Visionary Trustee Briefing July 2017

Visionary Trustee Briefing – July 2017

Visionary News and Activity

Visionary Annual Conference, 1 and 2 November 2017, Birmingham

This year’s conference theme isUnlocking Potential, Creating Value– recognising that local sight loss charities make a significant difference to the lives of the people they support. As a trustee please do consider attending, along with key members of your organisation’s staff team. Details of how to book and the conference programme will be circulated in August. A provisional conference programme can be foundhere.

Conference workshops– There will be a trustee specific workshop run by a member of the Visionary team and we would also welcome your input into it. Please contact our Head of Income Development 07812 060878 to discuss what you would like the workshop to cover.

Visionary Annual AwardsРThe awards aim to recognise and celebrate excellence in the leadership, management and quality of the work done by local sight loss charities. Please do consider nominating yourselves or a fellow member organisation so that we can recognise and celebrate the achievements of the sector. For details of the categories and to submit an awards nomination, please complete theAwards Nomination Form. Winners will receive £500.

Visionary Briefing

The main briefing is a fortnightly e-newsletter which is Visionary’s main way of communicating with members and summarises key items of interest to Visionary members. Your organisation’s leader/Chief Officer and other staff should already receive it. Check with them that they do. Also feel free to sign up yourself, if you are not already receiving it, by sending an email

In each Trustee Briefing we focus upon a particular activity Visionary has been undertaking with members. In this briefing we are focusing on contracts, especially from the Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG)/Council.

Council and CCG contracts – help to get them and manage them

Most Councils/CCG’s have separate sight loss and hearing loss teams and for several years now we have begun to see quite a few Councils/CCG’s wanting to pay other organisations to deliver the work on their behalf.

We have helped a number of Visionary members to negotiate and win such contracts – that includes everything from helping spot the opportunity, to providing support when writing the application, to advice when managing the activity. Increasingly Councils/CCG’s are beginning to combine sensory contracts (i.e. hearing and sight loss offered as a single contract). We have helped members put together a group of organisations, often with hearing partners, to bid for these contracts. Sometimes it has been with the hearing partner as the lead organisation, however more often than not it is the local sight loss charity which is the best organisation to take the lead.

For those members who have secured a sensory contract, the move from being an entirely sight loss services organisation to one that is also involved in hearing loss services requires some thought and consideration, especially by the trustees. Again we are helping members explore these issues.

If you would like discuss how your organisation could secure a Council/CCG contract or if you hold some contracts and would like to discuss any aspect of them then please contact our Head of Income Development 07812 060878.


Charity Governance

Succession planning

We have recently seen a number of members, of all shapes and sizes, lose key staff and board members, often as the result of progression onto other new or exciting opportunities. This has led to gaps in their management teams/boards and also a reduced ability to deliver some of their services, which has caused difficulties for some people.

For smaller members losing a key member of staff, especially the manager/leader, can have a massive effect and cause significant problems for the charity. Do you know what length your leaders/managers notice period is? If it’s a standard 4 weeks and they haven’t used much of their holiday entitlement, then from handing their resignation in to actually leaving might be as little as 5-10 working days. However, it’s quite common that notice periods for senior management/leadership positions are a minimum of 3 months.

Succession planning isn’t just about planning for the loss of key personnel, but is about investing in and growing your team. As well as training and development activities, succession planning programmes typically include the provision of practical, tailored work experience relevant for future senior or key roles. The aim is for you as an organisation to be able to fill key roles effectively if the current post holder were to leave the organisation.

If you would like more information on succession planning or have just had a key staff member leave, then please contact us 020 8090 9264, in confidence.

Charity Finance

At this time of year most local sight loss organisations will be finalising their accounts for the last financial year and presenting an externally audited or independently examined version of them to you as a board for approval. Whilst not everyone on the board needs to be fully up to speed with charity finances and accounts it is important that all trustees have a good level of financial awareness. This article, Charity Finance,Ten things for trustees to think about, explores key issues that you as a trustee should consider.

Data protection

Many Visionary members collect detailed personal information about people who use their services or who give money to support them. How you protect, handle and share such information is very important.

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) is the official body that ensures people’s personal data is managed correctly and not used inappropriately. They are increasingly looking at how charities of all sizes collect, keep secure and use such information. There is a range of Data Protection regulations already in place and there is a major update of these regulations called the European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) planned for Spring 2018.

If you collect service user or donor personal data then you should have a Data Protection Policy. We have a number of sample policies that we can share with you if you need a policy or would like to review/improve your own. Contact us 020 8090 9264 to know more.

Free legal and insurance advice for Visionary members and their trustees

We are very close to finalising and launching this service – a FREE confidential legal advice helpline run by theCharities team at Russell-Cooke Solicitorsand a similar service regarding insurance advice, needs and claims supported by Towergate Insurance

The Charities team at Russell-Cooke Solicitors regularly issue a range of Charity “E-updates” – the most recent ones can be accessed by clickinghere. And you can sign up to receive them direct by registeringhere.

Trusted suppliers

We are working with other Visionary members to develop a list of “trusted suppliers” – these are external specialist service providers with whom members have had positive experiences.

Several members have used specialist business advisors to help them deal with difficult issues that they have had or to help them plan better for the future. HR support is also an area that we are often asked about and some members are using specialist providers to supply their HR needs, rather than develop something specifically themselves.

If you need HR advice, consider contactingThe Cranfield Trustwho provide free HR advice to charities.

We will publish details on the Trusted Suppliers section of the new Visionary website when it is launched. In the meantime, should you wish to recommend a trusted supplier or feel you need some specialist advice then please contact us 020 8090 9264.

Sector News

Action for Blind People and RNIB merger

Action for Blind People merged with RNIB on 1 April.Read more

RNIB’s change programme is continuing and Visionary members have highlighted several areas of potential concern caused by this merger and other issues affecting local sight loss organisations.

Alison Oliver, Visionary CEO, has recently met with the current RNIB Acting CEO, Sally Harvey, and other senior management team members at RNIB to share these concerns and talk about how we can all better work together. The response from RNIB has been very positive. We have also established a communications route for an on-going dialogue.

Should you wish to discuss any changes made by the RNIB then please contact us 020 8090 9264.

Unified body for the eye health and sight loss sector

Vision UK has now been established as the unified body for the eye health and sight loss sector. It will bring together the work of the UK Vision Strategy, VISION 2020 UK and the England Vision Strategy, and will link with partners from across the eye health and sight loss sectors. More details can be foundhere.

Keith Valentine, the new CEO of Vision UK, attended the June Visionary board meeting where he outlined Vision UK’s initial priorities. Visionary board members had the opportunity to question Keith and they were encouraged by his responses and his assurance that Visionary will have a key “seat at the table”.

If you have any specific issues or areas of concern regarding these or any other changes that you would like to highlight, please contact us 020 8090 9264.


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