What is the VCS Assembly?
The Shropshire Voluntary and Community Sector (VCS) Assembly is a network of VCS organisations that come together to voice shared issues, tackle common problems and pool energy, ideas and resources. By working together Assembly members feel they are better able to work in partnership with others and meet the needs of local groups and communities. There are now over 300 members and new groups and organisations are joining every day. Any VCS group or organisation working for the benefit of Shropshire can join free of charge. The Assembly allows VCS groups and organisations to: meet and exchange information, ideas and good practice; discuss common issues and support each other in delivering services; develop shared plans; work more closely with public sector bodies such as Shropshire Council
How does the VCS Assembly work?
Any VCS organisation can become a member and can choose to participate in the Assembly as much or as little as suits their organisation. General Membership All members will be kept up to date with the latest developments through the website, information bulletins and a weekly newsletter. Members are also invited to participate in an annual meeting and invited to join in with activities such as consortia projects and themed workshops. Becoming a member means local groups and organisations: hear of networking and funding opportunities; have the opportunity to have a say through local consultations; voice issues and concerns; access helpful reports and information; network with other VCS groups and organisations; express an interest in getting involved in local projects or bids; join in at the annual event and attend VCSA events and workshops Forums of Interest Members may choose to join a Forum of Interest. These are groups of VCS organisations which come together to discuss and address common issues. Forums of Interest may: deliver similar activities/share aims; provide common types of service; target similar client groups The Board The Assembly is led by a Board which meets at least four times a year (usually more frequently than that). The Board is formed of representatives from the different Forums of Interest.
Why are VCS representatives managed through the VCS Assembly?
Shropshire VCS Assembly works to organise representation on partnership boards, partnership groups and within key programmes. This works much more effectively than inviting individual organisations to attend and represent their own interests. Assembly representatives understand that they are representing the wider sector and have a duty to report back to others. This generates equality of opportunity and transparency in partnership working. When a representative cannot attend meetings support can be offered to arrange a second representative to attend and feedback.
Does the VCS Assembly offer grants or commission VCS services?
No, Shropshire VCS Assembly does not have a budget. Shropshire Council provides some staff time to coordinate the work of the VCS Assembly and support the delivery of its annual plan, groups and events through Shropshire Council’s Feedback and Insight Team. Shropshire Council commissions and grant funds VCS groups and organisations through commissioning leads based in each of its main service areas or Directorates. This split of functions prevents conflicts of interest and means the support for the VCS Assembly can be more independent and provide advice when required.
I work in the public sector – how can the VCSA help me?
Shropshire VCS Assembly support leads offer support for public sector colleagues in a number of different ways: sharing local public sector communications, consultations, surveys, events and other opportunities open to the voluntary and community sector; facilitating VCS engagement in projects by issuing expressions of interest, project communications; organising some events, workshops and engagement opportunities (dependent on the availability of staff time); finding a representative for a Board or partnership group; making introductions to key contacts and people with specialist knowledge within the VCS.
What does the VCS Assembly achieve?
Through its meetings, the VCS Assembly Board works to deliver an annual work programme and presents achievements in the annual report. A few examples of some recent work are included below:
How do voluntary and community sector groups and organisations join?
We will soon have an easy way to sign up and manage your own information as a member organisation. In the meantime, if you would like to join and start receiving our newsletter, please email us at VCSAssembly@shropshire.gov.uk.