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Welcome to the
October Edition of the VCSA 
Bi-Monthly Newsletter!
An Update from the VCSA Board...
The VCS Assembly Board last met on 16th October 2013 and were joined by public sector colleagues and Councillors to discuss the re-commissioning of some services for vulnerable adults. 

Neil Evans, Commissioner and Ruth Houghton, Head of Social Care, Efficiency and Improvement, both from Shropshire Council, gave an informative verbal presentation of work they hope to start over the coming months and their aim is to deliver a robust commissioning framework based on an outcomes approach.  The aim of the discussion was to work with the voluntary sector as early as possible and obtain comments that will help plan and deliver a consultation process due to start in the coming weeks.  As soon as the consultation is ready to go live, information will be provided to ALL VCS Assembly members. 

The meeting provided an opportunity for VCSA Board members to ask any questions they had at that time to public sector colleagues but there would be other opportunities to ask questions in the near future.  Neil and Ruth have already begun to put together a compendium of “frequently asked questions” and asked for further questions to be put forward by the Board which were to be collated and answered as quickly and cohesively as possible.  The timescales for the work are quite tight however the VCSA Board members will ensure that they keep colleagues informed, involved and up to date through both online communications and physical opportunities e.g. forums of interest. 

The Board will meet again briefly before 2014 so please keep your eye out for further information in our Xmas VCSA Newsletter!  If you would like to read more about the VCSA Board, please visit our website...

If you know of organisations that would benefit from becoming a member of the VCSA (so important consultations such as this are communicated directly), please encourage them to join as soon as possible. Please see the "Membership News Item" at the bottom of this newsletter. 


Recession Survey 

For the past few years the VCSA have asked their members to participate in a survey to measure how their organisation or group has been affected by the current financial climate.  This year, the VCSA Support Team have improved and slightly extended the survey to ensure they capture as much information and detail as possible in order to cover a broader range of issues.  The new survey has been benchmarked against national research in order to compare our results with out of county areas.
As always, the recession survey will serve as an important tool when communicating the “state of the sector” to Shropshire Council's elected members in order to raise awareness of community issues and concerns.  Some feedback will also play a vital part in informing other key pieces of work which the VCSA are currently working on and developing.  After the consultation period has ended, the results will be compiled into a report and will be available to VCSA members early 2014.
We would like to encourage as many of our members as possible to complete the survey as this will ensure the validity of the results.
If you have yet to complete the survey, please visit...
You only have until November 8th to complete the survey.  If you require a paper version, please email with your name and address and we will post out a copy to you as soon as possible, alternatively you can call 01743 252768 to leave your details.

Next Steps for EU Funding 

The VCS Assembly is leading on work to facilitate VCS engagement across The Marches Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) area in the development of a new LEP Strategy.  The VCSA Support Team continues to work with both VCS and public sector colleagues in Telford and Wrekin and Herefordshire to continue and develop the work which is already well underway. 

An independent facilitator was appointed in order to support work across the Marches area; in order to ensure efficient partnership working, three workshops were arranged.  The sessions were designed for the VCS and information and presentations helped attendees understand the changes in EU Funding and allow for discussion around the social inclusion priorities. 

Since these workshops, all the information has been collated and complied into a report by Bridget Cameron, the independent facilitator.  This information can be found on the VCSA website including additional and useful resources –
The report from the workshops has subsequently ensured that the LEP strategy is well informed and has encased input from across the LEP to guarantee the detail in the strategy is well informed.  Shropshire Council’s External Funding Team have drafted the strategy using their expertise and knowledge; a draft version of the document is available on The Marches LEP website...
Success at VCSA Market Place Event! 
Following the success of previous Market Place events, on the 10th October the VCSA hosted an event for members to promote their services and to highlight the support they offer to local people.

The Market Place was held at Shirehall, Shrewsbury and visitors included Elected Council Members, Council Officers and representatives from the Clinical Commissioning group. The morning also provided a fantastic opportunity for Voluntary & Community sector organisations to network giving an opportunity to find out what services other organisations deliver. Visitors commented that being able to meet with many services under one roof was invaluable to learn about services available and when and how to refer to them. Given the variety and number of organisations that took part this demonstrated the wide range of voluntary sector services available in the field of health and wellbeing
Exhibitors included: Figaro CIC, Community Transport Consortium , South Shropshire Housing, Axis Counselling and many more.
Thank you to everyone who took part for making it such a successful event , we look forward to running more Market Place events in 2014 and would welcome your suggestions about how we could make it even better!

Pauline James
What's next for Building Health Partnerships?

