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spacerVCS Area Profiles

VCS Area Profiles aim to:

  • improve baseline information about the local sector - its activities and needs
  • facilitate comparisons between the sector in different local areas
  • build up a more accurate picture of the sector at regional and national levels
  • help target resources to where they are most needed, especially the front line of communities

Project leaders NAVCA are promoting the use of a toolkit - a tested and standardised approach that will enable infrastructure organisations to profile their local voluntary and community sector.

Further information about Area Profiles is available from the Audit Commission.

Getting to know your local voluntary and community sector

Infrastructure JunctionKnowledge and understanding of local voluntary and community organisations could increase dramatically as a result of a new project aimed at mapping the sector, through the creation of Voluntary and Community Sector Area Profiles.

Project leader of the area profiling is the National Association for Voluntary and Community Action (NAVCA, formerly the National Association of Councils for Voluntary Service), which is asking for co-operation in undertaking the detail of the local profiling from voluntary and community groups.

Neil Cleeveley, Director of Information and Policy at NAVCA, says the project when realised could produce immense benefits for voluntary and community organisations and for the statutory sector.

“VCS Area Profiles will assist service planners within voluntary groups to provide services in a more complementary way, making better use of all the skills held within the sector,” he says.  “Too often there are gaps in the knowledge held within voluntary and community groups about what other organisations in the sector are doing.  Those gaps can represent service failures.  We hope that by plugging these, the VCS Area Profiles can contribute to significant service improvements.

“We recognise that in asking local groups to be involved in area profiling we are asking them to take on an additional commitment.  But it is a commitment that we believe will prove to be very worthwhile in terms of greater efficiency and even improved access to funding.  Above all, VCS Area Profiles provide the opportunity for the first time for the voluntary and community sector to demonstrate what we in the sector constantly argue – that the full value of the sector is much greater than is generally recognised.”

For the voluntary sector, VCS Area Profiles should:

  • Provide comprehensive information on the existence of local voluntary and community groups, increasing knowledge and understanding of which groups exist, their range of services and their geographic coverage. 
  • Demonstrate the full value of the sector in each locality.
  • Give evidence of any service gaps, providing opportunities for voluntary and community groups to seek resources to plug those gaps.
  • Indicate whether the VCS in each locality receives adequate funding from the statutory sector.
  • Help voluntary and community organisations to protect existing funding sources, by providing additional evidence of the value they provide to a local community.

For the statutory sector, VCS Area Profiles should:

  • Help local authorities, Local Strategic Partnerships and Safer and Stronger Communities partnerships to improve their understanding of local voluntary and community groups and their role in the provision of services.
  • Assist public bodies to improve service planning, by assisting them to provide services in a more complementary manner.
  • Enable some statutory bodies and partnerships to quantify the role of the local VCS and its contribution to public sector targets.  Some, particularly Safer and Stronger Communities partnerships, are assessed on the local performance of the VCS, yet have at present no reliable means to measure this.

This initiative will operate across Britain.  It also contributes to a broader Audit Commission project - Area Profiles – that provides information about the quality of life and quality of public services for each local authority area in England.  The successful completion of the VCS Area Profiles project will assist the Audit Commission’s Area Profiles to accurately reflect the contribution of the voluntary and community sector to the provision of local services and the local quality of life.

The profiling exercise is led by the National Association for Voluntary and Community Action (formerly the National Association of Councils for Voluntary Service), with backing from a range of organisations – the Audit Commission, Capacitybuilders, the Charities Aid Foundation, the Community Development Foundation, GuideStar UK, the Home Office, the Improvement and Development Agency, the Local Government Association, the National Council for Voluntary Organisations and Wales Council for Voluntary Action.

pointer Getting to Know your Local Voluntary and Community Sector - Developing VCS Profiles acrobat icon 682k

Audit Commission’s Area Profiles: audit-commission.gov.uk/areaprofiles.

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