We’ve had a lot of feedback in the past few months from blind and partially sighted people and Visionary members, and we’re taking this on board. We’re re-structuring our services, making things simpler and more consistent, modernising approaches now for an increasing number of blind and partially sighted people.
Through our national role, we plan to step up our efforts in providing expert eye health and sight loss information and advice and act as a gateway to services and support provided by ourselves and others – such as the valuable work Visionary members are doing to support people with sight loss.
We’ll keep on campaigning, helping people advocate for their own rights, and enable people with sight loss, their friends and families, to support each other and change lives for the better.
Recognising the combined strengths of our sector, we’re not the organisation that can provide a direct face to face outreach service to all, but we absolutely can be that place where anyone can get advice, guidance and be put in touch with the right people, including Visionary members.
We see a large part of the answer in peer support and blind and partially sighted people have told us the impact this can make. It’s about speaking to other people, RNIB’s role is to make sure people are connected, locally and nationally.
Inside RNIB we’ve embarked on a series of important changes to how we are set up, how we work and how we involve people in what we do, growing a range of new partnerships that make the best of what is available nationally and locally but always ensuring it’s available universally.
We’ve developed Networks to bring together all the resources of the eye health and sight loss sector to benefit blind and partially sighted people. We want to connect people to a movement of blind and partially sighted people and Networks are here to make this easy. Through our Networks we’ll collaborate with the local community. In total, we have 12 Networks across the UK. They all have core functions: campaigning, Connect, volunteering and fundraising. However each Network is working towards what its community wants, tailoring itself to local needs. We have initial resources and structures and a set of outcomes. But we also have the opportunity of trying things differently. The key contacts for RNIB are listed at the end of this article.
RNIB’s current UK-wide services include our Sight Loss Advice Service accessed through the RNIB Helpline 0303 123 9999, online at www.rnib.org.uk or face to face in hospital eye clinics (known as Eye Clinic Liaison Officers). Sight Loss Advisers provide information, advice and guidance to anyone old or young affected by sight loss and access to Living with Sight Loss courses across the UK, employment retention specialists, home visits from technology support volunteers and support services provided by partners.
Connect is a community of 31,000 blind and partially sighted people and others with an interest in sight loss. There are opportunities to be involved locally and nationally, face to face or online. Activities include peer group support, campaigning for change and piloting new initiatives.
RNIB Library and Newsagent offers 25,000 books in audio, Braille and Large Print format. RNIB Shop offers products for people affected by sight loss. Our advisers are trained to offer impartial advice and signpost to other sources as well as products sold on the RNIB Shop. Our team are available to support orders from partner organisations.
We’re at the beginning and it will take time for this to be embedded. We see this as shifting power to the community, bringing us closer to people and local needs. We are committed to working together and we will continue to collaborate with partner organisations as a core part of how we work. We’re committed to working alongside likeminded partners, building capability and capacity for the benefit of blind and partially sighted people.
There are some great examples underway including development of a sector-wide question and answer function that pools information held by sight loss charities, and makes it available through an online portal for anyone seeking information about sight loss. The tool can link to Visionary member websites. Plus RNIB and Visionary are working with other national sight loss charities (Guide Dogs, Thomas Pocklington, Vision UK) and a consultancy called Oliver Wyman for 9 intensive weeks, on a pro bono basis, to review how we can work together differently to ensure the best customer experience.
Here are the contacts for each Network
Ceri Jackson – Area Head of Wales, South West England and West Midlands
Stephen Weymouth – Network Manager, South West
Kim Taylor – Network Manager, West Midlands
Ansley Workman – Network Manager, Cymru
Campbell Chalmers – Area head of Scotland, North East and North West
Sharon Gardner – Network manager, North East
Andrea Glover – network Manager, North West
James Adams – Network Manager, Scotland
Colin Whitbourn – Area Head of England
Christine Glanville – Network Manager, South East
Tricia Smikle – Network Manager, South East
Emily Papaleo – Network Manager, East of England
Anna Dearden – Network Manager, East Midlands
Scott Jobson – Network Manager, Yorkshire and Humber
David Galloway, Area Head of NI and Isle of Man
Jacqueline Witherow – Network Manager NI and Isle of Man
We’ve also introduced a new Partnership and Development Team (PDT for short) working flexibly across geographic locations. They’re here to identify development opportunities and generate contract and grant income to support partnership innovation and build capacity.
Here are the contacts for the PDT.
Martin Nee – Senior PDT Manager (national lead)
Tom Reck – Senior PDT Manager (regional lead)
PDT Managers with a national focus:
Steven Davies (Scotland and Northern Ireland)
Eleni Paschou (England)
Samantha Kelly (England)
PDT Managers with a regional focus:
Mark Gill (Scotland and Northern Ireland)
Redd Gogna (North East and Yorkshire)
Mike Harrison (North West and North Wales)
Gareth Brydon (South Wales, South West and borders)
Helen Smith (Midlands and South East)
Jacqueline Price (East Midlands and East)
Clive Brown (London and South East)