Notes from the VCSE Strategic Forum, Wednesday 9th October 2019

The VCSE Strategic Forum met on Wednesday 9th October 2019. You can download the presentations here.

The Key Speakers included:

Patrick McKenna, Policy Advisor and Local Intelligence West – Office for Civil Society

Patrick outlined the information that is available for the VCSE community in the lead up to Brexit. Most of the relevant information is on the Government’s Brexit Portal. This includes a checker tool of 7 simple questions to help organisations get ready for Brexit. Patrick also highlighted a DCMS webinar especially for charities, in partnership with NCVO.

GDPR after Brexit was also discussed, along with the EU Settlement scheme. More information about the scheme can be found here.

Nicola Dawson, Service Manager – Somerset County Council Brexit Team

Nicola discussed SCC’s response to the Government’s No Deal Readiness report. A link to the report can be found here.

A Corporate Risk Assessment has been produced with short, medium and longer term work streams. Each Somerset District Council have identified a Senior Manager to act as Brexit lead. These leads are looking at a ‘reasonable worst-case scenario’. Nicola asked the Forum how best they can work together to reach hard to reach groups with relevant information.

A question and discussion time followed, during which Forum members discussed the impacts of Brexit on their communities and their organisations – both practical and emotional.

VCSE organisations can contact Nicola at

Katherine Nolan CEO and Vicky Sullivan Health and Wellbeing Coordinator – Spark Somerset.

Katherine and Vicky launched the research element of the 2019/20 State of The Sector report. The previous State of the Sector report (2016) can be found here.

Following Katherine and Vicky’s presentation the Forum broke into small groups to discuss the value of the previous State of the Sector report and explore key findings. There will be a survey sent to VCSE organisations in Somerset in the next few weeks. If you wish to contact Spark directly about the next report, please email Vicky at

Jackie Sopwith, CEO – Somerset Sight

Jackie provided an overview of the organisation which is currently celebrating its 100th year. More information about Somerset Sight can be found here.

Keeley Hawes, CEO – Community Council for Somerset

Keeley discussed the role of the 57 Village and Community Agents working with CCS.

Bite Size presentations

Emily Taylor, Engagement Lead Officer – Somerset CCG
Fit for Purpose – New Plan for Engagement for Somerset CCG

Scott MacMillan – The Volunteer Network
The Voluntary Sectors’ response to home schooling

The next full Somerset VCSE Strategic Forum will be held on Wednesday 25th March 2020.

Updates from the VCSE Strategic Forum- 6th March 2019

The VCSE Stategic Forum Met  on Wednesday 6 March 2019. You can download the presentations here. The key speakers included:

Trudi Grant (Director – Public Health, SCC)

Outlined the key priorities within the Somerset Improving Lives Strategy and the importance of the wider determinants of health. Brought attention to the current work beginning around Integrated Care Systems and the need to bring the VCSE into these discussions at an early stage. Discussion then took place regarding what might a place-based approach look like in Somerset – look out for more discussions to be arranged soon.

Lucy Macready – Safer Communities

Provided an overview of Community Safety work going on in Somerset and keen to explore how the VCSE can get more involved in this agenda.

  • Opportunities around training, funding – linking with the VCSE to work up funding bids, will share  here on the VCSE website in future
  • Possibility to have VCSE representation on Safer Somerset Partnership board. Will go through VCSE Advocate process to be coordinated by Alison Baker
  • Recommended that further information and / or discussion needed to understand referral gateways linked to safeguarding and anti-social behaviour. Michael Hammond also reminded groups about the Resolving Professional Differences Policy.

Healthwatch Somerset

Brought their Somerset Priorities 2019/20 to the forum for comment. Also raised awareness of their Campervan and comments tour around Somerset to get peoples views on health and social care. Find out more including dates here.


Kevin O’Donnell provided an overview of the journey so far for PROMISEworks and the challenges they have faced. Further information about PROMISEworks is available here.

Proposed Merger between Somerset Partnership and Taunton and Somerset NHS FTs

Karen Prosser provided an update on the proposed merger and keen to explore how can work more closely with partners to provide person-centred, joined-up care closer to home and out of hospital.  Asked for interested VCSE organisations to contact her

Somerset Youth Provision update – Nik Harwood provided an update on recent discussions regarding youth provision and advised that an online survey has been created for youth groups to help establish an up to date picture of how groups are faring following the recent cuts to County services. Further information here.

State of the Sector Survey – Was last undertaken in 2016 (report available here) and planning to repeat in the Autumn 2019 Richmond Group update – Aimie Cole provided an update on developments and advised that all the learning and case studies are being added to the website.

Save the date! The VCSE leaders conference will be held on Friday 21 June 2019 at Monks Yard. More details coming soon.



Updates from the VCSE Strategic Forum 6 June 2018

The Somerset VCSE Strategic Forum met on Wednesday 6 June 2018.

You can download the key notes and presentations from the meeting below. To find out more about the forum click here.

Key Points


Presentation by SASP and Spark

This Girl Can, shown during presentation by SASP and Spark


Somerset Diverse Communities – Initial Findings Report

Somerset Diverse Communities – Key Statistics

Somerset Diverse Communities Films

Green Shoots (Albemarle Consultation)