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Chief Officers & Chairs Group

Chief Officers & Chairs Group

To work together to ensure a thriving third sector in the Harrogate District which is able to meet the needs of the local community

‘Such a good quality forum and much needed to share and join together.’

‘Keeps us in touch with the local scene’  

February 2020 Update

We enjoyed the art work in Henshaws Arts & Crafts Centre Café, an interesting presentation from Jo from  The Cranfied Trust and keeping in touch with many friends and colleagues doing great work across the Harrogate District in often challenging circumstances.

The Cranfield Trust offers free support (including PR and IT, mentoring, mergers, managing change etc) to charities and social enterprises.

It is always good to share and join together, to keep in touch with local needs, issues & opportunities to improve life for all local people.

As well as news from members we shared updates on the Harrogate District Climate Change Coalition, Harnessing the Power of Communities (HPoC) Programme, the new Think Harrogate initiative and THE LOCAL FUND for the Harrogate District.

From 1 May 2020 HARCVS will undergo a major change as it restructures to concentrate on the provision of services for older and vulnerable people delivered across the District under the umbrella of the Harrogate Easier Living Project. The changes are necessary to secure the future of the charity and follow a challenging three years after the changes to the way in which NYCC and the NHS fund the provision of support for charities and community groups in North Yorkshire in 2017.

HARCVS will no longer be able to run the long established programme of forums and network meetings, including the Chief Officers Group. So sadly this was the last meeting of the HARCVS Harrogate District VCS Chief Officers and Chairs Group, with thanks to everyone who has supported it since it was launched in 2009.    

November 2019 Update

Kindly hosted by Disability Action Yorkshire, we had an update on the NHS Harnessing the Power of Communities (HPoC) Programme in Harrogate District. Funding had been received to enable work on local community asset mapping, a loneliness strategy, improving access to information in communities; collaborative working and workforce development. Going forward the focus will be on frail older people, loneliness and mental health.

It is important to make good connections with the new Primary Care Networks and Harrogate and Rural Alliance and to evidence and help understanding of the value of voluntary sector services in prevention (of admittance to hospital). More complex referrals are having an impact on charity teams, making workforce resilience a priority. Any increase in referrals to voluntary sector services from the statutory sector needs funding to enable local charities to meet additional demand.  

Free Mental Health First Aid and Suicide Alertness training is being delivered and next year there will be a bursary scheme to enable learning and sharing of good practice in other areas.

September 2019 Update

We welcomed Lev Pedro from national support charity NCVO to our September meeting kindly hosted by Ripon YMCA. 

It was an opportunity to give Lev an insight into local challenges around funding, volunteer recruitment and rural services, and also to showcase the great work our local charity members do.

Lev was impressed by the level of mutual support at the meeting and our local relationships and connections.  He also took away the challenges local charities and local people face including funding, loneliness and rural transport and took the opportunity to share some of the ways in which NCVO can help local charities providing vital services.

After spending a day with HARCVS, Lev wrote a blog about his visit.  

Mark Hopley from Community First Yorkshire attended the meeting to share opportunities available through the West Yorkshire & Harrogate Health Partnership  Harnessing the Power of Communities (HPoC) Programme    

May 2019 Update

There was a presentation from the new Universal Credit Best Practice Lead working with Citizens Advice at our May meeting in Harrogate Community House.  We learnt about the new Help to Claim service supporting people with Universal Credit claims and how intelligence and best practice will be shared with local voluntary organisations.

We also had an update on the Harnessing the Power of Communities (HPoC) Programme including plans for new Primary Care Networks and Social Prescribing Link Workers. It was highlighted that the local voluntary sector was in a good position to help locally and there were already good examples of local social prescribing. Community Based Asset Mapping is seen as a key tool. It makes sense to make the best of what is already in place in communities.

Other topics included the Homelessness Strategy 2019-2024 and Community Safety challenges such as ‘County Lines’, as well as updates on new local services and opportunities to get involved with forthcoming events including Pride in Diversity.

February 2019 Update

We were given a warm welcome at the fantastic new premises of Wellspring Therapy and Training in Starbeck.  

Presentations about the West Yorkshire & Harrogate Health Partnership (WYH HCP) Harnessing the Power of Communities (HPoC) Programme in Harrogate District highlighted funded opportunities to work with statutory partners; develop the voluntary sector workforce; map our community health assets; identify hidden issues/ gaps in provision and work on a Strategy and Action Plan for Loneliness in Harrogate District.

We need to understand the latest jargon, national and regional initiatives to be in the best position to enable our local charities, who best understand local people and local needs, to tackle issues such as poverty, loneliness, mental health and wellbeing day in and day out. 

November 2018 Update

20 charity chief officers & chairs shared information and opportunities, connecting and learning about new initiatives. We also heard about the work of the Community Safety Hub based at Harrogate Borough Council and ways we can work together. Community Safety Manager, Julia Stack, shared information about many local issues including referrals for mediation services; a small budget for Handyperson Scheme for safety chains/ spy holes etc for vulnerable people in our community; County Lines and the Prevent key messages of Notice, Check and Share. We also heard about the Children in Need Emergency Essentials Fund which provides grants for items that meet children and young peoples’ most basic needs or are critical to their wellbeing.  

September 2018 Update

Leading an organisation can sometimes be a lonely place, so it's good to be able to get together to share issues and challenges, as well as good news and success. Thank you to Ripon YMCA for kindly hosting the Group, which is working together to help the people who need our local members’ charity services.

Opportunities for partnership working, funding, feedback and representation were shared. The information exchange is always valuable for members and also raises awareness of current issues, including problems around basic two way communications with the voluntary sector. Karen, HARCVS Chief Executive, is then able to raise these issues in her role as voluntary sector representative on the Harrogate District Public Services Leadership Board

With regards to public sector funding, there was often the need to do more with less. It was necessary to manage expectations. The voluntary sector needed to be assertive about what could be realistically delivered for the funding provided. Small amounts of money were not being made available for prevention services. Sometimes it seemed to be getting harder to engage, when there was a need to work together.

May 2018 Update

The meeting was kindly hosted by Saint Michael's Hospice. 

We discussed how we can sustain and develop much needed local charity support services. Colleagues from NHS Harrogate and Rural District CCG and North Yorkshire County Council gave an update about their work and future plans for integrated care. Group members made the important point that if referrals are made to local charity services, funding needs to follow to enable the services to be delivered and to meet demand. The voluntary sector needs to be at the table involved in decision making. 

A request was made to ensure that the contribution made by the sector is recognised and valued and acknowledgment that it is not sustainable to refer people on into the voluntary sector without consideration of how such support is paid for.  Even when services are delivered by volunteers they are never free, and overheads need to be met; safeguarding ensured and legal obligations adhered to.

Background to the Group

The Chief Officers and Chairs Group was set up by Harrogate & Area CVS and Ripon CVS in late 2009 in order to support the local Voluntary and Community Sector (VCS) to consult on the NYCC and NHS North Yorkshire and York “Securing the Future: A Dialogue with the Third Sector” paper.

The group was established to allow key decision makers from local VCS organisations to identify issues of mutual concern and to generate local solutions. The group aims to collaborate and communicate more effectively within the sector and therefore strengthen the collective voice of the local VCS.