We’re driven to reduce costs with little recognition of the investment needed in the staff to provide high quality frontline services to vulnerable children or the resources consumed by the tendering and contracting systems. Organisations are repeatedly tendering in competition with each other every few years. It is a process that has become over-bureaucratized, detracting time and resources away from the delivery of services to children.

This comment was made by a respondent to research for our 2010 report Commissioning: A Better Way? Several years later, commissioning practices are having an even more acute impact on voluntary sector organisations and Children England's members want a way to idenfity and address this within the sector.

Staff in our member organisations have a wealth of experience in delivering commissioned services for children and families - and the impact of good and bad commissioning on services, service users and the sustainability of the voluntary sector. At Children England's annual debate last year, members proposed we establish a network of 'Commissioning Activists' who could pool this intelligence via a simple email group and support each other to challenge bad commissioning behaviour.

So we've created a digital group which is open to staff in any of our member organisations with experience or interest in commissioning practices, whether that's local, national or specialised services. We've made it closed and confidential so that participants feel they can share openly and flag up bad practice without fear of disfavour from commissioners. We intend the network to support the co-operation and solidarity called for in our Declaration of Interdependence, and will use the ideas and trends emerging from it to inform our own policy and campaigns work where we can bring about wider benefits to the voluntary sector.

Read more about the Commissioning Activists network and let us know if you'd like to join it.