March VCSE Sector News Digest

The 2024 Spring Budget has presented a range of announcements which will affect the VCSE sector. Summaries of these and their potential impacts have been produced by the Rural Services Network on the cultural landscape, village halls and rural areas.  Locally there are a range of budget- related consultations currently being undertaken by Norfolk County Council and other stakeholders. We provide information about these in the March VCSE Sector News Digest, because they may have significant implications for the sector. Further information on these is included throughout this newsletter.  Despite the seemingly insurmountable challenges, our sector is resilient and charities are always finding new ways to support their communities.

This Month’s Top Picks:
  1. Throughout March NAVCA has explored leadership and advocacy on its blog and social media, providing a range of opportunities for VCSEs to reflect on and raise awareness of the amazing work of leaders and advocates in their communities.
  2. On 4th March 2024 the Charity Commission published new guidance to help charities when deciding whether to accept, refuse or return a donation.  The guidance is designed to help trustees have informed discussions when faced with a choice with potentially significant consequences.  More information can be found here.  Also, the Church Urban Fund has released a range of resources designed to help you work well with volunteers including editable templates for risk assessment, expectations, problem solving, expenses and more.
  3. The National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) predicts ‘another year of considerable change and challenge’ for voluntary sector organisations. ‘The Road Ahead 2024’ report explores external developments, issues and trends that may impact on the voluntary sector, including the general election, technology and AI.  NCVO explores the true cost of delivering public services here, with VCSEs able to share their experiences here.  Alongside this, New Philanthropy Capital (NPC) has published its ‘State of the Sector 2024’ report, with findings from surveys of charity leaders and members of the public. It highlights that public services are ‘at risk’ due to underfunded contracts held by charities, estimating that charities ‘prop up state services by £2.4bn a year’ with 59% wanting government to work more in partnership with charities.
  4. Norfolk Community Advice Network (NCAN) is part of a movement of civil society organisations qualifying as Voter Registration Champions to support voters at risk of being disenfranchised ahead of the general election.  NCAN have produced social media content, posters and flyers to help spread the word about voting and are happy to provide training for staff and volunteers or to help run Voter Registration stalls at drop-in services or events. Find out more here.
  5. Campaign Lab are ‘a community of politically-minded progressive data scientists, researchers and campaigners’ working to develop innovative election tools.  Their resources include a free 50-minute information-packed (beginners) session on ‘How to use ChatGPT for effective campaigning’.
  6. The Transport East Regional Strategy Hub has published a report exploring the challenges for rural mobility in the East and recommends clear actions to improving rural transport provision.  With a third of the East’s 3.5 million population living in rural communities, and 600,000 of these people living in ‘transport deserts’, improving rural transport options is an important priority.  Transport East established the Regional Strategy Hub, of which CAN is a member, to tackle difficult transport challenges facing the East by bringing together experts and insight into key policy issues.  Read more here.
In case you missed it…

Village Halls Week 2024 took place in March 2024 which included the release of Net Zero Design Guidance outlining what can be done to improve the energy efficiency of village halls.  The guidance features several pioneering communities that have sought to decarbonise their building and reduce bills by improving insulation, replacing heating systems and generating their own energy.  Community Action Norfolk is the ACRE Network Member for Norfolk and further information can be found in our article.

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