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Federation of 
Self-Help 
Partnerships
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The Vince Hines Foundation

In Association with

The NATIONAL FEDERATION OF Self-Help PartnershipS

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Contribution to The Government’s action plan of support for the third sector

As requested by the Office of the Third Sector

The Cabinet Office

London

  December 2008

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1. Introduction

1.    The Vince Hines Foundation, established in 1975 and registered charity, is the Lead Partner of the West London Partnership and the National Federation of Self-Help Partnerships. The status of the Partnership is “a not-for-profit Voluntary and Community Support Network”. Each member of the Partnership retains their individual legal status and governing instruments. 

 

2.   Area of Operations:  As defined by members, currently focusing work in London, working in association with the West London Self-Help Partnership supported by the National Federation of Self-Help Partnerships.

 

3.   purpose  

1.    The purpose of the Partnership is to facilitate swift and helpful cooperation and communication between members of the Partnership, helping members to focus on their strengths and weaknesses, and positioning them to benefit from existing opportunities and manage potential risks.

2.    The Partnerships’ core purpose  is to assist in enabling members to achieve their mission statements.

3.    The aims are to help create the conditions of trust, a culture of caring and sharing, in the interest of sustainable community development that meets the needs of the local community, where partners pooled resources for better management, efficient service delivery, avoidance of unnecessary service duplications, capacity building, sharing of expertise, and, for mutual benefits, present a collective voice to central government, local authorities, funders, policy makers and others as required.

4.      Partnership Philosophy 

1.    The PARTNERSHIPS’ philosophy is based on the notion of 'Active Citizenship', which says ‘self-help for Community development,’ following the line that, given clear direction, information and proper guidance, the disadvantaged are likely to gain a sense of purpose and worth, and motivate themselves to achieve   higher standards of living for themselves,  which will also  benefit  members of the wider Community.  The Partnership is based firmly on   equal opportunity policy, which rejects broadly unfair discriminations, on the grounds of age, colour, creed, political affiliations, disability, gender, marital status, race or sexual orientation.

5. Membership

1.    Membership to the Partnership is open to registered and unregistered voluntary and community groups, co-operatives, small and medium sized businesses, including sole traders. Only bona fide and active groups, including those with a written governing document, are accepted to membership.

 6. Specifics

1.    The primary objects of the Partnership are to create a culture of caring and sharing among members, including:  

a)   Premises, administration,  ICT facilities and costs;

b)   Expertise;

c)    Staff – paid and unpaid, through secondment or otherwise;

d)   Funding strategies;

e)   Project management;

f)    Education and Training resources;

g)   Filling gaps in service delivery;

h)   Relevant information;

i)    Advocacy and general support; and

j)    Other operational aspects agreed from time to time by partners.

 

7. Priority target Groups of The Self-Help PartnershipS for 2008-12

 

1.   Vulnerable and at risks children and young people under-achieving at local schools, of various backgrounds, colour and ethnicity, in providing information, supplementary educational support and out  of school activities, in order that they might  better their school performances and create confidence in themselves;

2.    Children and young people between the ages of 13-19 years,  most, but not all, of whom are black and ethnic minorities - African, African-Caribbean, Black British, Mixed Heritage, Asian, and Refugee, some not in employment, education and training, including young offenders,  ex-offenders and those at risk of offending, assisting them to deal with conflict resolutions and peace building, develop skills to make positive choices to divert from anti-social behaviours;

3.    Vulnerable families, children and young people, including looked after children, and encourage participation and empowerment; and

4.    Small and medium sized businesses, in building social enterprises, to generate wealth and create training and employment for members of the community.

8. Historical Precedence

1.    The Foundation’s Trustees in Association with the West London Self-Help Partnership drew on seminars and public meetings called by government and local government departments and the voluntary and community sector, outreach work, information, advice and clients’ referrals. The Partnership also noted current government strategies designed to develop community partnerships and cohesion in urban and rural areas, innovation in education and training, support for families, children, young people, small and medium sized businesses.  

