I’m pleased to report that the England Vision Strategy (EVS) National Conference last month was a great success! The conference was very well attended with 180 delegates from the Eye Health and Sight Loss sector. We were delighted to welcome the keynote speaker Sarah Newton, Minister for Disabled People, Work and Pensions, and that she stayed for the Experts By Experience panel which was extremely insightful and powerful (and I definitely saw Sarah taking notes!). The EVS team launched their six refreshed priorities which we’re confident will be a great platform for the next stage of the EVS collaboration work across the country.
We celebrated our volunteers at our 2nd annual Volunteering Awards ceremony last week. Volunteers are a crucial part of what we do and it’s always rewarding, and often humbling, to hear about some of the great things people do to help others. I would like to say thank you to all of our volunteers and thank you to anyone in advance who is thinking about volunteering! There are always more opportunities for anyone who wants to get involved.
I have previously written about how pleased I was to participate on the bursary scheme judging panel for Extant, the UK’s leading performing arts company by and for visually impaired people. This was a great experience and is enabling 14 people to develop their arts related activity. I’m greatly looking forward to deepening our collaborative work with Extant.
One of the projects that Extant are supporting is the play Libby’s Eyes, which is on at the Bunker Theatre from the 11th June – 7th July, and I’m looking forward to seeing it on the 14th June, hopefully together with lots of my friends and colleagues! I’m really pleased that the cast and crew of Libby’s Eyes have been using the Pocklington Hub for some of their rehearsals. I’m very interested in continuing to broaden the range of activity that we’re able to host and I’m hoping that we’ll be able to feature some live productions here in the not too distant future. Arts can be a great vehicle for spreading key messages about both sight loss and how to create a genuinely inclusive society in which everybody can participate and achieve their full potential.
Finally for this month, London Vision, in partnership with Step Change Studios, has launched a wonderful free 30-week Latin and Ballroom Dancing programme for visually impaired people. The first session was held at their studio in Marylebone on 25th May and while I was unfortunately not able to attend, I have seen recordings showing how much the participants enjoyed themselves. I hope to attend a session soon!