Shaping the Future Relationship with Government - JF VCS Panel Seeks the Sectors Views

8 Jan 2024 Kathy Maguire    Last updated: 24 Jan 2024

The Joint Forum VCS Panel, supported by NICVA, is hosting engagement sessions regionally to explore proposals for a renewal of the strategic agreement or “Concordat” between Government and the Voluntary and Community sector in Northern Ireland.

Event Details

We want to ensure we hear from as many and wide-ranging organisations as possible, so please join us and register for one of the following events by clicking the link below.

Tuesday 30th January , 2pm -3.30 pm appox -  Belfast

Thursday 1st February, 11am -12.30 pm approx - L/Derry

***Please note these sessions are open to voluntary and community sector organisations/representatives only***

Overview and Background to Sessions

Over a decade on from the original Concordat's launch, and amidst the ongoing social, political, and economic challenges faced, the need to reexamine, reshape and renew the commitments set out in the original Concordat, feels more pressing than ever.

In late 2022 the current membership of the Joint Forum (JF)  (Joint Forum between Government and the Voluntary and Community Sector) was tasked by the former Communities Minister, Deirdre Hargey to take forward proposals for a new Agreement between the Voluntary and Community Sector and Government which would detail shared values and agree commitments to working better together  to meet the needs of communities and individuals across NI.

As a foundation for a future Concordat or Agreement between the sectors, the Joint Forums voluntary and community and public sector membership has articulated a set of core Values and Practices which should guide and inform the relationship between the voluntary and community sector, Government, and its agencies.

In November 2023 the Joint Forum Voluntary and Community Sector Panel (JF VCS Panel) began a process of engagement with the wider sector on the proposals via an online briefing event. This was in preparation for the current public consultation by the Department for Communities on the proposed values and principles for a new agreement, which forms part of a wider consultation by the Department on draft proposals for future Infrastructure support of the Voluntary and Community Sector in NI. The Departments consultation launched on 15th November 2023 and closes on the 9th February 2024, and the VCS Panel  would encourage organisations across the sector to respond to this to help shape and inform these important relationships.

The Chair and members of the VCS Panel of the Joint Forum are keen to now explore these proposals in more detail with colleagues from across the voluntary and community sector and hear views as to their content, including any perceived gaps or challenges with the proposed framework of values and practices suggested and anything additional that sector organisations might like to see included.

The Joint Forum has also been considering options to ensure that a future Concordat/Agreement leads to meaningful change and an improved relationship between the sectors.

Any new Concordat/Agreement should act as a framework for improving partnership working which recognises and supports the contribution each makes to improving the lives of individuals and communities. The JF VCS Panel are particularly keen to hear organisations views on what the ambition and scope of a new Concordat/Agreement should be between Government and the Voluntary and Community Sector and how this might best be realised in order to help shape and inform the next steps in its development.

At these sessions we will also share an update on the work being progressed via a cross sectoral working group of the Joint Forum, to develop a set of Fair Funding Principles and again take organisations views as to developments to date and next steps.

Background to the Joint Forums Proposals

As an integral part of its workplan for this current Joint Forum (JF) term, the Forum's membership has been working on a review of the existing Concordat - an agreement which underpins the relationship between the sectors and which was last updated in 201 1. 

Former Communities Minster Deirdre Hargey mandated the forum to undertake this review of the Concordat as part of a reset of the Joint Forum in September 2022. The Minister tasked the membership of the Joint Forum (JF)  to develop and take forward proposals for this work, in anticipation of aligning this with a future Northern Ireland Programme for Government.  

As a foundation for a future Concordat or Agreement between the sectors, working collaboratively, the Joint Forums voluntary and community and public sector membership has proposed a set of core Values and Practices which should guide and inform the relationship between the VCS, government, and its agencies.

The membership of the Joint Forum is now keen to take views from across both the voluntary and community and public sector on these proposals, in order to inform and progress any next steps.

For more information on how the proposals have been developed please read more here

What is the Concordat?

The Concordat between the Voluntary & Community Sector and the Northern Ireland Government  published in 2011, set out a shared vision and agreed commitments between the sectors to work together as social partners to build a participative, peaceful, equitable and inclusive community in Northern Ireland.  

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

 

kathy.maguire@nicva.org's picture
by Kathy Maguire

Policy Development Officer

[email protected]

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