Welcome to the first in a series of blog posts in which I and my colleagues will be reviewing the work BVSC has been doing in the business year 2018/19 and looking forward to what follows. In particular, we will be reflecting on the lessons we’ve learned from our work, and considering what needs to come next – both from ourselves and from those we work with across the city – in order to help us to achieve our vision of a Birmingham that is fair and equitable for all.
You can follow the progress of these articles on social media, using the hashtag #BVSCFutures2019, and as each is published, they will be hyperlinked within this article.
The year just gone has been busy, varied and dynamic. We have cemented our role as a coordinator of several successful social impact programmes, and have made significant strides in establishing a growing suite of support for the city’s voluntary and community sector at a time when such support is scarce. We have also re-confirmed our intention to be:
- A high-quality membership and advocacy organisation working to support and champion Birmingham’s vibrant and resilient voluntary sector and civil society through training, volunteering, consultancy, strategic, and business development support services;
- A trusted partner organisation, developing and supporting collaborative voluntary sector-led initiatives with the public and private sectors, and building the space and capacity for transformative “whole systems” thinking (and doing) in Birmingham;
- A community-focused representative and participative organisation, creating and facilitating spaces, processes and structures which enable dialogue and co-production between the voluntary and other sectors and between expert citizen service users and public service providers.
In the posts that follow, we will be focusing on the work we have been doing to help ensure that the city’s community and voluntary groups can thrive, including supporting the development of Neighbourhood Network Schemes, our suite of Back Office Services for community organisations, our volunteering programmes including Team Challenge, Levol App, and volunteer management training.
We will look in detail at the result of our cross-sector social impact and systems change programmes supported by the National Lottery Community Fund, Birmingham City Council and central government. This includes our work to:
- to reduce elder isolation through Ageing Better in Birmingham
- to enhance support for those with multiple and complex needs through Birmingham Changing Futures Together
- to reduce rough sleeping and homelessness through Housing First and the Rough Sleepers Initiative
- to tackle long-term youth unemployment through Talent Match Birmingham & Solihull.
In addition, we’ll explore how our partnership with the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner has brought significant resources and support to local community groups working to tackle knife crime and gang violence.
We’ll touch on our growing work with the city’s health economy which enables us to provide support around Personal Health Budgets and End of Life Care as well as offer local citizens, communities, and health practitioners access to the Route2Wellbeing health portal.
In addition, we’ll consider the significance of our trading arm, BVSC Enterprises, which enhances our sustainability, resilience and reach. The thriving social enterprise helps us to deliver our acclaimed Training at BVSC courses, our ever-busy BVSC Conferences service, and high-quality meeting and office space at The Centre for Voluntary Action in Digbeth. We’ll also share the value of our popular communications channels – including our website, Friday e-bulletin, and Update blog – which continue to assist our members and partners in staying connected, engaged and informed.
Our future considerations will include a look at our recent successful VCS Summit the forthcoming Civil Society Forum, and our ongoing role in ensuring the city’s voluntary and community sector is equipped to engage with and influence the decisions which affect Birmingham’s citizens as a whole, and our beneficiaries in particular.
Of course, none of the progress we’ve made in the above areas would be possible without the hard work and commitment of our staff, volunteers, expert citizens, and trustees; or the support of our members, partners and funders. Our sincere thanks go to them all, along with a sense of great hope and excitement at the prospect of continuing to work together to help everyone to build and benefit from a fair and equitable Birmingham.
Chief Executive Officer, BVSC