Posted: 9th September 2020 by Tim Jeffery, Interim CEO
It is with very mixed emotions that I bring to you the news that the sale of HRC has now completed. HRC has been a significant part of the ministry of Torch over many years and I know that it was a special and much loved place for so many people. It is therefore appropriate for us to mourn the ending of that era of Torch’s work but also to give thanks for all that God has done in and through HRC. So many people have been instrumental in establishing and running the Centre and we are so grateful for all that has been poured out by so many to make it the very special place it has been.
At the very heart of creation and our faith is the mystery of crucifixion and resurrection. We know that it is out of death that new life emerges. Sad though the ending of HRC is, we can also be a people of hope that God will do new things. Like so many charities and ministries, Torch is experiencing very uncertain times and significant challenges both in the ways we operate and in the finances that enable all that we do. Unfortunately HRC was making a significant financial loss and so the decision was a hard but necessary one. The sale of HRC will help us to recover those losses and give us some ability to invest in some new things – including to develop new ways of providing the spiritual refreshment, space to relax and fun that so many experienced at HRC. We trust the Lord, as we move forward to guide us into new and exciting areas of ministry as we seek to be good stewards of all that he has entrusted to us.
Posted: 2nd September 2020 by Dr. Mike Townsend, Chair
I am pleased to announce that we have appointed Tim Jeffery as Interim Chief Executive Officer. Tim has been working with the trustees and executive team as a consultant. He has been helping us understand our current situation, and recent experiences. This means that he has a clear understanding of Torch and the issues. Tim is an experienced CEO and has worked with several Christian charities helping them through change. His leadership is both spiritual and professional.
As the country moves into the next phase of opening up activities, so we in Torch are developing our shape for the future. In many ways it has been a "perfect storm" - coping with the impact of the virus, running without a CEO for most of the year, and the necessity to work in new ways. The trustees are now beginning to see things more clearly.
Tim takes up this role from the first of September. There will be an induction programme for Tim. This will enable him to get to know the staff, and learn about the wide range of services and experiences which Torch offers to help particularly blind and partially sighted people meet Jesus and develop a strong relationship with Him.
The trustees are very grateful to the Executive team and staff for their hard and positive work during these challenging times. Torch is doing well. We are effectively supporting blind and partially sighted people with accessible Christian literature, starting new virtual projects, and helping people spiritually through their current experiences.
Please support and pray for us, particularly, Tim, over these fresh developments.
The values of Torch are: Christ centred, people focused, open and creative.
Posted: 20th July 2020
We are pleased to share with you the opportunity to participate in the first Sight Village online event.
Sight Village will be presenting Sight Village Virtual; an online event providing a series of videos, podcasts and interactive workshops from the UK’s leading providers of products and services - all from the comfort of your own home!
There will be contributions from over 20 exhibitors including ourselves at Torch Trust, advertising our new leaflet called Introducing Torch Trust.
For many this is an unmissable event for people who are blind or partially-sighted, for professionals supporting and advising VIPs and for all businesses and other organisations wishing to improve their services for the visually impaired.
QAC Sight Village is described as “The UK's Leading exhibition for blind and partially sighted people and for those experiencing sight problems”. Each year thousands of people visit their events to find out at first hand the latest technology, products and support services available to people who are blind or partially sighted. Exhibitors include charities, commercial companies and voluntary organisations from across the UK, Europe and the world. In addition to the main show in Central England, there are a number of roadshow events in cities such as London, Leeds, Manchester, Exeter and Cardiff. Admission is FREE to all the events.
Sight Village Virtual will take place from:
Wednesday 22nd July – Thursday 23rd July
10am – 2pm
Posted: 13th July 2020
‘The production department has been carrying on as normal throughout lockdown, producing and sending out resources like Premier Christianity magazine, Bible reading notes, Everyday with Jesus, Daily Bread, New Daylight and Upper Room. The Torch Library has been busy, as have sales for books to clients as well as through the online book shop Eden. Torch News and What’s New have been produced and sent out too.
‘It’s been great knowing that we have helped people get through this strange time of lockdown by being able to produce books and magazines and keeping the library open. The post has been a bit slower for some people but it seems as though everything we send does arrive, eventually!’
‘The biggest impact of lockdown on audio transcription was the loss of our recording studios at Torch House. At short notice we had to get our local readers in and equip and train them in the use of portable recording devices which they could set up at home; no mean feat when they’re expected to do their own editing on the device and also transfer the audio back over the internet. My job as co-ordinator was also impacted as I moved to working exclusively from home although the wonders of modern technology mitigated most of the difficulties, including switching to digital books to avoid reliance on the postal service.
‘Despite, or maybe because of, lockdown all our normal audio has been produced well ahead of time – all my volunteers being confined to barracks has provided plenty of spare time. In fact, the biggest barrier to productivity has been me struggling to keep up with demand from my volunteers for books to record – so you can look forward to a bonanza of Christian audio books to listen to over the coming months!’
