Our Newsletter

FEB 2021

Registered Charity No. 1075388

Tel No:  020 8540 5446



Guardian Gazette


Welcome to our February Issue!

We send best wishes to all our clients, supporters, trustees and volunteers and hope that you are well.

As soon as we are able to return to the Guardian Centre you will be the first to know!

In the meantime if you need any help please call the usual office number 0208 540 5446 email info@mertonvision.org.uk

We send a huge thank you all our volunteers for how brilliantly they have responded to our appeal for support.

Thanks to everyone for your support and understanding at this difficult time.



Good News………………….p2








The Accessible Information Standard template letter p15


*all information contained within correct at time of going to press



The Good News from around the world

Cranes are coming back from extinction in the UK

Photo of large grey Crane in lake

Cranes disappeared from the British Isles in the 1600s due to hunting and destruction of their wetland habitats but, thanks to a successful reintroduction programme, it’s good news for the UK’s tallest bird. There are now 64 breeding pairs of cranes across the UK, following the restoration of a number of wet and peatland habitats. Last year, 23 chicks were born.

A Scottish Musician is giving away ‘Happy’ sounds album

Tommy Perman started a lockdown project in September 2020 which saw him ask 50 friends from all over the world to send him a sound that made them happy. Tommy used the recordings – which included birdsong, pet noises, natural elements and sounds from people’s homes, hobbies and jobs – to make a 20-track album. The artist and musician is now giving the

Positive Interaction album away for free, in return for happy messages which he plans to use for future projects.


10-year-old thanks hospital staff by cleaning their cars during a snowstorm

Bundled up in his warmest winter gear, Christian Stone set off on Monday with one mission: to clean as many cars as possible in the Westerly Hospital parking lot. Christian, 10, lives in Westerly, Rhode Island, and thought that he could show his appreciation for health-care workers by removing snow and ice from their cars, so they could easily go home after a long day at the hospital. Accompanied by friend Abbey Meeker, over several hours, as the temperature dropped and the snow kept falling, they cleaned 80 cars.

At age 92, former journalist publishes her 1st book

Sue Buyer has lots of stories from her time as a reporter in the 1950s — back when women in her newsroom weren’t allowed to cover crime or breaking news — and now at 92 years old, she is using them as the foundation for her first published novella. All Things in Time . She decided to write her first book at 92 because ever since she stopped skiing at age 85, she gets bored in the winter and needed something to do.

Nike has made a hands-free shoe for the Arthritic, Disabled and Pregnant to Easily Slip Into

Called the Flyease Go, it is the first totally hands-free shoe, enveloping and releasing your feet solely through natural motion. The revolutionary shoe is perfect, says a top Nike designer, for pregnant women in their third trimester, arthritis patients, or those who have lost some or all of the use of their arms—such as stroke victims or injured military veterans.

India and New Zealand are buying vaccines for neighbouring countries who can’t afford them

It’s inspiring to see countries pledging to deliver vaccines to neighboring nations who might otherwise have trouble getting doses for their populations.

As part of its ‘vaccine diplomacy’ campaign, India plans to offer 20 million vaccines to Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, the Maldives, and Mauritius, with many of these aid shipments being completely free. Meanwhile, the New Zealand government has earmarked $53 Million to make sure its Pacific-Island neighbors have access to safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines, which they might not otherwise be able to afford.


Man Regains Sight and sees his family again after becoming first person ever receive an artificial cornea. Things are looking up for the first patient ever to receive an artificial cornea implant, after he was able to see his family upon waking up. The 78-year-old man could even pass the classic eye exam test of identifying numbers and letters from a distance.


MertonVision New Counselling Service

We are offering a new counselling service with a visually impaired, qualified therapist who has experience of working with people in the following areas:

  • Disability and sight-loss
    • Long term illness and end-of-life care.
    • Bereavement and grief
    • Adult carers
    • Depression & Anxiety
    • Domestic abuse

The service will offer confidential, person-centred counselling that is free of charge to anyone wishing to talk through worries or concerns they may have.

There will be an initial telephone session, arranged in advance to check if counselling is right for you at this time.

This first session will last around an hour and you will be able to ask any questions about the service or counselling in general.

