Cheshire East Council has set out an ambitious plan for how it will connect with the voluntary, community and faith (VCF) sector over the next three years.
In Cheshire East, there are a range of different organisations supporting our local community. These vary from national organisations such as Barnardos who help people affected by domestic abuse, to local organisations such as The Wishing Well who support older people to come out of hospital and stay in their own homes.
There is also a strong and well connected faith sector who provide services for the most vulnerable through food banks and somewhere for homeless people to get a shower and wash their clothes.
The council’s plan sets out a strong focus to:
· Ensure that the VCF sector has a voice and can influence what the council does;
· Support the VCF sector to work with us to deliver services and activities to our most vulnerable communities and deprived neighbourhoods to provide early intervention services; and
· Provide a clear understanding of how the council and VCF sector can work together
Cheshire East will also work closely with Cheshire Voluntary Services Cheshire East (CVSCE), who are an umbrella body for the sector supporting voluntary groups in their vital role in our local community.
CVSCE completed some research in 2015 which demonstrated the importance of the work already being done by volunteers and communities in general. It showed that in Cheshire East:
· the voluntary sector in Cheshire East generates an estimated income of more than £200 million per year;
· the VCF sector employs approximately 5,000 people representing 2.5 per cent of the borough’s workforce;
· on average, more than 53,000 people volunteer; and
· each week volunteers contribute more than 74,000 hours of their time – the equivalent of nearly 2,000 jobs.
The VCF sector has faced very challenging times as government grant funding has dwindled and access to support has become more difficult.
Councillor Paul Bates, Cheshire East Council cabinet member for communities and health, said: “We recognise and have tremendous respect for all the volunteers who give their time to make a difference in the Cheshire East community.
“We know that they provide such an important service to many people in very different ways. The council is fully committed to supporting the voluntary, community and faith organisations that make this possible.
“It is challenging for the council to provide appropriate resources to support this vital sector, but it is a challenge that we must rise to.
“This commitment will ensure that our local communities are strong and supportive and that residents have the life skills and education they need to thrive and live well and for longer.
“The council and local voluntary, community and faith groups have a common value which is to make a difference to people who live in the Cheshire East area.
“We want to be very clear on Cheshire East’s role and what we expect the voluntary community and faith sector and community to do. It is very much a partnership approach which already works very successfully across the borough.”
Roger Millns of Audlem and District Community Action spoke at the cabinet meeting and said, “Age UK were paid £18,000 in 2010 to run one day club with 10 members. ADCA is paid £7,500 to run a day club with up to 20 members, two coffee clubs and a befriending service.
“We can do this as we have no oevrheads of CEO, finance director etc as is all done by trustees.”
Anyone can become a volunteer and you can commit as little or as much time as you have, either regularly or occasionally.
You can find out more about volunteering or voluntary services via the Cheshire Voluntary Services Cheshire East (CVSCE) website – www.cvsce.org.uk.