One of the many things worked on in the run-up to Christmas, which I hope you have already noticed, was the re-design of our logo and change in working name to Sight for Wight.
After much consideration and consultation, including the majority of respondents who supported a name change when asked this question in the 2017 User Survey, the decision to update the name and logo was made to broaden the appeal of the charity and to reflect the 21st rather than the 19th century, when the charity was first established.
Whilst we are proud of the origins and heritage of the charity, founded in 1895, it is important to ensure that the widest group of Islanders who might benefit from the charity know that we are here for them. There are thousands of people on the Island who are sight impaired and might benefit from the support and services we offer, but who are not registered blind and might therefore imagine they cannot turn to us for information, help or support. Especially for those more recently diagnosed with a sight loss condition, we had become increasingly aware that the charity name 'Isle of Wight Society for the Blind' might have been off-putting.
We were extremely fortunate that Mat Rutherford, a professional graphic designer based in Australia, (yes, there’s a family connection with our Chairman) volunteered his time and talent, without charge, to make the changes based on our brief.
Whilst Sight for Wight will be adopted as our new working name, we will still retain the Isle of Wight Society for the Blind as the original legal name for the purposes of registration with the Charities Commission and Companies House. This means that our respective registration numbers will be unchanged and supporters, followers and funders, old and new, should have no difficulty in tracing our history and records.
Re-organisation and 2018 Structure Planning for the year ahead is now well underway, following the complete review of our organisational structure and job descriptions undertaken during the past several months. The Trustees have approved some significant changes to ensure that we are more focused on our core objectives of delivering support and services for those affected by sight loss across the Island. Registered Charity Number 1149415 Company Limited by Guarantee Number 6240404
Marketing, Communications and Fundraising Manager
From 1st November 2017, Chris Cane was promoted to the role of Marketing, Communications and Fundraising Manager. The significant change to the Job Description will more effectively utilise Chris’s many strengths and skills and we hope will bring increasing professionalism to these vitally important aspects of the work of Sight for Wight, especially at a time when we hope to deliver a growing range of support and services and need to generate additional revenue to support these and existing activities. Chris now has a very demanding workload, but I am confident that he will continue to work closely with colleagues to deliver it successfully. In the near future he will be working closely with Michelle to see if we can recruit some new events stewards, ambassadors and fundraisers to support us.
Member Services Manager
The most significant change for service users is the replacement of the role of Centre Administrator with that of Member Services Manager. Laura Jasper, with her professional background as a dispensing optician, is perfectly placed to deliver improved services for Members, including exploring a number of new activities at venues across the Island to reflect the range of suggestions made by respondents to the 2017 User Survey. Laura took up her revised role with effect from 1st January 2018. Laura is currently exploring a range of possibilities and, working closely with Chris, will ensure that information about any new opportunities are sent out to you in good time. To enable the delivery of support, services and activities at a variety of locations across the Island, Laura will usually spend two days each week at locations other than Millbrooke House.
This newly created part/time role will ensure that whilst Laura Jasper is at other locations developing, supporting and delivering Member Services, we still have someone in the office who can deal with telephone enquiries and messages, provide some admin support and generally facilitate the smooth running of whatever may be happening at Millbrooke House. We are delighted that Susan Earley, who has proved herself an excellent and versatile team member, will undertake this role. Susan has been the Interim Finance Officer for the past several months pending the review of that role. Susan will take up the Admin post following an induction of and handover to a new part/time Finance Officer.
Following a review of this role, which included taking some independent expert advice, the Finance Officer role has been reduced from 21 hours per week to 16, typically to be worked over four mornings. Following a thorough recruitment and selection process, I am pleased to announce that Lisa Hollyhead joins Sight for Wight in mid-January. Lisa brings a wealth of experience as a qualified Chartered Accountant and successful business person. One of the particular reasons that motivated Lisa to apply to join us is that she has, herself, been registered blind since birth, so feels particular empathy with the aims and role of Sight for Wight.
While the demand for new volunteers is ever increasing, the role remains pretty much as it has in recent years. However, the new job title Volunteer Manager will replace that of Community Development Officer, which was somewhat ambiguous and misleading. Michelle Taylor will continue to bring her professionalism and great wealth of experience to this vital role, with a need to recruit, vet and induct additional volunteers to support proposed new services and activities as well as maintaining sufficient volunteers to deliver our traditional volunteer roles and tasks. Currently the Volunteer Manager role is 21 hours per week.
To fund the introduction of an additional part/time team member, the Trustees approved a proposed reduction in my hours as Chief Executive, from 28 to 21 hours a week, with effect from 1st January 2018. Of course, working on behalf of a charity where so many people volunteer their respective time and talents, I too will continue to volunteer many additional hours. So, whilst no less committed to Sight for Wight, and with a very clear vision for steering the way forward, this is an important personal decision, enabling me to enjoy moving gently towards semi-retirement. However, there are many plans afoot to deliver first! So a significant proportion of my time in the coming year will be devoted to researching and applying for funding from trusts, funds and major grant givers to enable us to develop and deliver our plans into the future.
Sight for Wight Duty Manager
Finally, with all of the above developments taking place, several team members will, increasingly, be spending more time away from Millbrooke House and out and about on the Island, developing and delivering new plans and services. For this reason, we will ensure that a ‘Duty Manager’ is identified each working day, drawn from the above team, to ensure that messages and communications are dealt with appropriately and that the individual with daily responsibility for supporting the smooth running of operations is identified.
With all these developments and plans, together, we have an exciting year ahead, as I’m sure you will agree!
Chief Executive, IWSB