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Representing the sector on an Executive Board

Representing the sector on an Executive Board

Posted: 1st June, 2018 by Alison Davis

A few months ago I was asked if I would represent the voluntary sector on the HeadStart Kent Executive board. Now I’m not really a board room person but I am very passionate about seeing the statutory and voluntary sectors work better together, so I agreed. I also like the HeadStart programme, which is all about preventing mental health issues developing in young people by buildingresilience in them and offering support at an early age. As a youth worker I see how many young people are affected by poor mental health and depression so I am very happy to be involved.

My first couple of meetings were spent in getting to know the project and people and seeing where the voluntary sector can help. HeadStart is funded by Big Lottery and has piloted work with young people in several ways. There has been work and training within schools, peer mentoring schemes and a peer mentoring toolkit developed. There is information for young people and parents plus what is going on in your area, tools and templates that can be used and free training that you can access. What is great about the programme is that young people are at the heart of it and everything has been co-produced with their input. I urge you, if you work with or support young people to have a good look around the site on

There is also some funding, namely ‘Pay it Forward’ funding for young people to apply to if they have an idea to help others and need something to get started with. The grant is from £250 to £1000 and young people aged 10-16 (supported by an adult) can apply and is designed to support activities for other young people the same age in their communities. 

Further funding is available through the Talents and Interests Grant scheme for individual young people who want to pursue an interest or hobby but need funds to access this. Bids must be made via a trusted adult at a school or community group and the fund is for £50 - £500 for 10-16 year olds.

I would also urge you if you work with young people to have a look at the ‘domains based conversations’ on the site, as HeadStart are trying to capture when and where these happen and it is a way of proving that support from workers and groups has a real difference. There is a template that can be used and submitted and it is a useful tool, so check it out and if you have any questions contact the HeadStart Kent team.


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I was asked by Angela Ford, the Programme Manager if I would do a presentation to the board on how they can work better with the voluntary sector. I decided to approach this using my own experience of being involved in statutory meetings and using the feedback I have had in my past role supporting grassroots voluntary youth groups.

I began my presentation by explaining why it is good to work with the Voluntary and Community Sector (VCS) as I felt it was good to highlight this. I explained that charities are set up by people with a similar experience or a passion for their beneficiaries and this gives a unique insight into and specialist knowledge of the people they serve. Generally the VCS know their communities well, are good at partnership working and have a lot of practice at being flexible, creative and adapting to change.

I then explained what I felt were some of the main challenges that the VCS has in working with statutory agencies. These included communicating with the sector well, ensuring training and meetings are accessible to those who work in the day and run clubs and projects in the evenings or weekends and being aware of the language used in training and meetings, as we don’t all refer to things in the same way as the statutory sector. For a more detailed account of my feedback see the attached paper.

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I had some positive responses from those on the board and we discussed a little more how to communicate better. One of the things I offered to do was to pass on a list of networking events and forums across Kent where Kent County Council could interact with the VCS either in person or at least get information out to everyone. If you attend or know of any of these please let me know on so that we can compile a list of contacts we can pass on.

All in all I believe that it is really important that we do our best to work with the statutory sector as they have resources we may not have, often have a different reach and we can also be instrumental in sustaining the work of programmes such as HeadStart which is only funded for a fixed period. Money is tight now for both sectors and if we can continue to provide services for our beneficiaries that has to be a good thing, after all that is why we exist.

If you are interested in becoming a representative yourself then SKC are hoping to match representatives from the VCS with statutory agencies who want voluntary representation on their boards. Please email for more details.

1. Send me details of any groups, forums or meetings you may attend who would benefit from knowing what KCC programmes might be running in their area and don’t have a KCC representative on them.
2. Check out the HeadStart website for information and help in preventing mental health issues in young people.
3. Get involved in capturing conversations with young people about their mental health using the ‘Domains based conversations’
4. Think about being a VCS representative on a statutory board (matched with your specialism / sector) and let us know you wish to do this.