The Way Ahead is an initiative to rethink what support is needed for London's voluntary and community sector (VCS); a report entitled, The Way Ahead - Civil Society at the Heart of London, commissioned by City Bridge Trust, undertaken by London Funders and published in April 2016 – focussed on some key themes:
- Changing role of the state, voluntary and community sector (VCS) and funders of VCS
- The need to support communities to co-produce shared solution drawing on the strengths of the community (geographical or otherwise)
- The need to bring strategic leadership and the role of pan-London resourcing (with the potential to bring together sources of funding in a London pool to fund the provision of support to the VCS)
- That the VCS should be supported to create consistent quality services and manage the risks associated with their increased role in delivering outcomes.
A role was outlined for London Councils to:
- Support the involvement of the VCS in decision making
- Ensure the consistent commission / funding of local support working alongside the Greater London Authority, London Funders and the London Hub
In the light of the recommendations, City Bridge Trust sought the involvement of London Councils, on behalf of the boroughs, to work in strategic partnership and bring democratic legitimacy to the implementation of the report’s findings.
Intial work included the formation of Borough Grants Officer and Member sub groups to provide intelligence and scrutiny to the workplan and the partnership with City Bridge Trust. A survey of London boroughs was conducted in summer 2017 to find out what (and how) civil society infrastructure (e.g. Centres for Voluntary Service and volunteer centres) was being supported by the boroughs. You can see a selection of the results below:
We have shared our findings with the boroughs, Members and the wider third sector, including City Bridge Trust who have used it to inform their ongoing preparatory work on the Cornerstone Fund.
The Way Ahead - additional information
Systems Change Group: This group is made up of representative of voluntary and community groups, local and specialist infrastucture and equalities groups, independent funders, health and business sectors.
The London Hub: This entity is still in the very early stages of formation, it is anticipated that the hub will be operational by early 2018. It is initially being formed under the governance of Greater London Volunteering (GLV) but will be an independent entity in due course. It will complement local, regional and specialist infrastructure support, not duplicate local borough provision.
The Hub is proposed to have a number of key functions:
- Promoting positive change – a voice for civil society, networking, evidencing impact, advocating for investment
- Unleashing potential – branding of the sector, asset based resourcing, development work, leadership development
- Real time intelligence – data analysis and sharing, outcomes and impact frameworks, voice and campaigning.
The Hub will not be a direct replacement for LVSC, which closed in October 2017, as it will not provide direct services such as training. The Hub will not compete with local civil society support organisations to provide direct services.
In November 2017, a borough grants officer and an elected Member were selected to join the Hub Advisory and the System Change Groups to continue to provide local authority insight and intelligence.
The Cornerstone Fund: City Bridge Trust (CBT) has approved £3 million over two years, for the Cornerstone Fund which is is intended to support a transformational agenda working towards improved support and skills for civil society in London. London Councils is represented on the Cornerstone Fund reference group that is working with CBT and others such as London Funders, Greater London Volunteers, Partnership for Young London, GLA and Heart of the City to shape its governance and parameters. It is anticipated that the fund will be making awards in early 2018.