VCFS Engagement in Lancashire
During 2008, as the Children’s Trusts arrangements were being developed in Lancashire, in line with the Apprentices Skills, Children and Learning Bill, it was recognised new arrangements were needed to engage key partners including the VCFS with the new trusts at a local and strategic level across Lancashire.
An engagement model was developed based on the following principles:
· Information Sharing
The model recognises the diversity and differing levels of capacity to engage with the children’s trusts.
The VCFS Children and Young People's Services Reference Group was set up to provide an open platform for third sector organisations working with children and young people across Lancashire to engage at the strategic level. It is aligned to Third Sector Lancashire which provides representation of the wider VCFS to the Lancashire Strategic Partnership Board.
Young Lancashire hosts a The VCFS CYP Services County Reference Group, which has been set up in a way that allows a range of engagement with the Lancashire Children and Young People’s Trust Board and Partnership. The Group is a growing community of over 225 members who are able to keep in touch with the trust’s business. All registered contacts receive communications via a monthly online newsletter ‘Children and Young People Lancashire (CYPL) News’ and papers and communications from the county wide Reference Group meetings. To access the notes from previous meetings visit: VCFS Reference Group Meetings Store
The group was formed in early 2009 and it has continued to meet on a bi-monthly basis. Its guiding principles include:
- To involve the Children’s VCFS in the development of a Children’s Trust approach at a strategic
- To facilitate information sharing knowledge and best practice
- To link the five outcomes and not lose sight of children, young people, families and communities
- To support the participation of children, young people, families and communities in the process
- Supporting the VCFS to deliver high quality needs led services.
- To demonstrate and articulate the diversity of the sector
- To support the trust to ensure safeguarding is embedded in all planning, commissioning and delivery of services
- Ensure a preventative approach is embedded in all planning, commissioning and delivery of services
- To develop links with neighbouring Unitary authorities
- To select appropriate representees to represent the sector, when vacancies arise within the Children’s Trusts arrangements.
All County level trust vacancies open to the VCFS are discussed at the VCFS County wide reference group who have endorsed some representation principles. These principles were revisited at the Get on Your Soap Box Training in May 2010 and provide clear guidelines on representing the wider sector. Upon making nominations to the group, all applicants are asked to consider their ability to advocate and provide a voice on behalf of the sector and sign up to agreed communication channels which include making a written report to the group on a bimonthly basis.
The principles of representation include:
- Act as an advocate for the VCFS rather than their own organisation.
- Act as a critical friend for statutory services
- Promote joint working between statutory organisations and the VCFS
- Liaise with other agencies and organisations to ensure that resources are best utilised to reduce
- duplication and competition
- To attend meetings regularly and to inform deputies if unable to attend
- To provide timely reports on meetings
Interested in joining the County VCFS Reference Group? Contact Graham Whalley on 01772 556127 or Graham Whalley. A schedule of dates for County VCFS CYP Reference Groups meetings (2013-2014) are available to downlaod below, all are welcome to attend these meetings.
Who's Your Representative? If you have an issue or concern that you would like raising at your Children's Trust you can get in touch with the VCFS representative. There are a wide range of sub groups operating within the trust arrangements too and it may be certain issues are best put forward via these groups. For a full list of known groups and VCFS reps across Lancashire. See the below attachment.
District Level Engagement
At a local district level, VCFS Forums were created and provide a direct communication and engagement model with the Children’s Trusts locally. The forums meet following the trust meetings to disseminate and share information. Some Forums also have focus groups with young people to discuss key policies such as safeguarding and teenage pregnancy often finding innovative ways through the arts to engage young people in decisions that affect them.
If your organisation would like to get involved download the document below to find out who your local and county contacts are.