The voluntary or community sector
There is no single definition of the voluntary or community sector. It is a generic term used to describe those organisations that focus on wider public benefit, as opposed to statutory service delivery (performed by central or local government for example) or profit (often delivered through the private sector but not exclusively so).
They can also be known by other terms:
- civil society
- the charity sector
- the shared society
- the third sector, and
- non-governmental organisations or NGO’s.
Voluntary sector organisations are diverse and range from small informal groups working in communities, to significant enterprises with multi-million pound incomes. Because of this, there is no reliable way of calculating the overall size of the sector.
However, there are 180,000 registered charities in England and Wales, a figure growing in number every year. It is estimated that the voluntary sector has an income in excess of £52 billion.
What is an infrastructure organisation and why is infrastructure important
The simplest way to explain infrastructure in the voluntary sector is by reference to a completely different subject. Our road network – roads take us on a journey from point A to point B, and any other points beyond. They enable us to gain information, and as we use them, thus we increase our knowledge of routes and places. Infrastucture in the voluntary sector does exactly the same. Organisations that form Support Cambridgeshire help community groups and organisations increase their knowledge and understanding. They take communities on journeys. They help to find solutions, and critically support the sector as a whole, ensuring influence. Influence is driven by voice and representation.
The value of voice and representation
Support Cambridgeshire partners:
- unite the sector, giving it influence and acknowledgement
- provide information in a readily accessible manner to increase knowledge and access to opportunity
- build capacity and network potential
- credibly represent the sector as trusted brokers
- facilitate collaboration and partnership between sectors
- attract grant giving for community organisations
- allow co-design and co-delivery on community initiatives, and
- form a lead group for community engagement across Cambridgeshire.
The context for voice and representation
As local authority and statutory funding reduces, demand increases. Any hope of reducing demand relies upon community interventions providing support and well-being at the very earliest stage. Community organisations will need support and information to strengthen and grow. They will also need to be linked to the planning and provision of local services in a more strategic way than ever before. Statutory services need a vehicle to make this happen.
Voice and representation ensures that both community groups and statutory organisations understand the challenges and opportunities faced by each other – by having a voice, and through being represented, Support Cambridgeshire partners will ensure the best possible outcomes for communities across Cambridgeshire. Championing the work of seldom-heard voluntary and community groups is important, as is ensuring that the views and expertise of the sector are heard and acknowledged by all.
Attendance at key strategic meetings throughout Cambridgeshire is a key component in ensuring effective voice and representation for communities.
This meeting discusses the importance of community space and focusses on one point of contact for communities within their neighbourhoods.
The Health and Well-being Board
This overarching board investigates health and well-being issues across Cambridgeshire.
The Learning and Skills Board
This overarching board examines issues and barriers for job creation, how to bring people closer to the job market and analyses skill and learning requirements.
The Making Assets Count Programme Board
This board analyses the use of public assets (such as buildings, open space and places used by communities to ensure they are used in the most effective and worthwhile manner.
The Parish Council Liaison Group
This meeting discusses the development of the Town and Parish Council network, a vital strand in local service delivery within communities.
The Cambridgeshire Children’s Trust
The Cambridgeshire Children’s Trust is a partnership which brings together all organisations that work with children, young people and families in a shared commitment to improving children’s lives and life chances, through working collaboratively or collectively to achieve improvements.
The Trust Board provides leadership to the partners across Cambridgeshire and works to understand the needs of children in order to provide strategic direction to those providing or commissioning services so resources are targeted to meet needs more effectively.
Cambridgeshire & Peterborough LSCB Joint Training, Development and Workforce Strategic Group
This strategic group examines child protection training and related issues in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough.
Huntingdonshire Community Safety Partnership
A partnership that examines ways of delivering safer communities across Huntingdonshire.
Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Safeguarding Adults Training Sub – Group
This Sub – Group examines training needs, latest protocols and policies around the safeguarding of adults.
Huntingdonshire Community Learning Partnership
This partnership examines ways in which community learning and skills accreditation can aid access to job-markets and employ-ability.
For more information on these and any of the other meetings attended by support Cambridgeshire, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org