As well as being Energize Chief Executive, Chris has also been chair of the Voluntary and Community Sector Assembly (VCSA) for the past two years. The VCSA is the voice of the voluntary and community sector across Shropshire Chris explained that the sector is “diverse and features lots of different small and large organisations” and the VCSA exists to try to represent them all The VCSA also work to collect information about the sector, such as whether the sector is growing or struggling for volunteers and what can be done to support this.

Chris joined the VCSA in 2012, as they launched a forum of interest surrounding sport and physical activity, which Energize leads. He describes the VCSA as a champion for local causes as public sector organisations often consult with the VCSA on matters relating to policy and procedural changes.

As chair of the VCSA, Chris leads board meetings four times a year, supplemented by meetings which occur in response to other arising issues. As well as this he also attends events to represent the VCSA  like launches of new strategies and plans. .

The VCSA are also involved in a number of projects which could have a direct or knock-on effect on the voluntary or community sector.  For example they championed the importance of preventative services for older and vulnerable adults which Shropshire Council have recently recommissioned from the sector despite the pressure on its budgets.

Chris explained how the VCSA benefits the wider community, as they offer the first response to issues and changes within their local areas. He also told us that in many cases these are issues the public sector is not immediately able to respond to.  For example, the food banks which have been set up in lots of local communities were mostly started by voluntary groups.  Many youth clubs and groups are run by local volunteers including sports and fitness groups.  Without these groups and the vital work that they do (usually unpaid) our communities would be much the poorer and many vulnerable people would be even more isolated and alone.

As a result of this, Chris explained “the VCSA work to collaborate with the public sector, ensuring all those involved benefit.”

For people wanting to become involved in the VCSA, anyone can sign up as an individual or organisation and have access to a free, regular newsletter which features national and local news items and information on funding opportunities.  There’s also an annual assembly as well as the forums of interest and many local opportunities to meet and network with other community and voluntary groups.  Working to the phrase that ‘often a problem shared can be a problem halved’.

To read more about Volunteering, click here

Or for more information contact Zara Morris

For more information on the VCSA, click here