Information, Support and Advocacy

Our Advocacy Officers are able to provide information and to support parents/carers with any educational matters, schooling concerns or queries they may have in relation to their child’s Education, Health and Care Plan and supporting them at their child’s Annual Review.

The Trust has produced some information booklets about special educational needs and can provide information from other organisations, which are available free on request. In addition we have produced an information web-site about visual impairment and special educational needs, www.visen.org.uk

In appeals to SEND against Local Authority decisions our advocacy officers’ roles are to support parents with the appeal process by obtaining additional evidence; preparing the case and compiling reasons for appeal; and to represent the parents if the case results in a tribunal hearing. The Trust is only able to represent parents in cases where meeting the child’s visual needs is the reason for the appeal.

Benefits Advice

The Trust is able to provide advice on benefits and assist parents and young people to complete applications for DLA, PIP and ESA.

Employment Support

The Trust is able to provide support for young people with transition from school to college, college to higher education and assist young people with job search and CV writing and interview practice.

Information Technology

In addition to looking after our computer systems our IT team delivers IT training and support to our clients and are certified trainers in Supernova. The Trust provides computer equipment by way of a grant on a permanent loan basis. All equipment is set up or checked and the software is installed before the system is sent out to our clients. We work closely with the individual’s school, teachers and parents to ensure that the equipment we are providing is compatible with that which they are using in school.

Our Access Technology Advisor/tutor is able to provide training in JAWS, and on Voice Over which is Apple’s access software.

Counselling

Our Counsellors offer a professional and confidential service and, in addition to providing counselling for our VI clients, are able to offer support to parents and on some occasions to the family as a whole. There is no limit to the number of counselling sessions provided, it depends on the needs of the individual.

Life Coaching

Our Access Technology Advisor is also a qualified Life Coach. A life coach can help individuals with any aspects of life, from stress and anxiety, to low self-esteem, phobias, relationships, career changes or education transitions.

Outreach Support

Our Outreach Support Co-ordinator is building a group of Blatchington Friends who are able to provide 1:1 support to some of our clients who are socially isolated.

The Referral Process

The Trust receives referrals from a variety of agencies throughout Sussex, usually from the East and West Sussex and Brighton & Hove teams of Qualified Teachers of the Visually Impaired (QTVI); Rehabilitation Officers for the Visually Impaired (ROVI); Look Sussex; the Sussex Eye Hospital; whilst other parents contact us on the recommendation of families we have supported.

New referrals should be made to the Trust’s Executive Manager whether the request is for advocacy support, counselling, financial assistance, benefits advice etc., who will arrange an appointment to meet with the vision impaired individual or their parents in their own home to discuss the support required and how the Trust can help. Here at the Trust we pride ourselves in that almost all of our clients are known to us personally and are not just a name and address on our database.

Social Activities/Events

The Trust provides a range of age related social activities and events both for individuals and their families, providing opportunities for vision impaired individuals and their families to get together, make friends and share experiences. The Trust hosts informal coffee mornings for parents at our office in Hove.