The primary voluntary sector membership and support organisations in Birmingham, Solihull, Dudley, Wolverhampton, Redditch, Sandwell, Walsall, Coventry, Cannock Chase, Tamworth, Stratford-on-Avon and Warwickshire have joined forces to ensure that local community groups, volunteers and social enterprises are able to engage effectively with the newly-formed West Midlands Combined Authority.
The agencies – which between them serve a constituency of over 20,000 locally-based community, voluntary, social enterprise and faith-based organisations and close to half a million volunteers – have agreed to work closely to coordinate voluntary sector and civil society input into the Combined Authority’s emerging priorities. The Combined Authority in turn has provided the group with a position on its Public Service Board, which looks at ways in which various sectors can collaborate to improve and streamline public services across the West Midlands.
The group – which operates as WMVCS under the strap-line “networking community and voluntary groups across the West Midlands Combined Authority area” – comprises Birmingham Voluntary Service Council, Solihull SUSTAiN, Dudley Council for Voluntary Service, Wolverhampton Voluntary Sector Council, Bromsgrove and Redditch Network, Sandwell Council of Voluntary Organisations, Voluntary Action Stratford-on-Avon, Walsall Voluntary Action, Support Staffordshire, Voluntary Action Coventry, and Warwickshire Community and Voluntary Action.
The group was launched on 12 February 2016 with the release of the following statement:
“We collectively welcome the opportunity afforded by the devolution deal with the West Midlands Combined Authority, and believe that the local community and voluntary sector has an important role to play in ensuring the WMCA achieves its aspirations for public service improvement, financial regeneration, and positive social change.
Our sector makes a considerable contribution to the West Midlands area. At a conservative estimate, we comprise: 20,000 local groups with an annual turnover of around £1.4bn; 34,000 FTE of paid staff; 480,000 volunteers worth a further £1.3bn per annum to the region’s economy; and a spending power of close to £3.3bn. Between us, we deliver somewhere in the region of 31 million interventions for local people in the WMCA area each year.
The organisations and volunteers we serve identify strongly with the major priority issues being addressed by the WMCA, such as employment and skills, mental health, and working with those with multiple and complex needs through the Troubled Individuals approach. We are eager to contribute through partnership to the development of action plans and activities in these areas.
Our place on the WMCA’s Public Service Board is very welcome, and we have appointed Brian Carr (Chief Executive of Birmingham Voluntary Service Council) as our initial representative, with Stephen Banbury (Chief Executive of Voluntary Action Coventry) as a substitute. Brian and Stephen will be working to link the local sector into conversation with the WMCA and we will shortly be holding a regional event for local groups where they can learn more about the WMCA and its plans.”