‘I am delighted to report that the first virtual SLFC training session recently went extremely well and was well supported with over 20 people joining Zoom from one church. It was also a real blessing to have Matthew Horspool, one of our SLFC Representatives, Chich Hewitt and James Hassall, 2 of our SLFC volunteers on the Zoom session with us. They were able to share their experiences of sight loss with all of the participants. We will continue to promote our virtual training sessions to churches who have already signed up to being sight loss friendly. If you are part of a SLFC who has not received training yet please do encourage them to contact us to discuss this opportunity further.
‘We are also very pleased to offer you the opportunity to join us at the launch of one of our new events from July. These will be virtual SLFC Taster Sessions on Zoom. These will be a perfect opportunity to hear more about SLFC, meet the SLFC team, and find out about all the benefits for your local church when they sign up to be a SLFC. These will last no more than 30 minutes and will be a perfect event to invite members of your groups to find out more and be better informed. You could also invite leaders in your churches who would like to know more about SLFC. There will be opportunity to ask questions. To book onto any of these sessions and for more information about them or our training events email firstname.lastname@example.org.’
We continue to thank the Lord for your ongoing messages of support, prayers and donations for the UK and Malawi.
Your emails and letters do give encouragement to the Torch team and so thank you. We really do like to hear from you so please stay in touch!
Deuteronomy 31:8 ‘The Lord Himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged’
Posted: 23rd May 2020
We are delighted to invite you to join with us for this year’s Week of Prayer and annual Thanksgiving. Whilst we are unable to gather in person, we will be able to share and interact through various ways, thus making these precious times available to all.
More than ever Torch needs prayer, so please we ask you to commit a little time each day to remember the ministry of Torch via our Week of Prayer.
As our 60th anniversary year comes to an end we have so much to be thankful for, but also, it’s vital we look around and ahead to the next chapter of God’s calling. And so, our Thanksgiving set for Saturday June 6th was a time of praise, sharing and call to action.
from its dedicated YouTube channel Torch Trust 2020
Led by Rev'd Michael Heaney, Chief Operating Officer
Led by Paul Wood, Chief Technical Officer
Led by Mandy Blow, Relationship Lead
Led by Rose Heaney, Services Lead
Led by Matthew Horspool, Torch Representative
Alternatively call 0333 123 1255 to hear the same presentations and prayer points
We look forward to you joining in our events.
With every blessing
Chief Operating Officer
Posted: 27th April 2020 by Mandy Blow
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” (Philippians 4:6)
The coronavirus outbreak is the greatest global health emergency in living memory. It is affecting the way we all go about our daily lives and this will continue today, tomorrow and for the foreseeable future.
In these uncertain times, small acts of kindness can make a huge difference to people’s lives.
We wonder how people with sight loss now navigate being safely guided while social distancing? We cannot stop the virus, but we can still be there for our clients, as their lifeline in their hour of need!
In recent weeks Torch has had to make many difficult but necessary decisions that have impacted on our charity. We have cancelled and postponed crucial events and projects which will have a significant impact on our income and ultimately the sustainability of Torch going forward.
Covid-19 has meant that our loyal volunteers are all now self-isolating in their homes to keep them and their families safe, which is Torch’s top priority. However, some volunteers are still able to give their time to support the work of Torch through these difficult times by working from their homes which we are so very thankful for.
We are currently in a position where several of our staff have been furloughed through Covid-19, however we still have skeleton staff in Torch House with a high priority placed on our production so that we can continue to dispatch library books and daily bible readings notes to our clients. They are a ‘lifeline’ our clients tell us, and client services are still giving a bespoke telephone service to our vulnerable clients, supporting them through these difficult days.
Some staff are also working from home producing audio recordings and transcribing books, so that our clients are able to still receive bible reading notes and other resources. A real blessing during this time.
Our mission of getting every church in the UK to become sight loss friendly was gaining good momentum before Covid-19 came along but now we find ourselves in another arena, navigating like many churches, ways to connect and work collaboratively by virtual platforms.
This has also become a challenge for our Torch Fellowship Groups across the United Kingdom and so we are currently working hard to put together guidance and arranging practice Zoom sessions with Group Leaders and Regional Co-Ordinators to support them with this new way of connecting virtually.
The corona virus has also now reached our mission partners in Malawi and the regular financial support we provide them will help produce braille leaflets that talk about the symptoms of Covid-19, the way this virus is transmitted and prevention measures. The people with sight loss will suddenly be even more vulnerable during these challenging times.
As always it is the generosity of our supporters that enables our work to continue, not only in the United Kingdom but across several parts of the world including Malawi. We rely on your support to keep Torch going. With your help we will continue to provide a vital ‘lifeline’ to people with sight loss throughout the effects of Covid-19.
Could you help some of the poorest people in the world to stay safe against coronavirus?
Help people with sight loss in the UK to continue to access a personal and pastoral telephone service?
We need to be able to continue to answer the phone and be the comforting familiar voice who can guide in these testing times. We need to continue to produce and send out accessible Christian literature that will bring peace and hope during the present crisis.
