Charity: the new welfare state? is the theme of this year’s annual conference hosted by Voluntary Action South West Surrey, in conjunction with the University of Surrey’s Students’ Union. It takes place at the university’s Stag Hill campus on Tuesday, April 10, from 9.15am to 4.30pm.
Voluntary Action’s chief officer, Carol Dunnett, said: “As austerity continues and public spending tightens both the statutory and the voluntary sector face tough challenges in delivering services.
“We also have major changes to the welfare benefits system being introduced this autumn, nationally homelessness and child poverty is increasing and of course we have Brexit looming on the horizon.
“Against this back drop voluntary sector organisations are increasingly being asked to fill the gaps left by contracting public services, charities report that the demand for services is rising, and people’s problems are becoming more complex and harder to solve.
“What are the implications of this for the sector when we are also facing reductions in funding, and fundraising is becoming ever more difficult? Can and should charities be replacing vital public services and what are the consequences for vulnerable people living in Surrey?”
“Join us for our 2018 conference where we will be discussing these issues, looking at the problems, discussing ways forward, new ways of working and how the sector should be responding.”
A variety of speakers have already been confirmed, and include Debra Allcock Tyler, the chief executive of the Directory of Social Change; Joanna Killian, the chief executive of Surrey County Council; Jo Cookes, the director of communities engagement at the Diocese of Guildford; and Joanne Tester, the chief executive of Guildford Action.
There will also be a number of workshops all designed to follow through on the conference theme, as Carol Dunnett describes:
“If you are looking to try and influence policy and improve things for your beneficiaries choose Building a Better Society; which is all about campaigning and lobbying.
“Or sign up for A Happier Healthier Guildford – Have your Say, with Guildford Borough Council.
“If you want to get attention for your cause go to local journalist David Rose’s workshop on Engaging with the Media.
“If you need more money for your group then Helen Linnell’s workshop Perfect Pitch on writing better funding proposals should help.
“Involving volunteers is vital to running most voluntary sector services so we have two workshops on different aspects of volunteering plus one titled Measuring the Impact, to see how you are making through your volunteering programme.
“Maria Zealey from the Surrey Welfare Rights Unit will be outlining the changes to the Welfare Benefits System, a vital workshop if you want to understand the challenges faced by anyone on a low income.
Everyone is talking about GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) at the moment – are you ready, should you be worrying? Alex Tolley from the University of Surrey will give you the lowdown and hopefully put your mind at rest.
“Strong and successful organisations need good governance and so we have a workshop specifically for trustees run by Helen Harvie, an expert in charity law.”
Places must be booked in advance (see link below) and cost £20 full price, £15 for volunteers, free for small groups with annual incomes under £5,000. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to book a free place.
A light lunch and refreshments will be included.
For more details call Voluntary Action South West Surrey on 01483 504626.