Happy New Year and Happy New Visionary!

How our members are shaping our future

Hot on the heels of the news of our generous three year grant funding agreement with Thomas Pocklingotn Trust, we would like to share our strategy for Visionary’s future with you.

At the Visionary Conference (and via emails and calls following this) we asked you all to answer three questions in relation to what you value about Visionary and what you think our priorities should be moving forward:

  • What does Visionary currently do that is important for your organisation?
  • What could Visionary do that would be important for your organisation?
  • What should our top 3 priorities be to best support our members?

64 of you responded, representing 48 full member organisations and 3 partners.

What did you tell us?

While there were many unique suggestions from you which we have absolutely logged as important ideas for the future, we were excited to see that there is a significant consensus amongst our membership. What you all value about what we do and how you think we could best support you in the coming years was very similar across the membership – you made it clear to us where you see our unique and important role in the world. Visionary staff were therefore able to ‘theme’ your responses under three priorities – these were the three words that came through your responses loud and clear:

  • Connect: Visionary will be a connector – to facilitate and encourage connections among local and national organisations in order to stimulate change and good practice.
  • Develop: Visionary will be a conduit for information, knowledge and opportunity in order that local organisations can enhance their organisational health.
  • Share: Visionary will be a catalyst for learning from each other and facilitating positive change.

So what does this actually mean?

As well as creating our three new headline priorities, you told us more specifically and practically what Visionary should be doing to support you. In response to these suggestions, we have developed practical workstreams under each of our three priorities:

You said We will
The annual conference is a very important and valued event to you Continue to deliver an exemplary annual conference shaped by what you tell us you want to see
Providing networking and connection opportunities should be a priority for Visionary Continue to facilitate the member consultative forum and regional meetings
Set up a structured peer support scheme – matching your key staff to other members who can learn from and support each other
Visionary should encourage and facilitate partnership working/joint projects and funding bids between members


Profile our members more explicitly and promote opportunities for joint working and funding applications
You want Visionary to provide more opportunities for staff across your organisation to network – not just CEOs Set up subject interest groups for frontline staff (e.g. fundraising) to create more opportunities for both CEOs and staff at other levels of your organisation to network and share knowledge and challenges
Rethink our regional ‘Leadership’ conferences to ensure they provide networking and learning opportunities for frontline staff as well as CEOs
You want to be able to learn from other local sight loss organisations more Establish an online, moderated ‘Ask the Network’ service on our website
Your trustees would value opportunities to connect with other trustees and learn about creating effective Boards Establish a formal Trustee forum with both online and face to face opportunities for Trustees to connect and share challenges and best practice
You want to connect with other local societies already doing something you would like to start doing or are doing the same things as you but in a different way Actively promote success stories from members doing amazing things and pro-actively create opportunities for connections and knowledge sharing between you
You would like to be able to access expert advice on a range of subjects, issues and challenges


Build strategic relationships with a bank of experts both inside and outside the sight loss sector that you can access for free expertise and advice
You would like to be linked with a mentor to support and advise you Set up a formal mentoring scheme, building relationships with a bank of experts and CEOs and matching them with members
You would like to be able to access responsive and face to face advice from Visionary locally Set up regional ‘Visionary Surgeries’ where staff from across your organisation can come for advice, support or just to talk through challenges.
Visionary should be a facilitating the connection between the nationals and local societies – ensuring information and priorities are shared Improve two-way information flow between national organisations       and Visionary members
Visionary should be a hub for strategic intelligence and up to date news from across the sight loss, health and social care sectors Develop strategic intelligence and an overview of national and regional visual impairment, health, social care sector issues and funding opportunities – store in an online knowledge bank for members
Visionary should provide you with access to national organisations in order that you can hear about what they are doing in your area, feed into their work and raise any concerns Support the development of more positive, two-way relationships with national organisations


Visionary should represent local sight loss organisations by having a place at the table at key meetings, attending key sector panels and events and ensuring a two-way flow of information. Increase our knowledge of the bigger picture – be on panels, at conferences and events – gathering strategic intelligence about legislation, changes in policy, funding streams
Visionary should be the conduit/facilitate relationships between local sight loss organisations, statutory bodies, and funders Support our members to develop strategic relationships with funders, commissioners, nationals, health and social care organisations
Visionary should help members develop by providing support and advice Continue to undertake member visits to all who want one
Provide targeted and proactive support and advice and regular contact with all members
Develop a bank of interim CEOs and business consultants to support with challenges
Visionary should prioritise funding support and helping to develop applications and review bids. Where resources allow, continue to provide support and advice on funding to any member who approaches us for help
Develop and promote a formal bid review service
Visionary should develop and facilitate training and learning opportunities. Facilitate training and learning opportunities through webinars and regional training events in response to member need.
You would like to explore the themes raised at the annual conference in relation to increasing BAME engagement and lived experience leadership Co-produce a lived experience programme with members, learning and sharing what transpires and works
Learn from BAME communities about the barriers they experience when accessing sight loss organisations and then work with our members and wider organisations to develop programmes and activities to address and increase reach and engagement to BAME communities
Visionary should share information and knowledge – through our website, the briefing and in person at member visits Continue to share information via the briefing and website and strengthen both of these channels in response to what members want to see.
Develop a news feed for our website
Share information and learning via member visits
Create templates, resources and core policies in response to member needs
Visionary should share knowledge of funding bids and information that can support applications Create a live database of funding/contract opportunities


Create bank of secondary research to support funding applications
Visionary should provide opportunities to share challenges, good practice and ideas in order to raise standard and sustainability of the sight loss sector Celebrate success across the sector through success stories on website and awards
Identify good practice/success and share with members
Facilitate scaling up and new ways of working
Visionary should be the voice of local sight loss sector – shouting about the work local sight loss organisations do and difference they make. Be the voice of the sector and what it achieves – raising its profile and developing messaging and resources that support you to shout about your amazing work


How will we make this happen?

Whilst maintaining our current (but very small), skilled and passionate team of people – Visionary are now embarking on a restructure and recruitment activity to ensure that our structure allows us to deliver our new identified priorities and workstreams.

At the end of January – we will therefore be recruiting to four brand new roles:

  • Communications, Events and Training Lead
  • Communications, Events and Training Co-ordinator
  • Administration and Database Co-ordinator
  • Partnership and Innovation Co-ordinator

We will be advertising these roles through our website, briefing and social media. Keep an eye on our website where full details of the roles and how to apply will be shared.

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