SeeAbility announces change of chief executive

Pictured above (L to R): James Deeley , Lisa Hopkins &  David-Scott Ralphs

Pictured above (L to R): James Deeley , Lisa Hopkins & David-Scott Ralphs

After 13 years at the helm, SeeAbility’s chief executive, David Scott-Ralphs, will be leaving the organisation in September to take up a similar role at St Wilfrid’s Hospice, Eastbourne. His replacement will be Lisa Hopkins, currently managing director at Dimensions UK, one of the country’s leading support providers for people with learning disabilities, autism and complex needs.

David has overseen the expansion of SeeAbility’s accommodation and support services across southern England, more than doubling turnover and operating locations. SeeAbility recently received its first ‘outstanding’ award from the Care Quality Commission (CQC) for its Fairways residential service in Fleet.

SeeAbility’s reach and impact has grown substantially through the addition of public health advisory work and information resources focusing on preventing avoidable sight loss for people with learning disabilities. The charity has been instrumental in creating enhanced sight testing pathways for adults with learning disabilities in many parts of the country.

Since 2013, SeeAbility has also worked to improve eye care and vision for children with disabilities in special schools. Last year it was awarded the first General Ophthalmic Service (GOS) contract to provide a sight testing service in special schools and published a hard-hitting report entitled ‘An Equal Right to Sight’, which gained both media and ministerial interest.

In recent months SeeAbility has been working in partnership with the main optical bodies to devise a national sight testing framework for all special schools, with the potential to reach 100,000 children.

James Deeley, SeeAbility chairman of trustees, said: “SeeAbility has flourished under David’s leadership and I would like to thank him on behalf of the whole organisation for his tremendous efforts and achievements. We are delighted to welcome Lisa as our new chief executive. She has the right values, skills and experience to ensure SeeAbility realises its full potential over the coming years.”

Lisa has an extensive background in providing innovative, person-centred support services to children and adults with complex needs, both in Canada and the UK. She has been with Dimensions since 2007, fulfilling a range of operational and development roles leading to her current role as managing director. She has played a major part in the organisation’s growth in recent years and has instigated many innovative approaches to supporting people with autism, including the recent announcement of autism-friendly libraries. Her interest in sight loss goes back to family experiences in Canada, where she was instrumental in setting up a new charity promoting opportunities for people with sight loss.

David Scott-Ralphs commented: “SeeAbility is a wonderful organisation that achieves so much and I have been privileged to lead it for such a long period. It has an excellent reputation in the care sector and continues to do so much to improve the lives of those we support. I am leaving SeeAbility in the knowledge that it will be in safe hands as I am delighted that Lisa will be taking over from me.”

Lisa Hopkins said of her new role: “I am thrilled to be joining an organisation with such a strong values base and track record in excellence of service delivery. SeeAbility’s reach goes far beyond the boundaries of those they support and extends to valuable work for people throughout the country with sight loss and multiple disabilities. It’s a huge privilege to be picking up the baton from David of an organisation that was founded in 1799 with a glorious history and a very bright future.”