Verbal update from a recent workshop of the Committee
A working group met on 27 July 2020 and held a workshop which discussed the Council’s current involvement which the voluntary and community sector.
The membership of the working group included; members of the Rural and Communities Overview and Scrutiny Committee, the Cabinet Member for Communities and relevant officers.
The workshop covered five topics:
• Councillors – considering the important role Members play
• Conversation and Communication
• Working together
• Celebrating Community Heroes; and
• Grants and Funding Pots.
As the next item to be considered by members at the meeting was a report regarding Grants and Funding Pots, verbal feedback on the other 4 topics would be provided.
Feedback from members on the first item had related specifically to the South Kesteven Community Hub and the support provided to communities by the Council and its voluntary and community sector colleagues during lockdown. Members felt the Community Hub had been invaluable during the Covid-19 pandemic and the fact that information had been sent to vulnerable residents at the start of lockdown had ensured residents were aware of how they could get in touch with the Council and what assistance and support was available to them.
Under topic two Members had discussed the introduction of a voluntary and community sector forum. Members were asked if it was more important to focus on County wide groups or more local ones. It was agreed that local groups should be the focus and that a database of local groups should be compiled.
Members also discussed whether the introduction of an e-newsletter would provide an important link to communities. Members agreed this would be a useful tool but also advocated the use of already established communications such as SK Today and parish newsletters to spread the word. It was noted that the website required updating and much of the information needed streamlining so that it was more consistent.
When exploring innovative ways to integrate the delivery of services between the Council and the voluntary and community sector Members provided the following insights:
· The Council should look to groups such as Rotary and Lions clubs for the larger projects that offer volunteering opportunities. These groups were keen to be involved in larger community projects
· Volunteers should never be seen as a money saving scheme to use volunteers to deliver Council services
· Volunteering provides mutual benefit; we can all gain a lot from the process.
· Volunteering has a positive impact on community spirit, mental health and wellbeing
· Volunteering can lead to employment. Employers look favourably on people who volunteer as it shows local interest. The Council should consider providing volunteers with certificates to prove their involvement
Members were reminded that the work of local volunteers had been acknowledged with certificates of appreciation during Volunteer Week 2020. The workshop considered how volunteers could feel more welcomed and appreciated. It was noted that volunteers did not enjoy being called ‘Heroes’ and much preferred the term ‘Champion’. The Grantham Journal Business Awards could potentially include an award which showed appreciation for the work of volunteers, or the Council could consider sponsoring a Chairman’s award to cover the wider District.
The Chairman thanked those members who took part in the workshop and noted that the overview provided some interesting points.