Julie Farrow, CEO of Hunts Forum and lead partner for Support Cambridgeshire recently attended number 10 to meet with the Prime Ministers Special Advisor to the Third Sector.
Hunts Forum and Support Cambridgeshire were one of a number of community based infrastructure organisations invited from across the UK, the similarity with them all was their ability to deliver innovative solutions to community based problems across the sector.
It was a great day by all accounts.
Some of the subject matter dwelt on future commissioning possibilities and frameworks, social value and why the Social Value Act has failed to deliver as the government thought it would, and the thorny subject of funding in a world of ever decreasing finances.
I think Julie also met Larry the cat, who was asleep under a radiator (his normal resting place apparently).
Asked why Hunts Forum and Support Cambridgeshire were invited she said:
“I think Cambridgeshire as a county has a mixed geography, both urban and rural, which is of interest to national government. The fact that Hunts Forum and Support Cambridgeshire are smaller infrastructure organisations was also a factor, because we have delivered a large number of innovative solutions to community issues over the past few years, and will continue to do so”.
Asked if the voluntary sector is gaining influence with national government she said:
“The Advisor seemed very interested in what all of the representatives around the table had to say. She was actively taking notes, and was specifically interested in the current issues with commissioning, particularly in smaller counties where smaller organisations would like the opportunity to deliver services, but cannot, because the framework lends itself to bigger and more robust organisations. The Advisor talked about a Kitemark for commissioning standards, which would be a useful starting point.”
Asked if there were still barriers to national government and the voluntary sector she said:
“Not barriers, just opportunities. It is very clear that as central and local government has had to change and alter the way it works due to competition and constrained resources, so too will the voluntary and community sector. Working in partnership is going to be a key aspect of gaining funding and delivering services in the future.”