Last blog from Sharon Schaffer, time to reflect

3 Years Forward

As the Vision Strategies move into their next stage I shall be taking a step back from directly facilitating each group, and immersing myself more into addressing and influencing the gaps in services that the Strategies have highlighted across London.

With this pan London, rather than east London, perspective this will, therefore, be my last blog for ELVis (!!), so I thought I’d get a wee bit reflective….

It’s been 3 years since I first began work on the Vision Strategies across the 7 east London boroughs and 2 years since the Action Plans were agreed and activated by their respective groups.

So… what have the Vision Strategies done for us?

Well, I am pleased to say that

  • Each borough now has a tangible record of Eye Health and Sight Loss, and related issues, in its borough – something that many had no idea of before the Vision Strategies were produced
  • The Vision Strategy Group in each borough has good, cross sector representation, enabling networking and link-up opportunities across the whole breadth of the Sight Loss Pathway
  • In partnership with Social Services, the Register of Visual Impairment has been updated, in 6 of the 7 boroughs…. and we are working hard on the 7th!
  • There are, or commitments are in place, to include Vision in all 7 boroughs’ Joint Strategic Needs Assessments (thereby ensuring that commissioning for VI services remains on the agenda).
  • 25 events and activities were held in the ELVis region as part of National Eye Health Week 2015
  • The Chairs of each borough’s Vision Strategy Groups are now meeting regularly to share best practice and look at regional possibilities.
  • One of the Chairs said, “The status and credence which (chairing the Vision Strategy Group) brings has given me the opportunity to make the reality of my sight loss an issue which can’t be dismissed, can’t be ignored, and can’t remain unseen by the local decision makers”.

Furthermore, through the mapping of current service provision detailed in each of the Vision Strategies, ELVis has been able to identify and fill some of the most needed gaps. This has resulted in

  • The ELVis Vision Awareness Training Programme: which was launched at the end of 2014 and has delivered awareness training to Leisure Centre staff, Library staff, Health professionals, Thomas Pocklington Trust staff, and even primary school pupils! Plans are now underway to train up a group of vision impaired people from each borough to deliver further training, thereby reaching more frontline staff, as well as providing new skills and income to the trainers.
  • Technology Advice: In October 2015, ELVis appointed a Technology Advisor, Graham Page. He has already advised around 60 people in how to set up and use computers, tablets, smartphones and email
  • Volunteer Coordinator: who will be developing a pool of volunteers to help provide assistance with transport, shopping needs, appointments, outings, etc, as well as sight support in eye clinics.
  • Outings and Activities: ELVis plays a key role in helping its members take part in outings and activities that they may not have been able to do alone.  One of our members said, after a summer boat cruise down the Thames, “It was very exciting being on the boat and the weather was lovely. Thanks for a great experience.” After a trip in Southend another said, “It was such a great day…I really enjoyed being with this group, as well as being able to do my own thing.” It’s this opportunity to meet new people and to build relationships that has really been the strength of our local societies. In this way, not only have we extended the range of things people can do, but also the number of friends they’ve been able to make.

It is with these achievements and models in mind that I shall be looking at provision across London and seeking to learn from and influence best practice and optimum services.

See you on the campaign trail!

Sharon

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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