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					LifeChances
Latest News from the Royal London
Society for the Blind
Autumn 2008

How RLSB is empowering blind and
partially sighted people to achieve new
heights


FUNDRAISING NEWS
      The Jaeger Fashion Show
Designer fashion brand Jaeger chose
Dorton House as a venue - and RLSB as
the beneficiary - for its spring and
summer collection charity fashion show
on Thursday 8th May 2008. TV
personality Kaddy Lee Preston joined
the catwalk models in showing various
pieces from the exclusive range. As well
as enjoying the new fashions, guests
were taken on a journey through the
ages of fashion and make-up trends,
bringing them right up to the present
day with top tips and advice from Estee
Lauder‟s Christine Cartwright.

The event‟s raffle boasted many
exquisite prizes from a number of
different companies, including a
beautiful white gold and diamond
pendant which was generously donated
by Tunbridge Wells jeweller, Burrells.
The shows raised £3,500 for the charity,
and proved a great success.

 The Pulbrook & Gould Networking
             evening
RLSB‟s Chief Executive Brian Cooney
officially launched Dorton College‟s Eco
Project on 13th May at a networking
event in one of London‟s most
prestigious florists, Pulbrook & Gould.
The event, which was attended by
Conservative MP and Shadow Secretary
of State for the Environment, Food and
Rural Affairs Peter Ainsworth, outlined
the hands-on involvement of students
studying new vocational subjects. These
courses will result in DCFE graduates
increasing their independence and
developing their personal knowledge
and confidence. It should also equip
students with transferable skills for
future career opportunities.
RLSB Wildernesse PGA Pro Am Golf
              Day
This year‟s RLSB annual Golf
Tournament took place on a beautiful
day in May at Wildernesse Golf Club.
The PGA South Region Invitational Pro-
Am Tournament was once again
sponsored by Eden Financial, and raised
a magnificent £10,000 through the
donation of significant auction prizes
including a box at Ascot and a fabulous
trip to Loch Lomond Golf Club. Our
thanks go to all those who made the day
such a resounding success.

    A new minibus from The Lady
             Taverners
On Friday 27th June, representatives of
the 100 Property Club and Lady
Taverners presented celebrity Shaun
Williamson with the keys to a beautiful
new minibus on behalf of RLSB pupils
and students. Pupils from the Society‟s
Dorton House School entertained guests
Denise Horn (Chair of the Lady
Taverners), Steve New (Chairman of 100
Property Club), and Adele Peattie (their
Charity Officer) with musical
performances during the presentation.
The bright green vehicle will be a regular
sight on the Kentish roads from the start
of the new academic year.
And finally, thank you to our London
Marathon runners, who raised a massive
£20,000.
RLSB Chief Executive‟s Welcome to the
Royal London Society for the Blind

I would like to say a sincere thanks to
you all for your continuing support for
the RLSB, particularly at a time when we
are experiencing an economic downturn.
We never take your generosity for
granted and are always striving to
increase the impact that your donations
have on the lives of people who are
blind or partially sighted.

We have some very exciting plans to
develop the RLSB‟s services and are
making substantial progress developing
a Vocational Curriculum for students
aged 14-19. This curriculum will offer the
RLSB‟s pupils and students a broader
choice of courses, a planned transition
from Dorton House School to Dorton
College and much better support for
young people as they make the difficult
transition from adolescence to
adulthood.

Meanwhile, in London, our Motivational
and Vocational Workshops are reaching
more and more people with little or no
sight. The aim is to inspire and motivate
adults of working age, who are blind or
partially sighted, to help them into work.
The RLSB Employment Services staff
offer practical help such as job seeking,
CV preparation and interview skills. As
Pippa Goldie, a RLSB Employment
Support Advisor says : „our own
motivation comes from helping our
clients to achieve their real potential.‟
This sentiment sums up how we all feel
here at the RLSB.
These Motivational and Vocational
Workshops are part of a range of
exciting initiatives spear-headed by the
Business Development Unit (BDU) which
we set up in August 2007.

