Stronger organisations lead to stronger community action and more empowered communities. Communities work through the organisations they have set up themselves; Third Sector Interfaces (TSIs) support these communities and organisations with their activity and make sure their voices are central to local discussions and decision-making.
With tens of thousands of voluntary and community organisations in Scotland, the range of possibilities and needs are broad and wide ranging; TSIs focus their support on enabling organisations to improve their capacity.
Stronger Community Organisations
All types of third sector organisations need support to grow and thrive. TSIs offer advice, support and referrals to specialist agencies on all aspects of organisational development.
Most TSIs offer governance tools and training to help those running community organisations improve how they are run. There are a variety of governance health-check or development tools in use and some TSIs will offer training specifically on aspects of governance.
Edinburgh Voluntary Organisation’s Council (EVOC), Volunteer Edinburgh and Edinburgh Social Enterprise have recently launched a new service for existing trustees and people who are thinking of becoming a trustee. The service is called Get On Board Edinburgh and will comprise two separate newsletters which will be sent out on a regular basis.
Impact & Evaluation
Understanding the difference you make is important to community organisations and funders alike – we all like to know that what we’re doing makes a positive impact on people and communities. Understanding impact and evaluating it is key to understanding this. Some TSIs offer specific support on impact or evaluation.
Both Voluntary Action South Lanarkshire and Voluntary Action North Lanarkshire – offer evaluation support training to help community organisations demonstrate the value and impact they provide. This work was developed in collaboration with Voluntary Action Scotland and Evaluation Support Scotland.
TSIs offer support on applying for funding and being ‘funding ready’.
The Little Art School is an organisation which runs art classes for the local community across Ayrshire and Glasgow. It began with an idea to run art classes for dementia sufferers as way of helping them reconnect to learning and experiencing new things. It was through the help of Voluntary Action South Ayrshire (VASA) that The Little Art School was able to successfully apply for an Integrated Care Fund grant and to expand its pioneering programme into more communities. Watch our video case study ‘VASA: Supporting Local Third Sector Organisations’ to find out more.
Some TSIs also administer funding; The Ideas, Innovation, Improvement Fund is jointly administered by Clackmannanshire Third Sector Interface (CTSi) and Stirlingshire Voluntary Enterprise (SVE) to award grants of up to £2,000 to Third Sector initiatives aimed at addressing health inequalities. The money for the fund comes from the Integrated Care Fund.
So far the fund has enabled the Balfron Lunch Club volunteers to deliver a hot meal to people who are not able to attend the Lunch Club. The volunteers are also able to spend time with people and help them to maintain their links with village life. Sauchie Community Group have used the funding to help to alleviate loneliness and isolation in their community through involving people of all ages in the community in music.
Stronger Community Voices
TSIs bring together voices from across the voluntary, community and social enterprise sectors and amplify them to local planning and decision makers. TSIs are the connectors and enablers of the local third sector, leading and driving change.
Bringing local organisations together, based on local geography or around shared themes and topics, is a key way for TSIs to gather community voices and connect local people to local authority or other decision making processes.
Voluntary Action South Lanarkshire (VASLAN) hold a regular ‘Third Sector Forum’ across the various localities in South Lanarkshire. The Forum is an opportunity for local third sector and community organisations to come together, encouraging creative thinking and ways of working that address local needs and policy. Such forums also present a networking opportunity.
Glasgow Council for the Voluntary Sector (GCVS) Fife Voluntary Action, Perth & Kinross Association of Voluntary Services (PKAVS) and The Ayrshire Community Trust (TACT) have all been involved in the Scottish Government funded programme delivered by Evaluation Support Scotland, Threading the Needle.The programme was designed to help health and social care commissioners across the four local authority areas to use third sector evidence to commission outcomes for health and social care.
As part of Fife Voluntary Action’s role in Threading the Needle, befriending projects in Fife and local authority Community Link Officers developed a common model and evaluation system so that, together with the health and social care partnership, they could start to explore how and when befriending makes a difference to individuals and to strategic outcomes.
TSIs also aim to build empowered, resilient communities with a thriving third sector at their heart. Each operates in ways that reflect local circumstance and need, and are responsive to and driven by their third sector locally.
TSIs help local organisations to have their say in Participatory Budgeting exercises and within local Community Planning partnerships.