How the VCS Assembly DevelopedThe formal event to launch the Shropshire Voluntary Sector Assembly (27 February 2008) was declared a resounding success by delegates who attended from both the Statutory, Public and Voluntary and Community Sector. A full Assembly has since been held on 28 April 2009.
140 people attended the launch event which was split into two parts: a morning session and an afternoon session. Summaries of the day are provided below.
The morning session
The morning session was devoted to speakers from the Improvement Development Agency, Ealing VCS and Ealing Local Strategic Partnership, Acting Director of Community Services at Shropshire County Council, and the Co-ordinator of the Assembly.
Clear messages from the speakers about the national move towards more engagement and partnership working with community and voluntary organisations came from all the speakers.
- It was clear that statutory partners will be encouraged by Government to seek wider engagement with the sector in consultation, contacting, tendering, and ensuring that they take on board the views from organisations which are often the most direct link with the most vulnerable people in our communities.
- There was clear recognition of the value placed on the work of voluntary and community organisations.
- Speakers provided clear messages about the move towards 3 year funding for service provision by the VCS, and support for the Assembly in enabling better, more inclusive communication with the widest possible range of VCS organisations.
The afternoon session
The session was only open to voluntary and community organisations.
Terms of Reference for the Assembly
The meeting considered and adopted (subject to one or two small amendments) the draft Terms of Reference (see attached). These Terms of Reference are reviewed annually by the Assembly Board and have since been updated (see Terms of Reference web page).
The Assembly also endorsed the proposal for the Steering Group to become the Interim Board for the Assembly. This enabled new representatives from exiting Forums of Interest to join the Board.
The message from the voluntary sector:
- Forums of Interest were a popular idea with the delegates who saw this as a way of ensuring that representation of areas of interest was possible and a collective voice could be heard.
- There was legitimate concern about the representation of much smaller organisations and a plea to ensure that any structures within the Assembly enable smaller groups to have a voice.
- A strong desire was expressed to use the momentum created so far to drive the formation of the Assembly forward
- There was a collective interest in understanding the positioning of the voluntary sector in the new Unitary Council. Delegates asked to be kept informed of developments around the new Council and in particular their role and representation in local areas.
The Interim Board has since become a formalised Board and more information is available on the Board web page.