Notes from 3SG event in May

Here are the notes from the panel discussion we ran at our networking event held at St John's in May 2017.

The fifteen members of the B&NES 3SG Core Group will be meeting again next week and aim to keep you updated with progress on the actions generated by the event and our response to your feedback.

If you have any comments after reading the panel discussion notes (or about 3SG more generally) then please email James Carlin (Coordinator) via and he will pass onto Dom Chambers (Chair) and Rosie Phillips (Vice Chair).

Question 1 from Claire Wynne Hughes (Quartet Community Foundation) – “What does the panel see as the biggest strengths and weaknesses of the VCSE sector in B&NES?”

Answered by Chris Head (WoE Civil Society Partnership)

  • We know that lots of people are doing great work in the local sector in the face of increased demand. Our diversity and the range of different sectors is also a strength.

  • Our weaknesses are that we’re not always SMART enough, tend to work in isolation and don’t learn well from each other.

Answered by Councillor Tim Warren (Leader of the B&NES Council)

  • Without the local sector many services simply wouldn’t happen. I’d like to see better coordination and a joined up approach to funding.

Answered by Jo Scammell (Virgin Care)

  • Virgin Care have been welcomed with positivity by the local sector and already developed many good working relationships.

  • We feel there is a good attitude to change in the area.

  • The weaknesses are that we need to be more joined up on information sharing, avoid duplication and publicise better what services are out there already.

Answered by Sarah Shatwell (Health & Wellbeing Board)

  • Diversity is our strength and good work is being done in complex environments by skilled and experienced people.

  • Local VCSE organisations have a huge reach into our communities.

  • Weakness as a sector is that we’ve not shouted loudly enough about what we’re doing or articulated it well enough in the past
Question 2 from Roz Lambert (First Steps Bath) – “Medium sized charities hold high public trust but are struggling due to increasing demand for their services and decreasing funds. How do the panel think that the diverse charitable sector in Bath can be supported to continue to deliver a much valued customer led service to meet increasing needs?”

Answered by Councillor Tim Warren

  • Connecting communities programme is fully up and running and is now much more bottom up.

Answered by Chris Head

  • We need to understand what the shape of future work might look like.

  • Commissioners are always looking for value for money and want the largest unit you can deliver on. This cuts out local community groups when large national groups come and bid for work.
  • Need to focus on being more connected locally and articulate how we can impact people.

  • Metro Mayor has asked for one representative from voluntary sector so it will be crucial to create a structure where information can go both up and down.

  • B&NES 3SG can act as a filter in this kind of relationship

Answered by Jo Scammell

  • As a national organisation we can benefit from economies of scale and national learnings. This doesn’t make us immune from funding pressures but it’s more important than ever not to have boundaries and duplications.
Question 3 from Fiona Bell (Volunteer Centre Bath & Beyond) – “Can we find the funding for a paid Community Connector position to link charities operating in B&NES?”

Answered by Councillor Tim Warren

  • Community connectors are a great idea but we’re facing big cuts. Parish Councils could be a cheaper option to work with VCSE’s directly rather than through B&NES Council and any savings can pay for this kind of additional support.

Question 4 from Jo Scammel (Virgin Care) - “How can Virgin Care work with local VCSE’s? E.g. new technology, build a hub etc. Where can we join up on resources?”

Answered by Mike Plows (Volunteer Centre Bath & Beyond)

  • You could use the existing village hall network

Answered by Fiona Bell

  • Virgin Care could attend the next Trustees Network meeting in June. ACTION – Nick and Louise from Virgin Care to attend next Trustees Network meeting.
Question 5 from Roz Lambert – “Can groups work together to apply for service provision?”

Answered by Sarah Shatwell

  • This is an opportunity to support each other with skills sharing and learning because the knowledge in the sector is an untapped resource. The key is supporting each other and standing up independently because funded solutions are not sustainable. Need to get the balance right between funded roles / organisations and having more requirements.

Answered by Jo Scammell

  • Please don’t panic about the dynamic purchasing phase. We need to work out what we can do together first.
Question 6 from Dom Chambers (Somer Valley FM) – “How do Virgin engage volunteers nationally?”

Answered by Jo Scammell

  • Track record with carers network, carers club and ‘friends of’ groups. Its will depend on the local area but we would appreciate your input in terms of benefits we can provide volunteer groups. It’s the first time we’ve brought such a large area together and that’s why we’re asking for your help. ACTION - local groups to feed information to Virgin Care.
Question 7 to the floor from Dom Chambers – “What do you feel Virgin Cares priorities should be?”

