Visionary Trustee Briefing May 2017

Visionary Trustee Briefing – May 2017

Welcome to the first Visionary Trustee Briefing.

You are receiving this email because you have indicated that you are a trustee/board member (referred to as “trustees” for the purposes of this newsletter) of a local sight loss organisation which is a member of Visionary.

If this format does not suit you, please let us know we will be happy to provide it in another format.



Visionary is a membership organisation for local sight loss charities – sometimes known as local societies or associations for blind and partially sighted people.

Bringing together a wealth of experience and expertise in the sector, Visionary acts as the collective national voice for local sight loss charities and supports all those involved in the operation of local sight loss charities. Our members range from small voluntary groups through to larger organisations providing a range of services.


Why this briefing?

In late 2016 and early 2017 we conducted a survey asking how we could best support trustees in their roles. The majority of respondents identified that they wanted support to feel more informed regarding their roles and responsibilities as trustees and on how to better help their local sight loss charities to be more effective. The majority identified a regular briefing as their preferred way to be updated.

This is the first such Visionary Trustee Briefing. Following briefings will be published on a bi-monthly basis. In them we will respond to topics identified in the survey, situations we are actively supporting members with, general charity sector trustee updates and also news/ issues specific to the sight loss sector. We shall also be developing resources and other guidance, both directly ourselves and in partnership with specialist providers, and will promote these to trustees as they become available.

If you would like to discuss how Visionary could support you as a trustee or your organisation, or you have a specific query then please do not hesitate to contact us in complete confidence on 020 8090 9264 and an experienced member of our team will get back to you.


Visionary News and Activity

Visionary membership

Local sight loss charities like yours have to renew their membership of Visionary on an annual basis – which happens at this time of year. It is a straight forward process and we will have already sent details of how to renew to the leader/Chief Officer of your organisation. The benefits of membership include access to this newsletter and a wide range of other support.Read more

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 briefing we will focus upon a particular activity Visionary has been undertaking with members. In this briefing we are focusing on Income Development.

Income Development

Visionary has a team dedicated to supporting members to increase their income and better manage the income they already have. We can help with everything from looking at ways to increase your income through fundraising, to bidding for grants or contracts, to what to do if you are finding yourselves in financial difficulty. If you or your staff team would like to know more or simply want to talk about your organisation’s income/finances then contact Andy Haynes, Head of Income Development – 07812 060878.


Charity Governance

We are increasingly becoming involved in supporting boards of trustees of Visionary members as they deal with critical or sensitive situations in their organisations. The Chair of Trustees of one member recently said:

“Our local charity experienced some unique problems towards the end of last year. The calm and logical advice from Visionary has helped us to go forward with a more optimistic view of 2017.”

Access to trusted and affordable HR advice is a key theme we have identified in situations supporting trustees recently. We are building a “trusted suppliers list” which is made up of external specialists with whom Visionary members have had positive experiences. These specialists cover everything from Health and Safety through to HR, financial and legal advice. Contact us 020 8090 9264 if you would like to know more.

The real risk of personal liability faced by trustees of unincorporated charities

The trustees of unincorporated charities often do a fantastic job of running smaller, community based organisations (and, indeed, some larger organisations). However, they face the risk of being personally liable because of the peculiarities of the legal structure of their charity. To read more about the personal risks involved as a trustee and how to manage themclick here.

Towergate Insurance, details below, can provide advice on trustee insurance to help mitigate personal liabilities.

Free legal and insurance advice for Visionary members and their trustees

Visionary are working with theCharities team at Russell-Cooke Solicitorsto develop a FREE confidential legal advice helpline. We are also working with Towergate Insurance to provide a similar service regarding insurance advice, needs and claims. These services will be available on the basis of an initial free time limited call to help members determine if they need to engage further formal advice on specific topics. Towergate, as an insurance broker, also facilitates the provision of insurance cover for members, including Charity Trustee Liability insurance, at competitive rates.

Further details will follow as soon as they have been confirmed. In the meantime if you need access to these services please contact us 020 8090 9264 and we will connect you with Russell-Cooke or Towergate.

Also see below for details on FREE legal seminars run by Russell-Cooke.

Annual reports and Annual accounts

At this time of year, many organisations will now be looking to produce their annual accounts and also their annual report. Both of these are good ways to review the work, progress and health of your organisation. NCVO have prepared some free tips to help organisations complete their annual report, fromnaming the document to structure, content, design and launching. The Charity Commission have also got some guidance and sample annual reports and accounts that organisations can use.
NCVO tips
Charity Commission: Sample annual reports and accounts


Sector News


Action for Blind People and RNIB merger

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

We are working closely with the RNIB to share local perspectives and to discuss new ways of working as their own change plans progress. 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.

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.

Unified body for the eye health and sight loss sector

Keith Valentine, Deputy CEO of theThomas Pocklington Trust, recently attended our Visionary Leadership Conferences to outline 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 has emphasised the importance of Visionary’s role in contributing to these plans.

Visionary has a real opportunity to engage in this work. 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.

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


Free charity law seminars

Russell-Cooke are delivering two FREE seminars:

  • The ABC of charity employmentlaw (10 May)
  • Charity trading and social enterprise (24 May)

These are London based but we will be exploring avenues to identify similar opportunities elsewhere in the country.Russell-Cooke will also be running seminars at the Visionary Conference 2017.Read more

Visionary Conference, 1 and 2 November 2017, Birmingham

The annual Visionary Conference will again be held at the Aston Conference Centre. Heavily over subscribed last year, we have negotiated an increase to 200 delegates. There will be at least one trustee specific workshop and we are hoping to arrange access to FREE 1-to-1 advice sessions covering charity law, HR, finance and insurance.

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 the summer.



Download this Trustee Briefing here
PDF DocumentVisionary Trustee Briefing May 2017

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