New Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise sector Accord signed with Greater Manchester Leaders

Greater Manchester leaders in local government, health and the voluntary, community and social enterprise sector (VCSE) have come together today to sign a tripartite Accord to work together in a collaborative way to tackle entrenched inequalities.

The Accord builds on the 2017 Accord between the GMCA and VCSE sector and the separate Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the GM Health and Social Care Partnership.

Since that time, the GM VCSE Leadership Group was set up and there has been a huge amount of collaborative work, while the relationship between the public sector and VCSE organisations has grown in strength, particularly during the Coronavirus pandemic as they worked together to support individuals and communities most in need. For example, the GM Living with Covid Recovery Plan was developed last year with the VCSE sector playing a major role – both in the delivery of key actions, but also in driving forward a number of the tasks identified in the Plan around volunteering, mutual aid, emergency support, and social value.

Greater Manchester is home to around 17,000 VCSE groups and organisations, and nearly 500,000 volunteers giving a total of 1.4 million hours each week. Seventy-one percent of the sector are micro-organisations with an annual income under £10,000, and 57% of organisations work across specific neighbourhoods and communities across Greater Manchester.

The purpose of the new Accord is to further develop how the partners work together to improve outcomes for Greater Manchester’s communities and citizens. The agreement is intended to work in a number of ways, including:

  • Through a shared understanding of the contribution that VCSE organisations make towards tackling inequality in society, creating a more inclusive economy and addressing the climate crisis
  • Through the building of effective partnerships and relationships between the statutory sector with VCSE organisations across different geographies (for example GM-wide, district-wide, or in neighbourhoods and communities)
  • Through a 5-year programme of work which aims to maximise the ability of VCSE organisations to really make a difference in communities and localities

As part of the recovery from the pandemic and to facilitate both the new Greater Manchester Strategy and the development of the GM Integrated Care System, the Accord also provides a unified way for the three partners to work together at a time of great change. This includes the proposed VCSE-led Alternative Provider Federation, which it is hoped will sit as part of the new Integrated Care System. It will also enable a focus on sustaining the valuable work of VCSEs in communities and creating a more resilient sector.

To support the continuation of this partnership work, a budget of £228,400 was provided by the GMCA from the Cultural and Social Impact Fund to the sector covering 2021/22 and the Health and Social Care Partnership has also provided £180,000 in the current financial year.

Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester, said: "I was proud to sign the ground breaking VCSE Accord back in 2017 and I’m proud to sign the new and improved Accord today. The Covid crisis tested us all and pushed our services to the limit, but what emerged stronger was our relationships with the VCSE sector. They are a valued and trusted partner in our shared ambition to tackle inequalities and it’s right that the sector’s role is properly recognised through the Accord."

Arooj Shah, Leader of Oldham Council and the GMCA Portfolio Lead for Co-operatives, Communities, Voluntary Sector and Inclusion, said: "This Accord symbolises how Greater Manchester strongly values our VCSE sector and the vital work they do. The pandemic shone a light on the structural inequalities we’ve faced for decades and it was by working together – local government, health and the VCSE sector - that we were able to help those who most needed it. Crucially, the Accord has facilitated decision making at a GM-wide level and at neighbourhood level, recognising that different approaches may be needed for different places rather than a rigid one-size-fits-all approach. This is what makes our partnership unique."

Sir Richard Leese, Chair of the GM Health and Social Care Partnership, added: "The role of the VCSE sector in our city-region should never be underestimated. They are in our communities working alongside the statutory sector including in health and social care where they often come up with innovative ways of doing things. The Government’s plans for a GM Integrated Care System provides challenges but also opportunities and the already established partnership with the VCSE sector will ensure not only their voices are heard but they will work with us to deliver the services people need."

Warren Escadale, Chair of the GM VCSE Leadership Group said: "Our 17,000-strong VCSE sector provides valuable services, support and networks across Greater Manchester and played its part during the pandemic from supporting people who are homeless, running food banks, to helping those who were shielding and offering mental health information and advice. This new Accord recognises the progressive collaboration between partners and allows us to have meaningful engagement on long-term plans including the Integrated Care System."

* The picture, left to right, features: Parvin Emampour from Yaran North West; Cllr Arooj Shah, Leader of Oldham Council and GMCA Lead on Cooperatives & Inclusion; Liz Windsor-Welsh from Action Together.

Article Published: 24/09/2021 14:22 PM