Managing Directors Newsletter

August 2021

Welcome to this, the First ever Managing Director’s newsletter from COS. For those who don’t know me, my same is Sarah Thomas and I have worked at COS for 21 years. I started out as a Communication Support Worker working with the Education Officer and over the years have developed the Information, Advice and Assistance (IAA) Service, Accessible Health Service and various other Community based projects.

In April this year I was asked to step in as the Managing Director and I have to say how honoured I was to be asked. I know there have been lots of changes recently, some we knew would happen, and other things just came out of the blue, but as a team we have rolled our sleeves up and worked hard to get through all of the obstacles in our way.

Who is the COS team right now?

We have a Board of Directors that have seen as many changes as the staff. Chris Jones who had been our Chair for as long as I can remember sadly retired earlier this year; she worked tirelessly for the organisation and I would like to thank her for that dedication. We were extremely fortunate that some new members of the board joined us during the pandemic and they elected Phil Lof as Chair for the next 12 months. Phil joins us from the Welsh Government. We are currently in the process of updating or website with a page about all of the board, so please keep checking for all of their photos and bios.

The management team for COS working along side the Board of Trustees are me, Stephanie Woodcock who is the Office Manager, John Evans, the Head of Media and Communication and Simon Shutler, the Finance Director. Between us we manage the day to day running of the office.We then have various project staff who carry out the business of the organisation. Again, if you pop over to our website and click on our services, you will see photos of all the staff associated with each project.

That is just a whistle-stop introduction to the organisation, don’t worry, I won’t be repeating it every time I produce one of these. This newsletter is an opportunity for me to let you know what has been going on recently, what is happening with our projects, what good news we have and anything I think you might be interested in. Remember that our Social Media is where we post lots of information, so please check that out regularly for events and notices. I will be producing 4 of these newsletters a year, so this one will focus on what has happened in the last 3 months, May, June and July and give a bit of “coming soon” news too.

We have been very fortunate to receive funding to provide Information and Assistance around Covid for the next 12 months up to June 2022. This funding has come from the Steve Morgan Foundation and Moondance. This will build on the funding we had last year from the National Lottery. This pays for the videos you will have seen on our Facebook and for the support we have ben able to give to individuals who have had concerns about the pandemic or who have found it difficult to access support from anywhere else because offices have been closed and people have been asked to phone in. We have also had the news that our JobSense project that supports people who are Blind or have a visual impairment to move closer to work has been extended for a year to try to make up for the time we lost during lockdown. 

July we received the excellent news that working with Vision Support, we will be delivering services to people with a Sensory Loss in Denbighshire for the next 2 years. This means we will be able to provide information on a range of equipment as well as providing our Information, Advice and Support Service which supports people who are Deaf or have a hearing loss with phone calls, filling in forms and general advice and signposting.

Finally, we have received notification that the National Lottery are going to support us in transforming some of our training into an online session that people can access from anywhere in the world, and to making areas of local interest more accessible by creating videos in BSL that will explain the historical or cultural importance of the venue. We will be asking for ideas of where to film and what it is you want to see, and I hope you will be able to support us with this. It is a huge project that will information in places like Caernarfon Castle or the Victorian Pier in Llandudno accessible to more and more people.

What’s coming soon? 

I know it is a bit early, but the next newsletter will be too late to ask you to keep an eye out for our next AGM. If you are interesting in becoming a member of the organisation, it’s free and gives you voting rights at the AGM as well as a chance to join the Board, head over to our website where you will find the application form by clicking here. That’s it from me this time, hope you have a safe summer and see you in November!

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