A Marathon not a Sprint: VCSE Health & Social Care Assembly is off the blocks!

Proud, inspired, energised.  I have just come away (well, more accurately I have just logged off!) from the online session about the Assembly which was part of this year’s VCSE Conference, organised by Voluntary Norfolk, CAN and Momentum.  As Chair of the Steering Group responsible for development of the new Assembly, it is very easy to be caught up in the dry mechanics and theory of how such an innovative, partnership might operate.  But hearing from frontline VCSE organisations about how the Assembly can make a practical, tangible difference to the services they deliver and how they can envisage it working, gave us all a much needed and fresh perspective of why it is so important. 

We heard about the need for connectivity and collaboration.  We discussed the priorities and platforms for communications.  And above all, the session reinforced the need for co-production, ensuring that this Assembly is designed and shaped by frontline VCSE organisations.  In the campaigning world there is a saying ‘Nothing about us, without us’ and this absolutely holds true for the Norfolk & Waveney VCSE Assembly. 

There are literally hundreds of voluntary organisations and charities in Norfolk and Waveney providing health and care services and support to vulnerable, disadvantaged and marginalised people in our communities, and the experiences, resources, views and needs of each of those organisations will differ. Ensuring that this rich and diverse sector is fully included and represented at the Assembly will be one of our biggest challenges.  It should not be and must not be just for the larger, better-resourced organisations, or it will simply be reinforcing the status quo.   

I urge any charity, community group or social enterprise delivering services in Norfolk & Waveney to get involved in the Assembly.   Only if the sector is fully represented will it make a genuine difference, not only to the organisations themselves, but to the people we are supporting.

The Assembly session was recorded and available to view on Community Action Norfolk’s YouTube channel.

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