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Annual Review 2011-2012


We were very pleased to have been commissioned to deliver support services to voluntary and community sector organisations in Bristol from February 2011. The voluntary sector in Bristol had never before had a comprehensive support service and Voscur was thrilled to be chosen as the delivery organisation. This success led to many changes, some planned, some unforeseen. We knew that the CREATE Centre was not going to be the ideal base for the new service, so in April 2011 we moved to Royal Oak House in central Bristol (alongside Volunteer Bristol, Quartet Community Foundation and others). The nature of the new contract meant that we needed to restructure as an organisation. We reorganised our activity so that, in addition to our Voscur identity, we now provide direct support to organisations through the Support Hub and Voice and Influence services. Max Beseke, Chair of Voscur “As the national membership body for local infrastructure organisations, we have worked with our members across England to get funding. I have to say that Bristol City Council has been visionary in commissioning infrastructure support services in this way, at a time when this kind of support is very much needed by frontline organisations. In return, they have been rewarded by the excellent services provided by Voscur.” Joe Irvin, Chief Executive of NAVCA

“The Support Hub is proving to be an excellent and effective one stop shop of support services to Bristol’s voluntary and community sector. The brand is now well established and demand for the range of expert services is high – from the smallest and newest community groups through to larger, well established organisations. I have been hugely impressed by how well coordinated and creative the services offered are and how responsive the Hub is to the needs of local groups. It is all credit to Voscur and partners that this has been achieved in 18 months.” Gillian Douglas, Equalities and Community Cohesion Manager – Neighbourhoods and Communities, Bristol City Council

Front/back cover photographs: in 2011, Bristol Zoo’s Wow! Gorillas formed a mass public art event in the streets and parks of Bristol, bringing together residents, visitors, schools, artists and businesses. The event raised over £400,000 for vital gorilla conservation work and for local charity Wallis and Gromit’s Grand Appeal.


Support Hub The Support Hub is a service that helps Bristol based voluntary and community groups improve their performance, capacity, sustainability and quality. Support Hub services are provided by a staff team skilled in various areas including running an organisation, the Bristol Compact, commissioning and training/skills development. A number of partner agencies, including Avon and Bristol Law Centre, Ethical Property Foundation and Social Enterprise Works are able to provide other support. Groups are supported through a range of activities that are tailored to their needs. These include an organisational ‘health check’ to assess their current situation and support needs, a detailed action plan and one-to-one support sessions and training.

“Voscur’s help was like a beacon in the darkness that led us to a brighter outlook.” Rosa Hui  MBE DL Director of Bristol and Avon Chinese Women’s Group

How does the service work in practice? A case study Bristol and Avon Chinese Women’s Group approached us, struggling with funding cuts of approximately 50%. A Support Hub development worker met with the group, assessed its support needs and proposed an action plan. The group’s actions included: attending training sessions to improve skills; attending network meetings to find out about changes in health and social care policy; developing a fundraising strategy for the organisation with a contribution from all staff and trustees; considering trading options and recruiting new trustees to strengthen the organisation. Our Support Hub service was able to help with all of these actions.

Members of the Avon Chinese Women’s Group taking part in the ‘Oriental Pearl Project’

Voice and Influence People working in voluntary and community groups are often the first to identify areas of local need and spot trends in neighbourhoods and communities. It is important that these groups are able to influence decisions that affect the people that they are working with. Since the 2010 general election there have been changes in both local and national policies and decision-making structures. Providing information and opportunities to discuss and influence these changes has been a major part of establishing our Voice and Influence service during the first year. Voice and Influence is organised into three networks: • Health and Social Care • Children and Young People • Neighbourhoods and Communities These networks form part of the VCS Assembly, which is open to all of Bristol’s voluntary and community sector organisations. Elected advocates sit at the heart of the Assembly; ten advocates from the sector have been elected by voluntary organisations in Bristol to attend partnership boards and work together to influence decisions.