2.   The Partnership also drew on the history of self-help initiatives by African, Caribbean and Asian immigrants from the British Commonwealth, during the 1950s, 60s, 70s, 80s, and 90s, who initiated Britain’s credit union movement; our modern carnival movement; our supplementary education [Saturday school] movement; our sound systems [mobile discotheque] movement; our grassroots social enterprise movement; our community radio movement and our strong anti-racist, community and diversity movement, culminating into race, sexuality, gender, disability,  age and religious equalities Acts of Parliament. These, currently the United Kingdom pride and joy, are now taken for granted in our everyday activities.

3.    The Foundation and Associates therefore recognised that there is an historical pedigree for innovations and creativities among Britain’s grassroots communities, which are still vibrant and productive, good for Britain and needed to be tapped regularly.

4.    The Foundation looked particularly at the apparent waning of grassroots traditional community self-help initiatives, and noted the tremendous social and economic challenges being faced daily, by vulnerable families, children and young people, including deadly gun and knife attacks among our children, increased recidivism, low academic and skills achievements, mental health and other health challenges, and low take up in business initiatives. The rejuvenated and flourishing supplementary schools movement was examined.

9. Self-Help Partnerships At The Grassroots

1.    Gaps, requiring a fresh approach to ‘grassroots partnerships’ were identified. It was recommended that a network was needed to provide members with confidence and greater measure of community independence, to generate creativity and innovations in their work.

2.    The type of platform that will enable members to facilitate swift and helpful cooperation and communications, to focus on strengths and weaknesses, and positioning them to benefit from existing opportunities and manage potential risks. A network which gets its dynamism and growth from the base.

3.    The Foundation and Associates concluded that there was a need for a Network of Partners whose mutual aims  are to help create the conditions of trust, a culture of caring and sharing, in the interest of sustainable community development that meets the needs of the local community, where partners pooled resources for better management, efficient service delivery, best practice, avoidance of unnecessary service duplications, capacity building, and, for mutual benefits, present a collective voice to central government, local authorities, funders, policy makers and others as required. And so, we set about satisfying that need.

10. Suggestions for Government Action Plan

The following are  suggestions to be considered for the government Action Plan to be published in 2009, focusing on  the six key themes raised at the 24th November 2008 Summit, facilitated by The National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) and chaired by Kevin Brennan MP, the Minister for the Third Sector. The key themes are:

·       Meeting demand for public services particularly in deprived areas.

·       Good quality contracting and commissioning.

·       Addressing potential income issues through local and national level funding and maximising charitable giving.

·       Modernisation of the sector to cope with financial pressures.

·       Building social capital (volunteering, for example) and tackling worklessness.

·       Role of social enterprise.

1.   Meeting Demand for Public Services Particularly in Deprived Areas

a)   Local authorities’ children, community and youth services should be pro-active in contacting and inviting bids from ethnic minority self-help groups in their areas of interests, particularly those seeking to offer services to vulnerable families, children and young people, including those experiencing mental illness, ex-offenders, those not in education, training or employment, between the ages of 13-24 years, and those harder to reach.

b)   More grass-roots led skills training workshops, information and advice, positive leisure and recreational activities, including sports and the performing arts, and self-empowerment should be encouraged.

c)    Black and Minority Ethnic led grass-roots groups should be encouraged and welcome to participate in joint policy making and implementation processes locally, regionally and nationally, including crime reductions and community safety matters.

d)   Young people should be given leadership training as a vital part of their development as good citizens.

2.   Good Quality Contracting and Commissioning

a)   More support for new projects, put forward by groups from the African, Caribbean and Asian Communities, dealing with accredited and non-accredited education and training programmes.

b)   Commissioners should be proactive in searching out good quality proposals from grassroots self-help groups, who target those potential beneficiaries, vulnerable and harder to reach, including vulnerable families, children and young people.

c)   Encourage more grassroots management, administrative and support services, which seek to develop new community business initiatives, including social enterprises.

d)   More active support also for lower-value contract (typically £100,000) to provide small business with the stability they need to thrive and grow.

3.   Addressing Potential Income Issues through Local and National Level Funding and Maximising Charitable Giving

a)   Remove the limit of £5,000 to grassroots community groups, from the government ‘Grassroots Grants 2008-11 programmes of £130 million. Grassroots groups need development funding, as the issues they address are likely to be present for at least ten years and more, particularly their work with hard to reach members of the local community, who need more intensive attention to make a difference.

b)   The minimum on offer might be £15,000. This grants programme should be based on needs. Black and ethnic managed charities continue to lag behind gaining adequate funding to develop their work among vulnerable members of the community, particularly those from poor households, at risk children, young people,   ex-offenders, the homeless and the mentally ill and physically disabled.

