Guide to policy and representation
Voluntary organisations in Camden have the best understanding of needs gaps in the local community, and how government policies impact local people.
However, getting an audience with local authorities in order to address needs and influence change can be complicated.
At Voluntary Action Camden we support local organisations to build influence by representing their interests in local government. We attend policy consultations and strategic board meetings, where we collect important data and insights and feed that intelligence back to organisations, ensuring that dialogue remains open and transparent between the public voluntary sectors in Camden.
In this introduction to policy and representation, we explain how community representation works in Camden.
Many of Camden’s organisations work directly with local communities and, therefore, have a deep understanding of their service users’ needs and the type of support services required to improve local lives. We listen to what they have to say and then ensure their needs and goals are heard by the relevant decision-makers.
This exchange often takes place informally (e.g. through an email or telephone exchange, or when contacting VAC for support and advice); or in more formal avenues such as forums, collaborative projects and strategic meetings. The different agencies we engage with (e.g. local authority and NHS), each have their own strategic boards which carry out activities such as strategic planning, policy development and setting goals and priorities for the future.
Voluntary Action Camden sits on a variety of these boards in Camden. This gives us an opportunity to share and gather information about important local issues, and to advocate on behalf of local organisations and residents. This informs policy development, strategic planning and the creation and delivery of local support services.
Through this framework, local authorities and other public sector agencies are better able to identify and understand local needs; they can make better decisions about where to allocate resources and funds, and which organisations they should work with to deliver much needed services.
Apart from sitting on boards, we also harness our extensive network of contacts within the voluntary sector and local government in Camden, holding regular policy briefings and consultation sessions.
Our work in policy and representation also works the other way around. We are able to feed important information back into the voluntary sector and keep organisations informed about developments that might impact them and their communities.
We hear about any new strategic directions and changes in priorities of local authorities, and also new funding opportunities that could be of interest to voluntary groups. We share these findings through consultation sessions, policy briefings and local networks. We also address these top-level issues in our forums and newsletter, giving local people the chance to have their say.s
We coordinate inclusive consultation sessions with voluntary organisations to gain a deeper understanding of their needs and objectives, and explore effective ways to help solve their problems at strategic board meetings.
We help to ensure the voice of voluntary organisations and community groups is heard where it matters: championing their needs at board meetings, and ensuring decision makers have a clear understanding of the challenges and opportunities that need to be acted on. We advocate on behalf of local groups and look for opportunities to form partnerships and build influence with other public sector agencies that could benefit Camden’s communities.
We endorse the projects and ideas of voluntary organisations and individuals working closely with Camden’s communities. We strive to make this input an integral part of the decision-making process of local authorities, especially in the design and delivery of local support services.