Thurrock Community and Voluntary Services

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Thurrock Community and Voluntary Services's best practice article

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from Thurrock Community and Voluntary Services is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Blunkett signature Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett
Pickles signature Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles

Highlighting best practice
Highlighting best practice
Chief Executive KristinaJackson
Thurrock is an area of
significant size
Thurrock Community and Voluntary Services – or Thurrock
CVS for short – supports, develops and promotes the
voluntary, community, faith and social enterprise sector
in Thurrock, Essex. As well as providing free advice, guidance
and support to around 500 VCFSE organisations, CEO Kristina
Jackson and her team work “behind the scenes” to ensure the
long-term future of essential voluntary services in the community.
Kristina discusses how Thurrock CVS has championed local
voluntary services for the area across threedecades.
We were first established in 1990 and will celebrate our 30th anniversary later this
year. We emerged from the local authority, specifically the family support unit, and
now work alongside charities, community groups and individuals to strengthen
community resilience. This is our primary focus and we operate as an infrastructure
support organisation.
We are an independent charity, a status we have held since 2002. There are around
500 charities, community and faith groups in Thurrock, with around a half of
these organisations being our members. We are involved with a range of different
organisations, including voluntary, faith and social enterprise organisations, usually
dealing with between four or five groups every week.
Our 26 employees are supported by a team of 30 volunteers who perform a wide
range of services, assisting organisations and communities in any way they can to
help them achieve their goals. This can include signposting, attracting government
support, contributions to funding and general advocacy.
»Chief Executive:
»Established 30 years ago
»Based in Thurrock
»Services: Infrastructure support
»No. of employees: 26 full-time
Thurrock Community
and Voluntary Services
Thurrock CVS helps broker positive,
productive relationships between the
voluntary and community sector and
health and the local authority. This has
included establishing forums such as
the Joint Strategic Forum. We are often
asked to consult with the wider sector
concerning local problems and issues
and, by working together, we are
often able to help develop innovative
and effective responses.
Our model
One of our key strengths, and
something which has supported our
work, is that we have moved to a place
of equal partnership between the public
sector and private businesses. This
relationship changed in 2012, with the
local authority adopting a more asset-
based approach to its service, and it has
strengthened over the last four years as
the local authority has recognised the
need to interact more collaboratively
with communities. As a partnership
across voluntary and statutory, we
recognise that even if we do things
differently, we are all serving the same
body and so we aim to pool resources
to improve our service offer and ensure
we can achieve as much as possible.
This collaboration is key tosuccess.
Alongside our support for
organisations, we also run a number
of our own projects, focusing on
helping communities and individuals
and hosting events. We run social
prescribing in Thurrock and the By
Your Side project, a project that assists
people in getting back into their
homes after leaving hospital. In terms
of our assets, we manage and run the
Beehive Resource Centre, a purpose-
built building for the VCFSE sector and
which we obtained under a community
asset transfer, with a community lock
that means if it is sold, all proceeds will
go to the VCFSE in Thurrock.
In order to support our work around
early interventions, we work alongside
different local organisations and the
council and have formed a coalition of
the willing called Stronger Together.
This partnership aims to highlight
the strengths of local organisations,
individuals and communities and to
demonstrate how to move to a place
“what is strong, rather than what is
wrong”. It also focuses on supporting
the community at an early stage so we
collaborate with health and enhanced
primary care teams who work with
Our status as an infrastructure
support organisation means we have
a good overview of all the services
and activities across Thurrock. We
can therefore effectively signpost and
refer individuals and organisations
to the activity or service most suited
to them, and by joining up activities
and services, we can ensure the best
offer is available to everyone. Our
close contact with these organisations
means we are also able to highlight
any issues they face and make sure
these concerns are heard at the highest
levels of governance, something which
can be particularly helpful when it
comes to funding or policy change.
The Beehive Resource
Thurrock is
one of the
most complex
areas in the
country, with
a £6.6 billion
Highlighting best practice
Highlighting best practice
Adapting to local and national
One of the major issues we face is the
composition of the area in which we
are located. Thurrock is made up of
20 wards and villages and while it may
lack a sense of central identity, there
is no lack of local passion. Beyond
this, the area is not socio-economically
uniform; there are areas of deprivation
sitting alongside areas of affluence. For
instance, from ward to ward, there will
be wide gaps in life expectancy and
health inequalities.
While there is low unemployment,
many local workers are in low-skill,
low-pay employment. These factors
present challenges but are also
opportunities for support, and we
try hard to adapt our provision and
to support organisations in tackling
these local issues. For instance, we
liaise with a number of organisations,
from charities to colleges, which help
upskill workers or help them back
Another issue we face, and one that
is shared by our sector more widely,
is decreasing funding. Although we
have seen additional investment into
the voluntary sector, this is set against
a backdrop where there have not been
any inflationary increases in several
years on a number of contracts that
local authorities fund and as the LA’s
budgets have been steadily decreasing,
the sector has also been impacted. It
is very difficult to expand the sector’s
reach when our funding is decreasing
in real terms.
The final issue, and one that is more
structural, is the relationship between
the NHS, primary care more widely,
and the voluntary sector. In order
to ensure we can provide the best
care and prevention to all going
forward, mutual understanding
needs to be developed. Key to this
will be reconciling their medical
focus with the social focus of the
voluntary sector. The overall direction
is correct and we support the notion
of holistic care, but in order for this
to happen, funding needs to be
properly allocated across a range of
disciplines. By combining the social
and the medical, we can create a truly
Championing the voluntary sector and
shining a light on what it can achieve
will continue to be our focus. In order
to demonstrate the worth of such
investments, we will continue to study
outcomes and support a collaborative
way of working. Through our asset-
based model, we are confident that we
can continue to provide communities
and individuals with a voice and
support them to play an active role
within our local area.
the voluntary
sector and
shining a light
on what it can
achieve will
continue to be
our focus
Championing the work
of the voluntary sector
through collaboration
and partnership working

