Sharon Schaffer the Development & Vision Strategy Implementation Manager, shares her views on the Local Vision Strategy London Implementation Programme

The Vision of the Vision Strategy London Implementation Programme?

When we started the Local Vision Strategy London Implementation Programme 3 years ago it was, for me, a step into unknown territory… I had project managed before, but never in the public sector, and the thought of engaging with the ‘powers that be’ was somewhat intimidating.

Three years on and I have discovered that we all have a job to do, and are, more often than not, very thankful if there is help out there to enable us to do it.

With this attitude in mind I have set about drawing together people across the eye health and sight loss pathway, with the clarion call of ‘we are all in this together (even those who may not have known it at the beginning), so lets help each other to do our jobs’.

So where has this got us…. And more pertinently where hasn’t it got us?

Where it has got us is in to a position where we have, in each and every borough of east London:

• a healthy, well represented, cross sector Vision Strategy Group,

• a Vision Strategy (detailing eye health and sight loss needs, and gaps in provision)

• An Action Plan addressing these gaps, being implemented by each Group.

We also have ELVis implementing frontline projects and services to address the gaps identified in the strategies, and user led peer groups in each borough ensuring that support and activities are in place for VI people locally.

Where it hasn’t got us is into local ownership… the road to making each group self-sustainable is rocky. And I have been musing on why this might be so…My thinking is that, as this project was instigated by the Voluntary Sector, the public sectors (health and social care) do not feel bound to it – happy to participate, but not bound – as there is no obligation or accountability to it coming from ‘on high’.

So the emphasis is now on trying to ensure that each strategy is embedded into the local health and wellbeing framework (so that vision can be worked into the relevant priority strategies and remain higher up the agenda than it was previously) and endorsed by the local authority and clinical commissioning group (so that the strategy and action plan’s implementation can be monitored at top level).

The onus, nevertheless, currently remains on the third sector to drive it, and to hold providers to account on delivery…. The best way to ensure this must be to have vision impaired people actively involved, if not chairing, each Vision Strategy Group, and thereby driving it, and the stakeholders in it, forward…ensuring, by their very presence and best interests, that vision remains on the agenda.

But what if, like me when I embarked on this project, those people are not knowledgeable in the ways of health and social care protocols and structures? Or not used to holding a lot of busy professionals to account? …. I find myself echoing Roger’s call to action in his blog a few weeks ago…. “We must create effective and productive partnerships, allowing us all to contribute our specialist expertise, but always focusing on the individual and a genuine person centred approach”…. so that in 10 years time we really can look back and see that we have made a tangible difference.

Onward and upward…..

And with this in mind… here’s what the rest of the team have been up to this week:

• Good to see that the VS Groups are gaining momentum in terms of becoming recognised as a viable    resource amongst the decision making bodies in the Local Authorities and Health structures

• Chaired the SocialEyes Committee Meeting

• Chaired the VIPON Committee Meeting

• Attended the Waltham Forest Vision BBQ

• Delivered Vision Impairment Awareness Training to Thomas Pocklington Trust staff

• Attended the ActivEyes Redbridge Breakfast Club.

• Attended the Solutions to Everyday Living event, hosted by Action for Blind People at the RNIB

• Met with Metro Blind Sport to discuss various matters, including initial arrangements for the Metro Athletics Open Games next year.

• Held an investigatory meeting to look at how support can effectively be provided to Vision

Impaired people wanting to work in the fitness industry.

• Held a meeting with Waltham Forest vision to discuss further their fundraising ideas.

Have a wonderful week

Published by

eastlondonvision

East London Vision (ELVis) is the subgroup for the 7 geographical areas that naturally cover all of east London north of the Thames: • Barking and Dagenham • City and Hackney • Havering • Newham • Redbridge • Tower Hamlets • Waltham Forest. ELVis is designed to provide an effective and efficient way of ensuring that vision impaired people living in East London get the support and services they need. It is an umbrella organisation with voluntary sector, user led representation in each of the east London boroughs. Our vision is that everyone living in East London experiencing, or at risk of, any form of sight loss, receives a high quality service relevant to their need and at a time appropriate for themselves. Our aim is to enhance & link vision impaired services and organisations throughout East London, improving the quality of life for blind and partially sighted people and increasing individual independence.

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