Over the last few years, the voluntary sector has endured a number of challenges and this has been significantly amplified by the disruptive pandemic. So, there is an urgency and opportunity for the sector to innovate and develop new ways of working, together. Recognising this, a number of people from within the voluntary sector across Oxfordshire came together and have, over the past year, been exploring what could be achieved through greater sector collaboration, culminating in the concept of an Oxfordshire Voluntary and Community Sector Alliance.
These volunteers formed a Steering Group and are senior charity leaders with extensive experience from Aspire Oxfordshire, Community First Oxfordshire, Oxford Hub, Oxfordshire Community and Voluntary Action, Oxfordshire Youth, Restore and SOFEA. The group has been engaging with and learning from other successful VCS alliances elsewhere around the country in order to share this and inform the development of the Oxfordshire Alliance.
These discussions have now reached the most important stage, which is to engage with the local voluntary sector and other key stakeholders in our communities to seek views and input.
It’s crucial for the VCS Alliance to be shaped by the sector, for the sector. Five key questions have been posed to help with this process. Please fill in a short survey to provide your views and ideas by Friday 14th August.
The sector is full of people who are passionate, but the most important element to all of this is a united and common purpose and the commitment of all involved to place that firmly ahead of themselves and their organisations. The VCS Alliance can help to achieve that.
The questions are recapped below:
1) What should the purpose of the VCS Alliance be? Examples could be: • A confidential, safe and supportive space for all voluntary sector organisations • A place to bring infrastructure support organisations together for collaboration and partnerships • A true voice for the voluntary sector • A clearly defined vision and strategy for the Oxfordshire VCS sector • A Beacon for the Oxfordshire voluntary sector • A Lobbying body • Other?
2) What form should the Oxfordshire VCS Alliance take? Bearing in mind considerations on to the graphic above, possible forms could be: • An informal body, perhaps more of a forum, entirely volunteer led/run. Truly independent. • A more formal, incorporated body with an independent appointed board • A consortium, focused on seeking funding opportunities, bidding and redistributing opportunities • Other?
3) How could it be funded? Some options could be: • No funding, supported in kind from sector organisations • Entirely grant funded • Initially grant funded, with a strategy to develop services and become financially sustainable • A consortium, funded by commissions from successful funding bids • Other?
4) What would a successful VCS Alliance look like and what could it achieve?
5) What else do you think is important about this?