Visionary Annual Conference 2021: Highlights

We are now all too used to attending online meetings and events, but the familiar spirit of the Visionary Annual Conference was encapsulated throughout the event during discussion and comments, so once again it felt like we were altogether and there for each other.

“What can I say to you and the Visionary Team other than ‘huge congratulations’ and a huge ‘Thank You’ for yet another great Conference! What Visionary is doing at the moment in terms of celebrating, galvanising and motivating the whole sector, is nothing short of exceptional!”

Nik Demetriades, Warwickshire Vision Support

“The Visionary Conference has been fantastic. The 3 key note speakers were amazing. It has been incredibly thought-provoking, emotive and affirming at the same time.
A huge thank you and well done to the Visionary Team for the most engaging conference I’ve ever attended.”

Dr Hazel MacFarlane, Health and Social Care Alliance Scotland (the ALLIANCE)

This year’s event welcomed the highest number of delegates to a Visionary Conference ever!  

We are delighted to share some more of our highlights:

440 confirmed attendees

122 different organisations (Includes speakers and facilitators)

28 hours of sharing learning, experiences and supporting each other

18 workshops, click here for a detailed overview of our workshops

11 award winning organisations across four award categories

10 speakers and facilitators from outside the sight loss sector

9 event sponsors

7 wellbeing, social and celebratory events

7 VI Charity Sector Partnership workstream sessions

5 keynote speakers

2 new toolkits launched

We increased the number of workshops available for 2021, offering 18 different workshops.  This enabled us to offer a broad range of themes and engage with colleagues from across the sector.

98% of respondents stated that they found the workshops valuable.

91% of respondents stated that they learnt something new through the workshops.

97.5% felt that the annual conference was excellent/good value

95% learnt something valuable during the 3 days

98% felt the communications before and during the event were excellent/good

“A wonderfully thought-out agenda, plenty of choice and flexibility but still with time to do the day job”

2021 Conference Delegate

VI Charity Sector Partnership Workstreams

A new addition to the conference programme for 2021 was the opportunity for delegates to engage with the VI Charity Sector Partnership workstreams.  With support from colleagues across the sector, we were able to simultaneously facilitate 7 workstreams sessions, each hosted by the CEO sponsor and Subject Matter Expert.  This provided a unique opportunity to shape the future of the workstreams.

“Mini workshop idea was excellent and worked very well. I learnt a lot in a short space of time”

2021 Conference Delegate

"(I) welcomed the promise of future high-quality resources to help train staff to open conversations about mental health - specifically early intervention.”

2021 Conference delegate and workstream attendee

Awards and Social Activities

This year we added well-being activities to the extensive programme, including Laughing Matters and seated Latin dance. In this way we created space for delegates to take time out for themselves.

85% of respondents attending the well-being sessions thought these were excellent/good.

“The Laughing Matters Session was a brilliant way to start a day and has kept me laughing – especially when telling friends about it. I have recommended it to friends. This aspect of fun – at the same time, a positive therapy was a brilliant addition and something really different.”

“Loved the Laughing Matters Workshop. It was so different, utterly hilarious and made me realise how important it is to have a really good belly laugh!”

We extend huge thanks and appreciation to the Wilberforce Trust for sponsoring Laughing Matters with Angela De Castro and introducing us to Samantha, who hosted a fabulous quiz.

We had a record 11 award winning organisations across four award categories, highlighting the strength and variety of collaborative working across the Visionary network.   We are extremely grateful to RNIB and Guide Dogs UK for sponsoring the Rainbow and Disruption Awards, respectively.

Looking ahead to 2022:

We hope that we can harness and build on the successful elements of this year’s conference, most notably that being online meant that so many more colleagues from across our network could join us! We do however look forward to hopefully being together, face to face next year and seek to explore the preferences and aspirations of members to inform the programme for 2022.

We will be in touch early next year to gain your thoughts and ideas for 2022.

A huge thank you!

Finally, thank you to all of you who attended, presented and shared knowledge and experiences. It is clear from the feedback we have already received that you felt the conference still provided an important chance for you to feel part of a wider and supportive network. It also signified a call for action, change, positivity, creativity and collaboration – and a recognition that together, we can keep getting better at what we do.

From the Visionary team, we also want to thank everyone who made the conference possible, in particular our sponsors:
Wilberforce Trust, Blind Veterans UK, Guide Dogs UK, Macular Society, RNIB, Thomas Pocklington Trust (TPT) and Bayer, Novartis and Optelec, all of whose support made the whole event possible.
The Visionary Team want to thank you – we owe a massive debt of gratitude to everyone who made the event possible through support, sponsorship, facilitation, and engagement.

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