Working with the voluntary sector

voluntaryIt is not uncommon for politicians to make speeches applauding the good work of the voluntary and community sector. However translating the warm words that they utter into tangible change is not quite so easy. In the review of childrens services in various Councils by OFSTED, two are currently seen to have been “inadequate” but the new Secretary of State for Education, Justine Greening has granted them both more time to improve. One of these is Norfolk County Council, and in the various pieces of ‘advice’ that the Council has received from Whitehall to feed into their improvement plan, has come the need to establish partnerships with the voluntary sector. This is frankly a very positive statement, but it does bring with it challenges. The voluntary sector is not always able to operate in the way in which County Councils and Whitehall want them to. I recall when I was working for Churches Together, a period of time when East Sussex County Council wanted to improve their relationship with the voluntary sector. It took several years and funding from the Council to create a framework through which the various charities and social enterprises could begin a meaningful relationship with the Council. Thankfully the County Council took the time and released the budget to make this possible, and the charities also spent time and energy on their side of the discussions. The process led to at least one false start, but in time the trust and relationships was established. This sort of progress cannot be rushed and needs to work in a manner that is even handed. If only more Councils were like East Sussex County Council. Their current Chief Executive, Becky Shaw was a key part to their success, let us hope that Norfolk don’t delegate their transformation to someone who lacks the ability to make difficult decisions, or they risk failure in this area too.


About ianchisnall

I have a passion to see public policy made accessible everyone who want to improve the wellbeing of their communities. I am interested in issues related to crime and policing as well as in policies on health services and strategic planning.
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