VI Talk London Link Day.
By Jo Fishwick
Our second Link Day was held on November 24th at the Thomas Pocklington Trust hub in London but it all began on the Friday with most of us travelling to London and meeting at a Premier Inn hub.
We enjoyed a meal together and relaxed in the bar with a couple of drinks. For those of you who read my report about Liverpool, you’ll remember Dawn’s fondness and excellent use of the bell. Well Sam had scoured the internet and bought one to present to Dawn that evening.
The next morning, we had an early start and after Paul had met Katie at the station and brought her to the hotel to meet up with the rest of us, it was full steam ahead, sharing two taxis to the hub.
Some people had already arrived but after getting our security badges and going up to the fourth floor where we were met by Roy Smith and given a guided tour of the venue, it was action stations for the team. Jodie and I were in the kitchen making teas and coffees for the attendees. Jodie’s part time job in a cafe certainly helped with the organising of this part of the day.
Sam was busy setting out raffle prizes and Dawn and Katie were making sure leaflets and business cards were on each table and generally chatting to people and making them welcome.
Throughout the day Paul was invaluable making sure that every guide dog was taken out.
Once everyone was supplied with tea and coffee, it was time to introduce ourselves and for Sam to go round the attendees, giving them the opportunity to introduce themselves.
Amy Edgar from Transport For London was our first speaker and did a wonderful job of answering questions and giving a very informative talk about all the help and support TFL can offer. Those of us from other places were left feeling a little envious of the help available in and around London.
After a short break, Katie welcomed Graham Page from London Vision to talk about Assistive Technology. The Amazon Dot was definitely a hit and caused some laughter.
We broke for lunch and enjoyed sandwiches, crisps and fruit.
Sam as always did a great job of emptying peoples pockets for the raffle and Dawn, Jodie and Katie and I got the job of putting all the tickets into a bowl ready for drawing. We raised over £65 and are extremely grateful to everyone who bought tickets. Wine, chocolates and another of our lovely teddies sporting a VI Talk cape were won.
After lunch, it was time to invite Odette Battarel a Metro Blind Sports participant and Roy Smith previously from Metro Blind Sports to tell their stories and chat about lots of accessible sporting opportunities in London. They were very enthusiastic and I’m sure lots of people went away feeling like there was something they could get involved with and enjoy.
Another short break and it was time for us to explain about all the different elements that make up VI Talk. We took questions and were touched by some lovely feedback. We also received some great ideas for collaborative work in the future.
Throughout the day Jodie took photos of the speakers and posted them to Twitter. She also made sure that the talks were recorded, ready to be shared on the VI Talk Audio Boom Channel. Tracy our admin volunteer was equally busy retweeting and sharing what was happening on various social media platforms. Dawn and Katie had made excellent use of the bell, keeping everyone focussed.
I closed the event with lots of thank yous to the other trustees, Jodie and Paul, the speakers, all the attendees and also to TPT who funded this event for us.
London isn’t somewhere that any of us were particularly familiar with but as always, team work meant that the weekend went as smoothly as possible.
I’m extremely proud of Dawn, Katie and Sam. Katie hates travelling alone but got the train to and from the hotel independently. All three of them have grown in confidence during the time we’ve worked together. It’s a pleasure and a privilege to work with such a dedicated team.
We’re hopeful that we will be able to put on four Link Days during 2019 in areas of the country we haven’t yet visited and so the work begins to find venues, speakers and to start promoting the events.