If you are happy to take up counselling, you will be allocated 8 weekly sessions lasting 50 minutes, carried out on a Wednesday at an agreed time.

These sessions will currently take place over the telephone, owing to restrictions in place due to Covid 19.

Although there are plans to resume face-to-face counselling when we are able, the telephone option can be made available for anyone finding this more accessible.

If you are interested, please contact MertonVision on 0208 540 5446 or email info@mertonvision.org.uk with the subject line ‘Counselling’.

Please be aware that there are a limited number of places available and so there may be a waiting list.



Volunteer award!

One of our amazing volunteers recently received an outstanding volunteer contribution award for his work during Covid.

The mayor herself went to his house to present the award in person. Unfortunately he wasn’t in; he was out volunteer shopping!

Luckily a neighbour took the photo

The photo attached is of the Lady Mayoress in her robes of office calling at his house!

MertonVision Volunteers

Our volunteer co-ordinator Carmel would like to add a general “Thank You” to all our wonderful volunteers who have worked and continue to work shopping and collecting prescriptions, filling in forms and keeping in touch by phone with their respective clients, all through the Covid period.  You all deserve awards!

Great news – we have more new volunteers who have subscribed to our Telephone befriending service. If you would like someone to phone you on a regular basis for a friendly chat or a moan or a rant, just let us know



Mindful Poetry Saturday 20th March 11:00-12:30

A free course for the blind and visually impaired with Dr Beverley Duguid

What is it?  A series of workshops to explore mindfulness and poetry

Who is it for? Blind and visually impaired adults, their support workers, friends and family

Mindfulness is a form of meditation which is used to combat stress, anxiety and depression. Poetry has been used for centuries to convey thoughts and feelings on a particular subject. This course combines mindfulness and poetry to help you craft poems and prose.


Gentle movement and mindfulness

Creative writing exercises

Includes 2 sessions with guest poets to provide readings and guidance

Mindful poetry Facebook group

Online poetry exhibition

What can you learn?

Learn the basics of mindfulness

Discover the benefits of journalling

Write your own poems

Meet other like-minded people

To be taught online via Zoom in eight 90-minute sessions

Starts in March 2021 (or as near as possible)

No experience necessary

This course is bought to you by RBKC Arts Grants and is Free of charge to participants

Enrol via email:  Admin@insightmind.co.uk

Questions, email Beverley@insightmind.co.uk


Free online concert – 8.30pm Saturday 6th March 2021

Visually impaired singer/songwriter Katriona Taylor features songs from her latest album Blind Passion, which celebrates music from blind artists such as Stevie Wonder, Ray Charles, Diane Schuur and Jose Feliciano, as well as her own compositions, in her forthcoming live-streamed show –

A great blend of Jazz, Latin & Soul styles. To register for a free ticket please click here:


Katriona has also created a coupon for our members to use to get a 20% discount on the price of her new album Blind Passion. Please enter the code mertonvision21 at checkout when purchasing the album from her website: https://www.katrionataylor.com/product/blind-passion/



Merton Libraries Launches Reading Friends

Reading Friends is a UK-wide programme from The Reading Agency which aims to tackles loneliness by bringing people together to read, chat and share stories. These weekly group sessions will be held over zoom, and are open to all to benefit from, our first sessions will focus on local history, great for those who like to share memories, learn about local history and make new friends.

We’re launching the sessions in February, to register your interest, please email your name to marketing.assistant@merton.gov.uk


Looking after yourself 

One you Merton offer advice and support in helping Merton’s community make healthier lifestyle choices https://www.healthwatchmerton.co.uk/news/2020-04-23/support-one-you-merton-during-covid-19

Merton Uplift can offer support via phone or skype appointments. Self-referrals are still being accepted.

South West London St George’s Mental Health NHS Trust  – If you need mental health support in a crisis you can call our 24/7 Mental Health Support Line on 0800 028 8000. It is open to everyone: both children and adults of all ages.

