In 2011 Northumberland County Council, seeing the formation of a powerful collective structure as integral to a strong, sustainable and vibrant Voluntary and Community Sector in the county, published a tender to develop a VCS Assembly. Connect4change won the commission and, following consultation in 2012 on what a collective mechanism might look like, how it might operate and what it would need to achieve if it were to be successful, Northumberland VCS Assembly was launched on 29th May 2012.
As part of the work of connect4change (c4c), the partnership looked at ways of developing and strengthening the collective voice and influence of the VCS in Northumberland. They established a VCS Assembly Shadow Action Group to develop the vision, aims and objectives of the Assembly and to help make progress on priorities identified through networks, forums, meetings and other Assembly communication channels.
In October 2014, Northumberland CVA (then operating as Wansbeck Centre for Voluntary Service) was awarded the new commission to facilitate the further development of the Assembly and set about developing area networks. There are now four area networks:
- Central Northumberland Network
- North Northumberland Network
- South East Northumberland VCS Alliance
- West Northumberland Network
Assembly Relaunch Event - May 2015
In May 2015, Northumberland VCS Assembly was relaunched at an event held at Linden Hall. The theme of the event was 'Challenges and Solutions to the Sustainability of the Sector'. Lyn Cole, Deputy Director England for The Big Lottery, was the keynote speaker and the event featured workshops to discover what participants wanted from Northumberland VCS Assembly going forward.
The Assembly now has an Assembly Executive Committee that has been elected by members of the Assembly and drawn from across the spectrum of Northumberland’s Voluntary and Community Sector. Members of the Executive Committee and representatives of Northumberland County Council form the VCS Cabinet Advisory Group, which now meets regularly to identify mutual opportunities and common concerns to ensure effective collaboration and support to the voluntary and community sector.