At the end of October we hosted our first Black Third Sector Summit for black voluntary sector stakeholders from across England. The 3-day Summit was attended by nearly 200 delegates, representing a wide range of stakeholder organisations including Directors and Trustees of Black-led community organisations and leaders from the statutory and corporate sectors.
Recognising that Black communities have been disproportionately affected by the COVID 19 pandemic, the Summit specifically sought to explore how voluntary and community sector organisations working with black communities can adapt and respond to changing needs and the requirement for socially-distanced delivery.
With each day focussed on a different theme, the summit explored key challenges and responses in relation to health, education, enterprise and employment.
Some of the key themes to emerge across the three days were:
- The move to providing more services online is an opportunity for micro-charities to reach a wider audience. At the same time, they need to ensure that people who use their services have access to the technology and are able to use it to connect.
- People from BAME backgrounds have not all been impacted by Covid 19 in the same way. Public service (particularly in the statutory sector) need to understand how the local situation often varies from the national and how different communities have been impacted to ensure they address issues of access and support in the most effective way.
- Data about the needs of a particular group and demonstrating the impact of the service can be used to attract funding, but also to influence policy and practice.
- At a time when the sector is under greater pressure than ever, statutory services who want to work with the voluntary and community sector – e.g. as Experts by Experience in health services – need to value and pay for their time and input.
- Local commissioners are often seeking rapid responses to address challenges raised or exacerbated by COVID 19. The voluntary and community sector is closer to communities than statutory services and often able to respond effectively. Creating partnerships with other groups to provide services together can extend reach and impact and increase the willingness of commissioners to invest.
We have set up our Communities Stakeholder page to support Summit attendees and all our partners to continue the conversations started at the Summit, share learning and access resources.