Dorset Voluntary and Community Sector Assembly (Dorset VCSA) is a service, a network and a mechanism for everyone in Dorset’s voluntary and community sector (VCS) to participate in debate, discussion and action about issues that matter in Dorset.

It is designed to be supported by an engagement group (made up of Help and Kindness and Community Action Network), and managed and overseen by a governance board to ensure it meets the aims the VCS has set for the Assembly. It allows greater representation of issues that are experienced by the VCS, creates stronger connections within the VCS, and facilitates better networking and collaboration with partners from other sectors in the community; e.g. local authority and healthcare.

The Assembly is the official partner for the VCS within Dorset’s integrated care system (ICS). It has a mandate and duty to represent and engage with other ICS partners at all levels.

A graphic depicting the VCS Assembly in design and context.

At the top of the image are things Dorset ICS may want the VCS to contribute to. This includes strategy for the NHS, programme design, research and service delivery.

At the bottom is the wonderful, creative VCS, some of which is linked together, some of which isn’t. Some is large, some is just a single, wonderful individual doing great things in their community.

In the middle is a service provided by the engagement group (initially #HelpAndKindness and Community Action Network) who weave between the ICS and the VCS to include and involve people, open links and lines of communication at all levels, and work in ways that flex to fit both the VCS (eg going to community meetings on a wild and wet Wednesday evening in January in the depths of rural Dorset) and public sector partners in the ICS (eg going to board meetings and service reviews in person or online).

The work of holding the engagement group and the wider Assembly to account on these values has been assigned to a second part of the Assembly; the governance board.

Together, the engagement group and the governance board will facilitate and enable the operation of the VCS Assembly and support its aims:

  • Dorset VCSA will provide a respected and valued mechanism for the VCS to connect, work together and broaden the Dorset network
  • The Dorset VCSA will provide opportunity for high quality and equitable representation and promotion within the VCS and with public and private sector partners across the county


Jon Sloper
CEO #HelpAndKindness
01305 59 59 58

Emma Lee
Partnerships Manager, Community Action Network (CAN)
01202 466130