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Paper 9 - 28 March 2003 Meeting

ASSOCIATION OF HAMPSHIRE AND ISLE OF WIGHT LOCAL AUTHORITIES

28 March 2003

MAPPING THE VOLUNTARY SECTOR IN HAMPSHIRE AND THE ISLE OF WIGHT

Report by Joint Project Steering Group

RECOMMENDATION

That the report be noted.

SUMMARY

A partnership led by Community Action Hampshire and Hampshire County Council is developing a new database to map the voluntary and community sector in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight. This report provides an update.

CONTEXT

1. There has been growing recognition of the contribution made by the voluntary and community sector to society as a whole and to local communities in particular. Government has given the sector a central role to play, as a complementary but equal partner alongside the statutory sector, in a raft of initiatives such as tackling social exclusion to deliver social cohesion, community planning, diversity, community safety, health and social care, lifelong learning, rural and urban regeneration, public service delivery and support for vulnerable people. But lack of information about what exists in the local ‘market place’ can be a barrier to participation and getting the best results.

2. Following the Treasury Cross-Cutting Review of the Role of the Voluntary and Community Sector in Service Delivery, published in September 2002, the Active Community Unit is now embarked on devising strategies to improve infrastructure and capacity building and to encourage better use of ICT. This project has anticipated and will support both those aims.

INTRODUCTION

3. Some time ago, Hampshire County Council, with the support of the Executive Member for Economic Development, and Community Action Hampshire entered into discussions about a project to study the economic impact of the voluntary sector in Hampshire. However, rather than produce a one-off report, it was agreed that it would be preferable to produce a more permanent outcome in the form of a database of voluntary and community organisations, mapping their geographical spread and diversity. Other data could also be collected which would facilitate the generation of reports on topics such as the sector’s economic impact whenever such information was required.

4. Other interested parties were brought together and eventually a Steering Group was set up. This comprises representation from HCC and CAH, plus the Learning Partnerships, Business Link Wessex, the Strategic Health Authority, the district Local Authorities (Community Development Officers Network), GOSE and the Hampshire & IOW CVS Network. North Harbour Consulting Ltd were commissioned to undertake the work.

5. The project entails four phases – feasibility, database design (including website), data population and study/report. Stage 1, the Feasibility Study, has been funded by Business Link Wessex, Hampshire County Council and the Learning Partnerships.

6. The Feasibility Study, following consultation with a range of stakeholders via pro formas, visits, telephone interviews, workshops and a major consultation event, put forward a set of options which were distilled down into two possible strategies, either:

ˇ a central subregional database accessed on-line; or

ˇ a series of local databases accessed via a shared web portal.

7. The Steering Group, taking into account feedback from the consultation and other considerations such as cost and ease of use, has decided on a subregional database but with the additional optional facility of local data collection and verification to an agreed set of protocols.

8. It has also been agreed that the work should continue under the management of a more formal multi-agency Partnership.

BENEFITS

9. There is no detailed database currently available for Hampshire. Local CVSs and statutory agencies collect and store information in a variety of ways and of varying quality although three areas (Portsmouth, Southampton and Basingstoke) have invested in local database development. However, the advantages of a central subregional database, accessible over the worldwide web, and with ‘downloads’ to local databases - the preferred option, include:

ˇ strategic tool for local, multi-district and subregional development

ˇ appreciation of the nature and scope of the voluntary sector

ˇ identification of service gaps

ˇ assessment of economic, social and environmental impact of the voluntary sector

ˇ increased potential for cross-sector working and partnerships

ˇ a tool to support consultation exercises by Local Strategic Partnerships, health and other statutory agencies as well as within the voluntary sector itself, with the potential to draw in more than the ‘usual suspects’

ˇ the provision of data to help statutory agencies to target resources where needed

ˇ information to support funding bids

ˇ the ability by statutory and voluntary agencies to download information to desktop management systems which can be tailored to specific operational requirements

ˇ promotion and publicity for voluntary/community organisations with the opportunity for improved volunteer recruitment

ˇ support for capacity building amongst the CVSs themselves

ˇ removal of geographical barriers for members of the public seeking information and agencies who need to take a wider than district view

ˇ reduction in duplication of effort by those collecting data and questionnaire fatigue by those providing data

FUNDING

10. Stage 1, the Feasibility Study, has now been completed and involved enormous effort in consultation and consensus building. Completion of the implementation stages is likely to require ca £150K additional funding over two years – an estimated £75,000 for the design and development and Year 1 start-up costs, plus Year 2 revenue costs, and a ‘state of the sector’ report.

11. Having now completed the first stage of the work, the Feasibility Study, the time has come to implement the database design and development. To date commitments have been received from HCC, Business Link Wessex, and the Learning Partnerships to a value of ca £62,500. The Hampshire Community Strategy Fund, in recognition of the value of the project to community planning, has awarded £37,000.

12. Some running costs could also be offset by the redeployment of resources currently being used for the existing community database, "COUSIN", and the possibility of some contribution from e-government money is also being investigated.

13. We would hope that all the statutory agencies would feel able to make a contribution, and thus gain a valuable resource at relatively little outlay.

CONCLUSION

14. The project has demonstrated its potential and its ability to deliver in the completion of Stage 1. It has a very broad range of support amongst the key stakeholders and a solid base of organisation/consultation. It has now reached a critical phase and will require ongoing commitment. 15. There are still practical and organisational issues to be resolved. Not least the project presents a huge challenge in terms of information management. Nevertheless the project is groundbreaking and there is much interest from outside the subregion in the progress of this undertaking. Success is a prize worth striving for!

JOHN REES-EVANS
Head of Economic Development, Hampshire County Council and
Chair of the Steering Group

CHRISTINE PATTISON
Policy and Information Officer, Community Action Hampshire
and Secretary of the Steering Group

Date: 12 March 2003
Annex: 0
Contact: Christine Pattison tel. 01962 854971 email christine.pattison@hants.org.uk

Last update: 18/03/2003
Author: Nick Goulder, Policy Manager

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