Forth Valley Sensory Centre

How’s your sensory CSR?

How’s your sensory CSR? Are you a company looking to engage more with people with sensory loss? Perhaps you are wanting to make sure you keep up with equality legislation or maybe you are looking for a new charity to support? Then consider Forth Valley Sensory Centre!

Why support us with CSR?

Forth Valley Sensory Centre has been supporting people in Forth Valley with sensory loss and their families for over 12 years. The Centre is a Community Hub, offering support, advice, practical help and social opportunities.

We are unique in Scotland and possibly the UK. We know of no other Centre which brings together so many resources and support opportunities in once place.

The numbers of people affected by sensory loss are startling. In the UK 1.7m people have sight loss. In Scotland this figure is 188,000 and in Forth Valley, 1600 people are registered blind or partially sighted. However, many people don’t ask for help until it is too late or simply refuse to accept they may have a sensory condition. RNIB believes the true number could be many times higher in our local area.

RNIB sight loss statistics for CSR document. Shows five person outlines with one coloured differently to show 1 in 5 people has sight loss

It is the same with hearing loss. 1 in 6 people in the UK have hearing loss. 600 people in Forth Valley have profound hearing loss or are Deaf without speech. Many more have lost their hearing as they age and it is estimated that the number of people with vision and hearing loss will double in the next 15 years due to our aging population.

We will all know someone affected by sensory loss and the support the Centre provides to people affected as well as friends and family is vital. For service or retail focused businesses too it also means a huge potential market.

What can you do for us?

There is no beating around a bush, as a charity, Forth Valley Sensory Centre needs to bring in around £4000 each month in fundraising in order to operate. A donation to the Centre, perhaps through ad hoc events, like a bake sale, is always welcome. Or, how about encouraging your staff to get involved with an event such as The Kiltwalk and choose Forth Valley Sensory Centre as the beneficiary. Get in touch beforehand and we’ll be sure to promote your event! These events are great for team building so CSR can have many benefits to your business.

Charity of the Year

Perhaps it would be better to put things on a more formal footing though? Why not make us your charity of the year? We worked very closely with TSB Bank in Falkirk when we were their charity partner through 2016/2017 regularly photographing fundraising events in the branch and inviting staff into the Centre.

All smiles in the hallway for tSB charity CSR team during decorating day

Corporate Volunteering

Volunteering is a great way to support our Centre, either through access to knowledge and skills which we might otherwise prove to be cost prohibitive or through days out to help with our garden or at one of our events, for example the charity shop. Volunteering is very rewarding for all involved and we have some great feedback, it’s also a great way to develop your CSR with staff appreciating the time spent on a good cause. It gives staff a chance to get to know each other better and work as a team without the pressure of the usual work environment.

Gifts in kind

CSR doesn’t have to be cash or time. We are always happy to accept raffle prizes, tombola and other gifts that will help our Centre. Perhaps you have some excess stock we could use in our annual charity shop? Are you looking to promote a new service or make your company stand out? Perhaps we could help with a promotion on our webpage or Centre users might enjoy a discount on your services? Whatever it is, we can usually find a benefit or a way to work with you. Just get in touch!

What does the Sensory Centre offer our CSR supporters?

Public Acknowledgement

We are not backwards in showing our gratitude. In the past 12 months Forth Valley Sensory Centre has featured on BBC Online, BBC Radio 4, BBC Ouch, Insight Radio, STV and featured in The Sun, Falkirk Herald, Alloa Advertiser and Stirling Observer as well as numerous trade titles.

All of this has led to a big uptake in our social media presence and our Facebook page now reaches around 10,000 people in the local area each month. We would be happy to work with you on joint activities and mention you on all our media releases where possible.

We’d also add you to our webpage under a specific supporter’s page. This would link to your website and show people with sensory loss that yours is an organisation which understands their needs and takes them seriously. A recent training event with First Bus resulted in coverage in local and trade media valued at £2500 alongside support on Twitter with our endorsement for good customer service.

Sensory Awareness Training

Sensory Awareness Training is a fantastic way to show people that you take support for people with sensory loss seriously. It also demonstrates to people with a hearing or sight condition that yours is a business they should confidently engage with. The Deaf community in particular is very close knit and will regularly recommend shops, restaurants and outings that they feel welcome and safe in.

Similarly for people with sight loss, visiting new places can be very worrying. Like any new customer, first impressions count but for someone with sight loss, it only takes a few small adjustments to demonstrate you understand their specific needs and make them feel welcome. A person that feels like their custom is wanted is a customer that will come back time and again.

Training can take place at our Centre or at your place of business. We have successfully trained a number of different companies including Solicitors for Older People Scotland and First Bus (First Midland Bluebird) who both made changes to procedures as a result of the training they had received and garnered positive feedback as a result. We have also provided awareness training for staff in Next Homestore and Tesco.

We can tailor our training to your organisation, focusing on hearing or sight loss as needed. We use specialist vision simulation glasses and ear defenders to give practical advice which supplements important theoretical learning. We can also provide, if needed, basic BSL training on the day, giving staff their first go at finger spelling.

Sensory Awareness training is great for team building and staff at all levels can take part.

Driver Rebecca Notley undergoes sensory training and wears glasses simulating Retinitis Pigmentosa

Case study – DWP

Staff from the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) recently volunteered in the Centre as part of their Community 10k challenge, to provide 10,000 hours of unpaid work in the local community. Here’s what they had to say about the experience:

“On Friday 24 November I volunteered to attend Forth Valley Sensory Centre in Camelon, Falkirk.

“Forth Valley Sensory Centre is a place where people with a visual or hearing loss, their friends, families, carers and the wider community can access quality services and advice from partner organisations. The centre is not just for people with sensory impairment and is open to the wider community. Some of the facilities on offer include a café, sensory garden and sensory room.

“Each year the centre hosts a Christmas Fayre and they rely on volunteers to decorate the centre and set up the event. The event was scheduled for Saturday 25 November.

“Myself and three other volunteers from DWP were met by Caroline who is the volunteer co-ordinator. Caroline gave us a tour of the centre and introduced us to the staff and some centre users. It was very interesting to see some of the gadgets and gizmos that the centre can supply to people with hearing and/or sight loss to assist them with everyday tasks. This included talking microwave ovens, suction coffee cups which cannot be knocked over and flashing smoke alarms.

“Most memorable person I met was David, who makes the soup each day for the café and also runs a personal safety course for centre users. David also makes intricate models of people and animals from aluminium foil, some of these models are dotted around the centre. David was a cheeky chap who had plenty to say to us when he heard we were from DWP – most of it positive, despite the fact that he has had some not so positive encounters with this organisation in the past! David is completely blind, and is one of the most positive, energetic people I have ever met. He buzzes around the centre using only his white stick to assist him and he interacts with pretty much everyone who walks through the door!

“I had lunch in the café and David’s leek and potato soup was delicious, as was the banoffee muffin I had for dessert!

“Between the four DWP volunteers we set up and decorated three Christmas trees, set up Santa’s grotto, decked the halls with lots of tinsel and set up the tables in the main hall for the fayre. A very busy but satisfying day was had by all.

“The centre really does rely on volunteers throughout the year and I would encourage my colleagues to volunteer through C10k for any future advertised events. Failing that, if you are in need of a nice bowl of soup or a cake then pop into the café and support this fabulous organisation.”
Karen Forsyth, DWP

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