Advancing the Voluntary and Community Sector Assembly in Dorset

We are all involved in supporting one another in our communities – together we are the Voluntary and Community Sector (VCS). Everyone in the VCS is a partner in the Assembly and everyone’s voice counts.

The Dorset Voluntary and Community Sector Assembly (VCSA) aspires to greater representation of issues that are experienced by the VCS, creates stronger connections within the VCS, and facilitates increased networking and collaboration with partners from other sectors in the community.

  • Dorset VCSA aims to be a respected and valued mechanism for the VCS to connect, work together and broaden the Dorset network

  • The Dorset VCSA aims to provide opportunities for high quality and equitable representation and promotion of the VCS and with public and private sector partners across the county

The VCSA was formed in July 2022. It formally agreed a draft Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the new Integrated Care Board (NHS Dorset) and joined the Integrated Care Partnership (ICP) in July 2022. The MOU ensures the involvement of the VCS in Dorset in the development of the Integrated Care System (ICS) and its full participation in the operation of the ICP (Integrated Care Partnership), ICB (Integrated Care Board), and the mechanisms that support these new integrated systems in Dorset.

The VCSA Governance Board (GB) was established in May 2023.

Since then, it has been a busy and informative period establishing relationships and developing effective ways of working together.

A graphic depicting the VCS Assembly in design and context.

Key messages from Dorset VCSA

  • One goal – giving people and communities the support they need

  • Collaborate – together, seeing the whole person or community

  • Represent – living up to our duty to represent and engage ICS partners at all levels

The VCSA Governance Board has a responsibility to create a culture where the sector has an independent voice and a collective representation in which the values and principles of the Assembly are central and reflected in all our work.

The VCSA Governance Board is working hard to develop the Assembly and ensure progress in line with its established strategic priorities, vision, and values.

Our story so far

This is what we have done already.

We have:

  • Agreed Shared Values – Dorset VCSA Values – We are built on a foundation of trust, which creates the context for collaboration, communication, and confidence in working together in a way that is: Accessible, Representative and Engaged; Honest; Inclusive, Fair, Equitable & Accountable; Open & Transparent; Respectful & Humble

  • Established Dorset VCSA through extensive co-design and co-production facilitated by Community Action Network (CAN), #HelpAndKindness, and NHS Dorset, with the writing and adoption of a Terms of Reference for the Assembly

  • Established the VCSA Governance Board

The Governance Board has:

  • Reviewed and acknowledged the enormous amount of beneficial work that was completed to this point by the initial Engagement Group (CAN and #HelpAndKindness, including establishing the Assembly and holding the responsibility to represent the Assembly within the new structures and systems of the ICS

  • Agreed funding and other resources with the ICB to support the VCSA

  • Reviewed the initial Engagement Group model for delivering the operational activities of the Assembly and replaced the Engagement Group through setting up the Assembly as an independent organisation to deliver its aims with a Programme Director who is directly accountable to the Governance Board

  • Appointed Jon Sloper as Interim Programme Director for the Assembly, in a dedicated part-time capacity, to complete the setup of the Assembly’s operating systems. The recruitment of a permanent Programme Director will be initiated in the new year

Our current priorities

These are the things that we are working on now. We are:

  • Promoting the awareness and understanding of the Assembly in Dorset

  • Creating operating models and systems with and for the VCSA to fulfil its functions:

    Enabling effective communication and representation, and facilitating engagement within the VCS and between the VCSA and ICS partners

    Ensuring the diversity of the VCS in Dorset is strongly reflected in its operation

  • Developing the Assembly’s strategic and operational priorities

  • Developing the Governance Board through:

    Ensuring the function of the Board is purpose-driven and accountable

What’s next?

The future work programme for the Assembly will be based on the Assembly’s strategic and operational priorities. It will include considering the following areas, looking at how to:

  • Develop effective communications and support systems with and for the VCS

  • Create and reinforce a culture where the VCSA has a voice independently and collectively, which is clear and supportive of its values and vision

  • Provide the VCS with clear and defined opportunities to understand, influence, and support better health and wellbeing outcomes for people in Dorset

  • Promote the awareness of and inclusion of the VCS in designing and delivering services in partnership within the ICS

  • Collaborate to develop and share VCS health and wellbeing experience and insights within the ICP

  • Support and be a critical friend to the partners in the ICS as the ICP develops new models of working which deliver services and support equitably through Place and Neighbourhood

  • Realise the VCSA’s potential by building on the strongest of collaborative foundations; through this we believe there are great opportunities for us all working with the ICP to be better together for our communities