VCSE Strategic Forum - reporting on progress after a year of meetings
The VCSE (Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise) Strategic Coordination project is a partnership between Somerset County Council, local infrastructure groups and Somerset Community Foundation, with the aim of improving the communication and links between the public sector and the VCSE sector. The first meeting was held in April 2015, and the latest took place just last week.
After the first twelve months it is clear that this project is vitally needed. The quarterly forum regularly attracts around 25 leaders from the public and VCSE sectors to share information and address issues of common interest, from commissioning processes to social care. Liz Simmons, an SCF ‘Associate’ engaged as the VCSE Strategic Coordinator, has also been instrumental in convening groups to explore EU funding opportunities, public sector procurement and tackling loneliness.
At the heart of the project is a recognition that the two sectors frequently share a common cause, and there is much to be gained from working together more effectively. One of the great strengths of the VCSE sector – its diversity- is also one of its great weaknesses: how can a public body engage with the sector effectively? This project is providing the answer to that question and we look forward to see tangible results in the coming year.