For a while I’ve been advocating a “voice-business” model of voluntary and community sector organisations, in which organisations harness the delivery of services with being the representative voice of their local communities (“community” in whatever sense you want to define it, be it by interest group, equality group, geography etc.).
One place I articulated this perspective was in a publication ripfa kindly asked me to write for them on user-led organisations (you can download this here (pdf)), based on something my organisation ecdp has been putting into place over the last 4 years. There’s a lot more detail in there about the approach, and particularly the interplay and interdependency between voice and business that user-led organisations uniquely provide.
With this background it was pleasing to read John Tizard on the ProgLoc blog talk about building alliances between localists and the voluntary and community sector, recognising that:
The third sector and in particular the voluntary and community sector plays an important role in delivering public services but as importantly in developing community capacity, supporting communities and neighbourhoods to take charge. It represents and provides voice for communities of interest and geography.
It’s not rocket science, but it’s nice to see this approach being articulated more and more as the language surrounding the VCS shifts itself slightly towards the nuances required by the public sector economy.
(For a second, I was worried John was advocating something akin to the dreaded Compact in his mooted “local partnership agreements,” between progressive Councils and the VCS, but was relieved to see he meant something far more concrete and meaningful in his remedy than that which the warm-worded but woefully toothless Compact sought to achieve.)