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Vision loss organisations come together at flagship conference

Vision loss organisations come together at flagship conference

Visionary Conference Birmingham


Hundreds of delegates from across the UK attended a flagship conference, host by Visionary, for local and national vision loss organisations.

The programme at this year’s Visionary Annual Conference was designed to connect, develop, and inspire delegates through keynote speakers, workshops and an awards night recognising vital work undertaken in local communities. Visionary is a membership organisation for more than 135 vision loss organisations, including local community charities, from across the UK.


Speakers at the conference, held in Birmingham on 27 and 28 September, included National Clinical Director for Eye Care Louisa Wickham, Marsha de Cordova MP, who is campaigning for eye health improvements, and Sam Latif, Procter & Gamble’s first company accessibility leader.

‘Our flagship conference is an opportunity for everyone to come together to share ideas and best practice, go to workshops and listen to keynote speakers and celebrate their achievements,’ says Fiona Sandford, Visionary’s Chief Executive Officer.


‘It was incredibly powerful to hear Marsha de Cordova MP talk about how she’s translated her personal experience of being visually impaired since childhood into direct action.


Sam Latif spoke very powerfully about her own experiences of blindness, including her challenges navigating the world with a double buggy and a long cane. Sam uses her skills, knowledge and personal experiences to transform Procter & Gamble, one of the leading global consumer brands, to make products more accessible.

‘Louisa Whickham offered her interesting and knowledgeable clinical perspective on making sight loss pathways better and easier to navigate for people by making them more joined up.’

Fiona Sandford added: ‘Celebrating the essential role of community-based organisations supporting people with sight loss live well was another highlight from the conference and these fantastic achievements were recognised during our annual awards ceremony.’

Winners included:

  • Focus Birmingham – Connect and Collaborate Award, Sponsored by RNIB
  • Look UK – Develop and Share Award, Sponsored by Guide Dogs UK
  • My Sight York – Children and Young People Award, Sponsored by The Powell Family Foundation
  • Seescape – Community Impact Award, Sponsored by Specsavers

Eye health on parliamentary agenda

Eye health has risen up Westminster’s agenda but there is still work to do, according to a Member of Parliament who spoke at Visionary’s Annual Conference 2023.

Marsha de Cordova, MP for Battersea, has been campaigning for improvements in eye care and the introduction of a national eye health strategy in England – which has been supported by organisations across the eye health sector.

‘We’ve really helped to put eye health on the agenda over the past year including through my Bill calling for a National Eye Health Strategy for England. It is incredibly important to put a spotlight on eye health given the worrying situation in the NHS, address the challenges in the eye care pathway, and improve the coordination between primary and secondary care,’ she says.

But she adds the job is not yet done. ‘On a human level, it’s really about wanting to make that difference to the lives of people regardless of where they live, so they can access good quality eye care.’

In particular, she wants a more consistent approach to commissioning and delivering eye care across England which suffers from a ‘postcode lottery’.

With a general election due in the next year, the MP says she continues to seek improvements to eye health care. ‘I want the government now to take action,’ she says, ‘and I would expect any incoming government to look at my Bill and the work that we’ve been doing in this space and seek to implement especially given the benefits it will bring to government as well.

‘One of the positives here is that there already are great examples of where it works and has worked.’

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