
Being told to ‘enjoy retirement’.

As well as driving lorries in Europe, Andrew had experience on
building sites and in carpentry. Even though he had some sight,
insurance wouldn’t cover him for that sort of work any more. “I went
to the job centre and said ‘I’ll do anything’ but the guy there just said
‘You enjoy your retirement’. I experienced depression following that, I
like to be useful.”

Discovering Croydon Vision.
The number of staff at Croydon Council has been greatly reduced in
recent years, so when Andrew was recommended Croydon Vision as
a place that could help with his PIP, he couldn’t believe how quick we
were to react. “Croydon Vision has now helped me win two court
appeals connected to the benefits I’m entitled to.” Andrew explains,
“Everyone on the team is there for you and trust me we all need that,
even if we’re too proud to ask for it sometimes.”
Asking ‘What can I do for Croydon Vision?’

Following the help he got from CV, Andrew asked himself ‘What can
I do for Croydon Vision?’. He serves as the Permanent Charity
Steward for Lavender Hill 3191 Masons, so when he heard CV
needed a defibrillator, he spoke to another Mason who owns a
medical equipment supply company. Andrew had intended to pay for
it himself but his fellow Mason insisted on donating the machine
(which usually costs £2,000) and covering the cost of the training too.
Andrew is a big fan of Shalini’s cooking (she is our Cooking Lead
and Outreach Officer), so he also arranged the donation of a new
chest freezer and £100 of cooking equipment. “It felt really good,”
Andrew enthused, “though I don’t do things for the glory, it gives me
purpose – and having nothing to do is so frustrating.”
What Croydon Vision gives Andrew…

Just being at Croydon Vision is important to Andrew and members
like him, “It breaks up time when you’d otherwise be sitting at home
in the dark, just waiting for company, which can be so depressing.”
he explains. If Andrew could click his fingers he says he’d love to get
us our new building. “It would give people a life-changing hub where
they can come together and just do more.” Knowing Andrew, he’s the
type to help us make it happen!

VOLUNTEER VOICE:
Kai wakes up thinking ‘I can’t wait to go work’!

Kai is 26 and is the volunteer receptionist
at Croydon Vision, helping to support our
office manager. She is also a Croydon
Vision member who lives with left
hemianopia and Charles Bonnet
syndrome.

So how did you first find out about
Croydon Vision? I was applying for PIP and
it took me weeks – and a lot of anxiety – to
complete it but I knew the money would really
help me and my family, who support me. I
was heartbroken and also really annoyed
when my application was rejected, my councillor encouraged me to challenge it,
so I emailed around to try to find
help. It was the Croydon Sensory Team who referred me to Croydon Vision,
who were so helpful with my tribunal, which was successful!
So how did you come to work on our reception? I was hesitant to get
involved in Croydon Vision, I wasn’t sure it was for people my age and maybe I
was struggling to accept being part of the sight loss community at the time.
Then I spoke with the Working Age Liaison Officer about volunteer roles. She
helped me with my CV and enticed me to come to the Croydon Vision Careers
Fair, which was so good. I looked at the role of receptionist and thought ‘this is
me’! After putting a lot of work into my application I got the role and I love it.
I now wake up thinking ‘I love to go work’, which is obviously so good for my
mental health. I am elated to work for such an honourable charity, who
advocate for people like myself and I love that it makes me feel helpful!
Can you share a bit about your own sight loss journey? When I was 24 I
had a bleed on the brain, AKA a stroke. It impacted my mental health but also
my sight, at first everything was just black because my brain needed to heal.

When some of my sight returned, I saw things as further away than they really
were due to an eye squint, then, when that cleared up, I was left with a left
sided hemianopia in my periphery and I thought I was going crazy seeing
things. It took some time to realise I was experiencing symptoms of Charles
Bonnet Syndrome.

What’s it like to live with Charles Bonnet syndrome? The way I rationalise
it is my brain can only see part of what’s there, so it makes up what it can’t see
using memory. I’m learning to give God thanks for the vision I do have, and I
also make the most of my Freedom Pass and the reduced rate theatre tickets I
can get. Seeing ‘The Best of Enemies’ was incredible, we were on the 4th row!
I hope that one day I might get a Guide Dog, but in the meantime I’m
considering using my symbol cane more (which is shorter and mostly serves to
tell people I have some sight loss). I do wonder how it will change the way
people see me and how I’ll feel about myself, so a lot of the time I’m quite
naughty and don’t use it. On the times I have, I felt like Moses, parting the Red
Sea, which was actually really empowering and useful!