This article was sponsored by Thurrock Community and Voluntary Services. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it. The publication in which this article originally appeared contained the following foreword from Rt Hon Elizabeth Truss.

Rt Hon Elizabeth Truss's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By Rt Hon Elizabeth Truss

Even by the standards of the day –this has been one of the most exciting and unpredictable years in British politics.

The leadership election we’ve just seen marks a huge moment in our country’s history. This government is taking a decisive new direction, embracing the opportunities of Brexit and preparing our country to flourish outside the EU.

As international trade secretary, I’ll be driving forward work on the free trade agreements that are going to be a priority for the government. Free trade isn’t just an abstract concept bandied around by technocrats. It is crucial for a strong economy and for the ability of families to make ends meet. Free trade benefits people in every part of our country, as British firms export to new markets and people doing the weekly shop have access to a wider choice of goods at lower prices.

The essence of free trade is in the title: freedom. It’s about giving people the power to exchange their goods without heavy government taxation or interference. Commerce and free exchange are the engine room of prosperity and social mobility. I’m determined to tackle the forces who want to hold that back.

One of my priorities is agreeing an exciting new free trade deal with the US, building on the great relationship between our two countries and the Prime Minister and US President. But I’ll also be talking to other partners including New Zealand, Australia and fast-growing Asian markets.

And with the EU too, we want a friendly and constructive relationship, as constitutional equals, and as friends and partners in facing the challenges that lie ahead – a relationship based on a deep free trade agreement. Our country produces some of the world’s most successful exports, and the opportunity to bring these to the rest of the world should make us all excited about the future. It is this excitement, optimism and ambition which I believe will come to define this government.

For too long now, we have been told Britain isn’t big or important enough to survive outside the EU – that we have to accept a deal that reflects our reduced circumstances. I say that’s rubbish. With the right policies in place, we can be the most competitive, free-thinking, prosperous nation on Earth exporting to the world and leading in new developments like AI. To do that, we’ll give the brilliant next generation of entrepreneurs the tools they need to succeed. Since 2015, there has been a staggering 85 per cent rise in the number of businesses set up by 18 to 24 year olds – twice the level set up by the same age group in France and Germany. We’ll help them flourish by championing enterprise, cutting taxes and making regulation flexible and responsive to their needs.

As we do that, we’ll level up and unite all parts of the UK with great transport links, fibre broadband in every home and proper school funding, so everyone shares in our country’s success.

2019 has been the year of brewing economic and political revolution. 2020 will be the year when a revitalised Conservative government turbo charges the economy, boosts prospects for people across the country, and catapults Britain back to the forefront of the world stage.

Rt Hon Elizabeth Truss
Secretary of State for International Development