Impact Report 2021-2022
people directly supported across 41 supported living, residential and outreach services this year.
people reached through our programmes this year.
downloads of our free resources on eye care, supported employment and digital inclusion this year.
84% of people we support say we’re helping them develop their skills.
An introduction from our CEO
This year’s impact report marks the end of our 2017-22 five year strategy. Reflecting on the past as we look to the future, it’s been a period of great achievement and we’re delighted to finish on a high.
Our new strategy will be launched in September 2022 and a focus for us will be to support more people to live rewarding lives in places they call home, doing the things they enjoy with the people they love to be with. We believe everyone can play a role in achieving this vision of the future and I hope the stories in this report inspire you to join us and play your part.
Lisa Hopkins, CEO
2017-22 strategy - our achievements:
- Began supporting people under the Transforming Care agenda to live outside of hospitals in the communities they choose.
- Scott Watkin BEM became the first person with a learning disability on our leadership team.
- Convinced NHS England to commit to the roll out of the special schools eye care service across the country following our research and publication of peer-reviewed articles on the topic.
- Celebrated our status as one of the oldest disability charities in the world marking our 220th anniversary.
- Achieved our first home deregistration, thereby giving people more choice and control over their lives.
- Responded rapidly to the pandemic with our new Creating Connections digital inclusion programme.
- Launched our Ready, Willing and Able supported employment programme.
- Won Charity of the Year 2021.
- Began supporting people under an innovative model of inclusive support in Redhill.
Often by making small changes to someone’s home or support, we can enable people to take more control of how they live their lives. As an organisation, we keep up to date with the latest research and evidence-based best practice. The experts in our Clinical Assessment and Intervention Team are key to ensuring people we support experience the positive changes this work brings.
Our Vision Rehabilitation Workers and Behaviour Consultants work together, focusing on placing each person at the centre of their own support, empowering each individual to learn the skills that really matter to them, enabling them to live happy, contented lives.
This means that each person gets exactly the right kind of expert support they need, when they need it, so they can make more choices about what they want from life every day.
Support colleagues are ambitious for themselves and others – meaning more people are able to benefit from new opportunities like finding employment through our Ready Willing and Able supported employment programme, being involved in self-advocacy and making new connections.
Thorough, person-centred transition planning is backed by a Positive Behaviour Support approach, which has seen huge success. Our teams have worked closely with families and multi-disciplinary teams to support several people as they make the life changing move from secure hospitals into their own homes.
A Positive Behaviour Support approach enabled us to support more people in Hampshire and Kent who were previously living in hospital settings, which has shown the exciting progress that happens when people begin their new lives in their own home and in their own community.
of our homes and support services are CQC rated good (at 31 March 2022).
people we support say our support is good or very good.
of family and friends said we have done a good job in keeping their loved ones safe from Covid.
Working in a proactive and preventative way is central to our eye care work, where we aim to step into someone’s life before any permanent sight loss that could have been avoided.
In June 2021 we scooped the Overall Award for Excellence at the Charity Awards. Our eye care team was praised by the judges for convincing the NHS to roll out sight testing for children with learning disabilities in all English special schools, half of whom have a problem with their eyes, yet over 43% had no history of eye care. The service has already transformed the lives of several thousand children with a learning disability and sight loss, and will eventually reach over 120,000 children. Our community eye care team secured funding for an ambitious project to commission specialist eye care services for people with learning disabilities and autism across London. They’ve also continued to provide expert peer to peer advice to support access to good quality eye care.
Eye care professionals Professor Rachel Pilling and Caroline Rawse created the Bradford Visual Function Box to help to explore visual abilities in people who cannot communicate what they can see. We worked with them to make this simple and innovative tool available to hospital eye clinics and optometrists across the country. It was described by John Holden, Director of Strategy and Deputy CEO at Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust as: “Deceptively simple, brilliantly innovative, changing lives.” Supporting people in a proactive way means we work to prevent someone from returning to a secure hospital, or from entering one in the first place.
Our transition planning (which usually involves input from our Clinical Assessment and Intervention Team) is entirely person-centred, supporting choice in all areas of someone’s life – from where their new home is, their home’s layout, design and furniture, to the support team’s approach – so that each person can live happily and with choice and control.
special schools are supported by SeeAbility’s eye care team – a population of over 3,000 children.
people with learning disabilities and their supporters reached by our Eye Care Champions in the North West and London.
eye care professionals trained per week for roll out of the new NHS England Special Schools Eye Care Service.
