21 Mar 2022 Kathy Maguire    Last updated: 16 May 2022

joint forum meeting Feb 2022

Catch up on the most recent news & activity happening via the Government and Voluntary & Community Sector Joint Forum.

The Joint Forum (JF)  is made up of representatives from Government (known as the Public Sector Group) and the Voluntary and Community Sector (known as the Voluntary and Community Sector or VCS Panel).

The Forum’s membership comprises 15 community and voluntary sector representatives from across the sector, and a variety of senior public sector representatives from across NI central government departments and local government and agencies.

Recent Joint Forum Meeting

On Tuesday 22nd February, Joint Forum members came together for the third full Joint Forum meeting of this current term and it's first meeting of 2022.

Chaired by Anne-Marie McClure, Start 360, in her role as Joint Forum Co-Chair and Chair of the VCS Panel, the Forum’s membership had a full agenda to consider. Delivered online, this was an energised meeting with good cross sectoral representation and lively exchange and discussion despite the virtual limitations.

Issues under discussion included updates on the work of the current Joint Forum Task and Finish Groups convened to take forward and address key priority issues of interest to the Forum and an update on the development of the Building Resilience Together: Role of the VCS in the NI Civil Contingencies Framework.

Facilitated by Colin Stutt, SIB, a substantive part of the meeting was then given over to breakout groups and discussion exploring ‘The Way Forward’ in terms of future development of the Joint Forum, in the context of a new political mandate and how the Forum shall structure its work programme to manage this process in a timely and coherent manner. A full day workshop was proposed for later in April to refine and agree members proposals regarding.

Joint Forum Task and Finish Groups

As per our last update, in line with the Joint Forums work plan for this new term, a number of thematic Task and Finish Groups have been established.

These cross sectoral groups made up of representatives from across the VCS and public sector are driving forward priority issues of interest identified via the Joint Forum work plan.

A subgroup looking at Communication and Engagement has been established and is taking forward a range of agreed communication and engagement deliverables in support of the overall Joint Forum agenda and work plan, including ensuring the Joint Forums work and proceedings are effectively communicated to help inform and shape future government policy and practice.

A task and finish group examining the Funding Relationship between Government and the Voluntary and Community Sector, is meeting monthly and is currently undertaking preparatory work on the development of recommendations to inform creation of a set Fair Funding Principles that will address key issues in relation to government funding practices and approaches to the VCSE sector. This includes reviewing best practice both locally and nationally.

Both groups have now finalised their Terms of Reference and agreed a work plan which will guide their key activities and outputs over the coming months and help lay the foundation for a future work programme for the Joint Forum.

JF Voluntary and Community Sector Panel 

 JF Voluntary and Community Sector Panel  representatives have continued  to meet regularly and take forward a range of activities including:  2 meetings of the VCS Panel to plan and prepare for their input to wider Joint  Forum meetings and events, a half day online workshop with SIB to consider and agree  thinking on future planning and direction for the Joint Forum, planning meetings with JF Joint Chairs and Secretariat and  meetings with other key stakeholders groups and agencies  , including the Belfast City Council Voluntary and Community Sector Panel and the regional HSCB.

In late January, representatives from the JF Voluntary and Community Sector Panel, met with colleagues from the Directorate of Planning & Commissioning at the Health and Social Care Board and the Co-Chair of the Regional Social Prescribing Development Board, Joanne Morgan (Leonard Cheshire) to discuss effective voluntary and community sector engagement in the ongoing work of the Development Board. They also discussed how individual Voluntary and Community Sector Panel members, where appropriate, can best support engagement with the work of the Development Board, across their own sectors/community of interest.

Joanne and colleagues detailed that the SP Development Board considers its role to be a champion for social prescribing, to positively influence and inform commissioning around social prescribing, consider impact, and inform evaluation and understanding of social prescribing methodologies, to identify key challenges and actions to address barriers to progress for social prescribing and provide a collective voice as appropriate.

Joanne outlined that the SP Development Board should provide a space for a collective of representatives to come together to share knowledge and insights; be a mechanism to amplify the  voice/experiences  of those who have come through the social prescribing pathway; to build collective understanding of social prescribing; to map and examine the global evidence and outcomes from social prescribing activity across NI; to consider and learn from good practice elsewhere and  to agree a collective vision for the role of social prescribing in NI and work to embed that vision in relevant strategy and policy including community planning.  

It is also intended that the SP Development Board will work with the emerging health and social care Integrated Care System (ICS) being developed and led by the Department of Health to ensure alignment with new ways of working.

Following this session two JF Voluntary and Community Sector Panel representatives have recently been confirmed as voluntary and community representatives to the Regional Social Prescribing Development Board. These are Judith Poucher,  Clanrye Group and Karen Smith, Disability Action.

What’s Coming Up Next?

The next full Joint Forum meeting is scheduled to take place on the 13th April 2022, where representatives will come together for a full day in- person workshop to agree and finalise a future development path for the Joint Forum as we prepare for a new political mandate. Alongside this a busy schedule of work continues to be taken forward by the Joint Forum’s membership and it's Secretariat via the specialist task and finish groups and wider external meetings.

For more information on the Joint Forum including links to recent updates and the full list of current Voluntary and Community Sector representatives, please visit here.

If you have any questions or queries about the Joint Forum, please get in touch with the NICVA Secretariat via [email protected]'s picture
by Kathy Maguire

Policy Development Officer

[email protected]

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