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The Interview Summary

Could you please tell me a bit more about VISTA and your role at VISTA?

  • My role at VISTA is to fundraise for non-chargeable services for people with sight loss, blind or partially sighted people of any age in the region of Leicester, Leicestershire, and the Rutland region.
  • VISTA is a local organisation, but part of a larger network called Visionary, which allows for sharing of local learnings and experiences with partner organisations across the country.

Since you found out about Catalyst have you been engaging with their resources?

  • Yes, definitely. I have also shared the resources with others in the organisation.
  • I completed the impact measurement course that inFocus runs through Catalyst.
  • We also use the Service Recipes and created a library for users using resources provided by Catalyst and other tech organisations.

Could you tell me a bit more about what your experience has been like, with for example, the Service Recipes resource?

  • I found them to be easy to search for and use. I can’t say I was looking for a specific Service Recipe, I just liked the format.
  • And I thought rather than us trying to develop something like that, why don't we utilise this and have, for example, a link in our training programme. Sometimes it does concern specific technology. But more often than not, now, there are apps in the mainstream that are accessible to our users.

And what about the impact measurement course?

  • I found the impact measurement course very useful and shared the course content with the team. It gave me more insight into what we want to achieve with a project and where is it plausible to put the funding. 

Have the Catalyst resources changed in any way how you operate within your role?

  • It's given me a vast library. I expected the newsletter to be purely digital tips and hacks and possibly not that relevant to my role. But I have since learned there are so many parts that touch my actual job role, such as accessibility or digital fundraising. 
  • If I had to say something critical, I'd say that I was under the impression that Catalyst was just for people with a digital interest, but it's not. 

Can you think of any examples of something that you've seen in blogs or the newsletter or any other initiatives that made you think 'Oh, that's something that I could carry forward'?

  • There was an article that was specifically on inclusion and exclusion or digital poverty that we directly used in our bid to get funding for our digital team.
  • From my point of view, it's been a lot about the accessibility audits and because that's something our users could actually get involved in, we could ask, some of our more confident users to go on websites and say, 'Tell us what's wrong with this'. 

So coming across Catalyst’s initiatives is giving you the idea to include users in testing what they need?

  • Yes, I think there's a trend within the organisation to involve users more, and I take responsibility for kicking that off. Users are also involved in evaluating services.
  • We have a corporate relationship with Vodafone, and some of their shop staff have been trained specifically on sight loss technology apps and devices.

Do you anticipate using any of the Catalysts' resources in the future? Maybe for your new role?

  • I’d say so. I've not really got a good grip on the level of digital skills in my new workplace. But there are enough useful tools with Catalyst that I can't see anyone saying they don't need them. 

I know that you're not part of the digital team, but I was wondering if you know anything about the process of moving from paper based to digital?

  • At the moment, there is a bigger initiative to go green, but that will happen more so in the support functions. Our digital team don't support staff, they support service users.
  • We use a triage process to identify the specific needs and best tools for service users. What we've found there is that we have been able to reduce travel by doing more remote group activities, such as Tea and Tech Talks.

Is there anything in your opinion that could be improved about the Catalyst initiatives? 

  • I don't know to what extent catalysts do accessibility audits on their material. But if they don't already, then that might be it.
  • I think just getting known as an organisation that's got support for the whole range of organisations, not just the tech nerds.

And what's next for you? 

  • The next role, it’s still fundraising, and it's still to do with writing. But there's a little bit more focus on the creative writing.
  • I'm sure it was through the Catalyst newsletters that I did a writing course, recently called "Write About Your Work in Half an Hour," and that was really good.
  • I'll definitely take that one to my new job. The new organisation I'm going to work for has got four different centres plus a head office. It could be a good team building activity.

Is there anything else that would be helpful from Catalyst within your new role?

  • There could be vast differences in digital skills and different centres. So while you can ask one centre to do this for themselves, another centre might need a full walkthrough. But this is just me guessing because of the structure. 

Is there anything else that you would like to add about your experience?

  • I’d really like to emphasise that I do think there's a breadth in the support because it's not always digital. It's always got some sort of element of digital within it, but so has all of our lives now and I think it can potentially put people off, but I like the breadth of it.