At SeeAbility we believe no-one should feel isolated. That’s why we’re determined to create opportunities for people with learning disabilities, autism and sight loss to be in charge of their own lives, develop essential skills and share their voices.
We know that technology has the power to bring people together and transform lives. Technology has become central to all parts of life, but many disabled people feel digitally excluded due to skills barriers and financial hurdles. This lack of digital inclusion increases the social and economic disadvantages that people with disabilities already face.
The pandemic had a serious impact too, often leaving people with disabilities feeling disconnected, isolated and disadvantaged.
We believe everyone has the right to digital connection, but it’s clear that few organisations are prioritising this for people with learning disabilities and autism, or their support teams.
Through our digital inclusion programme, Creating Connections, we support people with learning disabilities, autism and sight loss, as well as their support teams, to gain digital skills. Creating Connections has grown into a network of 24 self-advocacy group partners to help us extend the reach of the programme to people with learning disabilities across the country.
By drawing on local knowledge, experience and networks, we’re building better local support and connections for people within their own communities, both online and in person. We’re sharing best practice across all our partner groups to ensure people are supported in a person-centred way to gain the skills that are important to them.
Creating Connections successes in 2021-22
people with learning disabilities learnt new digital skills.
people who work on the frontline in social care learnt new digital skills.
increase in number of people feeling confident online.
At SeeAbility we believe everyone deserves the chance to have a career, not just a job. Our supported employment programme is here to make this happen, so that every person we support can realise their ambitions.
The journey to paid employment is varied - sometimes it begins with volunteering, a work placement, an apprenticeship or an internship. No matter how each person’s journey starts, our supported employment coaches work one-to-one with each person to break down any barriers and overcome any challenges they may be struggling with. Since its modest beginnings in early 2020, Ready, Willing and Able has grown at pace, developing into an effective supported employment programme, working every day to ensure that everyone with a disability can have a meaningful and long-lasting career.
Today the team are making a positive difference to over 60 people who have joined the journey to find work. So far nine people have successfully gained employment, with many more well on their way to finding work.
Joining the programme in May 2021, Beatrix worked alongside her Supported Employment Coach to develop her skills and prepare for work.
Just one month later, Beatrix secured an interview to work as a waitress at an award-winning restaurant in Bristol.
The last year has been a challenging one for both our volunteers and people we support, with some restrictions on visits continuing due to the pandemic. People we support really missed the companionship of their volunteers and their activities together – particularly as many already felt isolated by the lockdowns and other restrictions.
Despite the challenges, the virtual catch ups and telephone calls which started at the beginning of the pandemic continued, much to the delight of everyone involved!
We know how important volunteers are to people we support and to SeeAbility.
Over the course of the past year, we’ve developed new volunteering roles to make sure we’re creating more opportunities and choice in life for people we support, as well as great options for our volunteers to learn and share their skills.
Some of these new volunteers support people to learn new online skills, make connections with new people, or develop skills and confidence to find a career. These are all huge moments in someone’s life, really showing how much of a difference our volunteers make.
Our vision is to make volunteering integral to the wider delivery of our organisational strategy. Over the course of the past year, we’ve developed a new volunteer development programme to help us build a strong, inclusive community of volunteers who are a core part of our support and work across the organisation.
We’ve also begun to develop a new community fundraising programme, which is wonderful way of bringing communities together to raise money for a specific cause or charity. There will be a whole host of different activities that our volunteers can bring to their communities, from bake sales and raffles, to walks and gardening challenges.
As always, we are immensely grateful for the significant contribution of our volunteers, whose gifts of time and talent create so much impact across homes and communities.
“Being there to support our runners at the London Marathon was such a positive and rewarding experience – not to mention a lot of fun! I met so many friendly people and I can’t wait to support at other events in the future."
“I have had such a great time meeting and volunteering with the team that make this all possible. I have learnt so many new skills and built my confidence in my own abilities. SeeAbility are having such a huge impact on people’s lives and I am glad to be part of such an amazing organisation!”
We know how important lived experience is. We are constantly working to make sure the balance of power is shifted, so people have control over their own lives, as well as being able to influence change in society.
So, we were delighted when Scott Watkin BEM, our Head of Engagement, was invited earlier this year by Care Talk Magazine to contribute to their monthly column. Scott joined a number of high-profile figures from the sector, who were asked to voice their hopes for the future of social care.