Answered by Stella Yates (Creativity Works)

  • We could end up with a lot of services concentrated in Bath. There are high levels of need in hard to reach areas outside Bath that are not always cost effective to reach.

Answered by Jo Scammell

  • Agree with the point raised by Stella

Answered by Chris Head

  • That’s our main purpose at WERN. Perception is that rural areas are prosperous but that’s not the case. In BANES there are focused indices of multiple deprivation in Twerton, Southdown, Whiteway and Radstock.

  • We bought in access funds to help people outside those areas access these services on an individual basis but transport is an issue.

  • Want to avoid working in silos.

  • Community transport falls under Metro Mayors remit.

Answered by Dom Chambers

  • BANES has 18 areas in top 3 national categories of deprivation so this is relevant

Answered by Chris Head

  • Village agents run by WERN tries to improve this but transport is still biggest barrier to accessing the services that exist.

Answered by Sarah Shatwell

  • Virgin Care priorities should be tackling inequalities by looking at wider determinates that have created life challenges and manifest themselves in health and social care issues. What will raise the bar for the worst off?

Answered by Councillor Tim Warren

  • We live in a great area but there is poverty. E.g. parts of Chew are very hard to reach but we can’t subsidise all buses and community transport needs to be publicised better.

  • We need inclusive growth in the region and hoping that Metro Mayor will help.

Answered by Janet Dabbs (Age UK BANES)

  • Often older people deprive themselves as they live on fixed incomes and can become isolated. They shouldn’t be forgotten as they report to GPs more often and rely heavily on services.

Answered by Rowan Wootten (Julian House)

  • As a sector we use signposting. Accompanying people with multiple complex needs on visits is crucial.
Question 8 from Stacey Pottinger (Wansdyke Play Association) – “With childhood obesity still rising and only cooking classes making a practical difference what else can we do?”

Answered by Jo Scammell

  • Virgin Care have a team on the case and acknowledge that there’s a gap in provision for 6-10 year olds and we’ll be reviewing that service in the future.

Answered by Chris Head

  • The sector often comes up with ideas that work but after it goes into co production and reaches the commissioner's level the ideas can get lost or someone else bids for it.

  • We need genuine co production at commissioner level

Answered by Tim Warren

  • Gave an example from Birmingham about getting people interested in getting active from a young age.

Answered by Sarah Shatwell

  • As a sector we’re good at getting on and doing stuff but we need to gather evidence of our impacts and ensure the commissioners know of any mismatch between their priorities and the realities.

Answered by Councillor Tim Warren

  • Up against major corporations and need to educate our children.
Question 9 from Revd Canon Roger Driver (St Michael Without, Bath) – “I find it hard to know what’s available locally and in particular where’s the visibility of the faith sector? A lot of groups use faith space but there’s little representation here today and we need a proper audit of what’s available in the area”.

Answered by Councillor Tim Warren

  • We have a page on the council website that gives out information on voluntary organisations

Answered by Mike Plows

  • Carried out a survey but hard to keep it up to date because of high staff turnover

Answered by Chris Head

  • A follow up action for today is to think of ways we can provide this information

Answered by Gemma Vittozzi (B&NES Council)

  • Wellbeing options website has a lot of this information; also Wellbeing College BANES. It can be confusing with lots of different providers and websites.

  • Need to remember that we are also trying to help people who have no access to the internet.
Question 10 from Ed Howarth – “How will devolution affect VCSE’s in B&NES and what risks and opportunities are there?”

Answered by Councillor Tim Warren

  • The main focus is on infrastructure with nothing written in black and white for the voluntary sector so far. It has pulled the authorities together and helped put political allegiances on one side.

  • Raising skills will be crucial

Answered by Chris Head

  • VCSE need to raise our heads above our day to day work to make sure we can see the long term and influence this process

  • That’s where groups like 3SG have a role to play.

  • On 20th June there’s a WoE voluntary sector event at Temple Meads with Tim Bowles which is a great sequel to today’s event

Answered by Sarah Shatwell

  • Horizon scanning local is key. Need to know how and where to influence

Answered by Jo Scammell

  • STP’s – where does influence go? 1st steps at the moment

Answered by Caroline Haworth (Bath Area Play Project)

  • We need to get our voices heard with a coordinated response

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