Enterprise Holdings Foundation Gift

Focus Birmingham are delighted to have received a £1,000 donation from The Enterprise Holdings Foundation.

The foundation is the philanthropic arm of Enterprise Holdings, which, through its regional subsidiaries, operates the Enterprise Rent-A-Car, National Car Rental and Alamo Rent A Car brands.

This donation will help Focus to continue supporting people living with sight loss and disability in the Birmingham area. We would like to thank Kay Parbat and Shane Foley from Enterprise Rent-A-Car and also the Enterprise Holdings Foundation for the support and commitment shown to Focus Birmingham over the past year.

We are looking forward to building on our partnership with Enterprise Rent-A-Car and Enterprise Car Club in the future.

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Tesco Bags of Help Grant Scheme - Vote Focus

We need your help!!!

Focus Birmingham are delighted to have been selected as one of the beneficiaries in the Tesco Bags of Help Grant Scheme. Our Sensory Garden Improvements Project will be put forward to a customer vote in Tesco stores during this December. The project with the highest number of votes across our region will receive £5,000, the second placed project £2,000 and the third placed project £1,000.

If you shop at any of these Tesco store please vote for Focus Birmingham Sensory Garden Improvements Project 


Please help to spread the news with fellow colleagues, family and friends and sharing our Facebook post.  We need your votes!!

Let's put smiles on the faces of our service users in 2017!

Why Vote for The Sensory Garden Improvements Project?

A sensory garden is vital to stimulate the senses of our service users courtesy of plants and materials that engage with the service user's senses of sight, touch, smell, taste and sound.

Sensory gardens will add considerable value to our service as they have proven therapeutic value. For example, people with disabilities (such as visual impairment or dementia) can enjoy nature in a safe and tactile environment. Sensory gardens can also make a great contribution to emotional and physical health of our service users.

Having a sensory garden at Focus will be beneficial for both staff and service users as it provides a two-way learning process.

Pop into your local Tesco store as stated above and vote!!  Remember voting ends last day of December. 

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Birmingham Community Gospel Choir, which was set up in 2005 by its ongoing director Maxine Brooks, has chosen Focus Birmingham as its charity of the year, in honour of the mother of the choir’s founder.

The move is in tribute to Maxine’s mother, Norma Reynolds, who is registered blind after initially losing her right as a result of Type 2 diabetes.

A special fundraising concert will now take place in aid of Focus Birmingham and two other nominated charities at Birmingham Town Hall on Saturday 5 November.

Focus Birmingham’s new chairman, Graham Prior, has been invited to talk about the work of the charity from the stage ahead of the concert.

Maxine, who works as a nurse at a GP practice in Nechells, said: “We wanted to support Focus for personal reasons, because the charity is very close to my heart.

“My mother is registered blind but Focus have been great in terms of helping her and building up her esteem. They have also provided her with a cane and lots of aids around the house, such as knowing when to switch on the lights or the television.

They provide her with a lot of support and she also goes to Focus meetings which are a lot of help.”

Added Maxine: “She seems to manage quite well and is still independent. Focus have been really supportive in giving her a quality of life despite her sight loss, so I wanted to give them something back for all the good work they do.”

Maxine’s mother, who lives in Erdington, suffered glaucoma in her right eye as a result of her diabetes, and then injured it when she caught in on something while bending down.

“Because of the existing condition of her eye they weren’t able to save it, so she now wears a prosthetic eye. But her eye problems just got worse and worse and she’s now only got limited vision in her left eye which means she’s registered blind.”

Maxine, who said she had also come across patients with a visual impairment in her nursing career, said Focus would now get the opportunity to highlight the work they do at the November 5 concert.

The Birmingham Community Gospel Choir currently has 20 singers and musicians of all ages and backgrounds from across the city. Their crowning moment came last year when they won the title of BBC Songs of Praise Gospel Choir of the Year.

