About us How we work Creating a sustainable voluntary sector Our second strategic goal is creating a sustainable voluntary sector economy. Our work under this goal currently comprises: Declaration of Interdependence The Declaration of Interdependence that we developed with the TUC and many of our members, remains an influential and valued charter for encouraging real change in local relationships, service commissioning and partnerships between statutory and voluntary organisations. We will continue to work with the TUC on promoting implementation, and through our regional member engagements, to consider its role in devolutionary arrangements. ‘Commissioning activists’ member network Among our membership there are many experienced and knowledgeable people, keen to share their intelligence, experience, strategies and concerns about commissioning practices affecting their services. We will establish a confidential email network through which those members can share learning, support each other and build intelligence that can inform their advocacy and practice, as well as informing Children England of our members’ concerns. Researching the costs of commissioning and competition Following on from our Perfect Storms report, we are keen to explore and tell the story of the ‘invisible’ costs, time and effort that are spent on the processes of competitive tendering and contracting – both for the public sector and for the voluntary organisations who take part in competing for contracts. We will also aim to compare the picture we find with comparable assessment of large and small grants. Supporting a sustainable civil society for children in London Our Engage London partnership (with PYL and REF) will deliver its last year’s programme of support, training and resources to sustain the VCSE sector working with CYP in London, completing in March 2017. We remain committed to finding ways to extend the partnership and continue to share learning and expertise in an increasingly challenging financial and operational context for London’s civil society. Influencing Care Commissioning Reforms Following through Children England’s long history of supporting charities who provide care for looked after children, and our work to analyse and propose changes to current the care commissioning practices, we will continue to work in partnership with the Independent Children’s Homes Association to influence emerging thinking from the Residential Care review and beyond, including through our ‘Rethinking Care Commissioning’ website page, encouraging and publishing radical sector views and ideas for improvement. Grants for Good campaigning Together with our campaign partners (DSC, NAVCA, CFG, Lloyds Foundation) we will energetically promote the benefits and creativity for local commissioners in resurrecting the use of small grants to support community groups and voluntary services. We aim to reverse the rapid decline in local grant-giving over the last 15 years. Developing trusted funding relationships In partnership with Newcastle University Business School we will continue to contribute challenging thought leadership about changing the ‘public service market’ paradigm, and more practically, to support their work to develop and trial better ways of creating funding relationships for voluntary and public services that are trusted, accountable and focus attention on the quality and value of practice relationships with service-users.