On 24th June 2019, BSWN held the latest meeting of the BAME Voluntary and Community Sector Network at the Phoenix Social Enterprise Centre. Approximately 30 VCS organisation representatives attended the event to find out more about our upcoming pilot project and as per the meeting theme, how to improve collaboration and partnership working in the sector.
The meeting opened with a sector update and BAME Sector support pilot introduction by our director Sado Jirde, and Sona Mahtani, BSWN Consultant. Following the success of the initial consultation with the BAME VCS sector organisations, BSWN designed a 6 month pilot project wherein a selected group of 6 BAME VCS organisations will participate in visioning workshops around capacity building and benefit from professional business planning support services to help income generation/ sustainability with a focus on asset-based organisations. To find out more about this project, please see our project page here.
The event guest speaker Paul Hassan (Development Manager at Locality) opened the meeting’s theme of Collaboration and Partnership working by discussing some of the barriers to successfully partnering up, especially for BAME organisations, and showcased some of the successful examples. The key point he highlighted was that “partnerships work best when based on pre-existing networks and relationships”, which was highlighted in the BSWN research and supported the establishment of this network itself.
The audience was then invited to take part in a discussion on how to form ‘a more informed and cohesive sector through working in partnership and collaboratively’. The discussion highlighted some of the key issues around collaborations, such as:
Collaboration takes a lot of time and effort - problematic for BAME VCS orgs with little capacity
The bigger the group the harder it is - sometimes need to combine 3/4 orgs to apply for a large bid and it is often times difficult to coordinate
But also came up with a set of learnings that they will try to take forward following the meeting:
Communication is key - being dynamic is key to the varied BAME sector
Procurement commission is an aspiration as the existing sector is very weak - this has to be an organic process that will later move on to a partnership
The next sector meeting will be held on 19th August, with more information to be announced throughout the month of July.