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Transforming infrastructure

14 April 2014

In this guest blog Barney Mynott, Public Affairs Officer for NAVCA, talks about a series of Transforming Local Infrastructure workshops.  

 

Barney Mynott

Over the past month I have been at five workshops that NAVCA have held to talk with local infrastructure charities about the difference Transforming Local Infrastructure (TLI) funding made. The workshops aimed to maximise the learning from TLI, making sure that a good idea from South London can be used in Cheshire and Devon benefits from ideas formed in Leicester.

The workshops have been incredibly creative; at times I’ve been drowning in brainwaves. Now the workshops are completed it is possible to pull ideas together into some common themes.

 

  1. TLI gave people space. It allowed people to take a step back, think about what is possible and do things they otherwise wouldn’t have been able to.
  2. You need to be in the right place to make the most of opportunities. It was said that sometimes you need to ‘just do it’. Rather than just doing funded work you need to take a risk and do something unfunded to be in a better position to win paid work.
  3. Infrastructure charities are in an ideal place to broker support from local businesses and their knowledge of local needs can maximise impact. The majority of support available is in kind (such as providing pro bono help or providing venues) rather than cash.
  4. Localism increases the desire of local statutory bodies to consult with local communities but without the necessary resources. Low cost representation solutions are needed and TLI provided some solutions.
  5. There is agreement that consortia can help smaller charities get commissioned but different approaches to doing this. In some areas partnerships were formed to look for contracts, in other areas consortia are built in quickly response to contracts.
  6. Many organisations are introducing/increasing charging. The debate is about what sells and what will need subsidising. How can you make sure that groups with no money or emerging groups can still get support?
  7. People have an affinity with their local area. A lot of areas successfully developed local giving schemes to support smaller local charities who struggle to compete with national brands.
  8. Finally, many coming to the workshops were from areas which didn’t get TLI funding. They brought their own ideas and thoughts about ways for infrastructure to evolve.

ransforming Local Infrastructure event

Voluntary sector infrastructure has existed for over 100 years and it is as innovative as ever in finding new ways to meet the needs of local charities and community groups.

NAVCA has learnt a lot from these workshops and we are putting these ideas along with our learning from the End of Grant reports into six themed documents. These reports will give information about what has been tried by different TLI partnerships and help us understand what has worked and what hasn’t. We will make these available for everyone. TLI funding has finished but, as the workshops have shown, the work continues.

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