SVI Annual Forum 2017

Our Annual Forum, on Monday 20 November was a very well-attended (113 people) and enjoyable event. With an interesting range of speakers, exhibitors and presentations - along with a packed lunch, tea, coffee and plentiful samosas for all - the day was summed up as 'relaxed', 'friendly' and a 'great success'.

The venue was Portway Lifestyle Centre, Oldbury, where as in previous years, staff went out of their way to assist us.

We had a plentiful supply of willing volunteer helpers too, who, along with our paid staff, went the extra mile (in some cases quite literally, up and down the corridor) to make sure that everyone's needs were met.

Here are some pictures to give you a taste of the day.

Tracey, San and Cassie welcoming people

Volunteer Tracey, SVI Development Worker Sandra and SVI Business Support Officer Cassie welcomed people to the event at our reception desk in the hall.

Kelly deep in conversation

SVI Enablement Worker Kelly, along with some of our volunteers, made sure that members and guests settled in.

Ray setting up his recording equipment

Ray, the Editor of Sandwell Talking News gets ready to record parts of the event.

The Mayor meeting exhibitors

Mayor of Sandwell, Councillor Ahmadul Haque MBE, introduced himself to all the exhibitors and enquired about their services.

General view of the room

A snapshot of the room as people chat and get comfortable.

The Mayor giving his speech at the top table with Karen, Tony and Lindsay  our accountant

A friendly welcome by the Mayor set the tone as SVI Chair Tony, SVI Treasurer Karen and Accountant Lindsay relaxed before the formal AGM part of the meeting.


Mark from Orcam

Exhibitors had the opportunity to introduce themselves, ready for people to come round and talk to them later. Starting with Mark from Orcam which provides wearable assistive technology.

Kris from the Outreach Library Service

Kris from the Council's Home Library Service explains how people who cannot easily visit a library can arrange to have books delivered at home. Find out more about the Council's Mobile and Home Library Service here.

Healthwatch Sandwell exhibitor

Healthwatch Sandwell explained how you can share your experiences to benefit others. Find out about Healthwatch Sandwell on their website.

Healthy Sandwell exhibitorKiran talking to Healthy Sandwell

There are lots of services in Sandwell that aim to help you get and stay healthy. Find out more about Healthy Sandwell.

Humanware exhibitor

An exhibition by Humanware. Humanware provides a range of empowering assistive technology.

Simon from Wireless for the BlindBernard and Teryy talking to Wireless for the Blind

Simon from Wireless for the Blind talked about the new Bumblebee service. Did you know that you can access our Sandwell Talking News via the Wireless for the Blind web player?

Gary from Sandwell Sensory Services demonstrates large button phone to SVI member Ann

Gary from Sandwell Council's Sensory Services team was there to demonstrate the range of equipment the service has to offer. One of our members, Ann, took the opportunity to take a look at equipment such as a phone with larger buttons.

Thanks and awards

Sam with her flowers

Super Sam was presented with a huge bunch of flowers as a thank you for her 'Samathon' raising loads of money for SVI by doing the Birmingham Marathon.

Lindsay Delaney with her flowers

More flowers, this time for our Accountant Lindsay Delaney from accountancy firm John Pye who donate their services free of charge.

Pam and Ray with Community Champion Award

Here's Volunteer Pam with Editor of the Talking News, Ray with the SVI Community Champion certificate. The SVI Community Champion 2017 was awarded to Sandwell Talking News Volunteers (In Memory of Anne Wilkins 1932-2017). Sincerest appreciation to all of the Sandwell Talking News readers and technical team who work so hard to bring high quality accessible news and information to listeners every week. Whether receiving our audio USB stick and wallet, CD in the post, or hearing your friendly voices on the SVI website - you have all become friends to our members who look forward to hearing your familiar voices each week’. A special tribute to Anne Wilkins who read for the Sandwell Talking News for many years and has been a longstanding supporter of this important service to people unable to access the written word.

Find out more about the Sandwell Talking News here.


Chair Tony Averis gave his report (supported by SVI Treasurer Karen Averis) along with a report from Lindsay our Accountant who was reappointed at the meeting.

Stephen introduces new committee members

This was followed by election of committee members, coordinated by SVI member Stephen.

David Quarmby during his speech

Guest speaker David Quarmby from Kirklees Visual Impairment Network talked about his background, how his organisation started and their commitment to break down the barriers that visually impaired people face. From yoga, to IT support, to tandem cycling, he had lots to tell us. You can listen to his talk courtesy of the Sandwell Talking News here.

Graham asks questions

There was plenty of opportunity to ask questions throughout and here is our member and former SVI Chair Graham doing just that. The two microphones are because he is being recorded as well as listened to!

Raffle and lunch

June and Jean buy raffle tickets from Lisa and Gina

Gina and Lisa worked hard selling raffle tickets. With a range of fabulous prizes on offer, the raffle raised £206 for SVI.

Raffle prizes

Raffle prizes included an Amazon Dot, hampers, a vase, wine, chocolates, a food blender and more. Thank you to everyone who donated a raffle prize. We always welcome donations for our raffles and tombolas, so get in touch if you have anything you can give us. Now we've got a bigger office we have more places to store things!

Lunch is served

Lunch is served! You can't beat a picnic and a few samosas, served by our friendly and well-organised volunteers. Our volunteers tirelessly served tea and coffee in the breaks and after lunch too. Well done everyone, we really appreciate all your efforts and those of the lovely PAs from Proline.

After lunch members were able to visit the exhibitors to find out more, and attend two technology workshops.

Final thoughts

We hope that everyone enjoyed the event. We welcome your feedback and suggestions for next year. Contact us at the SVI Office.



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