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Chief Executive January Blog

Chief Executive Blog – Chris and a Ten Point Plan for 2020

With a new year – and decade – under way, it seems timely to identify the key focus and intentions for Community Action Suffolk in the months ahead.

I’m therefore using this month’s blog to set out my Ten Point Plan, which I believe covers areas of significant need and ongoing attention within our county.

If I could make one plea to you as you read this, it’s to consider how you, your organisation or your community could play a part in working on these themes.

I would welcome any thoughts or feedback, so please feel free to drop me an email. chris.abraham@communityactionsuffolk.org.uk

RURAL LIVING

We know that the overwhelming majority of our county is classed as a ‘rural community’, and, as such, we need to be permanently mindful of what the challenges and obstacles are for such areas.

Our consistent focus will be on ensuring that we help those in rural communities to enjoy better transport access, maintain healthy and happy lives, and see the level of technology and communication infrastructure which their daily life demands.

STRENGTHENING THE VOLUNTARY SECTOR

A fundamental intention for Community Action Suffolk is to help our sector gain more recognition for its superb work.

We know that throughout the last decade, the arena has seen some significant hits to its reputation.

We will work hard in the year ahead to help organisations in Suffolk’s voluntary sector to gain the applause and recognition it deserves for its efforts and accomplishments.

VOLUNTEERING

Whilst we can be really proud of the rates of volunteering engagement in this county (at around 22% regularly giving time at least once a month), we should never become complacent, nor forget about the huge need for volunteer output to enable our communities to survive and thrive.

This year, we’ll push even harder to ensure businesses make it easier for their employees to volunteer, and to provide new routes into volunteering for those who wish to improve their own wellbeing and social interaction through committing time to causes.

Our Volunteer Suffolk site should be a ‘go to’ reference point for all: https://volunteersuffolk.org.uk

STRONGER COMMUNITIES

I’ve spent my career seeing first-hand what great things are achieved when communities can be supported in becoming stronger and more resilient.

Having previously worked in the constabulary, and then in the voluntary sector, I know how important it is to assist neighbourhoods in common goals and aspirations.

This will continue to be a big part of our work this year, building on the successes of the many projects and initiatives we support, in order to help communities achieve more together.

THE VALUE OF INFRASTRUCTURE

There’s no doubt that we continue to be in challenging times in respect of demand on voluntary services, and reductions of core budgets.

It makes the need for infrastructure organisations all the more relevant, in aiding frontline initiatives to be financially sustainable, to have support in innovating at pace, and to find the right people to help their structures succeed.

I’m proud that CAS is able to be such a powerful infrastructure organisation, and I am committed to seeing it better understood and celebrated by those in the commercial world, as well as in the sector itself.

FUNDING AND FINANCIAL SUSTAINABILITY

Perhaps the single biggest area of interest and ‘need’ for voluntary organisations in the county is that of funding.

Every day, our team are advising on funding availability, challenging climate of accessing funding as well as ways to approach income diversification.

These are significant times, with the role of civil society never more important.

You can be sure we’ll be insisting on clarity around the detail of the UK Shared Prosperity Fund in this new post-election era, and we’ll be consistently creating a voice to see that local government funding is strengthened in order to prevent strain on our sector wherever possible.

VULNERABLE GROUPS IN SOCIETY

Suffolk is a fortunate county in many respects, and a high proportion of the population enjoy rewarding lives, with their needs well met.

But that isn’t the case for all.

We know that much of our work this year must also go into helping recognise those who are of disadvantage, be they experiencing homelessness, health issues, disability, or deprivation of any measure.

COLLABORATION AND PARTNERSHIPS

Every year, I’m reminded of the great generosity of spirit, and the potential for collaborative success, which exists across Suffolk.

Our work through ProHelp reminds us of just how many companies are keen to provide partnership solutions for those in the sector; while at the same time, we see charities and organisations working hand in hand to achieve a common goal.

We’ll be working hard to create more of this in the year ahead.

SOCIAL ENTERPRISE

The very phrase ‘social enterprise’ does, to my mind, remain significantly misunderstood.

In the year ahead, I want to place emphasis on ensuring that all those who are delivering a project or service within this remit, are recognised for their ‘purpose driven’ focus within the community.

Whether this be a village hall, a small not-for-profit, or an after-school club providing a lifeline for families, we’ll ensure such social enterprises know their worth and are well appreciated.

Businesses of this nature have the potential to transform our county – and our country. We will back them all the way.

LONELINESS

Isolation and loneliness continues to be a topic at national level, and naturally, is something which we witness as an issue within our more rural county.

Not only will we be focusing hard on improving connectedness for the elderly – more typically associated with the concept of loneliness – but we’ll be looking at ways in which younger generations, and families, can be prevented from experiencing  a debilitating sense of loneliness in their daily lives.

In summary, be assured that Community Action Suffolk has ambitious and determined intentions for the year ahead. We believe the sector is pivotal to the lives and opportunities of those in every one of our towns and villages.

We look forward to working with and for you in 2020.