My turn in the blogspot hot seat.
My name is Sharon Schaffer and I am the Vision Strategy Implementation Manager, working with both East London Vision (ELVis) and Thomas Pocklington Trust (TPT).
My role is to set up and manage a Vision Strategy Group in each of the 7 East London boroughs (though having said that, there were already thriving vision strategy groups in Havering and Barking & Dagenham when I embarked on this mission three years ago). I am pleased to say that we now have our full 7 groups in operation, each consulting with local service users and sight loss societies to identify gaps and address issues in sight loss services in each borough.
Each Vision Strategy Group meets quarterly, bringing together reps from across the sight loss and eye health spectrum (opticians, GPs, decision makers and commissioners, service users, councillors and charity organisations) to ensure that the three outcomes of the UK Vision Strategy are happening at a local level. These 3 outcomes are:
- Prevention: Everyone in the UK looks after their eyes and their sight.
- Provision: Everyone with an eye condition receives timely treatment and, if permanent sight loss occurs, early and appropriate services to support are available and accessible to all.
- Participation: A society in which people with sight loss can fully participate
With it being June we are currently in the second phase of quarterly meetings, so I have been doing the rounds in Hackney, Newham and Waltham Forest over the last fortnight (not to mention Havering and Barking & Dagemham who held their quarterly meetings in May) and have meetings in Tower Hamlets and Redbridge in the coming weeks….
I must say, no-one ever said it was going to be easy – especially in these times of austerity and dwindling resources – but thanks to the commitment and support of all those round the various tables, we are definitely having a positive impact in raising eye health and sight loss up the agenda, addressing the gaps in current provision, and providing a fertile forum that enables stakeholders to join-up and link one end of sight loss services to the other.
The past month has also brought the annual Service User Consultation in Tower Hamlets, where around 30 local people with vision impairment joined Vision Strategy Group members to feedback on the Action Plan successes and challenges over the past year, and prioritise areas for next year…. Good discussion, and afternoon tea, was had by all, and I look forward to feeding the findings of this consultation into the Tower Hamlets Action Plan.
On June 16th Thomas Pocklington Trust (TPT) held a Collaboration Day, where staff across the ‘Collaboration Directorate’ (which includes ELVis) got together to look at the various arms of the department and to identify ways of working effectively together … again, good discussion and food was enjoyed by all….. this is becoming a bit of a pattern!
And just to really drive home the debate and food theme… June 18th saw the vision sector conference, ‘VISION 2015’, an annual must-do event for everyone in involved in eye health and sight loss. Hosted by UK Vision Strategy and held at Westminster Central Hall, this conference is a chance to network with colleagues across the sector, discuss and debate diverse topics from improving eye health to transforming lives through digital technology…. Whilst also, you’ve guessed it, enjoying a lovely lunch (or maybe its just me??)
Or perhaps not, as elsewhere in the ELVis team there have been various local society (support group) meetings, no doubt involving plenty of tea and biccies, a cooking session in Hackney, a breakfast club in Redbridge, as well as the laying of plans for future events and outings with the local groups.
Here’s wishing you all a tasty and relaxing week…
Till the next time,