It is a difficult time for everyone and we have been humbled and amazed at the messages of prayer support and additional gifts already received – your continued prayers and anything financially you can give today will make a difference and be a lifeline to people with sight loss to give a brighter tomorrow.
So please do continue to pray for the ongoing ministry and sustainability of Torch and for God to come alongside us all at these unprecedented times.
In respect of financial support, we would really benefit in these times from online donations to limit the manual processing of cheques.
Torch's bank details are - Torch Trust for the Blind, SORT CODE: 40-52-40, Account Number: 00017072.
We are also still able to bank cheques at the current time, but this could of course change moving forward.
If you could make a monthly commitment to Torch this would really make a difference to the planning and sustainability of our ongoing ministry.
We thank you in advance for your prayers and your continued financial support during the weeks and months ahead.
''For I know the plans I have for you,'' declares the LORD, ''plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'' (Jeremiah 29:11)
God continues his great plans for Torch Trust. We pray for the continuation of our established ministry through these difficult months ahead as we navigate Covid-19 together.
God Bless you all and please stay safe.
Posted: 27th March 2020 by Dr. Mike Townsend
The Trustees have asked that I inform you that Julia Hyde is leaving her employment with Torch Trust on the 31st March, Julia will remain on sick leave until this date.
Julia has brought lots of energy and fresh ideas to Torch and worked hard to set up our Sight Loss Friendly Church initiative. We wish her all the best for her future.
These are very challenging times. The Executive Team and Trustees are prayerfully looking to God to guide us. Key areas of work are carrying on with staff involved both at Torch House and home working. we are looking at easy-to-use technologies to help our friends and clients stay connected and support them spiritually in these difficult times.
We have a loving and caring God, "cast all your cares on him because he cares for you" (1 Peter 5:7).
Dr. Mike Townsend, Chair
Posted: 25th March 2020 by Michael Heaney
Following further restrictions advocated within the wider society for the benefit of all, and our duty of care towards our staff team, we have had to make a further review of how we can operate. Torch House will still currently be in operation, albeit with an absolute minimum of staff onsite to continue to provide services with priority towards the production of accessible Christian resources (including Bible Reading Notes), and the library service.
Our usual telephone lines with support for our clients remain operating and handled by staff from their homes. However, this is not at our full capacity so do bear with us when trying to contact us.
We continue to review and cancel as necessary any upcoming Torch Together events, anyone already booked on an event cancelled will be contacted in due course to arrange refunds. We have cancelled any dates currently set for Church or Group visits/SLFC training/exhibitions for the foreseeable future.
We have also advised Torch Fellowship Groups who cannot now meet in person to try to make every effort of supporting people online and by the telephone. Indeed, we will be using this time to review, advise and promote how best the many platforms for remote meetings and fellowship can still take place.
These are incredibly challenging days for us all and for those living with sight loss is an added consideration. In these unprecedented times we continue to invite your prayers, acts of kindness towards each other, and as able any financial support, without which we would be unable to continue.
In respect of financial support, we would really benefit in these times from online donations to limit the manual processing of cheques. Torch's bank details are - Torch Trust for the Blind, SORT CODE: 40-52-40, Account Number: 00017072. It is really helpful to quote a reference if you have one, your Client Code if you know it, or simply your post code will help us identify you.
As a ministry centered upon Jesus Christ, we turn to God in these days to ask for his peace upon ourselves, our communities and all those close to us.
Posted: 19th March 2020 by Michael Heaney
Subject to availability of staffing and services Torch House will remain open as normal to continue to provide services with priority towards printed resources, library service and telephone support of our clients.
Only essential minimal staff are working safely on site with all others working from home.
In view of the latest government advice decisions are being taken to review and cancel as necessary any upcoming Torch Together events, anyone already booked on an event cancelled will be contacted in due course to arrange refunds.
We are also cancelling any dates currently set for Church or Group visits/SLFC training/exhibitions for the foreseeable future.
We advise Torch Fellowship Groups to also heed the general advice and to cease meeting in person for the foreseeable future and to try to make every effort of supporting people online and by the telephone.
These are challenging days for us all and for those living with sight loss this presents additional challenges. In these unprecedented times we continue to invite your prayers, acts of kindness towards each other, and as able any financial support without which we would be unable to continue.
Posted: 7th March 2020 by Dr. Mike Townsend
From March 1st 2020, I have the honour and responsibility of being the new chair of Torch Trust. For some time, Marilyn Baker has served God in this role. She has been a blessing and immense pastoral lead over several years. She now feels it is time to place more emphasis on her other activities. Marilyn remains a trustee and will support us pastorally.
This is a time of change in Torch. The Governing documents for the Trust state that one of the key roles of chair is to be an ambassador. At the very heart of Torch are its core values which are: Christ centred, people focused, open, and creative. We have some exciting projects including Torch Together and Sight Loss Friendly Church. I am also excited about the fresh opportunities of helping blind and partially sighted people build their relationship with God through the use of technology.
I look forward to renewing links , making new friendships, and supporting you all in God's good future.
Please pray for me.