When I found out I was losing my sight I thought ‘oh, this is going to be such a
sad life’, but so many people at Croydon Vision have the best sense of
humour. Across a whole range of ages, members are really cool and so
cheeky but also so sweet. I love it here. When you think about it, the members
are basically like Ninjas, they don’t have sight but they’re singing, dancing,
going on excursions – they’re brilliant.

So what are your plans for the future? I love running but after my stroke I
thought I’d never run again. After re-learning to walk, I challenged myself by
getting into long distance running and completed two 5ks last year, which built
my confidence and taught me not to get hit in the face by branches I pass! I
also met someone recently who serves as a guide for vision impaired runners
taking on the Marathon, which is so great for others. If people can work and
run marathons with sight loss then I find that reassuring. That and the fact I’ve
been through so much and so many variations of sight loss, makes me less
afraid and more hopeful for the future.

STAFF VOICE:
Shalini’s home visits are touching hearts and minds
As an Outreach Officer at Croydon
Vision, Shalini O’Kane describes her
role as representing what Croydon
Vision is about, transforming lives from
dependence to independence.
We talked to her about how she does that…
What does an Outreach Officer do?
It’s all about reaching out to new members
and connecting with existing members who
maybe don’t get to visit Croydon Vision
much. The first step is making sure people
in our community, who are living with sight loss, know who we are.

For that I work at Moorfields once a month and speak to patients
about the support we can offer them. Appointments at Moorfields can
be emotionally and physically challenging, so I don’t want to
bombard them on the day. Instead I try to have a quick, polite chat
and arrange a time to visit them at home.

How do you describe Croydon Vision to Moorfields patients?
I say we could improve or change their lives. I get a mixture of
responses, some people think they’re not at a stage to need our
help. With those people I tell them we could help them to check their
entitlement to benefits like dial-a-ride and PIP. That can help to open
people’s minds to the types of help we offer.

So when you first visit someone, what’s your aim?
I want to touch their hearts but also to let them know there’s practical
help for them too. People can relate to me. When I tell them I can’t
see well myself and I have a support worker, that helps them to see
potential for themselves. My support worker helps with transport and
during meetings and on visits he can take notes for me. That means I
can connect with the people I’m talking with and give them all my
attention. Everyone is different, sometimes they want to get involved
straight away and sometimes I need to take it gently.

Different Croydon Vision services appeal to different people, like our
befriending service, helping with mail and also activities in the hall.
Can you give us an example of someone you’ve met recently?
I recently introduced a new member to Croydon Vision who is 30. I
found out about her through data we have about people living with
sight loss in our community. Before this year she had never set foot
in Croydon Vision. She has lived with sight loss since she was a
baby and has never had a job, as she said herself she was ‘at home
doing nothing’ and spending a lot of time in her pyjamas.
Did you manage to get her to visit Croydon Vision?

Yes! Since my visit she has been coming to Croydon Vision once a
week. She goes to our arts and craft club and keep fit and she enjoys
lunches here too. I’ve now spoken to her about becoming a volunteer
here as well, which is how I started out here, she’d be great. And I
know she’s keen on a horse riding excursion. In a short amount of
time she’s like a different person to when I first visited her.
Finally, what’s your wish for Croydon Vision members?

I want them to know what they’re entitled to. But I also want them to
know what they can do by telling them what I can do. I can travel
around London alone and even abroad using travel assistance. I’ve
learned that it’s okay to ask for help, but that takes time. I want
people to know they can live well with sight loss.

PERSONAL GROWTH:
How Excursions Are Boosting Our Wellbeing.
According to Juan Pablo Zapata, clinical psychology resident at UW
School of Medicine, breaking out of your routine from time to time can
work wonders for your health. “Studies suggest that people who
engage in a variety of new experiences are more likely to retain
positive emotions and minimise negative ones,” says Zapata.
There is a region in our midbrain that works as a “novelty centre”, it is
linked to the hippocampus and the amygdala, which are key to learning
and memory. Doing something new can activate this system,
triggering feel-good dopamine pathways, which your brain logs. “So
each time you try something new, you’re training your brain to
remember the positive rewards associated with a new and exciting
experience,” says Zapata.