“As I work in the voluntary and community sector, I have a real and practical understanding of the role it takes in the delivery of services, the pressures and imbalance of power it faces and, most importantly, the value of the services and skills that the sector contributes to society.” Graham England VCS Advocate on the Reducing Reoffending Board

“With many changes taking place within the health and care landscape, it has been valuable to have the involvement of voluntary sector organisations. Their expertise of working with a diverse range of communities has enabled them to inform and influence how these changes will be implemented in Bristol and help make sure the needs of local people are met.” Kathy Eastwood Service Manager: Health Strategy, Bristol City Council

Voscur Annual Review 2011-2012  

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Support to Voscur members New groups continue to join Voscur and our current membership totals an impressive 579 organisations. The pie chart (right) illustrates the size of our member organisations in terms of their annual income. Members value our information services (website, quarterly newsletters and weekly e-bulletins), GRANTnet service (where people can search for funding opportunities), discounted training or training bursary offers, and the knowledge and expertise of

our skilled staff team. A large proportion of our members are also eligible to receive Support Hub services and are active in the Voice and Influence networks.

The income of our member organisations £0-10,000 £10,000 - £50,000

“We are now on the right track. Before we didn’t know where to go or who to ask for grants or other services. We were not aware of what was out there.” Shiv Sama, Avon Indian Association

£50,000 - £100,000 £100,000+ Income not known/listed

Reaching out to Black and Minority Ethnic led organisations Voscur recognises that organisations led by and/or working with and for people from BME communities need to ensure that their voices are heard. We have supported three events to engage BME led organisations; a voluntary and community sector BME fair for Black History Month; an information day for Polish people and a consultation event that began a process of identifying how BME organisations wanted to be involved in decision making in the city. Following this event (organised in partnership with Bristol City Council and the Bristol Legacy Commission), Voscur set up a steering group that commissioned a report into BME voice and influence in the city.

Further work following the recommendations from this report will be developed in 2012/13 so that we can make sure that BME organisations’ voices are effective and influential. “As interim chair, I lead the steering group in strategic discussions on how we can best meet both the current and future challenges facing BME communities. Meeting these challenges requires full transparency as well as input from diverse BME communities in Bristol. The Legacy Commission, Bristol City Council and Voscur have been instrumental in bringing those issues together from a wide range of community organisations. What is important now is that old processes are not repeated and our communities feel empowered to make their voices heard and play a part in making change happen.” Zaheer Shabi Interim Chair for the BME Voice & Influence Steering Group

107of our members work with BME communities in Bristol, of which are BME led 74 groups/organisations. Stall holders engaging with local people at the Polish Information Day.

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Voscur Annual Review 2011-2012  


Training and learning We continue to offer training at a range of different levels through our open programme. So that our customers benefit from the very best expertise and a wide range of training courses, we work in partnership with voluntary, private and public sector organisations to deliver a comprehensive training programme. This programme has been extended to offer themed support for groups from particular equalities communities and

neighbourhoods. We have developed and successfully piloted our Kick Start course, which covers all aspects of starting and developing a voluntary and community sector organisation. “Voscur courses are really great value for money; extremely well informed and organised. I would recommend Voscur to anyone with training needs.” Jodie Lucas Jones, SS Great Britain Trust

“Following on from my training with you I built up the confidence to submit a funding application. We were granted £1000 to build an outdoor education kitchen for young people so they can learn about sustainability and self-sufficiency. Thanks so much for great training; I would never have applied for this money if I hadn’t attended.” Stacey Vallis, Young Bristol

During 2011/12, we have offered places on courses Two women taking part in Voscur’s Confident to Present training course.

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Bristol Compact Voscur’s support for the Bristol Compact and its hosting of the Compact Liaison Officer has been key to the Compact’s success in Bristol. Whilst some of this success is in finding solutions to issues between voluntary sector organisations and statutory partners before they become problematic, there is also much to celebrate publicly. It is clear, for example, that the Compact’s principles have been integrated into Bristol City Council’s 2012 Community Investment Strategy. In addition to the 12 week consultation period on the draft strategy, the principles of three year funding agreements, full cost recovery and a three-month notice period of decommissioning plans have been incorporated. The final strategy clearly demonstrates the use of the Compact and its principles and their contribution to successful joint working between the voluntary sector and the local authority.

