As many of you know I’m a firm believer in collaboration and the power it can have to make a difference.
I’m very pleased that VISION 2020 UK as an organisation is putting together a new strategy document that encourages the collaboration of all of its members and seeks to describe how, by all working together, we can achieve something where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
The draft strategy includes key roles for all of the large, medium and small organisations across the Eye Health and Sight Loss sector. It puts the prevention, alleviation and cure of sight loss conditions at the forefront of our thinking. It seeks to incorporate the key elements of the UK, England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland Vision Strategies. I hope it will give us all a practical way of aligning the plans of our individual organisations together for the long term benefit of everybody with or at risk of sight loss across the UK.
VISION 2020 UK will issue the draft strategy to members and other interested parties by the end of the month for feedback and I expect the process to continue throughout our planning cycles for 2017/18 and beyond.
As we progress through this collaborative process I hope that we will be able to identify and agree a small number of key targets that we can use to measure our combined progress. One target that I am very keen to make a significant improvement on is the percentage of people with a visual impairment who are in employment – the current figure of 30% is a national disgrace. We must all work collaboratively to significantly narrow the gap with the overall employment rate of over 90% – I will have a lot more to say about this in the coming months.
Meanwhile, I am looking forward to attending the Vision UK 2016 conference, Expanding Horizons, next week. I’m pleased that the Vision UK conference will collaborate with organisations such as Diabetes UK and Age UK to increase the base of support to implement the UK Vision Strategy outcomes. The day will cover themes including ageing and sight loss; diabetes and preventing blindness; children and young people; and science and technology.
At the end of the month, on June 25, we will be celebrating the 40th anniversary of Metro Blind Sport’s Athletics Open. I encourage everyone to go and support this momentous event – or even better, to take part!