On Monday 12 September we held our State of the Sector Launch Breakfast Meeting
We asked the VCS to come together and give their input to help shape the future of the Voluntary and Community Sector in Southwark. Althea Loderick, the new CEO of Southwark Council, joined us to give an update on the council’s priorities.
A BIG thank you to everyone who joined us, we are very grateful for this initial conversations into this major piece of research.
Our Southwark Stars 2022 Best Corporate Partnership winner, 12th Knot Sea Containers, very kindly offered to host the event for us and laid on a tasty breakfast spread. A big thank you to Sea Containfor the use of your lovely space. The 12th floor venue had a beautiful roof top terrace looking across the river, a truly lovely spot to start the day.
As delegates arrived we asked them to write on a post-it note their top achievement from the past year. We will write up and share these with you but here are a few tasters in the meantime:
- We have secured funding to double our capacity for befriending – Blackfriars Settlement
- 5 Days Holiday hub – food and fun 120 kids – Autism Voice
- New recruits cultural awareness training and alternative ways to stop and search – Elevated Minds CIC
- Mayor’s Charity Award 2021-22 – Southwark Day Centre for Asylum Seekers
- Getting incorporated and winning a tender process to reopen Kingswood House – Kingswood Art
- 1 million home cooked meals – Felix’s Kitchen
Our CEO Anood opened the event by welcoming everyone and thanking them for giving their time early on a Monday morning to be with us.
Althea Loderick then talked us through the future priorities for Southwark Council:
With her first priority she explained as being getting to know Southwark – to learn about Southwark by getting out and about in the borough and talking to people, not just just sitting at a desk in Tooley Street.
The second priority Althea explained is a Borough Wide Plan that expresses the vision of what we want the borough to be by 2030. Althea emphasized the importance of co-construction of a Borough Wide Plan – with everyone working together to plan how we do this and how we address the issues that are important to Southwark.
“This is why I am delighted that Community Southwark is running this event today to launch this important piece of work which will be an invaluable resource for the plan”
The third priority is the Cost of Living Crisis – Althea explained that she wants to know how we can work together to support our residents through this very difficult time of financial crisis. She will be doing this by learning from us, by being out and listening to the people who know what the situation is on the ground.
Another priority Althea said, is her commitment to making Southwark a fair and equal borough, ‘Southwark Stands Together’ is to be led by Althea.
The floor was then opened up for questions before the start of the first discussions.
Adrian Greenwood from Salmon Youth Centre asked Althea, “What is the status of the plan, there have been a few proceeding borough plans, and how will it be delivered?”.
Althea explained, “The idea for this Borough Plan is that it will be the plan of all plans, it will be owned by all of us and we need to look together at how we translate this through all of the existing plans. I would like each and everyone to input and take ownership so that it is a joint plan, not a statutory/ council plan”.
Syeda, our VCS Support Manager, then introduced the first conversation cafe where participants were asked to get into groups and introduce themselves and discuss and write down the top five challenges that their organisations are facing.
This was followed by a second conversation cafe where the delegates were asked to move around the room and meet new people and then write down the solutions of how they think these challenges can be addressed.
What were the key issues?
It won’t surprise people to know that one of the key issues that came up was funding, along with premises and volunteering (since Covid19 there has been a decline of volunteers and trustees offering their time to support charities). More examples will be raised through our survey research.
Jeremy, our Evaluation & Impact Officer, and Anita, our Policy and Participation Officer, then talked about the State of the Sector Survey, explaining that it will be hitting people’s inboxes today and asking delegates to please fill it in and to also share it with other VCS groups.
Please fill in and share our Survey!
The last few years have seen huge upheaval in society. Our borough’s Voluntary and Community Sector (VCS) has punched well above its weight. Now it time to take stock and analyse the state of our sector and the changes it needs to survive and thrive.
This major piece of research aims to present an accurate and representative picture of the successes and challenges for our complex and diverse sector. We want to pull together the rich experience and expertise of our members to come up with a programme of action for Community Southwark’s networks and the wider VCS, and a set of asks for our partners in local and national government, funders and the private sector.
After submitting your survey responses, your organisation will automatically be entered into a prize draw for ten organisations to win £100 each (generously donated by United St Saviours Charity).
Your say matters to us so please complete our survey here.
As part of our research, we will be facilitating focus groups and undertaking phone interviews. If you are interested in sharing your views, please fill out this form.
We are really excited about this research project and working alongside the sector to produce recommendations that will lead to improvements for your groups and service users.