A new report ‘People Helping People: the future of public services’ calls for the public sector to create more opportunities for people to support each other through volunteering and community action. Produced by Nesta, the “innovation foundation”, it includes case studies of how to achieve people-centred services in practice.
The Centre for Social Justice has published ‘Social Solutions: Enabling grass-roots charities to tackle poverty’, which argues for a much greater role for the social sector in public services. The CSJ wants more sensitive commissioning and the removal of regulatory barriers which prevent smaller organisations taking part, plus using dormant insurance policies to support innovation.
Transforming Local Infrastructure (TLI) created significant lasting change according to a new report published today by NAVCA. Analysis of Transforming Local Infrastructure highlights the ways that TLI made a difference. It has a strong focus on ideas and actions that other infrastructure organisations can borrow or learn from. The report highlights the many successes but does not shy away from looking at what learning can be gained from ideas or execution that didn’t work so well.
Key findings from the report show many local infrastructure charities:
- Are creating innovative solutions to support local charities and community groups.
- Are at the heart of successful local giving schemes.
- Are ideally placed to broker support from local businesses and maximising the impact local businesses can have.
- Are exploring charging and demand led models but that this can only be part of the funding solution.
- Are crucial to building public service delivery to ensure smaller charities can play a role.
The report proves that the benefits of TLI can be long lasting. Four case studies accompanying the report have also been published to demonstrate the difference TLI made and is still making.
The report also suggests ways that TLI could have been improved. It says that the focus on work within areas meant that there was duplication of effort across the 74 areas and the timescale was too short for many partnerships to maximise the impact of their projects. It is also important that areas that did not benefit from TLI get support.
Brooks Newmark, Minister for Civil Society, said:
“The Local organisations that provide support services to our frontline charities play a vital role in ensuring a strong voluntary sector in our communities. The £30 million TLI grant fund has shown that by enabling providers to work together, new and innovative ways of meeting the needs of frontline charities in their local community are generated. We now want to see many more charities take inspiration from this, and work together to modernise and enhance their services so that frontline community groups can continue to benefit from their services.”
Neil Cleeveley, acting chief executive of NAVCA, said;
“Councils of Voluntary Service, volunteer centres and other bodies that exist to support local voluntary and community action are a vital part of the charity ‘eco-system’. Times are tough but this report is evidence that nothing can curb their inventiveness in pursuing their mission to support their local community. TLI has helped many of them change to meet future challenges. All the ideas in this report will be fed in to the Independent Commission on the Future of Local Infrastructure which is looking into the way ahead for local support charities.”
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Over the next 18 months, seven ‘Cities of Service’ will use a successful US model to encourage local volunteers to play their part in tackling some of the most pressing issues in their areas. The cities are Barnsley, Bristol, Kirklees, Plymouth, Portsmouth, Swindon, and Telford and Wrekin, with plans ranging from clearing lofts ready for energy-saving insulation to schemes pairing young men with older mentors.
A new scheme to match up voluntary sector organisations with help from government statisticians has been launched by the Government Statistical Service and NCVO.
The GSS Voluntary Sector Placement Scheme aims to arrange short placements of up to five days to provide analytical support. This could be advice on how to collect or analyse some data, or measuring impact, for instance.
Leading medical research charities have come together to create the Charity Open Access Fund to help make charitably funded research available at no cost as soon as it is published. Charities include Arthritis Research UK, the British Heart Foundation and the Wellcome Trust.
The government is providing start-up funding for the Centre for Youth Impact, which will help organisations that work with and for young people to measure and increase the impact of their services.
The body for charity communications professionals, CharityComms (http://www.charitycomms.org.uk), is establishing a working group to look at how charities can be more proactive in explaining how they work and respond to criticism.
A development professionals piece from the Guardian, ‘13 things you need to know before starting an NGO in China‘ gives insights from a sector panel on the state of Chinese civil society.
Nonprofit Quarterly has an article about a working paper ‘Wisdom or Madness? Comparing Crowds with Expert Evaluation in Funding the Arts’, which looks at the differences between funding decisions for theatre projects made by the “crowd” on Kickstarter and those of a panel of experts.
The Social Economy Alliance has launched its manifesto for May’s general election, asking for support for community energy schemes, social enterprises and co-operative housing. Recommendations include enhanced community ownership of infrastructure and utilities, and a ‘local by default’ approach.
Personnel professionals’ body CIPD has a new report ‘Volunteering to learn: employee development through community action’, with a framework to get more employees volunteering to help young people get into work. It looks at embedding such volunteering within an organisation’s learning and development agenda and key benefits of volunteering for employees.
A couple of recent discussion articles around volunteering:
– NVCO’s volunteering director looks at issues around volunteering and back to work programmes, with ideas for what needs to change.
– Matthew Taylor, chief executive of the RSA, reckons that “the way we think about (volunteering) as a system tends to be rather ad hoc and under-conceptualised”, and looks at the definition of volunteering in ‘A formula for volunteering?‘.
A policy officer at the Carnegie UK Trust writes for Think NPC on the trust’s work around a ‘Roundtable on Measuring Well-being in Northern Ireland’, and the opportunity for the Northern Ireland Executive to make a real difference, http://www.thinknpc.org/blog/well-being-in-northern-ireland/.