Ann Atkinson


June has been a busy month, with three network meetings in the north, west and south east. At each of the meetings I presented the findings from the State of the Sector workshops, which many of you will have participated in, and provided information about the Support Services Commission.

Also included was news on the activities we were undertaking to date in response to the findings of the workshops and to meet the Commission requirements.

At the North Northumberland Network meeting it was great to hear from the Community Foundation about the legacy gift left by Frank and Pat Lough for charities and community groups in North Northumberland. 100k per year will be available to support charitable activity that tackles disadvantage, strengthens communities and makes the area a better place to live.

The network meeting in West Northumberland included a presentation on a new eco-therapy charity, Heart Wood, which was set up by Chip Ponsford, a counsellor/psychotherapist. Heart Wood supports men suffering from depression.   At the South East Northumberland meeting, Sylvia Pringle from iNorthumberland talked about digital inclusion and the support available across Northumberland to develop digital skills.

At two of the network meetings concern was raised about the lack of provision for safeguarding training now that the training from Voices was no longer available. We are fortunate that lead officers of the Children and Adult Safeguarding Boards at Northumberland County Council will be providing Safeguarding training to a large group of VCS staff and volunteers on 1st July and are willing to repeat this again in six months’ time. Multi agency safeguarding children training which the voluntary and community sector can attend is detailed on the NCC website:

Towards the end of the month NCVA organised a Conference on ‘Developing Community Approaches to Tackling Poverty’, which was attended by 60 people. The event generated a lot of interest and conversation and included presentations from Alan McNiven, Chief Executive of Engage Renfrewshire, and Emma Richardson, Poverty Lead at Northumberland County Council. As a result of the interest expressed by some attendees, it was suggested that NCVA arrange a follow up meeting to discuss the value of setting up a Poverty Commission/ Poverty Truth Commission at a county level. Progress on this will be provided in a future update.

A full report from the conference will be provided soon, including the presentations and feedback from the workshops.

I also attended the launch in North Tyneside of the Clinical Commissioning Group grants programme to the voluntary and community sector to find out how it has been developed and the criteria for accessing funds that may be of help if Northumberland CCG decides to take this route in future.


Ann Atkinson

Assembly Development Officer

June 2019

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