On Friday 24th October, CAS and Suffolk Congress brought together over 150 delegates from the voluntary and public sectors for an extremely positive conference which considered cross sector solutions to some of the key issues affecting the people of Suffolk, sponsored by Suffolk County Council.
A diverse range of Voluntary and Community Sector (VCS) groups, Councillors, representatives from Suffolk County Council, Districts, Clinical Commissioning Groups, Suffolk Constabulary and Police and Crime Commissioners Officer attended.
“Collaboration” was the key word of the day, with the room recognising that working together to explore problems and find solutions is crucial to transforming public services and that the voluntary and community sector (VCS) has a fundamental role to play.
The Conference heard from key note speakers Karl Wilding, Director of Policy at NCVO, Councillor Mark Bee, leader of Suffolk County Council, Councillor Beccy Hopfensperger Cabinet Member for Localities and Environment and lead for the VCS and Chris Abraham, Deputy Chief Executive of Community Action Suffolk about the changing landscape for voluntary organisations and some of the challenges and opportunities this presents in Suffolk.
Roundtable workshops were opened by thought provoking speakers, Tara Somers, Scheme Manager for Homestart Suffolk, Alison Gilbert Director of Strategic Partnership and Dr Ed Garret, Chief Operating Officer for West Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Group and were jointly facilitated by a representative from the VCS and the public sector. The focus of the workshops were on identifying problems and coming up with collaborative solutions and the actions needed on a range of different themes.
The event ended on a high note, with each table offering a pledge to commit to continue the work and discussions following the conference. Pledges included:
- we will not waste time trying to reinvent the wheel but look around for existing examples of good practice
- we will share our community assets
- we will continue to seek solutions and persevere with prevention is better than cure
- we’ll undertake to visit at least one other organisation to see how we can work together
- we will have a breakfast meeting to all meet up again and work with each other
The event was a positive step forward, showing that there is a strong will amongst the voluntary sector and statutory sector to work together and furthermore to put into action what is really needed to enable effective collaboration within and across sectors. A full report from the day with key recommendations is currently being compiled and will be circulated to delegates and available on our website.