Michelle Kondo, a social scientist from the USDA concurs on the
benefits of getting out and about. She asserts that being outside
provides more opportunities to be active, which has been shown to
increase life expectancy, improve sleep quality and lower the risk of
depression. “Togetherness is especially important for us now,”
explains Kondo.

“We are finding that isolation is a killer, and that the outdoors really
provides that space for us to come together under trees or to walk
together.” We know it’s good to get out and try new things, but how have our
members found the new places they’ve visited with Croydon Vision?
“The food was delicious and reasonably priced but the company was
the highlight for me. It’s lovely to be able to take a trip to a new
location. Even though I love going to Bedford Hall, the excursions
mean I can go to so many places that I couldn’t get to on my own. I’m
really excited for the Chinese Symphony Concert at Fairfield Halls”
Steven M. after going to the Rambler’s Rest Pub Old Coulsdon

“I loved getting to spend time with the other members who came, and
the staff too. They are so attentive and make sure we are all having a
great time” Joythee “We had a great time singing Elvis, Frank Sinatra and loads of other
songs. Dave the driver even sang too! He took us for a delicious
carvery lunch afterwards. Excursions are something for me to really
look forward to.” Anna after getting stuck into Karaoke at Valley Park
Leisure Complex

Priscilla “I love going to the Cutty Sark. The tea was delicious and we
walked around at our own pace and had a lot of fun taking photos
with one another. It’s good to know our members still get to go to
places further afield because of the excursions. Otherwise many of
them don’t often leave Croydon.” Priscilla after enjoying afternoon
tea at the Cutty park.

Sound good? Don’t forget to book your place on our next
excursion, call Reception on 020 8688 2486 to book.

WORKING TO CONNECT:
The staff team, including our Outreach Officer Shalini O’Kane (see
Staff Voice) have been out and about making connections in our
community at the start of this year…
Rawlings Opticians: This local opticians was referring people to us
pre-Covid. To reboot this partnership for 2024, we went to explain to
staff what we offer our members. So now, they are able to explain to
vision impaired customers that Croydon Vision could help them
rebuild lives from dependence to independence. To access support
workers and free travel and join us for a variety of activities too.
Moorfields: Our partnership with the eye hospital has led to an influx
of new members, who otherwise wouldn’t have known about us.
Tina, the Patient Experience Manager at Moorfields has been
invaluable in sharing our details, which has enabled us to connect
with more than 10 new members already this year. And we know that
word of mouth from new members will multiply our reach and impact!
Croydon Community Health Day: CV attended this public event,
organised by BME forum at Fairfield Halls. It was lively and bustling,
with many health-focused charities promoting their services, offering
health checks and showcasing community fitness and wellbeing
activities, such as Bollywood Dancing! We got to talk to many
people, several of whom were interested in Croydon Vision services
for themselves or a family member. Some mentioned they’d never
heard of CV before, highlighting the importance of getting out into the
community and reassuring people that there is support for them.
Do you have a connection that could help? Please contact 020
8688 2486 to play your part in our mission to reach more people.

CROYDON VISION CONNECTION QUIZ
1. What word is a chocolate treat we eat at Easter but also a word
for encouraging someone to do something?
2. What word is a season but also a metal coil?
3. What word describes a long-legged, long-necked bird but also a
tall machine used for moving heavy objects?
4. What word describes the covering on a tree and the noise a dog makes?
5. What word describes the way something might have lifted up
but also a classic English flower?
6. What word describes adding salt and pepper but also a certain time of year?
7. What word describes the flow of water or electricity but also
something that’s contemporary?
8. What word describes a romantic outing for two but also a sweet
and chewy type of stone fruit?
9. What word describes a baby bird coming out of its egg but also
an opening in the floor or ceiling?
10. What word describes what someone does when they exit
but also what emerges on trees in spring?
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. Egg 2. Spring 3. Crane 4. Bark 5. Rose
6. Season 7. Current 8. Date 9. Hatch 10. Leaves

FUNDRAISING, THANKS & CONTACT
SO FAR… We’ve achieved 70% of our fundraising initiatives, that’s
£14,250 out of £20,350.
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, Rotary Club, Croydon NHS Retirement
Fellowship, William Millis, Rawlings Opticians (Croydon), and other
members who wish to stay anonymous.
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 Christopher Beanland, who passed away recently. We were
glad to have him as a member of our community. He will be missed.