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What the Sector Leadership Group is - and why you need to know about it

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Norfolk’s Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise sector comprises a vast number of organisations, groups and individuals working within our county, all working to provide a highly diverse range of services ands activities to those in need of support. 

CAN has always maintained that it is important to share collected experience, wisdom and skills, and collaborate where possible. It is equally important to be able to present all that expertise to key funders and decision-makers in the public sector, and regionally and, ultimately, at national level. 

Enter the VCSE Sector leadership Group 

The SLG was established five years ago to represent the interests of Norfolk’s VCSE sector. It engages effectively in wider system leadership debate and focuses on working together to collectively find solutions and plan for the future, rather than individual organisations working as best they can in isolation.  

Underpinning the work of the SLG is the Sector-Led Plan, an extensive and highly detailed investigation into the extent and nature of the VCSE sector in Norfolk. This was an innovative piece of work, commissioned by Norfolk County Council some six years ago, which forms the basis of understanding the extent, capacity and importance of the voluntary sector then, now and in the future. 

SLG members are elected or appointed to represent the interests of Norfolk’s VCSE sector.  

Who’s on the SLG then? 

You may know or work with some of the members. Together they have a broad range of expertise and many years' experience working in and with the sector. And they are working to further and protect all our organisation’s interests. 

Emily Balsdon - appointed by Norfolk Community Advice Network. Emily is Director of NCAN, a partnership of charities which provide accessible, quality, free, and impartial social welfare and legal advice.   

Judith Bell - elected member.  Judith is Operations Manager at Healthwatch Norfolk, an independent organisation that uses people’s views and experiences to help inform and improve health services in Norfolk.  Judith’s experience includes being CEO of Yare Valley CAB, Operations Manager at Norfolk CAB, and Service Director of Norfolk Family Mediation Service, means she is familiar with a wide range of issues within the VCSE sector. 

Daniel Childerhouse  - elected member.  Daniel is the CEO of Future Projects, which works across Norfolk to address hardship and deprivation providing high quality services and support -  including a therapeutic special school for children with SEND, Norwich’s community radio station, and a collection of specialist support, advice and guidance services. Daniel is also the Chair of Living Wage Norwich, working with employers to promote fair pay and fair employment practices.  

Jon Clemo - appointed by Community Action Norfolk as one of the ‘Working Together"’ (VCSE Engage) partners.  Jon is CEO of CAN, a county-wide membership organisation whose aim is to build a stronger, fairer Norfolk through working with VCSE organisations as well as public and private sector partners. As one of the ‘Working Together’ partners, Jon provides a link between the VCSE sector and Norfolk County Council to improve engagement, support and working together to achieve better outcomes for the communities and residents of Norfolk, particularly smaller and rural community groups.  

Rachel Cowdry - elected member.  Rachel Cowdry is CEO of Break, a long-established children’s charity providing services for children and young people in East Anglia.  Rachel has nearly 30 years of experience in children’s social care within the private, statutory and not-for-profit sectors with roles in social work, workforce development, organisational development and strategic development.  

Claire Cullens - appointed by Norfolk Community Foundation.  Claire is CEO of NCF - part of a worldwide charitable network and one of 46 Community Foundations within the UK, working to share learning and provide a structure for government and grant funders. NCF is a trusted and expert advisor on giving, philanthropy and funding that makes a difference across Norfolk. 

Philip Eke - appointed by Mental Health Provider Forum.  Philip is CEO of Norfolk & Waveney Mind, and Chair of the Mental Health Providers Forum, and has been nominated by them to represent mental health providers on the SLG.  

Alan Hopley - appointed by Voluntary Norfolk as one of the "Working Together" (VCSE Engage) partners.   Alan is CEO of Voluntary Norfolk, a county-wide membership organisation which promotes, supports and develops volunteering and the work of voluntary organisations, aiming to encourage recognition and understanding of the value of the sector in the achievement of individual well-being and an inclusive and fair society. Alan has both a commercial and voluntary sector background, working for YHA and Addaction before joining Voluntary Norfolk in 2016.   

Hilary MacDonald and Dan Skipper - appointed by Norfolk's Older Persons' Strategic Partnership and Age UK Norfolk.  Hilary is CEO of Age UK Norfolk and Dan is CEO of Age UK Norwich.  Together they bring the perspectives of older people to the Sector Leadership Group, both having a strong commitment to supporting the needs and aspirations of people in later life and are passionate about involving older people in the design and development of services. 

Edward Maxfield - elected member.  Ed is the CEO of Musical Keys, a charity which provides music and arts activities for people with disabilities and additional needs in Norfolk and the surrounding area.  Ed joined Musical Keys in April 2018 after a career in management, communications and public affairs.  He has worked in the public, private and voluntary sector in locations around the UK and Europe. 

Dan Mobbs - appointed by the Voluntary Sector Forum (Children & Young People).  Dan is CEO of MAP - a charity providing advice, counselling and youth work as well as education and training for young people. Dan has spent his career working for charities focusing on mental health, substance misuse and homelessness and has worked alongside the NHS and local authorities.  His priority is to ensure there is a positive relationship of equal partners with the VCSE and public sector and that whenever the VCSE is best placed to deliver services because of their skills and values they are given the opportunity.  

Ben Reed - appointed by Equal Lives.  Ben is CEO of Equal Lives, with over 50 user-led member groups and over 600 individual members, aiming to unite the voices of people who face disabling barriers and work to enable them to live barrier-free, independent and Equal Lives. 

Daniel Williams - elected member.  Daniel is the Director of yournorfolk Ltd., a management consultancy for the VCSE sector in Norfolk, and has worked within the VCSE sector in Norfolk for over 20 years.  He worked in housing before moving to the Prince's Trust, then joined Big C as CEO. Daniel believes this is a challenging but exciting time for the VCSE community in Norfolk.  With the integration of statutory health and social care providers gathering pace there is an opportunity for our sector to work more effectively as part of a whole health and social care system.   

Elly Wilson Wickenden - appointed by Norfolk Arts Forum.  Elly is the Project Portfolio Manager and Deputy Director at Creative Arts East. CAE engages people who face geographical, physical or other barriers to participating in the cultural life of their area, using arts and culture to make a positive difference to individual and community life. Emily acts as a link between the creative and cultural sector of Norfolk and the Sector Leadership Group, ensuring the sector has a voice within these fora. 

Election of members takes place at the annual Norfolk VCSE Conference, usually held in November.  Due to the pandemic, this year's conference is being planned as a virtual event. If you'd like to be kept up to date with conference details and registration, please sign up for our regular sector newsletter by emailing office@communityactionnorfolk.org.uk