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Our Infrastructure Development Services

Capacity Building Support:

We enable local VCSE social sector groups to enhance their overall effectiveness by developing their skills, knowledge, capabilities and capacity. This includes peer group support development, advice on governance, legal and organisational requirements, training programs, workshops, networking opportunities and tailored one-to-one support. Our particular focus is on the unmet needs of the many small grassroot groups and agencies, who deliver services at the cutting edge and who connect and reach deeply into marginalized and structurally disadvantaged communities. 62 groups benefitted from our ConnexUS project tailored support last year. Many more groups really need this service (please refer to the feedback video below). Whilst this will always depend on funding, we have learnt flexible and new ways to delivery this service to meet the different needs and requirements of the groups within Barking and Dagenham.

Funding Support:

We enable VCSE social sector groups to identify and access funding opportunities and schemes from various sources, such as grants, trusts, foundations and socially responsible corporates. Through ConnexUS, we worked collaboratively with other infrastructure bodies, notably the new John Smith House Small Groups Hub (refer to FMC’s page), which opened during April 2022, who raised almost £500k last year for groups individually and as partnerships. One crucial unmet need arising from this work means that we now organise and host ‘Meet the Funders’ events. This enables small groups to meet with national and local funders to discuss their service development proposals and gain some “strengthening application” insights.

Partnership Development Support:

Our unique reach and insight gained through our capacity building and funding support activity, strengthens our ability to be a trusted bridge between public and private sector stakeholders and the VCSE social sector groups we work with. We facilitate and support social sector groups to collaboratively build the insight needed to deliver grassroot services together & exploit new funding opportunities. The partnerships and collaborations forged from this work enable consortiums to be formed. The learning of ‘what works?’ and ‘what could be done better?’ directly informs our forward planning.

Information Advice & Guidance Hub:

The breadth of our infrastructure development activity and Ripple Centre community linkage means that we act as a key hub for information, advice and guidance for the VCSE social sector.

Advocacy & Representation:

We pride ourselves on representing the interests and concerns of VCSE social sector groups. We have a long-standing reputation for being “the voice for the voluntary sector”. Our current priorities are to work
alongside infrastructure colleagues to amplify the voice and impact of the VCSE social sector. As we take an asset creative strengths-based approach, we focus on supporting and strengthening the advocacy and voice of grassroot VCSE social sector groups, partnerships and networks to influence local Borough wide policies and practices to challenge inequality and achieve positive long-term change for the most disadvantaged in our Borough.

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