The BDU‟s focus is very much
community based, listening to clients‟
needs and creating partnerships with
local authorities, health services and
other local community groups. As the
article indicates, the BDU has had a very
successful year. With your support it is
reaching out and touching the lives of
more and more people in London and
the South East.

Thank you once again for the support
you continue to offer to our charity. The
impact we have on people lives is made
possible by your generosity and
kindness.
Brian Cooney, Chief Executive.

  News from Dorton College of Further
             Education


Students‟ success on air...
Summer 2008: Students from Dorton
College of Further Education (DCFE)
celebrated their success in becoming
semi finalists of the inaugural National
Schools Radio Network awards. Their
recorded competition entries earned
them a top 10 finish nationwide – no
mean feat, given that they were vying
with schools and colleges across the
UK.

The competition, which was launched by
the Vision Charity in December 2007, is
designed to include and involve all
children aged between 11 and 18, and its
objective is to help improve media
literacy, self confidence and verbal,
written and technical presentation skills.
It also aims to provide a level playing
field for those children in schools with
dyslexic and visual disabilities.

The students who took part are regular
DJs on Dorton Radio, and as such
revelled in the challenge of creating a
broadcast that would compete nationally
with other students. Del Walker, DCFE‟s
Media Technician and Radio and
Sensory Room Manager enthused:“I
think getting through to the semi-finals
of the inaugural competition is an
honourable achievement by the students
and one of which the College, and the
Society as a whole, can be very proud.”

Readers wanting to experience Dorton
Radio can do so by logging on to
www.rlsb.org.uk and clicking on the
„Dorton Radio - Live‟ link on the right
hand side.

Students‟ success in the air

On a clear June morning, five Dorton
College students and two staff members
took part in a gliding lesson at the Kent
Gliding Club in Challock, Ashford. The
lesson, which was generously funded by
British Airways plc, was one example of
the many activities that students take
part in to give them experiences similar
to their sighted peers.

The morning briefing built the budding
pilots‟ anticipation and soon they were
towed into the sky by a small plane.
After reaching 2000 feet, the gliders
were released, leaving each student and
pilot to soar amongst the clouds. For
some thrill seekers this wasn‟t enough,
so they opted to fly the plane up to
150mph with a few loop tricks along the
way!

After a short lunch break to re-fuel
(students, not gliders!), each team was
given a very different opportunity to
return to the skies. This time they were
launched by an enormous winch, which
propelled them 1000ft into the air within
3 seconds! The ascent was strong and
steep, but everyone‟s opinion was the
adrenaline rush was a definite high
point.

Student Jordan Avery said “Although I
was a bit anxious, I was so glad I was
given the chance to do it. Once I was in
the air, there was a sense of freedom
and tranquillity – the experience gave
me a great rush, one I will never forget.
RLSB Appeal for adaptive equipment:

Equipment Pool helps talent to
surface

Caroline Collyer has been visually
impaired since she was born as she had
congenital cataracts. She also
developed glaucoma when she was very
young, which is a common side effect of
her condition.

As if this wasn‟t enough, the retina in
one of Caroline‟s eyes became detached
whilst she was studying for her „A‟
levels. Despite all these setbacks,
Caroline was determined to win through
and went on to University.

She was successful in securing a 6-
month work-placement with the Open
University, but needed the use of
specialist adaptive equipment to
magnify images on her computer and on
paper reports, to enable her to work.

The RLSB came to the rescue and was
able to provide this equipment, enabling
Caroline‟s employers to see her abilities
and potential. They have now offered her
a permanent post as Marketing
Assistant.
We are so pleased that Caroline‟s
perseverance and determination has
paid off and there has been a happy
ending for her.

Many thanks to the RLSB‟s donors, who
have helped us keep our equipment pool
stocked up so that we can assist people
like Caroline into work.

