Posted: 23rd May 2020
Torch House may be currently closed to all but a handful of staff but this year's Week of Prayer is still going ahead, albeit in a virtual capacity.
We hope you will join us in prayer by following the YouTube links below as we look to praise the Lord for the wonderful things he is doing through Torch, and to ask for his help to further meet the spiritual needs of people with sight loss.
Each day covers a different aspect of Torch's structure and work. After an introduction there is a short Bible passage and reflection before covering the prayer needs relating to that particular aspect.
Lead by Rev'd Michael Heaney, Torch Chief Operating Officer. YouTube Link
Lead by Paul Wood, Torch Chief Technical Officer. YouTube Link
Lead by Mandy Blow, Torch Relationships Lead. YouTube Link
Lead by Rose Heaney, Torch Services Lead. YouTube Link
Lead by Leonard Campbell, Torch Regional Networker, Northern Ireland. YouTube Link
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.
Posted: 7th December 2019
‘As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ Joshua 1:5b.
This wonderful promise was given to Joshua when he was facing a very big change in his life. His beloved mentor Moses had died. Would God work just as powerfully through him as He had through Moses?
God reassured him: ‘As I was with Moses, so I will be with you.’ He doesn’t have favourites and wants to work through all His children. He was with Israel in this new season and is with us in Torch too.
This year we celebrated 60 years of the Lord’s amazing work through Torch and we now need to lean on Him as we move into a new phase of partnering in His work.
Sight Loss Friendly Church is our key initiative where we long to see people with sight loss more connected than ever before to their local spiritual communities; truly becoming part of church life, valued, and using their gifts to enrich the body of Christ. Please pray for us that Torch can make strong relationships with churches, so they too can catch this vision.
Our Holiday and Retreat Centre will close at the end of December, and we thank God with all our hearts for the wonderful work that has been done there, and for the many lives changed. So many people have found faith and restoration in their lives and discovered the joy of belonging and acceptance. We are actively seeking a new way forward for HRC. We pray that God’s purpose for HRC will be fulfilled. We don’t know what this will look like yet, so please pray that God will show us His perfect plans. Pray for the remaining holidays this year, including the Christmas and pre-Christmas holidays, that they will be full of joy, and for our wonderful staff and volunteers who have served us so faithfully that God will guide them into the new works He has for them and will look after their every need.
Thinking of Christmas, I am excited to share that I’ve just released a new Christmas album: Hallelujah Christmas, jazzing up some traditional carols and adding some of my own. Here are some words from my song Rescue Plan to give you an idea:
Hallelujah, Hallelujah, we can find this love again;
Hallelujah, Hallelujah, finding God as Father and Friend.
And He’s here today with His arms outstretched
He can fill you with His love.
Open up your hearts to this mighty power from above.
Drink in the hope of the Christmas story, knowing that Jesus loves us so much that He left Heaven’s glory to be with us in all our struggles and frailty. He knows what it is to be poor and He willingly carries our sorrows and shame. Through Him we can truly know not just that God will be with us in our own lives but will guide and bless the work of Torch too.
The Lord has promised to lead us as we continually seek Him, and we so much value your love and prayers at this time. We look forward to seeing you in future fellowship events we will arrange, so do watch this space for news and keep in touch.
May you know the joy and peace of Emmanuel, God with us, this Christmas, Marilyn.
Posted: 27th November 2019
Whilst many people are thinking about the commercial and material aspects of Christmas, we are delighted to offer you some FREE alternatives to fill your heart rather than empty your wallet.
A conversation with God is never a waste of time. Sometimes setting out a deliberate prayer slot in your diary can really help that connection. Torch has a Daily Prayer guide as well as our Prayer Diary Resource
Why not visit our website every day to be inspired in your daily prayers?
Connect with your Bible is a fresh way – have you ever used Bible notes to support you? – Torch offers 4 different types in various media. Also try using our daily Bible reading resource which offers a daily verse to inspire you.
Volunteer for Torch – we are so thrilled to have some dedicated and treasured volunteers. If you are local to Market Harborough and would like to be involved, then please do get in touch.
If you live further afield you could start with your own church, visit sightlossfriendlychurch.org.uk and find out how you can ensure anyone with sight loss can enjoy fellowship at your church.
Listen to our free Torch Radio show! We produce a weekly radio programme called Reflections. Aired on both Premier Radio and RNIB Connect Radio, the show has features on faith and disability in today’s world and is also available as a weekly podcast, featuring all episodes from that month.
