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Manchester Voluntary Sector Assembly

The Manchester Voluntary Sector Assembly (VSA) is a network of voluntary, community and faith groups, and social enterprises in the city. The full assembly comes together for half a day, four times a year.

Purpose of the VSA
• To strengthen the voice of the voluntary and community sector so we can support individuals and communities to have a real influence over where they live
• Improve communication across the sector to work together, and share ideas and best practice 
• Increase the influence of the sector on strategic and policy decisions that affect individuals and communities
• Provide opportunities for the sector to learn, discuss key issues, and to develop shared ideas and collective actions
• Support collaboration between groups to deliver a wide range of activities and services in Manchester

Previous assemblies have included:
18 September 2019 - Working with Young People. Kevin Jones from Manchester Mind opened the event by reviewing where youth services and support were nationally, and what challenges are faced by VCSE organisations. Justin Watson, Director of Young Manchester, spoke about their work and and the future in Manchester. Three workshops then looked at how organisations can use stories to show positive changes and outcomes, a showcase of Manchester Mind's Help Through Crisis project, and a young people's voice workshop from Youth Focus NW. Becky Bainbridge from Reclaim then discussed the importance of investing in young people as future leaders and finally, Paul Schofield from DCMS gave a national perspective and discussed future funding opportunities. 

3 June 2019 - A Meeting of MInds. Simone Spray, CEO at 42nd Street and Gail Heath, CEO of The Pankhurst Centre spoke about the support they provided and what the current landscape of mental health support looked like. There followed three workshops which looked at mental health in workplaces, how the voluntary sector can lead the way and what action needs to be taken to assist the wellbeing of CEOs in the sector. An interesting case study was provided by Circle Steele, CEO of the Wai Yin Society and Gemma from The Owl and the Coconut ran a mindful art session. Finally, Sally from Chorlton and Whalley Range Dementia Action talked about a place-based approach to good mental health.

26 February 2019 - How can we develop leadership in Manchester’s voluntary, community and social enterprise sector? Claire Tomkinson, Macc Strategic Lead – Collaboration gave a presentation on Rethinking Leadership and how leadership is not about hierachy but about networks with a shared purpose and trust. Sinead O’Connor, Cheetham Hill Advice Centre and Dr Tracey Vell MBE, Manchester Local Medical Committee then shared their leadership journeys. The Macc AGM took place followed by a Lead Like a Woman session by Eve Holt, Director of Happen Together CIC and Manchester City Councillor. The leadership journey of Fran Davies-Tagoe, Tree of Life Centre and a final call to action session from Claire ended the event. 

13 November 2018 - How can we use digital communications? Ben White from Reason Digital spoke abou the current digital world and the voluntary sector. Paige from TLC gave a talk on how they built a digital brand from scratch. There were also workshops on building a digital marketing plan, Twitter/Facebook, capturing stories and digital fundraising.

9 May 2018 - Finding and asking for funding and donations. Joe Saxton, Driver of Ideas, nfpSynergy gave a varied and entertaining presentation on the current funding landscape. There was also a choice of four workshops on Crowdfunding, increasing donations, working with the private sector and asking people for money. Finally, Natalie and Sophie from the Big Lottery Fund gave an update on the recent changes to their funding programmes.

24 January 2018 - Working With Hospitals - Opportunities and Challenges. Paul Nethercott, Community Partnership Manager, Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust gave details of the single hospital plan for Manchester. This was followed by presentations from Care & Repair, The Stroke Association and Sow the City explaining their existing projects working with hospitals. Table discussions then allowed VCSE representatives and health professionals to meet and discuss how they could work together. Finally, a panel discussion was chaired by Doug Jeffrey, GP Director of South Manchester Federation and MFT Clinical Director of Community Services South.

1 November 2017 - Kelly Charlton, Manchester City Council, presented an update on Manchester's safeguarding and early years help. Also, there was a choice of three interesting and practical workshops which discussed the issues for children and social media, how voluntary sector organisations can deal with allegations against staff, and community cohesion. Finally, there was a 'Future of Safeguarding' panel discussion.
18 July 2017 - Mike Wild, Macc Chief Executive, presented the facts and figures from the recent State of the Sector report and explained what this meant for VCSE organisations in the city. There were also three practical workshops which discussed the implications of Brexit for the VCSE, the future of volunteering and gave the opportunity to ask those all important social media questions in an interactive Q&A session.
28 February 2017 - There were presentations by Nigel Wilson – CEO of Wythenshawe Community Housing Group - on the future of social housing providers, their relationship with the VCSE sector and their role in the wider community and Professor Ruth Lupton – Head of Inclusive Growth Analysis Unit, The University of Manchester - on the role of the VCSE sector in promoting inclusive growth.

8 June 2016 - A presentation from the Deputy Chief Executive, Manchester, City Council, on their new 'Our Manchester' initiative and Policy & Strategy, Public Health Manchester on the proposal for a 'Manchester Primary Care Led Prevention Programme'.
10 December 2015 - News about the cuts to Mancheser City Council, the campaign to save mental health services, a discussion on how street homelessness is being addressed, and the latest developments on devolution. 
16 April 2015 and 25 June 2015 - These two meetings were designed to prepare the voluntary sector for the coming year and review how the sector had responded to the previous year's cuts. They discussed The Way Forward, a vision and strategy for the voluntary, community and enterprise sector, with Manchester City Council councillors and health service representatives.

The Way Forward
During 2015, a VSA task group created The Way Forward, a vision for the future of the voluntary, community and social enterprise sector in Manchester.

"Our vision is one where every community in Manchester is rich in VCSE organisations of all kinds and varieties, working with all kinds of people and in all kinds of ways, where the VCSE sector is at the core of public debate about what kind of society we are trying to create."The Way Forward also sets out how to realise the vision through;

  • Maximising Inward Investment
    Increase the money and resources coming into the sector
  • Increasing Employment
    Increase our ability to employ Manchester people
  • Increasing Our Impact in Areas of Low VCSE Activity
    Increasing the number and effectiveness of organisations
  • Increasing Mutual Support
    Developing the means to increase the quantity and quality of mutual support
  • Connecting Manchester People to the VCSE Sector
    Improve the use of social media to communicate and interact
  • Working Across GM
    Collaborate to develop a shared 'Way Forward'

A copy of the full The Way Forward document is attached below.

Macc's role
The Assembly is supported by the Policy and Influence Team at Macc, who host and facilitate the meetings. We also support the VSA working groups.

More information
To find out more about the Voluntary Sector Assembly and how to get involved, contact policy@macc.org.uk.