“Having the Compact Liaison Officer located in the Voscur office is really helpful. The role works especially well being situated next to the Support Hub and Voice and Influence services.” Mark Hubbard, Bristol Compact Liaison Officer

“We have greatly appreciated the way in which the Bristol Compact has helped us understand commissioning processes and legislation during the last year. This has proved invaluable when we have been discussing and involved with Bristol City Council’s commissioning processes.” Derrick Thompson, Former Chairperson of the Bristol Supported Housing Forum

Voscur Annual Review 2011-2012  

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Partnership working The new contract (and the stability that it provides) has enabled Voscur to work with partners in a range of different ways to enhance and improve the services we offer. Voscur members have continued to benefit from good relationships with private sector supporters, particularly those with expertise in employment law and human resources. We have partnered with Business in the Community (BITC) to produce the ‘Business on Board’ pilot, encouraging business people to join voluntary sector trustee boards. We have worked with local higher and further education institutions this year. In partnership with the University of Bristol and South West Forum, we are looking at ways of measuring the difference our support makes to voluntary and community groups. City of Bristol College also commissioned Voscur to deliver a series of training sessions to support groups active in Neighbourhood Partnerships. In partnership with Bristol’s Adult Community Learning Board, Voscur has promoted the value that voluntary and community sector groups bring to community learning as part of the West of England Learning Partnership.

Acknowledgements We want to say a big “thank you” to all of the individuals and organisations that helped us through this challenging year in Voscur’s history. There are too many to name here, but we will start with: • Our board members (who are elected from our membership) for their support, direction and guidance. • Our staff team – new staff including those who came to us from other organisations and existing staff who made them all welcome. • Our members who continue to recognise the value of a local support and development organisation. • The joint commissioners of the new service who acknowledged that this was a difficult year and have been very supportive. • Our supporters from the business sector: Burton Sweet, Business in the Community, Charity HR, Foot Anstey. • The VCS Advocates (to see a full list, visit: www.voiceandinfluence.org.uk/advocates)

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Voscur Annual Review 2011-2012  

Voscur partnered with the Natural History Consortium, Volunteer Bristol, Bristol City Council and others to promote volunteering opportunities in green and environmental organisations. “Business on Board, a new trustee brokerage programme established under BITC’s Business Connector programme, has demonstrated the growing importance of cross-sector collaboration in building the capacity of the voluntary sector. I am enormously grateful to Voscur for sharing their intelligence on voluntary sector organisations and local community issues and supporting the engagement and training of both the business volunteers and the participating organisations. Bristol has now seen many trustee vacancies filled by individuals from the business community. As well as creating a new level of trust and cohesion in Bristol’s communities, the knowledge and skills that Business Connectors gain from this experience will also create better businesses.” Jo Le Poidevin Regional Director, South West, Business in the Community


Voscur staff members  2011-2012 Wendy Stephenson

Asma Ahmad

Chief Executive

Development Worker (Children and Young People’s Network)

Ruth Pitter Manager (Equalities and Development)

Denise Martin Finance & Membership Administrator

Rebecca McDougall Resources Manager

Liz Gorman Administrator (Support Hub)

Matthew Symonds Manager (Participation)

Polly Stewart Senior Administrator

Sophie Bayley Workforce Development Co-ordinator

Charlene Lawrence Administrator (Participation)

Mark Hubbard Compact Liaison Officer

Lucy Fletcher Events and Training Administrator

Paddy Nesbitt Development Worker (Governance and Performance Improvement)

Corinne Thomas Development Worker (Funding and Financial Stability)

Sean Kenny Development Worker (Information Communication Technology)

Jessica Lewin Information Co-ordinator

Voscur board members  2011-2012 Max Beseke Chair

Paul Hazelden joint Vice-Chair and Treasurer

Anna Smith

Frances Fox Abdullahi Farah Philip Parry Hen Wilkinson

joint Vice-Chair

Richard Pendlebury

Joanna Holmes

Ian Steele

John Pendlington Voscur Annual Review 2011-2012  

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Voscur is a registered charity and a not-for-profit company limited by guarantee. Company no. 3918210. Charity no. 1148403.

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Voscur Annual Review 2011-2012  

Voscur Annual Report 2011/2012  

A review of Voscur's work across its different services over the period of April 2011 - March 2012.

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