Posted: 23rd September 2019
Dear Torch friends
“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
We are writing to you to share some important news about how we are developing the future ministry of Torch. We have been so blessed to celebrate 60 years of Torch’s ministry, serving God through our relationship with blind and partially sighted people. In that time Torch Trust has regularly heard God’s call and has faithfully responded to God’s leading in numerous ways, in different places for his purposes.
It began 60 years ago when The Heath’s welcomed young blind people into their home and through meeting them understood their need for life changing accessible Christian literature. Blind and partially sighted people alongside others worked, lived and prayed together. Eventually the Torch family grew to such a size that Mr and Mrs Heath championed the ‘big move’ to Hallaton.
Over 15 years ago Torch Trust entered a new season when it became a charitable company. As the ministry requirements grew, trustees followed God’s leading. Hallaton Hall was sold and the new, purpose-built Torch House enabled Torch to support even more people.
In the last two years God has again very clearly got our attention, and we are entering into another new season with exciting developments. We have been challenged to review all our services, assess all the resources that God has so generously supplied, and refocus the ministry to reach and serve even more of those with sight loss for God.
Trustees met recently to look carefully at every area of our ministry, to reflect on the changing needs of those with sight loss and make decisions about how Torch continues to serve our existing and new clients.
Following this prayerful consideration, it became apparent that God was clearly calling us to continue to grow and develop our Accessible Christian Literature and also to actively support our partnership with churches.
In reviewing our holiday service over this past year, we have become aware that we need to make changes. Rather than limit the opportunity for spiritual refreshment at one location, we wish to create opportunities for more and in different parts of the UK. Furthermore the cost to Torch of running our centre has become increasingly difficult to afford, making our holiday service unviable alongside our other services.
As the ending of holidays at our own centre marks the closing of a season, there is a new beginning. We are excited as we prepare a new offer for Torch friends old and new, the chance to get together in Christian friendship at different locations around the country. We hope to encourage volunteers and supporters to be involved in this new service in 2020 and look forward to sharing more details.
Friends, we ask you to pray with us for the all the people affected by this new direction. Particularly the staff, volunteers, supporters and friends of HRC. We know so many people have been blessed by their time at HRC and give thanks especially for those who have come to faith through the experience of love and friendship there. Over the years we have had such faithful service from staff and volunteers based at HRC which has touched the lives of many of us. We invite you to keep all of these special people in your prayers.
Every five seconds someone in the world goes blind, leaving them isolated and fearful about the future. The work of Torch is more important than ever before. This change in our ministry better serves the future work of Torch so that we can continue to offer accessible Christian literature, advice and guidance to Churches, and Christian friendship to blind and partially sighted people.
Trustees have every faith that God is leading us together into a new and exciting season for Torch. Thank you for putting your faith into action by joining Torch in prayer and supporting our work. Together we can enable people with sight loss to have fulfilling Christian lives.
With every blessing and thanks for your continued prayerful support of the ministry of Torch Trust.
Julia and Marilyn
Posted: 19th August 2019
Celebrating a Century
As cricket is played across the breadth and depth of the UK this summertime, at Torch Trust we are delighted to celebrate our own century, as we reach our first 100 churches who have made the pledge to join us on the journey to become Sight Loss Friendly.
The map at Torch House is being added to as each church signs up, demonstrating across our great country that the needs of those living with sight loss are being recognised; with church leadership teams who want to know more about how they can play their part to enable each person to play theirs.
Visit our website sightlossfriendlychurch.org.uk and sign up so every one can find your church too.
The SLFC team are busy meeting people, visiting and working with strategic and significant contacts to pursue this ministry and our ambitious aim to see all 50,000+ churches in the UK include and involve those with sight loss. From Keswick Convention, New Wine, Sight Village and in preparation for events in the Autumn, Torch are shining the light in communities across the UK to reach those living with sight loss where they are; to support churches to make an impact so everyone can play their part and feel valued in Christian communities.
If you are a SLFC or want to know more, or you know of a church who would like our help, we offer training, advice, resources and transcription service and we would be delighted to be in touch. For more info visit www.sightlossfriendlychurch.org.uk. If you know of an individual with sight loss please do encourage them to contact us on 01858 438260 or email firstname.lastname@example.org and our Client Services team would be delighted to talk to them about our accessible formats of Christian literature and daily Bible guides to support them on the journey of faith and discipleship. We receive so many encouraging letters from people who lives are changed this way, your action today may just hit the right wicket!