“If it hadn‟t been for the RLSB, I
wouldn‟t have had anywhere near the
experience I needed to draw on to get
this job”.
Caroline Collyer
             School news
Pupils dig deep with KCC

Pupils from Dorton House School‟s
Winchester class were on their hands
and knees after accepting an invitation
to join Kent County Council (KCC)
archaeologists on a dig at Randall
Manor, near Gravesend. The visit, which
was the brainchild of KCC‟s Community
Archaeological Officer, Lyn Palmer, took
place towards the end of the first week
of their three week summer dig, and
each of the pupils was given a dust pan
and brush, a bucket, a trowel and… an
archaeologist buddy for the day!

At the site, nothing of the Manor‟s
buildings survives above ground, but
the buried foundations are extensive
and the pupils set about uncovering
some of the 700 year old walls,
occasionally turning up additional finds
including a number of the manor
house‟s original roof tiles.

On KCC‟s website blog, the team‟s entry
for the day read as follows: „In the
morning we were joined by a group of
visually impaired pupils from Dorton
House… We all found the experience
both inspiring and rewarding and look
forward to the school‟s return in future
seasons.‟

Our thanks go to everyone involved at
KCC and to the „buddying‟
archaeologists who made the day so
memorable for the pupils from
Winchester class. They are already
looking forward to a return visit to the
site in order to help uncover many more
artefacts.

Advert:
Turn on line shopping into savings for
the Royal London Society for the Blind

KidStart is a free shopping website that
gives money back to the Royal London
Society for the Blind every time you buy
something online at over 250+ well
known retailers including John Lewis,
Argos, Mothercare, Waterstones, Boden
and many more. To register, simply go
to www.kidstart.co.uk/RLSB and your
purchases will immediately start to
generate funds for RLSB.

You can shop:
• Online at over 200 well known retailers
• In the high street at one of our high
street partners
• Or over the phone
Please remember to go to
www.kidstart.co.uk/RLSB every time you
shop to enable the money to be
collected and deposited as savings for
the RLSB. It‟s free… it‟s simple… it‟s
safe… There really has never been an
easier way to save for the RLSB charity.
KidStart will transfer the money you
earn while shopping, and automatically
deposit it into our account. You can
keep track of your transactions and see
how much you have contributed in your
personal KidStart online profile.

    NEWS on School and College
Creating new vocations
September 2008 heralds an exciting
development for the RLSB‟s Educational
Services, since it marks the introduction
of the Society‟s new Vocational
Curriculum, which has been designed
for students aged from 14 to 19. The
curriculum‟s development will offer
RLSB students a broader choice of
course, a smoother transition from
Dorton House School to Dorton College
of Further Education and a greater
independence.

Government research has shown that
blind or partially sighted young people
face significant difficulties in making the
transition from adolescence to
adulthood: very few of them enter open
employment.

Therefore, we are introducing the
„enactive thinking‟ principles used in the
College‟s Vocational Curriculum into the
School: the aim is to motivate pupils to
learn meaningful, practical tasks that
will provide them with the transferable
skills needed in order to enter the adult
world. This approach is particularly
important (and appropriate) for visually
impaired students, who are often denied
the practical experiences available to
their sighted peers.

The key elements of the Vocational
Curriculum will include Land-based
Studies (including horticulture and
animal care), Business Enterprise and
Information Technology.

To help the School and College work
successfully on this key development,
management of both services will be
combined through the appointment of a
Director of Education.
We believe that these changes will better
equip our blind and partially sighted
students to face the challenges that
confront them when leaving the RLSB
and assist those who have the ability to
gain and retain open employment.
The Masked Eye Ball at Café Royal,
London, 3rd October 2008
The Royal London Society for the Blind
is delighted to announce its Masked Eye
Ball, to be held on Friday 3rd October
2008 in the sumptuous setting of
London‟s Café Royal, a venue
synonymous with excitement, glamour
and decadence.

The Ball, which is the charity‟s annual
flagship event, will provide guests with a
mesmerising mixture of entertainment,
music and fine dining, and is one of the
last opportunities to enjoy the Café
Royal in all its splendour before it closes
its doors.

