The Assembly Executive Committee met in August. Notes of all meetings are available to view on the website. We have changed the format of these meetings to provide more time for Executive members to feedback to the committee on activities they have been engaged in that the Assembly should be aware of and provide an opportunity to discuss where further actions are required. For example a grant reduction to a VCS service from the County Council without clear explanation has led to the Council agreeing to review their decision making process for grants and commissions and provide the Assembly with information on organisations that are receiving grants and commissions.
I attended a Voluntary Sector Showcase in Hexham at the end of August and it was great to see a wide range of groups promoting themselves and encouraging local residents to join them. I took the opportunity to inform groups about the support available from Northumberland CVA and promoted the Funding Fair taking place in Hexham in October.
The VCS Liaison Group met in September, again the notes will be available on the website in due course. We presented an update on the progress of the Commission and produced a paper providing an induction to the VCSE for county councillors and the public sector. We feel that there is a need to continue to raise awareness and inform the public sector of the VCSE and for them to have a better understanding of our role and support we can offer. Indeed we did exactly that in the report we produced for Health and Wellbeing Board in September on the VCSE contribution to the Health and Wellbeing Strategy and wider agenda. The report was well received and the recommendation to recognise the valuable contribution of the VCSE and engage with the VCSE as an equal partner in strategic decision making and in the co-production of health and care services was agreed.
After a lot of discussion on our e-forum (Northumberland VINe) about the Northumberland Lottery we were hoping to hear more about it at the VCS Liaison Group but as the officer was not available it has been postponed and will be discussed at the next meeting in January. We did however emphasize that it was very concerning that this had been agreed without any engagement with the voluntary and community sector. If you are interested in hearing more about the Northumberland Lottery then let me know and I will arrange for an officer from the Council to attend a future network meeting.
Networks meeting were held in the north, south east and west in September including a break in the West Northumberland meeting to participate in the Big Sing as part of BBC Music Day, aiming to get as many people together singing the same song across the county. To coincide with the national initiative Tynedale Dementia Action Alliance aimed to get people to sing the same song in support of those living with dementia. It was well supported, uplifting and everyone felt refreshed for the rest of the meeting after a rendition of ‘Hey Jude’ , perhaps we should do this more often! Being kept informed and networking are the key benefits of these meetings to voluntary and community groups so do take the opportunity to come along. Meetings are held quarterly in the West, North and South East and advertised in the fortnightly e-bulletin.
We had a visit from Lev Pedro from the National Council for Voluntary Organisation (NCVO) in September to learn about the voluntary and community sector in the county and discuss ways that NCVO could support us to support you. Whilst here he also attended the South East Northumberland Network meeting to hear from local community groups about their activities. Lev is leading NCVO’s work to connect more with members across the sector and gather intelligence that will help shape and improve their policy work and support offer. He was very interested to hear about the issues facing the VCS in Northumberland and talked about similar issues facing other areas he has visited. Below is the link to the blog Lev has written based on his recent visits to infrastructure organisations across the country.