Maxine, who is also a pastor at the House of the Lord UK church in Nechells, has been singing and writing songs since the age of nine. She is also a member of The Nurses, a singing group whose first single raised money for the Nurse Aid Charity.

Tickets for the charity gospel concert on November 5 cost from £18 to £20.50. They are available by clicking here or by contacting the Town Hall Box Office direct on 0121 780 3333.

The other nominated charities are Mission Morogoro, to support an orphanage in Tanzania, and Oscar Birmingham in aid of people with sickle cell.

Further information about BCGC can be found by visiting www.birminghamcommunitygospelchoir.co.uk

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World Sight Day - Focus Birmingham

World Sight Day (WSD) is an annual day of awareness held on the second Thursday of October, to focus global attention on blindness and vision impairment.

Focus Birmingham champions best practice to transform the lives of people living with sight loss in the West Midlands. There are around 29,000 people living with some of sight loss in the Birmingham and wider areas.

Our Vision is to fashion a world where sight loss and other disabilities do not limit or determine opportunities and where people value their sight.

We aim to achieve this vision by:

• Providing services and support directly to people with sight loss and disability to improve their everyday life.

• Changing the attitudes and behaviour of individuals towards people with sight loss and disability.

• Working in partnership with other organisations to identify new opportunities to achieve our vision.

What do we mean by Visual Impairment?

  • An eye condition that cannot be corrected by spectacles.
  • The majority of people registered blind have some residual vision.
  • Environmental factors such as poor lighting conditions can reduce vision.
  • Will not always present with dark glasses, a white cane or guide dog.

Did you know?

On average a *Birmingham GP practice with 1,000 patients has:

  • 25 patients with sight loss problems 
  • 7 patients registered blind or partially sighted

Let us make a positive change in the world today

Listen to these heartwarming experiences of those living with sight loss - click here

Steve Keith - Service User at Focus Birmingham

Get involved and make a real difference right now.

Text Focus to donate £3 to 70300 or Text Focus to donate £5 to 70500.

*source: RNIB estimates based on BCC data

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TV Licence - New Rules and Regulations

New TV Licencing Rules from 1st September for Over 75 and blind & visually impaired audiences

The BBC are providing accessibility organisations like Focus Birmingham with relevant information about the law change from 1st September, the 50% discount off a TV Licence to people who are visually impaired and the offer of a complete free TV Licence to those over age 75.

In case you aren’t aware: from 1st September you will need to be covered by a TV Licence to download or watch BBC programmes on demand, including catch up TV, on BBC iPlayer. This applies to any device and provider you use. You also still need a TV Licence to watch or record programmes on any channel as they are being shown on TV or live on an online TV service.

Getting a TV Licence

You need to be covered by a TV Licence to watch or record live TV programmes on any channel, or download or watch BBC programmes on iPlayer.

This could be on any device, including a TV, desktop computer, laptop, mobile phone, tablet, games console, digital box or DVD/VHS recorder. If you do any of the above without a valid licence, you risk prosecution and a maximum penalty of up to £1,000, plus any legal costs and/or compensation you may be ordered to pay. You will also still have to buy a TV Licence if you need one.

To find out more, go to tvlicensing.co.uk/info

How can I buy a TV Licence?

There are lots of different ways to buy a TV Licence. Whether that’s through weekly cash payments, using your nearest PayPoint outlet, spreading the cost with monthly, quarterly or yearly direct debit, credit/debit card or by post – just choose the one that suits you best.

For more information on the ways to pay, go to tvlicensing.co.uk/payinfo

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Need it to Read it Campaign

Need it to Read it campaign focuses on ensuring that blind and partially sighted people receive health information in a format that they can read.

The NHS Accessible Information Standard (SCCI 1605) mandates that all healthcare providers must provide information in a format their patients can read.

Since 1 April 2016, healthcare providers have had a duty to identify and record how their patients need to be communicated with. This is supposed to happen whether they are visiting them for the first time, or are a regular user of their service. From July 31st 2016 these records should be in place and patients should be receiving information in a format that they can read.

