The 2017 Visionary Leadership Conferences (formerly the CEO Conferences) were held in London, York, Manchester and Bristol in March. We had a total of 63 members attending from 46 organisations and all threw themselves into some lively discussions and debates, so thank you to all of you who attended. Alison started the day with an overview of what has been happening at Visionary central over the last year and how we have expanded our focus from the initial priorities around engagement to more active work with members. This included some discussion around the latest Visionary Roadmap which can be seen here – Visionary Roadmap / Visionary Roadmap (text). This was followed by an update from Keith Valentine, Deputy CEO of the Thomas Pocklington Trust, who outlined the plans for bringing together VISION 2020 UK and the UK Vision Strategy to provide a unified body for the eye health and sight loss sector. As part of this he set out the importance of Visionary’s role in contributing to these plans and ably dealt with some healthy challenges and questions from members on the topic.
Andy Haynes and Alexa Sage then led an interactive session with members on different approaches to Income Development including some interesting sector statistics. It was surprising to hear that Visionary members, collectively, spend more annually than Guide Dogs and almost as much as the RNIB (£106 million, £104 million and £123 million respectively in 2015/16). However, it wasn’t surprising to hear that income generation for members is becoming increasingly challenging. Not all members raise monies from the same activities, especially contracts and charging for services, and we’re working to develop activity to support members to increase and better manage their income. After lunch the groups split in to two for a presentation on Eye Clinic Services and Rehabilitation and our open forum discussions. Emma Cruickshank and Michelle Baxter Wickham from Visionary worked with colleagues from the RNIB to give some excellent presentations on the attempts to recognise and, where necessary, raise the quality of service delivery across the sector, particularly in relation to Eye Clinic Services and Rehabilitation. The slides are available here – Visionary and RNIB presentation and the documents referred to during the sessions can be accessed here – Eye Clinic Services and Rehabilitation. Members were also encouraged to access the training and support available for both ECLO and non-ECLO staff and volunteers, including signing up for the Early Intervention Support Network – Training and Networks. Alison, Matt and/or Andy facilitated the open leadership forums where members were able to share current challenges and progress with each other. These discussions covered a range of topics including trustee recruitment and training, communications from Visionary central and across the sector, and funding, amongst others. A particularly popular topic was that of how we collectively respond to ongoing changes at the RNIB and play a part in shaping new models of service delivery. We gathered some great input from members on this through the sessions and have reflected further on this below.
As the plans for the development of a new unified body for the eye health and sight loss sector progress, bringing together the UK Vision Strategy and VISION 2020 UK, we have a real opportunity to engage in this work and to contribute to future plans. At the same time, as previously communicated, we will be working closely with the RNIB to share local perspectives and to discuss new ways of working as their own change plans progress. There are some great examples of joint working under way such as development of service standards and ECLO services. These will continue and grow. However, we are aware that there are a number of issues arising in relation to these changes that members would like to highlight, both in terms of general themes and in terms of specific local developments, and we are keen that we capture these in a constructive manner to feed into upcoming discussions with RNIB and others. As members will appreciate, there are a lot of regional and country variations that need to be considered when developing collective plans; changes like this take time to develop and implement; and the road to success is often a bumpy one. We are, therefore, currently considering how best to gather essential input and feedback from members on this and will be communicating more in the coming months. In the meantime, if you have any specific issues or areas of concern in your area that you would like to highlight, please call your Visionary relationship manager to discuss or drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.