Guide Voluntary, community and social enterprise sector support consultation

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6. E - Common requests for particular support

VCSE groups have initially indicated to East Devon District Council the sort of support they would want. In addition the council receives regular queries and requests from voluntary and community groups. These indicate that the support needed could be along the lines of:

  • Advice and guidance around Safeguarding, as well as signposting and establishing pathways for onward referral.
  • Advice and guidance around GDPR.
  • Advice and guidance on publicity, and how to reach their target audience.
  • Resilience support for volunteer groups, volunteers and coordinators.
  • Provide or signpost to training for volunteers and coordinators. Including awareness training of relevant aspects such as dementia for volunteers and coordinators
  • Advice and guidance on digital services and IT support for the VCSE organisation itself and the people they're helping. Advice, guidance and support with volunteers – all aspects of from recruiting, to managing and training.
  • Funding: support and guidance around accessing funding, finding and applying for it.
  • Advice and guidance on whether and how to set up as a Community Interest Company, charity etc. Events / spaces where VCSE organisations can get together and network with each other.

As a consequence of the closer working during the pandemic there has been a number of facilitated discussions with local VCSE groups to provide an opportunity for them to interact with each other. At these VCSE meetings there have been discussions on the current support available and additional support needed for the voluntary, community and social enterprise sector within East Devon. Key points raised about support needed were:

  • A helpline and email address where they can send a wide variety of requests for support.
  • Help to find funding, particularly longer term funding, so they can plan for the future. In addition, finding funding for core costs, not just for projects.
  • Guidance, advice and funding for helping communities become more digitally included, so more people can access online services and take advantage of online social opportunities.
  • Opportunities to network and communicate are key, building relationships both within the voluntary sector and between the voluntary sector and statutory agencies. Forums were suggested, where everyone could get together to discuss issues and a way forward.
  • Guidance on recruiting suitable volunteers. Guidance on training, keeping and supporting volunteers. Ways to reduce volunteer fatigue and help people realise even a couple of hours of volunteering can mean a lot.
  • Working with the voluntary sector themselves to devise what support is needed.
  • Finding out what’s already going on and building on what’s already there.
  • Guidance on building resilience and sustainability within the voluntary sector.
  • Needs to be flexible, what is needed today might not be what is needed tomorrow.
  • Help to reach those who are most isolated and disengaged. Including guidance on how to encourage people who need help from the VCSE sector to come forward, and how to engage with those inbetween towns and villages who aren’t sure where to get help.
  • Research and discussion of a cohesive approach (possibly digital) to enable group communication, sharing of expertise and best practice.

These requests are sufficient to construct a specification, or Service Level Agreement.

Once funding has been gained, and a description and outcomes for the service developed, the opportunity will be publicised to potential host organisations throughout East Devon.

There are clear links here with the emerging Poverty Strategy and the Public Health Strategy.

Outcomes would be reported back to all organisations who have funded the project.