14/01/19 Black Voluntary Sector Network Meeting


Informed by the BAME Voluntary and Community Sector Summer Research findings commissioned by Power to Change, BSWN has been preparing a framework for how to take strategic action to build a better connected, sustainable and resilient BAME VCS Sector in Bristol. 

On the 14th of January, during the bi-monthly Black VCS network meeting, BSWN presented to a room of 25 people representing major African/Caribbean and Asian heritage organisations in the city a proposal for an 18-month programme to improve connectivity, sustainability and resilience.

The programme has been designed to ensure that the recommendations, drafted and agreed on by the community during the previous network encounters, will be implemented with a truly community-led approach and will be effective in improving the overall sector’s capacity and its connectivity, as well as in increasing the potential of its underutilised assets and the opportunities for benefitting from equitable funding. 

As explained by BSWN Director, Sado Jirde, the first phase will be a 6-month trial programme, wherein a selected group of BAME VCS organisations will:

1.    Participate in visioning workshopsto shape a collective narrative and plan for change in the city.

2.    Continue the networking impetus initiated by the roundtable discussions.

3.    Pilot capacity building and benefit from professional business planning support services to help income generation/ sustainability with a focus on asset-based organisations.

Through a mechanism of constant monitoring and reviewing, the first 6-month experience will be informing the design of the second phase, where a more intensive approach to capacity building will be undertaken.

After a brief Q&A on the programme, which highlighted a great interest among the audience, the event carried on with the consideration of a new funding opportunity for VSC organisations. With the vast majority of attendees voting in favour of Bristol City Council applying to the opportunity on behalf of the sector to be a purse holder to allow collaborations to be planned and take place in the city, a consensus was reached.

Deputy Mayor Asher Craig then took the word to remind the organisations present that the One City Plan had been launched on Friday 11th of January and that the city collectively needs to tackle the three priorities of 2019:

1. Violent crime

2. Period poverty

3. Affordable childcare available for every child in the city

Lastly, Sandra Meadows (Voscur) presented the new City Funds opportunity, reminding the attendees about the crucial importance of ensuring that the applications will be diverse both in terms of applicants and nature of projects.

Finally, the meeting Chair Jendayi Serwah closed the event with one final question to the audience: “What do you want to get in order to achieve the best from this network?”

Among the responses, the main points were the following: 

1. Increasing knowledge accessibility by sharing expertise, support and information, e.g. Council updates or funding information.

2. Reducing competition by increasing collaboration and partnerships.

3. A clarity of purpose for the sector to allow a collective narrative to be shaped.

4. Understanding of power-base and planning on how to tackle issues, e.g. Afrophobia.

5. True inclusivity and ability to affect change, e.g. a strong voice for BAME groups.

6. Ensuring that the language and the platforms used are accessible to everybody.

BSWN looks forward to hosting the next meeting at the end of February 2019.