THE city council has set out how it will work with Leicester’s voluntary, community and social enterprise sector (VCSE) to help it survive current challenges and thrive in the future, in its first VCSE engagement strategy.
Produced following engagement with a wide range of groups in the city, the new strategy includes a number of pledges designed to help Leicester’s VCSE sector to develop and be viable for the future.
It was launched at Leicester’s Hansom Hall at an event attended by people working within the sector, as well as city councillors and other stakeholders.
The sector is made up of a huge range of organisations and groups that provide services and support to people of all ages and backgrounds, including the most vulnerable. A number of city council services work very closely with the sector, which includes registered charities, tenants’ and residents’ associations, environmental, arts and heritage organisations, faith groups and grass-roots sports clubs.
The strategy highlights that the sector has been reliant on city council or government funding, as well as donations from the public, to keep running. In the face of continued Government cuts and after years of austerity, the council wants to help it find alternative sources of funding and obtain support from business and other public bodies to carry out its essential work.
Cllr Mustafa Malik, asst city mayor with responsibility for the VCSE said: “The organisations that make up this sector have been offering vital services to communities in Leicester and are valued partners of the city council.
The work carried out by the sector during the pandemic confirmed the essential role it has in bringing people and communities together to support each other and those most in need.”
Abi Battisto, the council’s VCSE manager said: “The cost-of-living crisis means that more people than ever are in need of help, at a time when the council is also facing massive funding cuts. That’s one of many reasons why we must reconnect with the sector, refocus all of our efforts on the right priorities, and rebuild and strengthen its role. We must also look for new ways to make it viable without increased council funding in the long term.”
The council has set out the actions it will take to meet the key pledges it’s making to support the VCSE community. These include:
- putting mechanism in place to enable more effective communication with the sector
- taking the lead in lobbying Government for effective funding for the sector
- working with key groups in all council wards to maximise local impact
- committing to CrowdFund Leicester as a way to raise funds for the sector
- looking at ways the VCSE partners, council and other public organisations could pool funding and resources in to tackle issues in a particular area and bring about improvements there
- drawing on other organisations with capabilities in bid-writing, business planning, and fund-raising to provide support in these areas
- finding ways of sustaining community volunteering initiatives that were invaluable during the pandemic – such as food and medicine pick-ups, mutual aid groups and looking out for vulnerable neighbours
- leading by example when it comes to recruiting, managing and retaining volunteers
- promoting more realistic options for VCSE groups to develop commercially, such as establishing a trading arm for goods and services.
The full strategy is on the city council’s website at www.leicester.gov.uk/vcse.
Anyone interested in finding out about volunteering in the city or getting involved with Leicester’s VCSE groups as a member or supporter, can email email@example.com