For the last 6 months, CAS (with partners Voluntary Norfolk) has been helping Small Charities in the VCS throughout Suffolk and Norfolk to get ready for the release of European Social Funding with the Big Lottery Opt-In.
Towards the end of 2014, Building Better Opportunities (Big Lottery), awarded £630,000 Project Development Funding to 36 organisations across England to raise awareness in the VCS of the European funding opportunities available for Social Inclusion through the European Social Fund (ESF).
As a result, we have held various events this year to raise awareness and disseminate key information culminating on 3 June with an event in Diss which saw over 100 VCS organisations come together from across Suffolk and Norfolk to look at how the project outlines are progressing and help small organisations to begin working together across New Anglia.
In addition to valuable projects to provide effective support to beneficiaries; this is a very real opportunity for the smaller organisations in the VCS to build capacity, learn from other organisations and develop their delivery to form effective partnerships shaping the way for a stronger and sustainable future. Calls for applications for this fund will be in October, but much of the preliminary work is already underway and demonstrates the power of the sector when it pulls together.
In a climate of funding cuts and uncertainty, we all need to work smarter and collaborate with others. This is a key message coming from funders and commissioners alike. The Big Lottery funding for this project has provided a good stepping stone for the VCS to see the value of coming together and supporting each other. For small charities, this has already made a significant difference and helped them to consider and plan for future sustainability.
Hannah Bradley, Senior Development Officer – VCS Economy & Enterprise