After more than 15 years at the helm, John Davis, our Manager and Senior Rehabilitation Officer has decided to take early retirement.
The majority of you will have known John for many years and will be aware of all that he has achieved for Warwickshire Vision Support, but we wanted take this opportunity to recognise his immense contribution to the charity and say thank you for his commitment and dedication.
John joined what was then Warwickshire Association for the Blind in 2002 and within a couple of years he was promoted to the position of Manager/Senior Rehabilitation Officer.
In those days, the Association was focused mostly upon our clubs and providing Rehabilitation across the county. We had also recently sold Puttering’s Lane which had been the centre of our operations, but John turned this challenge into an opportunity to provide local services across the county.
By 2004, John had opened the first Drop-In Centre in Nuneaton and had plans for similar centres across Warwickshire. John’s vision was that each visually impaired person would be within just a few miles of a local resource – a venue that provided advice and information, equipment demonstrations and social support. Within a few years, we had opened 7 Drop-In Centres (now called Vision Support Centres) and were welcoming 150 people through our doors each week. The Vision Support Centres have now developed into local platforms offering magnifier sessions, IT training as well as hosting advocacy groups and our new My Sight sessions.
But whilst the Vision Support Centres may be John’s most visible achievement, he has worked tirelessly to develop services that support people to retain their independence at home. The Home Visitor Service continues to support about 120 people each year. Thanks to our 100 volunteers we offer support with reading letters and managing correspondence but perhaps most importantly, provide some much-needed social support to people who have difficulty leaving their home.
In 2013 John introduced our IT training programme, IT4U, in response to the increasing marginalisation, of people living with sight loss, by the digital revolution. IT4U encourages the learner to set personal practical learning objectives on their tablet or smart phone to enable them to use email, do online shopping or keep in contact with friends and family. With more than 300 learners in the last 4 years, IT4U has been elevated from a pilot study to a core activity.
Throughout John’s tenure, Warwickshire Vision Support has consistently innovated and explored new approaches. John set up our Eye Clinic Advice Desks some years ago (before it became a core policy of RNIB) to help us reach people newly diagnosed with sight loss. We now have a presence at each clinic across the county and have secured Lottery and other major donor funding to create local My Sight groups to offer peer-2-peer support, mentoring, advice and guidance.
Last year, John successfully spearheaded the bid for the Service Level Agreement with the local authority. This was the first time the contract had been put out to public tender and our success was a resounding endorsement of the quality of our Rehabilitation service and the charitable services that support it.
John has charted a course for Warwickshire Vision Support that has made us more accessible, more relevant and very highly respected. His sense of humour and commitment will be sorely missed.
On behalf of the Board of Trustees, the members and staff of Warwickshire Vision Support we wish John every happiness in his retirement and thank him for all that he has done for us.