Mental health helplines – helplines and support groups offering expert advice. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/mental-health-helplines/

Kickstart your health there has never been a better time to kick start your health. Better Health has a range of tools and support to help – find what works for you. Let’s do this! https://www.nhs.uk/better-health/?WT.mc_ID=Microsoft&gclid=CNbh4qbnuOsCFQj4GwodXRcL1A

Information from MVSC – Merton Voluntary Service Council:

Wellbeing Club

A new 12 week course has been launched, offering weekly sessions promoting health and wellbeing for residents in Merton


UPDATES – From London Vision

Researchers funded by Fight for Sight are developing a new device to be

used in both eye clinics and labs for the early detection and diagnosis of keratoconus. The project, which is jointly funded by the Keratoconus Self-Help and Support Association (KC Group) and Fight for Sight, is being conducted at Loughborough University and aims to detect keratoconus before irreparable damage is done to the cornea.

© Fight for Sight, 28 January 2021


Air pollution linked to AMD and retinal layer thickness

Researchers of a study published in the British Journal of Ophthalmology have found that greater exposure to air pollution was associated with age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and differences in retinal layer thickness.

© The Optician, 26 January 2021


Study on disabled people, work and COVID19

Dr Anica Zeyen, Senior Lecturer in Entrepreneurship and Sustainability at Royal Holloway university, has been awarded a grant by the British Academy to better understand the experience of work (unpaid or paid) of disabled people across the UK during the ongoing COVID19 pandemic. The project received Ethical Approval from Royal Holloway.

Anyone interested in taking part in this study should use the following link:  https://tendproject.com/2020/08/06/join-our-sutdy/

and fill in the expression of interest form. For more information, email Dr Zeyen, at Anica.zeyenn@rhul.ac.uk


In our Pave the Way report we reveal what disabled people really think about the impact of Low Traffic Neighbourhoods on their lives. We spoke to 84 disabled people about their experiences with Low Traffic Neighbourhoods. Interviewees came from 19 London boroughs, as well as Newcastle, Manchester, Yorkshire, Woking, Oxford and Edinburgh. 83% said they had been “strongly” impacted by the initiatives, while 72% of participants criticised how changes in their local area were communicated to them.

© Transport for All, 3 February 2021


The RNIB has agreed to sell its central London headquarters for an undisclosed sum. The charity said it had accepted a “strong commercial offer” from developers.

The RNIB said the sale had not been prompted by the Covid-19 pandemic and was part of a modernisation programme for the charity. It said it had more space than it needed in the 57,000 sq-ft office, which it shares with Guide Dogs. A significant proportion of the funds raised through the sale is expected to be spent on alternative office space in London.

© Third Sector, 26 January 2021


Thomas Pocklington Trust (TPT) and the Centre for Resolution are extending their professional coaching service for blind and partially sighted people. The service which is free-of-charge was launched in November specifically for blind and partially sighted people who are facing redundancy or who have recently been made redundant.

“The feedback from blind and partially sighted people who have received coaching following redundancy has been very positive.  We are building more resources into the programme to extend this to more people.” “TPT is funding the service so it is free for blind and partially sighted people who need it.  Our coaches help people to identify career goals, develop a strategy with action steps to reach those goals, and provide accountability to achieve them.”

© TPT, 2 February 2021


COVID-19 Update as of 15/2/21 from NHS South West CCG

Our vaccination programme is expanding across South West London and we have now given 238,953 across 40 vaccination centres, including our 25 GP led centres, 8 hospital hubs, 4 pharmacy-led services and 3 large vaccination centres. With over 70% of vaccines delivered at primary care sites GPs have been leading the way in vaccinating local people.

We are now urging everyone aged 70 and over who hasn’t yet had an invitation for a vaccination to come forward and contact the NHS to book their jab through the national booking service – www.nhs.uk/covid-vaccination or by calling 119 free of charge between 7am and 11pm seven days a week.

We want everyone to receive the vaccine and to take it up when they are offered it. We are supporting residents from black, Asian and ethnic minority communities to get accurate and accessible information so they can feel confident to get the vaccine to protect themselves and their loved ones.

Whilst there are new strains developing, having the vaccine when offered remains the best form of defence against COVID-19.

Questions and answers of the week:

I am confused about my second dose of the vaccine. Can you explain?

Both vaccines have been authorised on the basis of two doses because the evidence from the clinical trials shows that this gives the maximum level of protection.  You do not need to do anything to arrange your second dose. The NHS will contact you with your appointment details. Wait to be contacted. It’s important to get both doses to protect yourself against coronavirus.

