Bristol VCSE Strategy - why do we need it?

Building on stokes croft with 'community' written in the windowsPhoto by saibotography CC BY-SA 2.0

The VCSE sector has existed for centuries, with thousands of organisations arising from community needs by motivated, inspired people coming together to make a difference. We have a long and impressive pedigree. Our sector ranges from micro informal groups of volunteers to large organisations with hundreds of employees. It includes registered charities, industrial and provident societies, community interest companies, social enterprises and more. Name a social issue and you’ll find VCSE organisations working on it! The amazing diversity of our sector makes attempts to adequately describe the wider VCSE sector challenging.  We believe this must be addressed as part of an evolving programme to ensure the sector is flexible and responsive enough to make the most of opportunities.  The strategy will also help to strengthen our foundations, improve sustainability and support growth.   

In terms of relationships and effective partnership working, the Compact was first established in 1998 and it recognised the value and importance of the VCSE sector. The Bristol Compact, the local agreement between the VCSE and public sectors, was developed in 2004 and updated twice since. It has provided useful focus in our partnership working, with many Compact principles becoming business-as-usual, and the local Compact work has been celebrated in national awards

The VCSE sector operates in a complex, rapidly changing environment. In Bristol, we have changing and growing population (increasing younger population, hundreds of community languages etc), major changes to public services, changes to how the sector is financed and increasing expectations.  All of this makes it necessary to rethink how the city will meet people’s and communities’ complex needs whilst building resilience.

We want the new VCSE Strategy and Compact to:

  • Demonstrate the value and impact of the sector
  • Demonstrate that the sector provides credible solutions to shrinking public funding
  • Reduce duplication and increase effectiveness of activities delivered by sector, and
  • Foster collaboration within the sector and with others.