Developing the VCSE Inclusive Economy Manifesto

Author: Amy Coates

Last week, VONNE facilitated the first VCSE Inclusive Economy Workshop, following on from the launch of a draft Manifesto in October. We have a vision for an inclusive economy in the North East that means everyone benefits from and has equal access to opportunities arising from a thriving economy, simply put, seeing the potential in everyone.

Here’s an overview of what the manifesto is and the work we’ve done so far.

What is the Manifesto?

The VCSE Inclusive Economy manifesto sets out the VCSE sector’s vision for an inclusive economy, the broad reaching benefits of this approach, the critical role it can play in helping to achieve this.  The document identifies key goals and asks to ensure the sector is well equipped to play a fully active part in enabling individuals and communities to thrive and reach their full potential.

The Manifesto has been developed by Voluntary Organisations’ Network North East (VONNE) in partnership with the North East Local Infrastructure Organisations in consultation with the VCSE sector across the North East. Discussions were held with the VCSE Skills, Inclusion and Employment Network, made up of over two hundred diverse organisations including small locally based community groups and large-scale registered charities to help shape initial thinking and develop a draft manifesto. This group has continued to offer check and challenge throughout the development process. A further wider ranging online consultation was carried out with the sector to gain more detailed feedback and input to ensure that this manifesto provides a comprehensive reflection of its insights and views.

Workshopping a delivery plan

Following on from creating and launching the draft manifesto, the next stage was to workshop the key themes with the aim of outlining a short and long-term, collaborative delivery plan. The workshop event focussed on developing initial ideas to sit alongside the manifesto, working with representatives from across the VCSE, public and private sector partners within the LA7/ NE Mayoral Combined Authority area.

Through our initial consultation work, we have identified a number of goals and asks under 5 key themes (see below) to ensure that the VCSE sector is better equipped to play an equitable and fully participatory role in working with other stakeholders and partners for a truly inclusive economy.

  • Strategy and Policy Development
  • Commissioning and contracting
  • Procurement and purchasing
  • Capacity, resources and investment
  • Best practice and impact

We want to work collectively to agree potential activities, outcomes and actions to help to progress this, consider potential timescales – short, medium, long-term and note potential risks/ challenges and considerations.

What happened at the workshop?

Representatives from across sectors including councils, local authorities, NHS, VCSE support bodies and private sector organisations were in attendance giving us a strong platform to begin discussions. 

VONNE facilitated café conversation style discussion groups who spent the afternoon working through each theme in the delivery plan with the aim of identifying thoughts and ideas that hadn’t already been contributed to the plan, with a particular emphasis on the longer-term goals for delivery. 

What will happen next? 

With VONNE’s support, the Chair of the VCSE Skills Inclusion and Employment Network will collate all of the information gathered at the workshop to consider next steps, which will include engagement with the North East Mayoral Combined Authority (NEMCA) and Tees Valley Combined Authority (TVCA). The information gathered will inform an action plan for next steps that will be shared with key partners, outlining the roles that they can undertake to drive action forward.

This is a large and long-term piece of work, but an important and necessary task to enable a fair and inclusive economy for all. There has never been a more critical time to work together to really tackle these issues and to seek to achieve a truly inclusive economy for all individuals and communities across the North East. Plus there has never been a more opportune time to work together. Along with the long standing Tees Valley Combined Authority infrastructure, the new North East Mayoral Combined Authority with its devolved powers and funding, provide a great platform for cross sector and cross geography collaboration and innovation to develop solutions to address local challenges. Focusing on an inclusive economy approach provides a real opportunity to ensure economic growth is developed at a local level so that local people genuinely benefit from the economic opportunities created.