A strong local voluntary and community sector (VCS) is key to reaching residents with the aims of the Our Manchester Strategy. Among other things, the VCS plays an important role in improving skills and job prospects, encouraging people to get involved in their neighbourhood, building partnerships and celebrating the city’s diverse communities. In addition, VCS organisations can often reach people that many public services can’t.
There are many very good voluntary, community, social enterprise and faith organisations working in north Manchester. However the sector is not as well developed as it is in the rest of the city. It’s been underfunded and is fragile as a result. Competition for grants, complicated application processes, a lack of information, a resistance to support in some areas and limited success in attracting and keeping hold of talented people all contribute to this fragility.
From February to June 2019 an Inquiry Panel of local people who work in the voluntary and public sectors came together to talk about the issues. The Panel was chaired by Anne Taylor (the council’s strategic lead for north Manchester) and heard from VCS representatives, as well as asking residents and councillors for their views.
A number of recommendations were agreed by the Panel and presented to the Our Manchester VCS Programme Board which includes senior officers from across the council, health and voluntary sectors.
The recommendations are grouped into five themes – Organisational Development, People, Funding, Communication Information and Networking and Long-Term approach.
These recommendations are now being turned into action by a north Manchester VCS Working Group with a view to joint investment from Manchester City Council and Manchester Health and Care Commissioning.
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