Are the COVID-19 vaccines safe for people with long term conditions?

Vaccines will be approved if it is considered safe for people with long-term conditions.  These vaccines are safe and effective for the vast majority of people – they have been tested on tens of thousands of people and assessed by experts.

Find the latest information for your borough https://swlondonccg.nhs.uk/your-area/merton/merton-covid-19-vaccination-programme-update/

Engagement with local communities in Merton

Since starting to engage, we have held 19 community conversations reaching 526 Merton residents. In the past week, we held community conversations with 169 community members.

The MertonVision quiz

Just for fun. Answers on the last page, don’t peek and good luck!

  1. Which sitcom character often says the words: ‘I don’t believe it’?
  2. Who was the leader of the Soviet Union from the 1920s until his death in 1953?
  3. How many feet are there in a fathom?
  4. In Agatha Christie’s crime thrillers, what was Miss Marple’s first name?
  5. What colour is a Harrods carrier bag?



All events are on hold until further notice however you can still support us: Give As You Live – Raise money for MertonVision online shopping!

A free way to raise money for charity when you shop online!

Shop at over 4,300 leading stores via the Give As You Live website and you’ll raise free funds for your chosen charity.

  • It’s completely free to join and use
  • It’s a great way to raise money for charity for free
  • Shop at over 4,300 leading stores with access to great offers

How to get started

  • Go onto the Give as you Live website www.giveasyoulive.com
  • Create an account
  • Select MertonVision as your chosen Charity
  • Select the store you want to shop at, the site will redirect you to that store
  • Start shopping!!


As long as you log in through Give as you Live MertonVision will receive a donation every time you shop!


MV MEMBERSHIP – lifeline for us

For only £12 a year you can support MertonVision. We rely on these regular

subscriptions to help maintain vital services. Thank you for your support.



Merton Sports and Social Club – closed until further notice

MSSC is an integrated sports and leisure club, founded in the 1970’s, with both vision impaired and sighted members from within Merton and surrounding areas.  All ages and abilities are welcome.

What does the MSSC have to offer?

Weekly Socials, Tandem Cycling, Fitness Sessions, Walking, Swimming, Canoeing, Theatre Trips, Bowls, Darts, Quizzes

President Richard James 0750 091 3223 or rjames.sensory@gmail.com

MTN Talking Newspaper – closed until further notice

MTN produce a recording of the local news and a magazine once a week which is posted out on Fridays to all who request it



  1. Victor Meldrew (One Foot in the Grave)
  2. Joseph Stalin
  3. Six feet
  4. Jane
  5. Green


We finish on a serious note on a subject which unfortunately exists at every time of the year


Information for those who are experiencing domestic abuse

As a result of Coronavirus outbreak, many victims of Domestic Abuse face additional challenges and barriers to accessing support. While self-isolating, families will spend extended periods of time together and it is recognised that tensions may rise, escalating the risk of Abuse and Violence.

If you are currently experiencing domestic abuse, you are not alone, and we would like to reassure our residents that support service are still available to offer help.

The main domestic abuse support services to contact:

Merton Community IDVA – 0207 801 1777

Other services

  • Metropolitan Police – if in an immediate danger, always call 999.

For non-emergencies, dial 101.

  • One Stop Shop closed until further notice, please call 0207 801 1777
  • Merton Independent Domestic Violence Advisor –  0208 801 1777
  • National Domestic Violence Helpline 24/7 – 0808 2000 247

Important information regarding Coronavirus Vaccine Injections

This message is to ensure that you receive all vital Covid jab information in your preferred format.

The NHS Accessible Information Standard:

The Standard applies to all organisations that offer NHS or Adult Social Care services in England.

This includes GP practices, dentists, hospitals and pharmacies.

Your rights:

The Accessible Information Standard states that people in England have the right to accessible information and communication support.

This means that if you are blind or partially sighted you can request your health information in your preferred format such as braille, audio or large print.

