They first met with VAL support staff to get a sense of the unique issues facing local infrastructure. Then a number of local organisations attended a working lunch to discuss issues facing Leicestershire based charities. Attendees included representation from Trade Sexual Health, The Recovery Consultancy Limited, National Youth Agency, Home group limited, First Step Leicester Leicestershire and Rutland, Enrych Leicestershire and Derbyshire, Focus Charity, Leicester Mammas CIC, Rothley Community Library, Zinthiya Ganeshpanchan Trust, and Leicester Ageing Together.
Some key points from the roundtable meeting included:
- Challenges of constant reductions in funding. Meaning that medium and larger organisations are now applying for grants from sources typically used by small organisation, leading to increased competition across the board.
- The need to change the perception of voluntary sector that we come for free
- How can we move away from competitive tendering as the default funding option
- Recognition from central government of the role and scope of the voluntary sector, especially at a local grassroots level
- Stretched NHS organisations are referring clients to the local sector to meet the demand. However, the local sector is struggling to obtain grant funding to pay for these services.
NCVO is campaigning on some of these issues, having heard from their members in other parts of England as well.
In the afternoon, Lev and Roshni met with George Ballentyne, Leicester City Council’s Voluntary & Community Sector Engagement Manager to discuss the city council’s public sector membership of NCVO. There was an agreement for NCVO and VAL to look at jointly upskilling new councillors about the role of the local sector. Mr Ballentyne also asked NCVO for help in ensuring that as many councillors and council staff as possible have access to the excellent resources on the NCVO Knowhow website.
Feedback from the event included:
A working lunch delegate – “VAL is very important to us: “We can’t lose VAL! – it’s my support mechanism.”
NCVO – “I’d just like to say a big public ‘thank you’ from Roshni and me to colleagues at VAL for hosting this very productive visit, and especially Helen for arranging the day and sending me very thorough information in advance. “
If you are a local VCSE organisation based in Leicester or Leicestershire, who are providing services to local residents in those areas, who is exploring collaborative opportunities, please consider using VAL’s sector support, activity referral service, to assist you with this. Requests for support can be sent to helpline 0116 257 5050 or firstname.lastname@example.org