Council to partner with VAST in five-year agreement to enhance community development

A new support system for community development is set to be introduced in Stoke-on-Trent.

On March 26th cabinet members at Stoke-on-Trent City Council approved a five-year agreement with VAST Services (1920) to provide independent voluntary, community and social enterprise sector enterprise support in the city to the sum of £1,030,000.

This comes as the council has set out a new approach to community development in line with the new draft Corporate Strategy 2024-2028 “Our City Our Wellbeing”, to work with and through local communities.

VAST currently provide city wide support to the sector and forged a relationship with the council during the response to the Covid-19 outbreak in 2020 and the current cost of living crisis.

Moving forward VAST will provide four key elements of infrastructure support aligned to the National Association for Voluntary and Community Action:

  • Leadership and Advocacy- By bringing together organisations representing diverse groups and marginalised communities to mobilise ambition and aspiration.
  • Partnerships and Collaborations- By creating opportunities and driving effective joint working through building networks and partnerships between local organisations and strategic partners.
  • Volunteering support and brokerageBy encouraging and nurturing quality volunteering opportunities.
  • Capacity Building- By provide resources or advice to facilitate effective community development.

Councillor Lynn Watkins, cabinet member for health and wellbeing said: “We are thrilled to embark on this new journey with VAST. This partnership represents a significant step forward in our commitment to supporting the invaluable work of the voluntary, community, and social enterprise sector.

Having healthy, resilient, connected and empowered communities is an important way of improving the health of our population and a key approach to reducing inequalities across our city. By joining forces with VAST, we are poised to drive positive change, foster innovation, and build a more resilient and inclusive community.”

VAST’s Chief Executive, Lisa Healings said “It is fantastic to have long term investment in local infrastructure to support organisations in the voluntary, community and social enterprise sector in the city.

This funding will ensure that VAST can continue to advocate for, represent, support,and develop organisations working at the heart of our communities to be strong and successful, as well as supporting meaningful volunteering opportunities, in turn empowering communities to overcome the challenges they face.