The report and appendix are attached.
Charles Barlow (Delivery Lead – Localities) introduced the report which provided an update on delivery of the Voluntary and Community Sector Strategy alongside a summary of the significant and fundamental changes affecting the sector during the past two years.
Charles Barlow reported that the Strategy had been approved by Cabinet on 12 September 2019. It aimed to create a thriving, sustainable and dynamic voluntary and community sector which improved the lives of individuals and communities in Warwickshire. He advised that the response to the Pandemic had provided further evidence of the wealth of skills and resources within Warwickshire’s communities. The report outlined the significant challenges faced by the sector, which had changed fundamentally since March 2020. He praised the quality of the response of community organisations to COVID-19.
Charles Barlow stated that, despite the transformation brought about by the Pandemic, the vision and purpose of the Strategy was unchanged. The key objectives remained to support Council Plan outcomes. He advised that a crucial link was present between the Strategy and the COVID-19 Recovery Plan, which sought “to harness the power of our communities to tackle inequality and social exclusion”.
Charles Barlow stated that, in addition to the emphasis on social value and digital inclusion outlined within the Strategy, a focus on climate change, mental wellbeing, loneliness and isolation, and financial exclusion was required.
Charles Barlow directed members’ attention to the tables within the appendix of the report which provided details of progress made against the six core priorities of the Strategy. He stated that greater uncertainty could be anticipated over the coming 12 months. The Council would need to maintain a dynamic approach, act upon the knowledge and experience acquired during the Pandemic, invest wisely, and continue to recognise the strengths of the sector.
In response to Councillor Phillips, Charles Barlow advised that the Food Forum had been established in response to the challenges related to food supply and sustainability observed at the outset of the Pandemic. He stated that the issue of food supply could not be considered in isolation, a broader view encompassing debt, money management, housing and employment was required. The Food Forum would adopt an inclusive approach to supporting communities. In respect of the Family Hardship Strategy, he suggested that advice be sought from Kate Sahota (Lead Commissioner, Family Wellbeing).
Councillor Phillips praised the work undertaken by the Localities Team during the Pandemic. They had provided valuable support for individuals who were shielding.
Councillor Boad praised the quality of the report. She highlighted the work undertaken by town and parish councils during the Pandemic. Funding from WCC to Warwickshire Association of Local Councils (WALC) had enabled town and parish councils to better support communities and strengthened relationships between organisations.
The Chair strongly agreed, stating that the response of town and parish councils had been very impressive. He praised the exceptional contribution made by the Localities Team in coordinating arrangements.
Councillor Kaur highlighted the importance of digital inclusion, stating that connectivity was good across Warwickshire; however, a ... view the full minutes text for item 6