Prices are £125 per guest, and tables are
available to suit. For more details or to
make a booking please call Jane Tritton
on
01732 592503, or email
jane.tritton@rlsb.org.uk
Generously sponsored by Arbor
Research & Trading (UK) Ltd.
Independent objective research for
financial market professionals.
www.arborresearch.com
In aid of the Royal London Society for
the Blind

     Feature: Employment Services
Workshops expand across London

Following successful trials last year,
RLSB‟s Employment Services Team is
expanding its two day Motivational and
Vocational Workshops programme
across more London boroughs. The
courses are designed to help visually
impaired adults of working age and we
caught up with Pippa Goldie, an RLSB
Employment Support Advisor, at one
such event in Croydon to learn more:

“I started at the RLSB in April this year
and part of my role is to help organise
and deliver these Workshops. Each
course consists of one day‟s
Motivational Training and a second day
dedicated to employment matters, and
they are now available to any visually
impaired adult of working age within the
Greater London boundary.”

“We employ external trainers to conduct
the Motivational Workshop element, and
today‟s session is being run by Steve
Evans, who is himself visually impaired.
He is very much an inspirational figure,
and through a series of exercises and
frank discussion with the group, he
helps participants to learn and use tools
that develop self confidence, trust and
the power of positive thinking.”
“The Vocational Workshop days are
delivered by RLSB Employment
Services staff and address practical
issues such as job searching, CV
preparation and interview skills. We also
offer practical help in addressing those
areas of specific difficulty for blind or
partially sighted candidates ranging
from inaccessible application forms
through to how to help an interviewer
who may be uncomfortable talking about
disability.”

“Both days contain plenty of interactive
sessions, and often include discussions
about barriers to gaining employment
and, for those already in employment,
obstacles to experiencing satisfaction.
For some participants, it has been the
first time that they have felt able to talk
openly about concerns. Recent
examples have included one
participant‟s profound dislike of the
word “blind” and another‟s uncertainty
whether to declare his visual impairment
to colleagues.”

“These Workshops now represent the
first stage of support that RLSB
Employment Services staff can offer
clients, and we are looking to devise
individual learning and training plans to
suit each participant‟s own needs. We
know that blind or partially sighted
people have just as much to offer as
their sighted counterparts in the world
of work, and often more. Our own
motivation comes from helping them to
achieve their potential and their goals.”

              Main feature:
Business Development Unit‟s bright new
direction
Two years ago, the RLSB management
team decided to develop plans to
support an increased number of blind
and partially sighted people into
employment and training, and enable
more people to participate in their local
communities. We undertook extensive
research to ascertain our clients‟ needs
in order to design our new strategy.
One outcome of this initiative was the
formation of the Business Development
Unit (BDU) in August 2007. Its objectives
were to seek funding and explore
innovative ways of achieving the RLSB‟s
strategy. To date, it has been very
successful in raising the Society‟s
profile by increasing referral contacts
and clients, obtaining funding and
securing competitive Government
contracts for service delivery. BDU team
member Margaret McCulloch describes
how they went about it:
“Our new focus involves working in
communities, often with people who
have never had dedicated support.
Listening to clients and examining
barriers faced prompts the development
of innovative projects that attract client
engagement. The key to our success is
through networking, creating
partnerships and working with local
authorities, health services and other
local groups to deliver a service that
complements their own.”

This approach has generated over
£130,000 funding from London
Boroughs, the Greater London Fund for
the Blind and grant making trusts for
various projects including delivery of
Motivational and Vocational Workshops,
community IT training, social groups
and advice surgeries.
New funding opportunities were also
announced by the European Social
Fund, who were running tender offers
for Government contracts that aimed to
assist „hard to reach‟ people into
employment. Margaret explains the BDU
approach:

“We identified the best chance of
accessing these funds was via
partnerships with larger employment
organisations, where we could provide
our expertise to visually impaired
clients. We approached many reputable
companies as potential partners and
were inundated with responses.
Organisations clearly realised that we
could strengthen their projects by
adding diversity, value and a unique
specialism. When the results were
announced, we were thrilled to be sub-
contracting with four of the winning
Prime Contractors to a value of over
£350,000 over the next 1 - 3 years”.

