DENBIGHSHIRE VOLUNTARY SERVICES COUNCIL (DVSC)
To update the Committee on the progress achieved to date in delivering the DVSC’s vision, enhancing its working relationship with the Council and voluntary organisations within Denbighshire.
The Lead Member for Corporate Strategy, Policy and Equalities introduced Tom Barham, Chief Officer of Denbighshire Voluntary Services Council (DVSC), commenting on the importance of the working relationship and support with Third Sector partners to achieve mutual objectives.
The Chief Officers presented an update report on the work of the DVSC over the previous 12 months as it moved on from the challenges of the Covid Pandemic to the Cost of Living Crisis.
The DVSC had recently produced a purpose statement to clarify the purpose of voluntary councils:
‘DVSC enables charities and community groups (Third Sector) to be more effective and more connected, working together to build a strong and vibrant Denbighshire’.
He advised The DVSC were an independent charity that worked best in partnership with the Third Sector and Denbighshire County Council (DCC), to improve the communities in Denbighshire as enablers that advise, facilitate, fund and champion the voluntary sector.
The residents of Denbighshire had a range of needs met in part by the activities of the Third Sector. The DVSC supported community-based groups who had needs around:
· setting up,
· good Governance,
· networking and influence,
· recruitment of staff and volunteers,
· access to funding,
· skills and
· ability to respond effectively to change.
The DVSC was part of Third Sector Support Wales, a network funded by Welsh Government, with a range of online resources that encouraged work across 4 pillars: volunteering, good governance, sustainable funding and engagement & influencing. There would be a renewed focus on volunteering over the coming months.
The DVSC also managed the assessment and distribution of grant programmes with DCC, Wales Council for Voluntary Action, Welsh Government and Health Board. Last year almost 0.25 million pounds of funding, 87 grants had been distributed within Denbighshire.
Governance was an important aspect of DVSC’s role, it continued to provide training, consultancy and direct advice to Third Sector groups, helping to form 18 new social enterprises over the previous year.
With the aid of DCC funding the DVSC undertook a project in 2022 to ascertain the resilience of Third Sector organisations in the wake of Covid.
The Third Sector Research Report April 2022 highlighted:
· that there were 2450 Third sector organisations in Denbighshire
· that 10% of all jobs in Denbighshire were in the Third Sector
· that volunteering levels in Denbighshire were the 3rd highest in Wales representing 4,700,000 volunteer hours
· that these organisations had been resilient during Covid but were now under threat from increased demand, ongoing uncertainty, short term funding and increased operating costs
· that there were issues around recruitment, skills gaps, technology and data. 52% thought their organisation would grow, with only 54% thinking they were sustainable.
The DVSC worked with a range of organisations (approximately 250), mostly small, start-up and growing organisations. Provision of support could be face to face or by being signposted to national resources on funding etc..
The DVSC was working with DCC under the Shared Prosperity Fund to improve how local authorities commissioned and procured services from the Third Sector, and attempting to lower barriers to procurement that many of the smaller organisations feared, focussing on the social value aspect.
The DVSC research showed:
· potential in improving working relationship with Denbighshire County Council and a
· shared desire for partnership, networking and bridging the gap, particularly around the cost of living crisis.
Practical examples of DVSC working with DCC included:
· Setting up a new 3rd Sector Liaison Group.
· Croeso Cynnes / Warm Welcome Initiative and
· Working together on the Shared Prosperity Fund / 3rd Sector Opportunities, creating networks of peer support.
Responding to members’ questions the DVSC’s Chief Officer encouraged members to share their local knowledge as to organisations who needed help or support, particularly around funding or grants. He advised that it was important for DVSC to have a presence and be visible across the county. The organisation did not employ a large number of people, its role was to support and facilitate community groups to become resilient. It had recently undertaken a volunteer fayre in Llangollen, with the next one due to be held in Rhyl/Prestatyn.
The Chief Officer thanked DCC’s officers and councillors for the welcome he had been given in the role and their willingness to work together. He encouraged elected members to raise awareness of DVSC’s services within their communities.
The Committee thanked the Chief Officer for attending the meeting, for his informative presentation and for his comprehensive answers to members’ questions. It was:
Resolved: to –
(i) acknowledge the progress achieved by Denbighshire Voluntary Services Council (DVSC) to date in realising its vision for delivering and enhancing its working relationship with the Council and with voluntary organisations within Denbighshire; and
(ii) support DVSC and the Council’s aims of developing close and effective partnership working relationships between public and voluntary sector stakeholders with the aim of ensuring that all the County’s communities will be vibrant, connected and resilient for the future.