Importantly, the new Standard is in addition to the existing obligation under the Equality Act 2010 on service providers to provide information in accessible formats. The standard has come about because the Government recognised that more needed to be done by the NHS to address the lack of accessible information provision.

The standard includes rules about:

• How and when NHS and adult social care services record information and communication needs

• Sharing information and communication needs across services (with permission so patients don’t have to keep requesting alternative formats)

• How information and communication needs can be met

RNIB’s Need it to Read it campaign aims to support blind and partially sighted people in notifying their GP about their personal information needs, to support the successful implementation of the NHS Accessible Information Standard.

RNIB believes the Standard will deliver a step change in patient communication across the NHS, enabling blind and partially sighted people to manage their own health with the same levels of privacy and independence that everyone else takes for granted. However they are concerned that not everyone is aware of the Standard and that some GPs are unsure of how to implement it.

RNIB have created two ways to help you create and send a written notification letter to your GP Practice Manager:

Option 1 – Download a copy of the DIY GP notification template to make your own letter at rnib.org.uk/campaigns

Option 2 - phone RNIB’s Helpline on 0303 123 9999 for more information and to receive a hardcopy of the GP notification template.

For more information about this campaign and how Focus Birmingham can help please call and speak to Lindsey Deere on 0121 478 5252

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Late John Hull Documentary Notes on Blindness

Late Patron John Hull, who died aged 80 last year in August, was a religious education writer, editor and researcher. John was Honorary Professor of Practical Theology at the Queen’s Foundation Birmingham and Emeritus Professor of Religious Education at the University of Birmingham.

In addition John, who experienced sight problems from childhood and lost his vision completely in early middle age, became a renowned author on the experience of blindness.

In particular ‘Touching the Rock,’ which was based on his own diaries, was a huge success. Since coming out in 1990 the book has been published in more than a dozen foreign languages and made into a short film.

John was always very supportive of Focus and the work we do with people living with sight loss in Birmingham and we are very proud of our association with him. John showed that sight loss need not be a barrier to achieving your goals and discussions with him were always thought-provokin

Last night Focus Birmingham alongside other key individuals were invited to attend the Premiere screening of 'Notes of Blindness' at the Electric Cinema in Birmingham. It was a beautiful thought provoking piece of work that engages the viewer and takes them through a journey of someone losing their sight and coming to terms with it.  It combined lip-synced recreations of Hull’s verbal adventures with stagings of Hull’s vivid dreams of sightedness.

Over 85 minutes, the viewer is able to dip in and out of the life of a man trapped in visual darkness, but whose imagination is ravishingly bright. Hull’s immaculately recorded tapes feature cameo appearances from his wife Marilyn and five children, documenting his gradual acceptance of blindness, understood through the comfort and routine of home and family life. The lip-syncing from Dan Skinner (Hull) and Simone Kirby (Marilyn) is naturalistic and immaculately performed.

Peter Middleton and James Spinney’s short film, Notes on Blindness, based on Hull’s audio diaries, was commissioned by the New York Times and premiered at the 2014 Sundance film festival. Notes on Blindness won the documentary award at the Encounters short film festival and an Emmy award.  If you would like to view the trailer please click on this link

This documentary is set for National release on 1st July in the UK and we hope that you will be able to view it at location near you. If you have any concerns regarding your sight please do not hesitate to contact us on 0121 478 5252.

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Focus Birmingham Employee Wins At Awards

Focus Birmingham staff and guests attended the first Birmingham Care Awards event last night held at Edgbaston Cricket Ground to support Tom Ward who was a finalist for one of the award categories.

The ten award categories were to acknowledge, celebrate and reward excellence in care delivery across the whole health and social care spectrum, for both adults and children.

The black tie event played host to a number of care service providers within Birmingham. The awards were hosted by Emma Jesson, ITV Weather Presenter with a three course meal followed by entertainment from West Midlands comedian Barbara Nice and a disco.