Scott said: “In my role as Head of Engagement at SeeAbility, I lead a team of Associates and an Influencer. They are all people with lived experience of learning disabilities, autism and sight loss, who are committed to making life better for others with disabilities.
“It is co-production at its best. We’re all passionate about making society more inclusive and are learning new skills in campaigning, public speaking and leadership so we can help change society for the better.”
Scott’s team has contributed to a number of national inquiries, consultations and research projects, sharing their voices as widely as possible. These include:
- Adding to research into the impact of Covid-19 on people with disabilities.
- Helping to co-lead the Social Care Future inquiry on key changes needed in social care.
- Learning parliamentary process from Baroness Hollins.
- Contributing to consultations as diverse as pavement parking and a national disability strategy.
Ultimately, Scott’s goal for his team is for them to be prominent and influential voices in the learning disability and social care sector. They will continue to work to grow their profile to influence national policy and public assumptions on what people with learning disabilities, autism and sight loss can do.
Influencing change through lived experience
Emily has been our Influencer for the past year. She’s been exploring what it means to not just live, but thrive. Just as we all live our lives in different ways, we also thrive uniquely. For some, it might be challenging yourself to learn a new skill and for others it could be a change of environment.
In 2022 we began supporting people under an innovative new model of support in Redhill. Can you spot where people with disabilities live in the photos below? No? That’s the point.
Royal Hill Park is a community of over 100 houses, where private homes and homes designed for people with disabilities nestle together against a beautiful countryside backdrop.
The supported living houses and apartments are not set apart or excluded, but instead are scattered throughout the development, creating a vibrant, diverse and inclusive community.
A sensory trail winds through the heart of the development, for everyone to enjoy. The stunning gardens are created from plants and materials chosen to provide a multi-sensory experience.
We’re excited to be developing plans for an inclusive community hub for people from around Royal Hill Park and the wider Redhill area, within Tudor House, a 16th century farmhouse that stands within the development. The enthusiastic team in Redhill have plenty of ideas and are engaging with everyone within the community to see what will bring people together best.
Our ambition is to play an active role within Royal Hill Park, working together with people we support and our neighbours there to bring a real community atmosphere, where everyone feels welcome. This is the future of support, where people can live, love, thrive and belong in the community they choose.
Bringing their whole selves to work
The wellbeing coach team was established in the middle of the intensity of the pandemic. Setting out to ensure colleagues had the resources and support they need to do their jobs in a caring and safe environment, they have exceeded all expectations.
The wellbeing coach team are all Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) England accredited, giving them the tools they need to empathise with their colleagues and signpost to further support.
Depression, anxiety, PTSD and financial worries are just some of the areas that wellbeing coaches have been able to support their teams with. The coaches are able to make a real impact on people’s lives. On one occasion a colleague was experiencing financial hardship and their wellbeing coach referred them to The Care Worker’s Charity for support. After receiving a Crisis Grant, and through the support from their wellbeing coach, they were able to put down a deposit on a new place to live.
Our wellbeing coaches love to share their thoughts on how we can all promote better mental health for ourselves and others.
“I am so proud of everything the Wellbeing Coaches have achieved. The work they do has changed the way we approach colleague wellbeing for the better and I can’t wait to see what they do next.” – Lesley Brown, Head of People Experience.
“We should all look after our mental health in the same way we care about our physical health. A good start to normalising it is by realising that everyone has their own mental health to take care of, we all go through ups and downs. I take my role as wellbeing coach very seriously!” – Barbara Czarkowska, wellbeing coach.
We have much to be proud of and much to aspire to. The future belongs to those who refuse to give up on a world that needs to change, and SeeAbility wants to be that change.
The last five years have taught us that, even in the face of extreme challenges, we can all achieve great things, both personally and across the charity. This gives us confidence that the next five years will be equally as inspiring and fulfilling.
We recognise that the most important people with a stake in the future of our charity are those who our charity supports. People we support, their families, and all colleagues have had the opportunity to be involved in co-producing the new strategy. It’s been an exciting process filled with vision and enthusiasm and from this we now have an ambitious plan to take us through the next five years.
We’re excited to continue our work supported by this new strategy and are committed to exploring new and innovative ways of enabling people - both our workforce and people we support. We are emboldened by a brave vision for the future and we hope that you will join us, so that together we can make this vision a reality.
We won't settle for a future without change.