Benefitting our sector

In recent weeks I have been able to start to dig a little deeper into some of the opportunities and resources that are “out there” for our members in the voluntary sector across Cumbria, and in this month’s article I wanted to share some of these – and invite answers to some questions!  I hope these are useful links to you all – please let me know and I will continue the theme.

1 “Borderlands Initiative”: this month I attended the Borderlands Conference: a strategic collaboration between five councils and two countries – aiming to increase investment in the region. The area covers 10% of UK landmass and 1.1m population – and is within a two-hour drive of 14m people. They have already confirmed a £400m fund to be invested in the next 10 years in a range of commissioned projects which will contribute to improved productivity and economic growth in the following themes: Tourism, Place, Infrastructure, Innovation and skills; Green Energy.  This deal plans to deliver an extra 5,500 job opportunities, attract over four million extra tourists and unlock investment in towns across the area, boosting the region’s economy by £1.1 billion.

Q: How can we maximise the benefit for our sector and work?

2 “Cumbria Strategic Partnership”: is a forum whose role is to influence the spending and action of partners to deliver a better impact on shared priorities across Cumbria; the second largest county of 33 in England.  The elected leaders of local authorities, accountable chairs of statutory bodies (NHS Cumbria, LDNPA, Cumbria Police Authority), and the Chair of Cumbria Association of Local Councils come together in the Cumbria Leadership Board, currently chaired by John Holland (who also chairs the Third Sector Network Executive).  There are five “thematic partnerships” across Cumbria: children and young people, safer and stronger communities, environment, healthy communities and older people, and Cumbria vision (economic development). The Chairs of these partnerships meet with the district level Local Strategic Partnerships as the Joint Chairs group.  This in turn is supported – and mirrored in its representation – by the Cumbria Chief Executives’ group, where Cumbria CVS has a seat at the table, helping to shape the spending and action of partner organisations.

Q: How can we maximise the benefit of membership for our sector and work?

3 “Carlisle Local Strategic Partnership”: one of six strategic partnerships in Cumbria (five districts and the Lake District National Park Partnership). This group focusses on several themes dear to the collective heart of the voluntary sector: a youth council; community safety; healthy city; economic partnership; housing; rural support; food city – with specific projects on food-banks, and support for those affected by cancer, alcohol or substance misuse.  The largest city in England (by area) and with 20% of Cumbria’s population living within its boundaries, the LSP offers huge opportunities to support – and be supported by – the voluntary sector.

Q: (you guessed it)How can we maximise the benefit of membership for our sector and work?

4 “Cumbria Observatory”: an excellent resource to support funding applications and service planning, this resource provides intelligence at county, district, ward and “lower super-output area” (LSOA) levels.  Whether you want to know the current population size (498,000), how many vacant properties there are (5,321) or which sector employs the most people (agriculture, forestry and fisheries employ 20.6% of our workforce) – this is the place to go.

Lottery 25th Anniversary grants: to celebrate their 25th Anniversary (where does the time go?) the National Lottery launched a £2m fund in November, offering small grants from £100 to £1,000.  But hurry – the application round closes at 2pm on Friday 6 December 2019!

CVS Open Day
The Open Day originally planned for Wednesday 4 December 2019 has been postponed until the New Year and a new date will be confirmed shortly. We look forward to welcoming you all in 2020!

Seasons Greetings
And finally on a more festive note, myself and the team send best wishes to all our members, partners, funders and stakeholders for the festive period ahead of us.  I know many of you will be continuing to provide support to your communities throughout – and indeed, for some, it is your busiest time of the year!  I hope the rest of us will not only spare a thought for those working the holiday season but also those who are less fortunate than ourselves and who may be struggling at this time of year.  A contribution to a food-bank; a cup of tea and a chat; an extra seat at the dinner table; a coat or sleeping bag donated to a shelter – there are so many ways we can help and support others (often the best gift of all!).  Whatever you do and however you spend your time, the wish is the same: health and happiness to all.

Please note: the Cumbria CVS offices will close early afternoon on Tuesday 24 December 2019 and will re-open at 9am on Thursday 2 January 2020.

Best wishes


David Allen
Chief Executive Officer
Cumbria CVS