Listening Event: Co-producing a new voluntary sector strategy
The first session set the scence about the process for developing a new voluntary and communtiy sector. Cllr Michael Situ (Cabinet Member for Communities) kicked off the event and expalined why Southwark Council were committed to developing a VCS strategy. Participants then heard from Mark Kewley (Director of Transformation and Performance, Southwark CCG) and Gordon McCullough (CEO, Community Southwark) on what they hoped the strategy would achieve.
The 75 participants (a mix of VCS representatives, Southwark Council members and officers and CCG staff) moved into a workshop session. They were asked the following questions:
- What is the value of the voluntary and community sector?
- What’s the problem(s) that this strategy should seek to address?
- What’s changed that requires a new voluntary sector strategy?
- What should this strategy set out to achieve?
There was a lively debate with a very healthy atmosphere of challenge and collaboration.
Listed below are the summaries of what was discussed in relation to each of hte questions:
- The value of the VCS
- The problem this strategy is trying to address
- What has changed
- What should the strategy achieve
There was a wider analysis of the comments that emerged from the workshops. You can view the analysis here.
In the feedback, one participant, suggested that we should be asking what value the Council and CCG (and other NHS partners) bring to the voluntary and community sector. It was widely agreed that this would be an interesting line to pursue at the next session. Other feedback from the tables included the following:
- Think local: ensure the local sector is first and foremost; invest in it and ensure a diverse market.
- Ensure a range of voluntary opportunities are open to people both in and not in work – delivered locally by local people.
- Do we have effective services for local people and do we have the information needed to provide them?
- Sustainability needs to be built into the strategy. Outcomes need to be delivered in collaboration.
- Strategy should be built on mutual trust, respect and shared values, with a better understanding of which each is trying to achieve.
- Focus on joint working and community wellbeing. Evidence a holistic approach and contributions to prevention.
- Uniqueness of the VCS: not a substitute for statutory services. It has its’ own qualities, skills and experience. Recognise that the borough is changing and this brings challenges. New barriers are being put in place, for example, new legislation could be a barrier to reaching communities. We are obsessed with wellbeing!
- Strategy should lead on an understanding of what each partner is good at and play to the strengths of each, for the common good.
- All partners are equal and should show dignity and respect. The passion and commitment of the VCS should be recognised.
- Understand the complex relationships between the sectors. The strategy should set out the process of how we work together to identify problems and find solutions
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