Tom Ward, Referrals Officer at Focus Birmingham won in his category of Success in Partnership at the Birmingham Care Awards. He was supported by John Cade, Trustee of Focus Birmingham, Kerry Jones, Focus Community worker and Maurice Corbett who is dear friend and service user at Elizabeth Gunn Centre.

Tom was delighted at winning this award as it highlighted all his work in developing partnerships with voluntary, public and private sector organisations to enhance the understanding of our market place and promoting our services, benefits for those citizens in Birmingham who need special or more complex type of care.

Focus Birmingham is extremely grateful to the Birmingham care Awards for recognising the hard work of local services like Focus Birmingham and for providing us a platform to celebrate it.

The event was sponsored by local organisations and had been organised by local employers from the private, voluntary and independent sector in partnership with Birmingham City Council.

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Focus Birmingham Employee Finalist in Awards

Tom Ward, who is the partnership and referrals officer at Focus Birmingham has been named as a finalist in the Success in Partnership category at the Birmingham Care Awards which take place at Edgbaston Cricket Ground on June 2.

The awards, which consist of 10 categories, have been introduced to acknowledge, celebrate and reward excellence in care delivery across the health and social care sectors.  

Tom, aged 33, from Bartley Green, who joined Focus Birmingham in 2010 as a support worker, is now involved in working closely with special needs schools and colleges, as well as the mainstream sector, throughout the Birmingham area.

He said: “I had been working in car manufacturing as an angle grinder for nearly 10 years but was feeling a little bit lost, so decided to take voluntary redundancy.

“My partner has a degree in special needs so, with the help of her influence, I thought I would give it a go and ended up getting a job in a challenging behaviour unit in Handsworth.”

After less than a year, Tom spotted an advert for the support worker role within Focus Birmingham’s Elizabeth Gunn Centre and successfully applied.

He added: “The minute I went in there I fell in love with the place, so I was really pleased to get the job straight away.

“I found something I knew I should have been doing for years and years, and I feel as though I am really making a difference. I love working within the community, especially within the special needs school and colleges where I have built some strong relationships that have enabled Focus to continue to support people across the West Midlands.

“Through building these links, when the guys come to leave education the families will already know me, or the staff will recommend us. Focus does a brilliant job in helping people with visual impairment as well as complex needs.”

Tom, also spent time as a senior support worker at Focus before being promoted to his current role, said he was delighted just to have been nominated for the Birmingham Care Awards by his employer.

“I was proud when I found I had been nominated but to get through to the final three was amazing and quite humbling to be honest. So I am absolutely delighted to be there and really looking forward to the evening on June 2.”

Idris Mohammed, Elizabeth Gunn Centre Manager said, " Everyone at Focus Birmingham are absolutely thrilled Tom Ward has been shortlisted as a finalist in these prestigious awards. It is wonderful to know the awards recognise organisations like Focus Birmingham for their commitment to delivering high quality care as well as developing their workforce."

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Focus Art Club promotes access to Art

Focus Art Club

The Focus Birmingham art club has teamed up with the Royal Birmingham Society of Artists to promote greater access to the Arts, in particular the Visual Arts, for anyone who is visually impaired and less likely to visit galleries and/or arts events.

Three projects have been set up and they are as follows:

Project 1.  The first, a video featuring two blind members of the group talking about their experiences of visiting art galleries and viewing exhibitions.

Project 2. The second a pottery workshop where a visiting professional potter from the RBSA instructed a group of Art Club members who were already producing pottery at the club. The photographs show the workshop taking place on April 26th in the Activities Room at Focus.

Project 3. The third will be a visit tby the whole group to the RBSA galleries in St. Pauls Square to view a print exhibition. The blind members of the group will be able to handle the tools and equipment used to produce the prints on show.

For more information on these activities, including locations, dates and times, please call the Helpline on 0121 478 5222 or use our contact form.

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