Last week, the voluntary sector task group’s report was considered by the Council’s Business Support overview and scrutiny committee and approved for consideration by the cabinet.

The cross-party task group made up of Medway Labour and Co-operative Group’s Leader Cllr Vince Maple and Deputy Leader Cllr Teresa Murray, alongside three members of the Conservative group, undertook an in-depth review on the voluntary sector in Medway.

Having completed the report prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, the task group made seven recommendations aiming to strengthen the voluntary sector’s relationship with the Council and identified pre-existing tools that could be utilised to provide additional funding and resources. Future reviews of the task group recommendations will include reference to the impact of Covid-19.

Cllr Vince Maple Leader of the Medway Labour and Co-operative Group emphasised that, “It was hugely important to hear from both the voluntary sector locally and nationally as to what best practice looks like, and how we can move forward in a much more collaborative way.

“What is clear from this report is the impact that years of austerity has clearly had on voluntary sector organisations in Medway. Even before the Covid-19 pandemic, many organisations had the perfect storm of more people wanting access to their services or support, but less money to carry out that support.

“There isn’t a simple solution to this, but I was encouraged by the cross-party task group and remain hopeful that the report will move the situation on positively when it is considered by the Cabinet.”

Cllr Vince Maple on the Voluntary Sector Task Group.
Cllr Vince Maple on the Voluntary Sector Task Group.

Cllr Teresa Murray, deputy leader of the Medway Labour and Co-operative Group added, “The voluntary and social enterprise sector is integral to our local community, and it is vital that the Council’s relationship with the sector is maintained to ensure that Medway residents continue to get the support they need.

“Years of austerity have clearly been detrimental to the sector, however with 9 in 10 UK households having accessed services provided by voluntary organisations it is imperative that lack of commitment from the Tories needs to change.

“Covid-19 has only exacerbated this pressure on the sector, with the unfortunate need to cancel fundraising events such as the London Marathon and the three-month closure of charity shops.

“I am encouraged by the cross-party decision on the committee to pass the report for consideration by the Cabinet, and urge the Conservative administration to meaningfully support the voluntary sector with vital resources and funding.”

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