Yesterday (9th September 2009), Dave from the Volunteer Centre team attended the East Midlands Volunteering Conference in Derby, which was very well organised by One East Midlands.
There were a number of speakers, including Sarah Benioff, Deputy Director of Participation from the Office Of The Third Sector who talked about their involvement in and support for volunteering at a national level.
Mel Chevannes is Chair of the England Volunteering Development Council West Midlands which has been up and running for a while. (It’s East Midlands counterpart is currently being set up.) Mel described how they are working in the West Midlands and how they developed the regional priorities there. One of the aims of the conference was to gather feedback on what kinds of issues were important for us in the East Midlands for the new group to work on.
Pam Wisher is chair of Volunteering Nottinghamshire and Chief Executive of Gedling CVS (which includes their local Volunteer Centre). She spoke passionately about their county network and touched on a number of issues facing volunteering..
Later in the day, Patrick Scott, Implementaion Manager for the National Support Services Modernising Volunteering Strand at Volunteering England spoke about their priorities in the areas of employer-supported volunteering, overcoming the barriers to volunteering, new forms of volunteer involvement and faith-based volunteering.
There were also a number of workshops – and the three that Dave attended were on Age, Skills and NI6.
The Age workshop was great fun, involving a giant Jenga game, but with the serious message that the barriers to volunteering faced by young people and older people are, to a very great extent similar. This was jointly led by Age Concern / Help The Aged and Focus, a youth volunteering project from Leicester.
The Skills workshop was very much about the national picture, led by Nick Ockenden and James Collins. James had quite a lot of flack from the Volunteer Centres about the new scheme whereby Jobcentre Plus refers long-term unemployed people to volunteering.
Finally, the NI6 workshop, led jointly by a representative from the Government Office for the East Midlands and Michelle Skinner, the chair of the new England Volunteering Development Council East Midlands (EVDC – EM) looked at how the national volunteering indicator in some local area agreements (LAAs) can be delivered, monitored and measured. The workshop then went on to discuss what should be the priorities for the new EVDC – EM. Our own LAA does not have this target, but has another broader one about the whole of the voluntary sector. However, the work that we did in this workshop will have a direct relationship to what we are doing at a strategic level here in South Derbyshire.
One East Midlands will produce a report about the conference and we will post information about this on the blog as soon as it is available.