4.   Modernisation of the Sector to Cope with Financial Pressures

a)   The encouragements of more self-help and other   working partnerships, from the grassroots upwards, for the purpose of maximising scarce resources and sharing of innovative ideas, and avoidance of unnecessary duplication of services, including: -

i.    Premises, administration,  ICT facilities and costs;

ii.    Expertise;

iii.   Staff – paid and unpaid, through secondment or otherwise;

iv.   Funding strategies;

v.    Project management;

vi.   Education and Training resources;

vii.  Filing gaps in service delivery;

viii. Relevant information;

ix.   Advocacy and general support; and

x.    Other operational aspects agreed from time to time by partners.

 

b)   This type of work should be supported by Memorandum of Understandings agreed by partners.

5.   Building Social Capital (volunteering, for example) and Tackling Worklessness

a)   Volunteering should not be alternative to the individuals getting well-paid employment. Nevertheless, volunteering, with proper expenses paid, should be used as a source of work experience to those who would like to return to work and/or obtaining a place on training and education courses, but need to build confidence, which a period of voluntary work in the relevant field might be useful to enhance their CVs and provide a better chance of obtaining training and employment.

b)   That group might include women whose children had grown to the extent that mothers can reasonably seek employment; those emerging from a period of illness; 16 plus age groups, including ex-offenders and college students on placements.

c)    Support for retraining in new skills, which are in short supply and in demand, with a special focus on 18-55 year olds. Ex-offenders in this age category should be actively encouraged to accept training in employable skills.

d)   Current British demography shows an aging population. Older citizens will need young people to generate wealth to sustain future welfare benefits. It is crucial that the Third Sector is in the front line, in offering confidence building and training in accredited and non-accredited training to able bodied members of the community.  

e)   According to the Office of National Statistics, members of Britain’s Black and minority ethnic communities [4.6 million in 2001 or 7.9 per cent of the United Kingdom total population] have a high proportion of young people. It follows that they have a high human productive capacity, among the wider population. Members of this group have the potential to generate wealth for the nation. All measures should be taken to ensure that young people, whatever their ethnicity, acquired skills to be employable in order to contribute to the   gross domestic product (GDP) or gross domestic income (GDI), now and the future.

6.   Role of Social Enterprise

a)   Global economic trends, in an increasingly competitive environment, and mounting social challenges and opportunities are spawning interest in social enterprise as a strategy for addressing some of our most pressing problems.  Small and medium sized grassroots-led African, Caribbean, and Asian    social enterprise initiatives should be given pro-active support by central and local government, dealing with public service delivery in housing, regeneration and neighbourhood renewal.

b)   More active support also for lower-value contract (typically £100,000) to provide small business with the stability they need to thrive and grow.

c)    There is no known evidence to demonstrate that Voluntary and Community groups are getting a fair share of public service contracts.   Help is needed from the government and local and relevant agencies to remove barriers, real or perceived, that hindered the development of social enterprise in the community, which Self-Help Partnerships and others represent.  New groups’ should be allowed to bid successfully for new public service contracts.

d)   Local authorities should provide additional facilities in existing underutilized youth and community centres, business complexes at affordable costs to grassroots self-help groups, and small business initiatives, which are unable to sustain renting premises on the commercial market. These operational ‘communal type’ premises, should offer office and desk space, photo copy, telephone [landlines], fax, computer, Internet, stationery, class rooms, conference, meeting and nursery facilities, supported by a minimum number of the centre staff – manager, administrator, care taker, seven days a week, including   public holidays, as necessary.

e)   That empty school and local college premises should be offered for use at evenings, weekends and holidays by community groups to put on activities for members of the local community. Facilities like gym, flood lit playing fields, theatres, communal halls, specialist workshops and media studios, etc., while been properly supervised.

Central Management, Administrative and Support Services (CMASS)

Community Education and Training Services

The National Federation of Self-Help Partnerships

Correspondence address

PO Box 54916

LONDON W3 6ZN

Tel: 0303 0402690

Fax: 0870 9748524

E-mail: nfshp@ubol.com 

Website: www.ubol.com

8th December 2008.