As we approach Christmas and this year starts to draw to a close we are starting to firm up our planning for next year and beyond. At the moment we still have a number of developing thoughts and loose ends that need to be tied up but by the middle of January we aim to have consulted with stakeholders and tied up those loose ends enough to form a draft plan for discussion with our Board of Trustees on the 23rd of January. After that, more detailed planning will be done with all of our staff so that all plans and budgets are ready in good time for April.

I am pleased to let you all know that we are applying to the Charity Commission to make changes to our charitable objects so that we are able to serve all visually impaired people, regardless of their age. Our charitable objects historically only allowed us to provide services to people over the age of 16 – this has no relevance in today’s world where our services are increasingly focused on populations in defined geographical areas, not based on age. We will therefore be applying to the Charity Commission to have this restriction removed; I confidently expect this to be agreed and we will then be considering how this should be reflected in our future plans.

We recently undertook a staff survey and I thank all staff for their feedback and comments. We are working on the key themes that came out of it and developing initiatives to address the feedback. Whilst generally it was very positive there are always things that can be improved and we’re working on that. One of the ways we are going to address feedback is to further improve communication to staff to ensure they are kept up-to-date with new developments and are clear about our direction so we are as transparent as we can be.

The recruitment process for Visionary’s interim Chief Executive (maternity cover) is well underway and I hear has a very good pool of candidates. We look forward to the conclusion of the process and finding out who the interim CEO will be as they will be an important stakeholder in the next stages of our joint planning process.

I am looking forward to our staff Christmas party – the Pocklington Pride Awards night. It will be great for everyone to get together, celebrate the achievements of the year and have a good time. We have invited a few guests, in particular from RNIB and we very much hope this will be a sign of even stronger joint working on a number of key initiatives in the next year and beyond.

Lastly, whilst things don’t seem to be going too well in the cricket, I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate one Englishman who has managed to achieve a half century. Happy birthday to Vision UK’s CEO Keith Valentine!