Headlines: March 2nd, 2005

Thousands of community groups, voluntary organisations and charities in England are being asked for their views on the issues that affect them. The National Council for Voluntary Organisations has launched a consultation on its strategy papers and plans to produce a report on the outcome later this year.The process was launched in London but will also see special sessions around the country in the next two months as well as questionnaires going to the NCVO’s 3,700 members and being made available online.

Questions being posed cover a range of topics from the kind of relationships respondents think charities should have with government to what difficulties they face in getting funding and even whether they think there is any such thing as the voluntary sector.

In addition to the questionnaires, NCVO is working with the National Association of Councils for Voluntary Service to stage nine regional consultation meetings during March and April. They begin in Exeter on Friday, followed by sessions in Newcastle, Sheffield, Peterborough, Manchester, Basingstoke, Derby, London and finally Birmingham on April 6th.

The consultation document, “Your Future: A Consultation” is based on four strategy papers that NCVO commissioned last year on the subjects, “Localism – New or Old”, “Civil Renewal and Civic Society”, “Funding” and “Social Economy”, all brought together as “Voluntary Action – meeting the challenges of the 21st Century”.

Stuart Etherington, Chief Executive of NCVO recognised that most organisations found it difficult to find time to plan for the next few months but said, “We all know that if we can find time to step back and think about the longer term then our work will be the better for it. NCVO hopes that with NACVS we can find out exactly what the hopes and fears are right across the voluntary sector and use this knowledge to help shape its future direction.”