Why Our Partnership Needs Funding to Support Tansformational Activity
- The external environment, in which Voluntary and Community Organisations (VCOs) are operating, has been changing rapidly in Gloucestershire, as elsewhere and consequently the needs of these VCOs have also changed:
- Changes to multi sector partnerships have meant that VCOs are unable to contribute to local partnerships but are increasingly focussed on the opportunity that commissioning offers as more public services are contracted out.
- Reductions in local public sector grants, and tighter competition for national grants coupled with increased demand for services have resulted in VCOs having less capacity to engage in the representational and partnership structures that do still exist: although they still want to have a voice, they feel unable to prioritise the time that it takes to get involved to, for example, put themselves forward to be a VCS representative on multi sector partnerships.
- The local public sector is unable to fund the resource-intensive structures that the VCS Assembly had developed to provide accountable VCS involvement in multi-sector partnerships and is now more interested in identifying individuals from communities with the relevant skills or expertise to work with them on time-limited tasks.
- With the significant reduction of preventative and universal youth services in the county, the VCS youth sector is feeling under huge pressure to fill the gaps and is in more need than ever to have a strong collective voice to highlight the impact of these cuts on communities. However, there is currently little effective specialist support to, or collective voice for these groups and confusion amongst frontline groups about the current role of the infrastructure organisations that have, in the past, provided these services.
- Many potential volunteers perceive a gap between the volunteering opportunities that VCOs are offering and what they want to do, resulting in organisations finding is hard to attract the volunteers they need to support their work.
- Students at Gloucestershire University, in particular, report that they have specific skills to offer, but find it difficult to find work placements within VCOs and sports groups report that they are struggling to recruit the volunteers that they need as they have traditionally relied on families of club members to volunteer.
- Some VCOs don’t find the current system of brokering volunteering placements works well for them, as they would like more choice in potential volunteers.
- Despite attempts to shift from dependence on local authority funding, the VCS has found it difficult to gain support from the private sector due to lack of awareness and negative perceptions about what the VCS is and what it has to offer local businesses.