Voluntary Action Scotland has this week launched a major new report demonstrating the increasing impact that third sector interfaces (TSIs) make in communities across Scotland.
The report, entitled ‘The Impact We Make, The Potential We have – A report into the impact of Scotland’s 32 third sector interfaces’ looks at the importance of having a strong network of local third sector infrastructure bodies in order to maximise the potential of Scotland’s local charities, community groups and volunteers. Aside from demonstrating the sheer scale of activity supported by TSIs a less well understood role in brokering local action stands out as making a difference, particularly to the challenge of reshaping public services.
Voluntary Action Scotland was set up in 2009 to support, co-ordinate and advocate for Scotland’s local third sector infrastructure bodies, now known as Third Sector Interfaces. As well as direct support to local charities, community groups, social enterprises and volunteers, TSIs are increasingly demonstrating the value of their role in bringing people together across the sectors to make public service reform work in practice. In particular the ‘Reshaping Care for Older People’ and ‘Getting It Right For Every Child’ programmes have involved the TSIs significantly providing a bridge between the local authority, NHS and voluntary organisations and community groups to re-shape services towards the wants and needs of individuals.
For example, the TSI in North Lanarkshire has managed to successfully embed themselves as a key partner in the Reshaping Care for Older People Agenda, securing a strong voice in the decision making process and representing the local third sector effectively, in addition to securing funding for local communities to ensure real grass-roots input into the way care is delivered for older people. This is a story that is replicated all over Scotland by TSIs across a wide range of topics from community planning and children’s services to reducing re-offending and community transport, amongst many others.
Calum Irving, Chief Executive of Voluntary Action Scotland, commented:
“76,000 enquiries, 10,000 organisations receiving one to one support, training for 7,500 people and 14,000 young people accredited for their volunteering efforts. These numbers alone would demonstrate a considerable impact across Scotland for the Third Sector Interfaces (TSIs) but on their own don’t do justice to the value that TSIs bring to communities across Scotland.
Though the terminology may be unfamiliar, TSIs have a vital role to play in brokering local engagement and activity across third, public and private sectors with a clear focus on orienting local activity towards community priorities. I am delighted that this report has begun to tell this crucial story and helps to make tangible the stories VAS hears day in day out from across our network.
We believe that TSIs have demonstrated their significant impact locally and that it is vital that the Scottish Government continues to provide much valued support in the years ahead, particularly as pressures upon the third sector increase due to budget cuts caused by the UK Governments austerity agenda. The third sector has a crucial role to play in mitigating the worst of these cuts and playing a constructive role in contributing to the public service reform agenda.
VAS and TSIs can help shape the public service reform agenda in a positive manner, focussing outcomes on communities and ultimately helping the most vulnerable in our society through third sector engagement.
We hope that this report will help to increase the reach of Scotland’s third sector interfaces and encourage more organisations to engage with their TSIs locally. There is a lot of good work going on in TSIs across Scotland, we look forward to this continuing and developing further in years to come.”