Developing a shared support platform, for local, borough-wide, London-wide and national support providers willing to engage positively in the ‘Connecting Londoners’ project (including public and private sources as well as voluntary sector sources). This might include: creating a pool of open-source resources available to all support providers and those seeking support; embracing all forms of social organisation not just traditional charity models, identifying ‘first points of contact’ (for volunteering, social action, governance support, social enterprise, funding advice etc), testing peer-based quality systems; building a shared brand for the system of support, and showcasing good and innovative support models.
New peer support mechanisms, encouraging the ‘generous leadership’ which the Big Lottery Fund has been talking about recently. This might for example include knowledge and skills exchange visits, and an interim management service for civil society organisations going through transition.
A ‘Lifeboat’ scheme, where expert assistance (ideally together with small grants) can be deployed to help organisations in difficulty turn themselves around, or close in an orderly fashion, while transferring their services and assets to others if possible.
Unleashing the resources of civil society
Taking action to make fuller use of the resources within and available to civil society. This includes enhancing the systems of volunteering, time-banking, and other forms of mutual aid, through which the time and skills of Londoners freely given to other Londoners produce mutually beneficial outcomes. It might also include new ways of drawing on the skills and resourcefulness of voluntary sector staff and Board members, and maximising the use of buildings and other assets, to benefit London’s community life.
A consultancy pool with associates made up of the most skilled and respected civil society leaders in London, marketing its offer across sectors, and generating income for civil society activities.
A corporate volunteering brokerage scheme which offers London-wide packages of support for companies based in central London but whose employees live right across London.
A scheme to market civil society meeting rooms and conferencing facilities not just to voluntary organisations but also to government agencies, and private companies, with a central booking system and an attractive and accessible public interface.
A London-wide procurement vehicle for London’s civil society organisations, to reduce costs of energy purchasing, IT equipment, insurance, etc may also be worth considering further down the line.
Developing proposals for asset and network mapping at different levels in London. This should be a collaborative effort that can also link to data and comms. My thinking is to scope out what might be involved, who are the various interests who could help, and resources needed. The long-term aim would be a system to minimise work load on Hub staff, maximise input and updating by others.
A guide to networks and networking. How to make use of maps, build networks, use networked comms.
Convene and support a Community of Practice of people who are, or want to be, network builders.
Learn by doing, through mapping, network building, storytelling, informal organising and the use of a mix of digital and other tools.
Networking opportunities and workshops bring the volunteering groups together to share practice
Brokering and linking regional pan London organisations to local groups and volunteer centres
Developing some collaborative solutions that help volunteer centres i.e. digital solutions i.e. provider led groups from CAS
Peer to peer work to drive up best practice and support learning out across the region
Use a mix of online and other methods
Build funding networks
Share learning and communicate across networks
Invest locally but with a requirement to be part of the wider infrastructure network. Our greatest asset is people who need to engage at each level, locally and nationally. Successful communication relies on face to face contact supported by projects who talk to each other and share information.
Pairing infrastructure organisation across boroughs/expanding across borough boundaries where is no infrastructure - Consistency of quality and support across the sector is vitally important to address areas of deprivation e.g.: Newham and Wandsworth where volunteer centres have closed and there is currently no adequate support to local communities, and people only have access to online provision, which often excludes the vulnerable.
Introduction of a minimum standard for the support offered to voluntary organisations and developing quality standards at different levels This would help to engage and influence the wider sector. There are quality standards already in place but these are expensive and difficult to fund. The use of charter marks for the minimum standards required to accept volunteers via Volunteer Centres would be helpful and would lead to organisations better recruiting and retaining volunteers.
Investigate the possibilities and cost of a centralised hub where tool kits, advise and signposting can be centralized/standardised Organisations need a place to access quality information and advice, this is especially important for small organisations. A virtual hub with a list of organisation meeting the required standard of support and advice backed up with downloadable documents would be useful. However, what is quality and who is responsible for the updates to such a service?
A new coproduction implementation group is established with key decision makers, civil society organisations, funders and local people /communities (particularly those representing equalities groups) to take forward the recommendations from this report and to coproduce new actions which achieve the overall aim of mainstreaming co-productive practices in London
Stakeholder analysis of who needs to be around the table which looks to explore how, for example, businesses can play a bigger role in co-production as an aspect of their CSR approaches and also for their business planning. This could be for example, commercial gyms participating in healthy living discussions and removing barriers to peoples’ participation in gym activities. This promotes health & exercise as well as opening up the gym to new potential users/members.
A communication and engagement strategy is devised around coproduction which includes a commitment to making publications and written material in accessible and easy read formats.
A peer to peer learning network/online community of ‘co-producers and an online facility for case studies
An annual co-production summit which brings all the above strands together
A toolkit for organisations looking to undertake a co-production approach which includes a self-evaluation approach
An annual cycle of training, seminars and workshops
Ensure that all networks are informed by grass roots information