// Avoid being scammed// OPTiC links with Trading Standards

Scam Alert info: Jane Friend, York BPSS


The busy shopping season approaching was an ideal time for OPTiC to empower people with the knowledge to avoid being scammed – something that has been around for a long time in some way, shape or form and can cause a huge amount of distress.

 A speaker from Trading Standards gave a helpful and informative talk to 26 blind and partially sighted people on 9th December 2013 about how to recognise a scam and about our rights if we have been caught out.

 He gave useful advice about doorstep scams, internet scams, telephone scams, mail scams and relationship scams.  Frighteningly, almost everyone in the room had had some experience of scams of all these types, but we were advised that with a little knowledge we need never fall victim to a scam or pressured sale.

We were told what to look out for and who to contact for help.  There were lots of questions and discussion about the talk and about personal experiences, and everyone reported that the talk had been very useful, helpful and reassuring. Everyone had a better understanding of the problem and how to avoid being caught out by scammers.

The following is helpful information for everyone:

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Extending our reach: OPTiC Finding Your Feet Programme comes to Ryedale

Partner update: Jane Friend, York Blind and Partially Sighted Society

On the 28th & 29th November 2013, 10 older people from across Norton, Malton, Pickering and Scarborough took part in a Finding Your Feet empowerment programme in Norton, North Yorkshire.

Alison Bowes, Rehabilitation Officer facilitating sessions

Alison Bowes, Rehabilitation Officer facilitating sessions

They were a wonderful group of people who gelled together and were very supportive of each other. They arrived at the event with varying degrees of nervousness and anticipation but went away with more confidence and knowledge, new friendships and goals that they would like to achieve over the coming months.

Our programme covered a wide range of topics including accessing information, increasing independence at home, getting out and about, emotional issues and a healthy diet.

Diane Roworth, Chief Officer at York Blind & Partially Sighted Society

Diane Roworth, Chief Officer at York Blind & Partially Sighted Society

This is what our participants had to say about the programme:

 “I enjoyed it. I wasn’t sure what to expect. I thought that it might just repeat things that I knew already, but it didn’t!”

 “It was good to hear other people’s thoughts and views. It was such a relief to know that it wasn’t just me thinking some things”

 “I think all of it was relevant and constructive and I found it really helpful”

 “Food for thought”

 “All very useful, constructive”

 “Very helpful from the companion’s point of view”

 The last session on the final day focussed on setting achievable goals and each person went away with at least one. These goals included to:

  • Learn more about CCTV equipment to make reading easier
  • Become more IT literate
  • Arrange an assessment for a better magnifier
  • Get out an about more with the aid of a volunteer
  • Join  the book club at Sight Support Ryedale
  • Go swimming

 Positive result

Everyone who attended said that they would recommend this programme to other people who, like themselves, want to be empowered.

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OPTiC in Winter

Christmas Blog - stag -

Season’s Greetings and welcome to our end of year post.

December 2013 finds the Silver Dream Team organising various yuletide activities for our beneficiaries and planning ahead for the quarter of the project. Monitoring our beneficiaries has of course been ongoing since the beginning of OPTiC and we have already exceeded our target number of Baseline Survey forms to be completed. We are now focussed on progressing the completion of related Follow Up surveys, by project end.

A snapshot of our progress against outcome levels: We are happy to report that at the end of October 2013, approximately:

  • 23,957 older people have been offered health advice and screening.
  • 2,044 older people with sight loss have engaged with support.
  • 724 older people have a better understanding of their eye condition and eye health.
  • 225 older people with sight loss have been supported by peers in groups or by buddies.

Our Beneficiary Action Group (BAG) and a number of other beneficiaries were recently consulted on how best to utilise a fund to support additional project work prioritised by them. Ideas emerging for the fund include:

  • A teleconferencing facility to link blind and partially sighted people across Staffordshire.
  • Technology equipment i.e. an iPad and Kindle to be available for hands on ‘how to use’ training sessions for people with sight loss.
  • Re-establishment of a Helpdesk at StaffordHospital
  • A course offering several ‘train the trainer’ try modules including our ever popular ‘Finding Your Feet’ Facilitator training programme.



Sustainability has taken root within OPTiC and many elements of the project are going from strength to strength – for example:

  • Coffee mornings have been established by beneficiaries to provide peer support and share knowledge.
  • A range of training courses have been designed to upskill beneficiaries to go on and train their peers to support others (i.e. peer support, empowerment courses, campaigning) and who will then go on to become trainers themselves. The courses will be available for several months after OPTiC has officially ended.
  • Partnership working with local organisations such as Revival Housing Scheme, Royal Voluntary Service and Royal British Legion will continue.
  • Our beneficiaries will continue to be supported through services provided by Action and Age UK.
  • The two-way referral pathway established between the Eye Clinic Liaison Officer (ECLO) at YorkHospital and York Blind and Partially Sight Society is now an ongoing arrangement.
  • As part of our long-term outcomes, the Beneficiary Action Group (BAG) is progressing with their strategy to engage StaffordHospital to re-establish a Helpdesk, as part of their service provision.

Extending OPTiC’s Reach  

Our promotional activities continue to go well. As previously reported OPTiC has featured in York Press and Staffordshire’s the Newsletter on a number of occasions and during the final 4 months we will pursue additional radio coverage and local television opportunities.

Reaching our target audience

We have successfully reached our older people with unsupported sight loss but engaging that demographic from BME, faith and LGBT communities has proved difficult. We will of course pursue every opportunity to do so especially via local events aimed at hard to reach groups.

Overcoming key challenges

As a result of re-evaluating the timeline at which Staying Active clubs and BAG membership is offered, progress has been made with engaging beneficiaries to participate. We expect to report a significant increase in the number of clubs running across Staffordshire post Christmas, and via these clubs we will be looking to identify new members to join the BAG.

