Vision Support continues to be committed to the principle of working with a range of organisations in order to deliver good quality services to people with vision impairment across Cheshire, Halton and North Wales.
We have worked closely with local authorities to co-produce and deliver rehabilitation services. We currently have contracts with Wrexham, Denbighshire and Conwy. Fundamental to the success of these services is the fact that our staff are co-located within social service teams and we ensure the maintenance of productive working relationships with the service managers and commissioning teams thus allowing us to be actively involved in service development.
In Halton we also have a strong working relationship with local authority colleagues and receive funding from both the Local Authority and Health to deliver services such as our resource centre where people can drop in to find information, have a look at specialist equipment, attend social groups or receive training in the latest Digital Technology. The rehabilitation assistants in Halton are funded to support the work of the local authority Vision Impairment Team, visiting people in their own homes, they offer a range of support including advice on welfare and benefits.
Within the voluntary sector we have worked to build relationships both with organisations delivering services to people with sight loss and others with services relevant to our service users. Examples of the latter category include, Stroke Association, The Red Cross, Diabetes UK and Age Concern.
Over the last five or six years it has become increasingly obvious that there is a need to find ways in which to work more cooperatively with those organisations delivering services directly to people with vision impairment. As the recession took hold and resources became increasingly hard to hold onto any competition for funding and/or duplication of service delivery simply didn’t make sense. Working from this premise Vision Support built strong relationships with both national and local organisations and these have resulted in two innovative projects which are delivering important new services in both Cheshire and North Wales.
NORTH WALES VISION ALLIANCE
RNIB Cymru, Vision Support, North Wales Society for Blind People and Cardiff Institute for Blind People came together to form the North Wales Vision Alliance to enhance, promote, influence and develop services and working practices to meet the expressed needs of people who are blind and partially sighted across North Wales. Alliance members share resources and expertise ensuring best practice and lack of duplication. This is a genuine alliance, it is not a merger, each organisation retains its independence and identity whilst being able to ensure that scarce resources are used effectively for the benefit our service users.
The North Wales Vision Alliance has been successful in gaining the funds to develop existing services and deliver new initiatives.
Vision Support’s mobile information unit is now able to visit venues across the whole of North Wales providing information and support to people who have vision impairment, their families and friends and a range of professionals such as opticians, nurses and care workers. Importantly it also informs and educates people about sight loss wherever it goes.
Vision Support has been able to appoint a Community Engagement Officer working across North East Wales, the same post has been set up in North West Wales and is based in Bangor with North Wales Society for the Blind. The objectives for these posts are the same ensuring that people across establishment of VI Forums across the region. These groups exist to give a voice to people with vision impairment, to raise issues with people who can influence outcomes and to follow it through.
CHESHIRE VISION IMPAIRMENT CONSORTIUM
In Cheshire, Vision Support is working with Action for Blind People, IRIS Vision Centre and Macclesfield Eye Society as the Cheshire Vision Impairment Consortium. The objective of the consortium is to develop and deliver innovative services, to share expertise and best practice and to ensure there is no duplication of service delivery in Cheshire. Once again this is not a merger it is a close working relationship where each organisation retains its independence and identity.
The Cheshire Consortium has successfully gained funding to develop volunteer led services designed to combat issues of social isolation arising from sight loss. The project has also funded two Independent Living Co-ordinators, one of whom works within the team at Vision Support. They provide information, support and most importantly advice on Welfare and Benefits for anyone with diagnosed sight loss.
In addition the consortium is also offering Living With Sight Loss courses giving people with vision impairment up to date information on services available to them, equipment to support daily living, the latest technology, welfare and benefits and the opportunity to talk over their experiences with others in a safe environment.
We view the North Wales Vision Alliance and the Cheshire Vision Impairment Consortium as long term projects and continue to seek funding with these partners to achieve our aims.
Information on all the services described can be found elsewhere on the website or by getting in contact with your nearest Vision Support Centre.