This success and the large numbers of
people these new funds will be able to
assist were factors in the difficult
decision to close our Industrial Services
unit, which was no longer viable due to
diminishing grants from central and
local government. Funds previously
allocated to this service will now be
invested in the new programmes,
increasing the number of people we are
able to support into employment and
thereby maximising their social and
financial independence.


            Education News
Focussing on individuals
This academic year, the RLSB‟s
adoption of Person Centred Planning
(PCP) techniques across all its service
areas should help pupils, students and
clients to increase their self-
determination and improve their own
independence.

Until now, a client‟s notes could be
spread across different record-keeping
systems, making reviews difficult for
staff and assessors. This could
adversely affect our ability to
demonstrate that person‟s overall
progression to interested parties
including parents, Ofsted inspectors and
statutory funders. Fortunately, many of
the Society‟s existing practices already
contain elements of PCP, so its widened
adoption is not a wholly new
proposition.

The project‟s desired outcomes are to
provide services that are based upon
each client‟s wishes and needs; the
reduction of paperwork and
administration; and the improvement of
access to client information for those
who require it. The Society will achieve
this with an extensive staff-training
programme, accompanied by the
introduction of computer software that
will enable relevant staff to access a
single record of the client‟s current
information and plans. A common
delivery framework will underpin this
scheme, helping staff to adapt their
planning and service delivery whilst
simplifying their record keeping
activities.

This project‟s appeal lies in the fact that,
by placing each client‟s needs at the
centre of our service provision,
everyone involved will benefit, be they
student, staff or stakeholder.

The ABC of festive fundraising…
To celebrate the start of a new academic
year, we sent RLSB‟s fundraising team
back to the classroom to create an
alternative ABC of money-raising antics
for autumn and winter. The results are:

A is for Art Exhibition. During the last
couple of years, RLSB donor Betty
Marten has tirelessly worked to create
and run annual art exhibitions in Bristol.
At its conclusion Betty, who is 81 years
old, sends a percentage of all sales to
the Society…a welcome and creative
way to raise money whilst staying warm
and dry!

B is for Bonfire Night. With so many
professional firework displays becoming
overcrowded and expensive, why not
hold your own fundraising firework
party? You could invite your friends and
neighbours to bring a firework each,
cook jacket potatoes over a BBQ, run a
“bobbing apple competition” or just sell
sparklers… it‟s your choice!

C is for …Christmas! This year, Dorton
House School‟s FAST Christmas bazaar
will run between 11am - 3pm on
Saturday 29th November. You will be
able to browse and buy at the large
selection of Christmas craft and present
stalls, and you may even bump into
Father Christmas! For those of you
looking for charity Christmas cards, you
can now download details of
personalised cards that will benefit the
RLSB at
www.rlsb.org.uk/christmascards, or
alternatively call Amanda Tucker on
01732 592532 for further information.
Advert:
She has incredible will power…so do
you

Despite losing her sight at the age of
five, Mariam‟s passion for art has never
waned. Nine years later, her
determination and ability have enabled
Mariam to achieve one of her ambitions,
exhibiting her sculptures at London‟s
National Portrait Gallery.

To help other blind and partially sighted
people overcome the challenges they
face, please remember the Royal
London Society for the Blind in your
Will. For further information, including a
free copy of our “Simple Guide to
making a Will”, please call our Legacy
team on 01732 592522 or write to us at
the address below, quoting reference
“LC2008.2 ”.
Royal London Society for the Blind,
Dorton House, Seal, Sevenoaks,
Kent, TN15 0EB.

Tel. 01732 592500
Fax. 01732 592506
legacies@rlsb.org.uk
Registered Charity No. 307892

				
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