You can ask for accessible information and communication support at any time. Next time you visit your GP, hospital, dentist, or other social care appointment you can ask for the information and communication support you need

The Accessible Information Standard template letter: Notifying your provider to be send or given to your relevant Health Agency is printed below. If you need support with completing the form please call the office on 020 8540 5446.

Please see link to RNIB for more information:


Accessible Information Standard letter: Notifying your provider

Please see letter template below. Please add your address details and those of your hospital/GP. Please print a copy once you have added your details.


Service provider                                                                             Your name

Address                                                                                          Address

Town                                                                                               Town

Postcode                                                                                        Postcode





As you may be aware, NHS England published a new information standard about accessible information which came into force in 2016.  It is called SCCI 1605.

The standard sets out rules for communication formats and represents a real step forward for people who are unable to read standard print to be able to access health information and appointments in a format that they can read.

With this in mind, I would like to notify you that I have a sight impairment and cannot read ordinary print. Therefore, I’d like to request that any documentation that you send out to me be in the format indicated below:

My required alternative format for written communications is:

This request applies to all forms of written communications, including personal patient information and general information which you normally provide to service users in ordinary print.  I would be grateful if you could ensure that my information format needs are captured and flagged up on your patient record system.

If you need further information, the read codes for my request above are located in the SCCI 1605 full specification document on the NHS England website.

I would be grateful if you could confirm in the format specified above that my accessible format needs have been recorded on your patient record system and on my summary care record under the communications and information needs section.

Yours faithfully,


Merton Talking Newspaper Logo

What do you know about the Merton Talking News?

It is a registered charity; No. 272221

It was established in 1976

The first edition went out to 44 blind people. We now have about 150 subscribers.


Blind and partially sighted people can listen to national and international news on the radio or television, but they often struggle to obtain news from their local area.

The invention of the cassette tape was a new important means of spreading news and information to the blind and visually impaired and this is how The Merton Talking Newspaper started, in a small way with audio cassettes in 1976.

It operated from a front room in Morden. From that front room in Morden we first moved to a larger room rented from the council but we are now the proud occupants of a purpose built studio.

In conjunction with our increase in size, technology has also advanced rapidly in the period since the first edition.

In 2014 we replaced the cassettes with Memory sticks and introduced the provision of a life -long loan scheme for a memory stick player for our subscribers.

Additionally each edition of the talking newspaper is emailed to subscribers who prefer their news delivered that way, uploaded to our website and sent out on Twitter and Facebook.

Each week an editor obtains a copy of the Wimbledon Times and selects items to be included in that week’s edition. Some editors introduce other articles which they feel may be of interest and which have been overlooked by the Wimbledon Times.

The recording is done by a team of four readers, usually two female and two male voices.

Once the recording is finished it is edited, checked and copied to memory sticks which are then put into bespoke postal wallets for postal subscribers. The wallets have removable address labels that can be turned over when it is time for them to be returned to the studio.

The wallets are sent post free. They are “Articles for the Blind”. This means we don’t have to pay to post them to our subscribers and when the subscriber turns over the address label, they don’t have to pay to return them to the studio.

The second part of the memory stick contains a magazine, not strictly news related or current affairs but with items of special interest to the blind and visually impaired.

As they return to the studio, volunteers process the envelopes, removing the sticks, updating the registers and preparing the studio for the next recording.

There are currently a team of four or five editors each of whom can rely on a selection of readers.

The editing, reading, technical and administrative functions are all carried out by volunteers.

New, enthusiastic volunteers are always welcome.

  • Would you like to become a news reader?
  • Would you like to be a technical helper?
  • Are you free to help for a couple of hours during the day in the week?
  • Do you know of a blind or visually impaired person who might like to receive, or benefit from receiving the talking news?

If the answer to any of these questions is yes, we’d love to hear from you. Email us at mertontalkingnewspaper92@hotmail.com, call the studio on 020 8544 0551 or contact us through MertonVision.

You could also visit our website, follow us on Twitter, or view our Facebook page

If the answer to all those questions is no, or even if it is yes, the service that we provide is free to subscribers, run by volunteers, but still incurs costs. Could you be a fund raiser or make a donation?

If the answer to that is also yes, please contact us.

Visit the Merton Talking Newspaper website: http://www.mtn.org.uk/

Image showing newspaper being read at Talking Newspapers