Building Health Partnerships continues to make progress. The last event, held on the 23 September, was very different from previous workshops. Its focus was on looking outside of Shropshire at examples of good practice in the use of websites and online databases/tools. The aim of the session was to consider different approaches to the use of online information. Approaches include:
In total 18 different examples were provided. They were very interesting and wide ranging, and demonstrated how IT can now be used to respond to identified needs. The workshop was provided by Sea Communications, an innovative organisation based in Cornwall The workshop was designed to help Shropshire organisations better understand how we may use our current online databases (and others not currently on-line), bringing them together in a way that will maximise benefits for local services and service users. Our local project is currently nicknamed the ‘map of maps’.

The Building Health Partnerships leads (Sonia Roberts and Bharti Patel-Smith) are currently using the outcome of the event (which included discussion sessions on local needs) to establish next steps and a more detailed action plan. Next steps are likely to include a more detailed look at how current provision of online information can be brought together and built upon, and how we can maximise outcomes by combining local resources. A smaller task and finish group will complete more work over the coming months before the next workshop is held to report back to the wider group.

Have you got news for us?
Each week, the VCSA issue an online newsletter which is sent out to all of our members – that’s over 250 email addresses!
News items can include a wide variety of articles such as job and volunteering opportunities, funding news and updates, consultations and meetings, events and much more.
If you have anything that you would like us to feature, advertise or inform VCSA members about in our weekly newsletter please send press releases or information to and we will get your story heard!

Locality Commissioning Update

Since our last newsletter, locality commissioning has progressed in a number of areas in Shropshire.

The first community in Shropshire to adopt the locality commissioning approach was Church Stretton with a focus on 3 priority themes:
  • Living independently 
  • Quality public services that people value and are proud of
  • Supporting people into work and in turn creating an economically vibrant community
Work is also well underway in Wem and Oswestry in adopting the commissioning approach within the communities.
The locality commissioning approach in Wem commenced in August 2013 prioritising:
  • Improving employment prospects and bridging skills gaps/supporting local business
  • Sustaining and developing community facilities
  • Supporting people to age well
Whereas, the work in Oswestry prioritses two different areas:
  • tackling substance misuse
  • economic growth
Themes for focus in other localities, including Monkmoor (Shrewsbury), Whitchurch and Craven Arms are beginning to take shape. 

For more information about Commissioning and Shropshire Council visit:

ShropShare Launch Success!

ShropShare Launch & call for deposits into the ‘bank of opportunities’

ShropShare, a new initiative for companies who want to build mutually beneficial relationships with local charities and community groups as part of their commitment to social responsibility, was launched last week attracting interest from some of the counties biggest employers.
The launch event, which was held at the Caterpillar Shrewsbury site, secured some high profile speakers including Richard Ellis, Director of Corporate Social Responsibility from Alliance Boots and Silke Machold Head of Corporate Governance at the University of Wolverhampton Business School (pictured right).
ShropShare, is being delivered in partnership with the VCSA and SPC, and will act as a broker between companies looking to put something back into the local community or seeking professional development or employee volunteering opportunities and VCSO’s who have an organisational need.
Claire Carter Coordinator of ShropShare said; “In essence we are running a dating agency between businesses and vco’s.  Our job is to make sure that these relationships are mutually beneficial and are strategically relevant for both parties, whether it is a one off team challenge day or a longer term partnership.  We see this as being the key to building fruitful and lasting relationships.”
ShropShare are keen to develop a ‘bank of opportunities’ that their business members can tap into and are putting a call out to VCSA and SPC members to register their needs with them. So, if your organisation or project could benefit from some specific practical help be it; pro-bono support; office space or equipment; mentoring or physical help to complete a project please drop us an email or call 01694 731759. 
To find out more about ShropShare and its members visit

Membership Renewal - Have you done yours yet?

Membership Survey

Over at the VCSA we have been working hard to put together a new way to collate, update and refresh our members’ information so we can communicate with them more effectively and efficiently in the future. In order for us to complete this successfully and consistently we have set up an online questionnaire via Survey Monkey asking members to update their contact and organisation information. The Survey Monkey questionnaire will make this process quicker and easier as it is a simple form to fill in and completed form will come straight to back to the VCSA.  A number of the questions asked are quite specific to the geographical areas which our members work in and who exactly they provide services for.  This information will be vital to locality commissioning as it will help us to identify those voluntary and community services operating in specific areas defining who is delivering services to a target group. 
 It is very important that we collate all of our members’ updated information before 9th September so to complete the questionnaire just follow the link below to get started!
 Here’s the link:
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