Sector Support Calderdale (SSC) a project of North Bank Forum (NBF) is contracted by Calderdale Metropolitan Borough Council to provide infrastructure support to voluntary and community sector (VCS) including not for profit.
Within the service level agreement there are the following objectives;
Theme 3: Voice and Representation
Outcome 1: The sector is well represented strategically and receives and shares information
There are three partnership Coordinators, who are employed for their own specialisms by SSC. (Strategic Development, Sector Support and Volunteering & Safeguarding) They sit as a neutral persons to advocate on behalf of the wider sector at boards and partnerships. The Partnership Coordinators then share feedback to the wider sector.
VCS Groups who already sit at Partnership Board
Many groups sit at partnerships within their own right, due to their expertise in the field they practice. They do not have a duty to share with wider VCS partners, although as a matter of good practise many do. Individual partnerships agree the membership and it is felt there is a fair balance if a `neutral’ infrastructure is a member also. `Neutral’ representatives will then share information to the wider VCS.
Encouragement of Wider VCS to become Representatives
There is not often a request or the opportunity to source new representatives. If a gap is identified then the opportunity is advertised and recommendations made as to whom to approach. Boards and partnership are lean in membership and there are not as many as there has been in the past. Currently there are no vacant seats.
Barriers to finding new representatives;
As across all sectors there is less capacity to release staff to attend meetings. When there was a Local Strategic Partnership in place some partnerships were able to offer back fill funding, which supported groups to release staff to attend. This is no longer the case.
There is a feeling among many smaller VCS groups that if infrastructure staff are paid to provide representation and feedback then they are the best placed to provide it.
Collecting Evidence on Representation
Mapping of the partnerships has been undertaken yearly. It is then shared with partners and VCS colleagues. VCS colleagues are encouraged to say if they are interested in becoming the representative in any particular area. At each VCS Forum a set agenda item is representation feedback from meetings.
Support to Existing Representatives
Training has been offered for new and existing representatives although no one has taken this up. Many existing representatives hold seats in their own right and so they are experienced in handling their role and have no duty to report wider.
Stakeholder Groups – Task & Finish Group
Statutory Commissioners tend to pull together stakeholder or task and finish groups that are outside the formal structures. Generally SSC are invited but other VCS groups are also included for their expertise.
Mechanisms in place to share information
Volunteer Manager Partnership; meetings take place bi-monthly. Feedback from strategic meetings, good practise, networking and learning opportunities are facilitated.
Safeguarding; meetings held quarterly. Representatives from Children & Adult’s safeguarding boards attend and give, receive feedback, look at consultations and raise issues that affect the sector.
Chief Officers; meetings are held quarterly. Representatives from Community Safety Executive and Partnership, Health & Wellbeing Board and Informal Assembly, Children & Young People’s Partnership Executive attend. The group is in its’ early stages of development. It offers an opportunity to broker partnerships, share good practise and influence strategic direction within the sector.
Young Lives; meetings are held quarterly. They bring together groups who provide a service to Children, Young People and their families. Representatives from CYPPE, CSCB and the Youth Strategy Group share feedback. It is an opportunity for networking, information and resource sharing and exploring consortia working.
See Appendix 2 flowchart diagram below
A dedicated feedback section is available on this website.
Feedback is included on a regular basis within the weekly bulletin updates. The bulletin is issued to all members of SSC/NBF and partner organisations.
The landscape changed quickly when the Local Strategic Partnership was abolished in 2011. Currently, there is an executive group, chaired by the Merrion McRae, Chief Executive, Calderdale Metropolitan Council looking at the strategic leadership on themed topics that overlap, e.g. Domestic Abuse, Radicalisation, and Female Genital Mutilation etc. So far there has been a proposal to set up a Public sector board. It is not clear how engagement with other sectors will be and if seats for partners will be made available.
There is the Health & Wellbeing board who offer representative seats and the Informal Health & Wellbeing Board which is by invitation. However, the agenda’s at both are either already set or are complex and wide ranging.
- There are less representation opportunities
- Reduced capacity to release staff to attend meetings
- Advertise, recruit and train to fill vacant seats as they arise
- Negotiate on behalf of the sector for seats at newly created partnerships
- Continue to use the VCS Forums to verbally receive and share information including feedback. Notes from the meetings recorded
- Continue to use the weekly e-bulletin and SSC website to post written feedback