The value and impact of the voluntary sector will be turbo-charged thanks to a new strategy focusing on the strengths of community working.
St Helens Borough Council’s cabinet approved the new strategy which will run for the next five years.
The strategy is based around four key areas of collaboration, communication, strengthening communities and making it easy to volunteer.
Building on the strength of St Helens Together, which was set up in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic as a way to bring people together to help out their communities, the new strategy will see the council and third sector organisations continue to work together to support the borough.
This will be done through continuing to innovate on digital initiatives like the award-winning volunteering app created by Halton and St Helens Voluntary and Community Action (HSHCVA) and TeamKinetic that links people with volunteering opportunities near them.
Presenting the new strategy at Cabinet today, Labour Cllr Anthony Burns, Cabinet member for Wellbeing, Culture and Heritage, said: “The Strategy has been developed collaboratively between St Helens Labour Borough Council and Halton and St Helens Voluntary and Community Action.
Consultation and engagement took place during 2019. Although the pandemic delayed the publication of this strategy it accelerated the improvements in partnership working and has enabled us to work together to deliver an innovative place-based volunteering system which has seen over 1,000 local people register their willingness to give up their time to help others.
Our Borough has a hugely diverse Voluntary, Community, Faith and Social Enterprise Sector, with more than 650 fantastic groups and organisations, a combined income of more than 162 million each year and the sector employs nearly 3,000 people.
It was great to meet virtually with Stephen Mousdell and his friend Melanie King recently. What an absolute legend! An all round lovely bloke with a huge heart for his community. It has been great to see Steve’s great work on social media and hear about his passion for gardening. We were joined by Sally Yeoman from Halton & St Helens VCA and together we discussed how we can advise and support Stephen and his voluntary work.
The pandemic has shown us all what can be achieved when we empower and support eachother and has been a key foundation of the Labour-led St Helens Together approach.
As stated in the foreword of the Strategy, the Borough of St Helens has a long tradition of working with its communities and with voluntary, community, faith and social enterprise groups and organisations to improve the quality of life for everyone.
This Strategy shows how we can continue with our successful “St Helens Together” approach for the benefit of local people and communities. It also identifies our priorities which were developed with the sector prior to the pandemic and have now been updated in line with our St Helens Together approach.
Once approved the strategy will be supported by a delivery plan, which will be monitored and led by the St Helens Borough Voluntary Sector Forum, with regular reporting back into the council.
I would like to take this opportunity to once again thank all residents who have volunteered their time to support St Helens Together, and to all the community groups and organisations who have worked so hard over the pandemic. With the implementation of this Strategy, it demonstrates our commitment to continue the collaborative initiatives and successes we have achieved, and to continue our strong relationships to develop a long-term legacy of St Helens Together. We are on your side. We will work on every issue all year round.
I would like to place on record my thanks, firstly to all my Labour colleagues in cabinet especially Cllr Kate Groucutt who led on this from the beginning, and our fantastic leadership team Cllr Baines & Cllr Gomez-Aspron whose achievements leading on #sthelenstogether and #lovenlw speak for themselves!
I’d also like to thank Council officer Sarah Bullock and Sally Yeoman from Halton and St Helens CVA, Kath O’Dwyer, her fantastic senior leadership team and every single member of staff from the council who have made a tremendous difference especially this last 12 months.”
Justin Hill, Chair of HSHVCA said: “For more than one hundred years the voluntary sector in St Helens Borough has been part of local life, supporting people in need and contributing to civic life.
“Today we have seen a renaissance in the role of the sector. Over the past several years we have been working with St Helens Borough Council on a new approach to collaboration.
“Their leadership on creating and championing the St Helens Together approach at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic has enabled us all to renew and refresh our partnership work and focus our collective efforts. We have seen over the past twelve months the benefits of doing this.”
The strategy sets out how the key themes will be addressed with an emphasis on the social value that working together brings for a community.
Rob Huntington, Assistant Chief Executive at St Helens Borough Council, added: “We know that the voluntary sector provide a great deal of positive impact on our communities, from supporting those in need, creating a sense of pride in our borough through to creating new opportunities for people to meet and learn new skills.
“This past year has shown the value volunteering truly offers for the whole borough, from the flexibility to work where ever, when ever needed for the good of others, through to the sense of satisfaction that helping out others brings to those who give up their time to volunteer.
“We are working closely with the third sector and this strategy helps to build on the great partnerships with voluntary organisations, community and faith groups and social enterprises to continue the work that St Helens Together has started.”
Sally Yeoman CEO at HSHVCA said: “This strategy builds on all of this and allows us to create a new way forward, working closely with people and communities to improve life in the Borough. We are excited to be part of the partnership in the St Helens Borough; our sector has an even greater contribution to make, and we know that together we can build on the past twelve months and deliver a brighter future for everyone.”
To see the new strategy visit http://moderngov.sthelens.gov.uk/documents/s113684/Updated%20Appendix%201.pdf