Additional funding / OPTiC branding

Our current activities do not necessitate additional funding. However in the New Year we will be reviewing plans to ensure the legacy of our project that may require additional funding.  The OPTiC brand is consistently used for all communication processes.

As this is our final post for 2013, we would like to take this opportunity to wish everyone a very Happy Christmas and a prosperous New Year.  Christmas Blog - Peace

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OPTiC establishes the only Glaucoma Support Group in York

Partner update: Jane Friend

York Support Group

York Support Group

Empowering people and offering peer support is an integral part of the OPTiC Project, so when it was identified that there were no support groups in York for people with Glaucoma, we had to take action!

We held our first meeting in the Ophthalmology Seminar Room at York Hospital on 14th November 2013. 14 people attended the event and listened to a talk given by David Harris, Development Manager from the International Glaucoma Association  on “Glaucoma and your Driving Licence” and “Are you using your eye drops properly?”  The talks were very well received and initiated a lot of discussion about these issues and also glaucoma, specifically peoples experiences and how they are managing.

Happily, the feedback was excellent. All the participants reported that they had found the morning invaluable and wished that they had been able to join something similar much earlier in their sight loss journey.

Next steps: We aim to organise another meeting in March 2014, and support the participants to take over the running and development of a Glaucoma Support Group that will long continue beyond the OPTiC Project.

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OPTiC promotes Eyes Health Awareness and Older People’s Day

On October 1st 2013, we hosted an Eye Health Awareness event in the Guildhall Shopping Centre in Stafford. This half day event was designed to inform older people in the community about getting the support and care they need to prevent avoidable sight loss, as well as to celebrate Older People’s Day.

The Worshipful the Mayor of Stafford Borough, Councillor Angela M Loughran opened the event with a speech focussing on the importance of empowering older people to get the help they need and OPTiC‘s role in laying the foundation for positive change in Stafford.

The Worshipful the Mayor of Stafford Borough, Councillor Angela M Loughran

The Worshipful the Mayor of Stafford Borough, Councillor Angela M Loughran

As more visitors arrived throughout the morning, there was a real buzz in the air. Excitingly, a few visitors expressed an interest in getting involved in OPTiC and that result, along with comments from the people who attended equates to a very successful day!

Event Day Gallery 

L to R: Rebecca Sheehy (middle) RNIB talks to visitors; Jayne Palmer (Age UK) Angie Leigh (Staffordshire Fire Service) and Jayne Prokic (Age UK); Dru Lunney (Staffordshire Fire Service) talks to a visitor about eye screening; OPTiC operations team, Dr. Philippa Simkiss (Head of Evidence and Service Impact, RNIB) next to the Mayor; visitors; OPTiC volunteers talks to a visitor

L to R: Rebecca Sheehy (middle) RNIB talks to visitors; Jayne Palmer (Age UK) Angie Leigh (Staffordshire Fire Service) and Jayne Prokic (Age UK); Dru Lunney (Staffordshire Fire Service) talks to a visitor about eye screening; OPTiC operations team, Dr. Philippa Simkiss (Head of Evidence and Service Impact, RNIB) next to the Mayor; visitors; OPTiC volunteers talks to a visitor

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Promoting World Sight Day at York District Hospital

Margaret Milburn, Vanessa Camp (Eye Clinic Liaison Officer), Jane Friend (New OPTiC Project Officer), Tracy Wilson (OPTiC Project Officer)

Margaret Milburn, Vanessa Camp (Eye Clinic Liaison Officer), Jane Friend (New OPTiC Project Officer), Tracy Wilson (OPTiC Project Officer)

October 10th was of course World Sight Day and an ideal place for us to promote eye health and eye care was at York District Hospital. 

The display stands in the reception area are normally reserved for the hospital’s own information but Margaret Milburn (Equality Officer) was very supportive of the OPTiC Project and allowed us to set up a display of posters and leaflets. 

The stand was staffed by Tracy Wilson, OPTiC Project Officer (who sadly left the project the day after this event), Jane Friend (Tracey’s successor) and was also supported by a volunteer. Continue reading

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York’s older people sparkle on Older People’s Day

Project Update: by Jane Friend – our new Project Officer

To celebrate International Day of Older People, OPTiC held an event on October 1st from 2.00pm – 4.00pm, at the offices at York Blind & Partially Sighted Society (YBPSS). The event, called the Silver Stars Coffee and Cakes Afternoon, aimed to celebrate the achievements of older people, and in particular older people with a visual impairment.

Our Silver Stars

Our Silver Stars

The focus was very much on creating a relaxed environment in which to offer an opportunity to discuss the benefits of being an older person. 15 people joined us including one “silver star” who had recently completed a tandem sky dive (a magnificent achievement at over 90 years old!) and another who had completed a fire walk. Both had done these hair-raising events to raise money for YBPSS and shared their experiences and remarkable achievements.

Another gentleman brought his amazing pottery pictures to show people and knitting items were also on sale via YBPSS’s Knit and Natter group. Everyone who attend received a small, silver themed gift and Tracy Wilson, OPTiC Project Officer ran a silver themed tombola. The mood was upbeat, uplifting and very supportive, with lots of stories being shared. Even people who were normally shy and quiet felt able to join in.  

Sharing experiences

The following are just some of the comments about being an older person that promoted discussion:-

“Not going to work is great. You have the time to do just what you want”.

“I think that you use your time more productively when you are older. Your life experience gives you the knowledge to do things without wasting time”.

“I’m not slavishly tied to housework any more. I just think, so what!”

“You have to make the best of it. You’re lucky to have reached older age”.

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