Creating conditions for community led empowerment

  • Bringing together the voices of the voluntary and community sector
  • Engaging with thousands of voluntary and community groups
  • Building on existing networks and developing more where needed
  • Providing a voice and influence in public sector development at all stages and at all levels – whether strategic, place or neighbourhood
  • Having a voice at all levels within the Integrated Care System

The voluntary and community sector plays a huge role locally in improving people’s lives and are well placed to understand and work with communities to empower positive change.

Ensuring the sector has a place at the table where discussions are held, and decisions are made, is vital as it informs and positively influences how local public services are developed and delivered.

‘Representing the voluntary sector’ is asked of local charities who find themselves at meetings with public sector colleagues. This can often be difficult and unrepresentative. CAN is co-designing a more inclusive and joined up way of representation that supports the individual, their organisation and the wider community to better enable effective collaboration, engagement and co-design.

It is our role to create a climate for community led empowerment – CAN can’t and don’t want to ‘represent’ the sector at every Board and meeting. There are other local charities and community groups that are much better placed to do this with our support and advocacy, to ensure they fulfil their role and have a mechanism to gather and share vital insights.

Where there is a call for ‘VCS representation’ - we want to share opportunities to sit on Boards/meetings and will ask local VCS organisations to put forward a representative we are calling a VCS Involvement Partner. CAN will work with both the Board and the VCS Involvement Partner to ensure all are clear on roles, responsibilities, governance and how insights will be gathered and shared. The VCS Involvement Partner will be accountable to and elected by CAN members and will enable the VCS to inform, influence and partner in the development and delivery of public services.

The VCS Involvement Partners are fully supported by CAN and have access to our support, expertise and advocacy – along with our extensive contacts. Enabling easy dissemination of information and the use of CAN Networks and Leaders exCHANGE ensuring they are well informed.

CAN currently support VCS representation on the following boards/meetings:

  • Community Safety Partnership (BCP) – Sara Armstrong, The Footprints Project
  • Children and Young People Partnership Board (BCP) – Lynn Giles, Action for Children
  • Domestic Violence & Sexual Abuse Strategy Group (BCP) – Sara Armstrong, The Footprints Project
  • Health and Wellbeing Board (BCP) – Karen Loftus, Community Action Network
  • Local Resilience Forum (pan-Dorset) – Karen Loftus, Community Action Network
  • Dorset & BCP Joint Safeguarding Adults Board (BCP representative) – Natascha McAllister, SEDCAT
  • SEND Improvement Board (BCP) – Sam Everard, The SAMEE Project
  • Vibrant Communities Partnership Board (BCP) – Karen Loftus, Community Action Network
  • Voluntary and Community Sector Emergencies Partnership (South West) – Karen Loftus, Community Action Network
  • Missing, Exploited and Trafficked (MET) Panel (BCP) – Lisa Hooper, Escapeline

Meet our VCS Involvement Partners here. 


There is a bursary of £200 per year for each VCS Involvement Lead to support expenses.

Find out more

If you would like to know more or become a VCS Involvement Partner please contact our Partnerships Manager, Emma on 07966 742941 or email her [email protected] with a completed nomination form. 


Become a VCSIP - be part of the bigger picture!