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For this award, we wanted to hear about Visionary members who have consistently shared their knowledge, time and expertise with us and the entire Visionary network. The award highlights the organisations and individuals who have been a Rainbow in the pandemic, through being open and generous; sharing knowledge, challenges, their staff and practical information and examples of what has worked for them.
The shortlisted organisations and individuals are:
Kent Association for the Blind
Fundraising and income generation has been significantly impacted by Covid 19. Organisations were unable to carry out vital community fundraising, trust funding was diverted to the emergency response and the opportunity to network for support was removed. Kent Association for the Blind (KAB), through Sue Piper, were instrumental in forming the Visionary Fundraisers Forum, which has brought together 103 fundraisers from across the sight loss sector to support each other through the challenging time. Sue takes the time to meticulously plan each forum to ensure that each attendee gains from it, with a wide variety of themes and talks.
Initially the forum provided an opportunity to share concerns, ideas and gain emotional support from colleagues experiencing the same challenges. It has evolved to becoming an opportunity for fundraising colleagues to become focused on working together, future planning and creating new and innovative ways of fundraising. Sue has been instrumental in bringing external experts to the forum and drawing on the strengths and experience of fundraisers from across the UK to strengthen the sight loss sector funding network. Resulting in improved fundraising outcomes for members. Sue is now taking a lead role on sector wide fundraising initiative ‘Take On 250’ and Sue’s wider team also became involved in a national initiative with Specsavers.
KAB has been extraordinarily generous through sharing Sue to host the forum. Sue has hosted the forum with immense energy and positivity since its inception and continues to strive to maximise the benefits all members of the forum.
Kirklees Visual Impairment Network, MySight Notts, Support4Sight, Sight Advice South Lakes, Sight Airedale, Sight Concern Worcester and Sutton Vision.
During the pandemic services such as community groups, information events and fun activities for people with sight loss just closed down overnight. Many small to medium sight loss organisations had to transform those services online.
It was vital that organisations did not lose contact with their core base of members. Phone contact went so far, but people also wanted entertaining, knowledge and stimulation in these dark times. The biggest obstacle for success was having a full skillset that included technical, marketing, networking, and knowledge skills. Via a Visionary Zoom meeting, 2 organisations spoke to each other about the possibility of having joint events. They were followed by another. So, using the principle of “if we build it, they will come” events were set up. Contact was made with the organisations members, and some have achieved over 40 attendees. Monthly speakers on mental health, specific eye conditions, and inspirational talks such as the Blind Poet proved successful.
After a few months, the original 3 organisations thought assistive technology would be a great addition, and 4 more organisations joined. As well as presenting themselves, world class speakers from the UK, Ireland and USA were sourced. These sessions are videoed and shared on YouTube. Currently 7 organisations collaborate on 2 meetings a month, one called “Living Well” and one called “Future Vision”.
The sharing of skills, presenters, workload and clients has been popular, producing a series of regular quality public events smaller organisations could only have dreamed of if working alone.
Oxfordshire Association for the Blind
Oxfordshire Association for the Blind (OAB) have a strong commitment to ensuring blind and partially sighted people are represented in the sight loss sector. They are working to increase representation which is currently at 7%. If they cannot employ blind and partially sighted people, how can they expect their local businesses and organisations to?! They are using their work as an example, both locally and nationally.
Firstly, OAB have recruited their first VI CEO and have just started their first apprenticeship for a young VI person. This model will hopefully go on to increase representation and develop talent. OAB are using their own knowledge to support the lived experience and talent development work stream across the sector. They recognise the unique talent people with lived experience bring and the effect this has on their services and ultimately the lives of other blind and partially sighted people of working age.
Visionary Member Consultative Group Representatives/Country and Regional Chairs
This nomination is for the nine organisations and individuals who have undertaken the role of Visionary Country and Regional representatives for the Visionary network during the pandemic. Despite their own organisations facing an incredibly challenging period, they gave their time and energy to ensure that Visionary members from across the UK are heard and represented.
The Country and Regional Groups enable Visionary members and partners to enhance communication within their localities, share information, learn from best practice and the experiences of others, alongside gaining and offering peer support.
This opportunity for support would not be possible without the dedication and hard work of Visionary’s Country and Regional Representatives. They chair their local meeting in addition to representing the country or region at wider Visionary meetings (Members Consultative Group and Member and Partners Consultative Group), which provide a unique opportunity for members to share information, identify trends which exist across the country and know that they are part of a wide and supportive network.
The organisations and chairs volunteer their time to support the country or region they represent. They are committed to working closely with the member and partners to create a cohesive approach within each area and increase understanding of what is happening across the locality and country. Each representative also explores opportunities for joint working, introduces new speakers or organisations to the group and strives to ensure that the meeting offers benefit and support to the member organisations and their beneficiaries.