Forum Central believes that contributions from Leeds’ Third Sector organisations and workforce are crucial to the city’s response in keeping people alive and well during this very difficult time. We can only do this if we have sustainable third sector organisations and workforce. The Forum Central team has massively appreciated the generous responses to our requests for information which have led to our workforce and cost of living survey, and we want to update you on how we are using these and the impact that this has had so far.
Forum Central is working closely with Voluntary Action Leeds and other Third Sector infrastructure organisations through The Third Sector Leeds assembly to share relevant information and insight, and coordinate action. This collaboration across our organisations, making use of insights and examples from our members and partners, feels very positive.
The TSL Third Sector Position Statement document and Warm Spaces conversation which is happening now are examples of work that is being led together with VAL to ensure our sector response is joined up.
Leeds Community Foundation are working hard to important emergency funding is to ensure orgs keep their doors open and helping us collectively highlight what organisations are at risk: LCF’s own impact learning about their grant making during the emergency response period of the pandemic suggests that about 40% of the supported organisations in Leeds and Bradford (46% in Leeds, 33% in Bradford) said that the grants helped them to survive, i.e. without the grants they may have folded.
This update contains:
- Forum Central Cost of Living survey findings and priorities
- Workforce Survey findings, where this has been discussed
- Links to useful resources
- A request for you to keep telling us what you are experiencing and giving specific examples where you feel able to share them
Here is the link to the Forum Central survey which highlighted significant concerns which have worsened in the months since we asked, as borne out by conversations across our network of members, including our recently established HR network.
We know many of you are experiencing unprecedented challenges to continuity of service delivery. Combined with longstanding challenges around recruitment and retention of staff and the current pay settlement discussions (which we do of course welcome on behalf of low paid workers, though it brings significant challenges for organisations whose contract and grant income cannot keep pace or where pay differences exist between organisations) the challenges for unpaid carers and volunteers as well as low paid frontline workers and small organisations are even greater.
We have had a number of conversations in recent weeks with senior decision makers to raise urgent concerns about the cost of living crisis, feeding into a Third Sector Leeds position statement which has been developed and will based on the need for:
- Collaboration and collective action appropriate to mitigate the enormity of the challenge
- Clear and consistent public information on the support that is available to communities which can be used by colleagues across the health and care system
- Strong messages for third sector organisations from funders and commissioners
- Radical and creative actions that really explore the unthinkable
Snapshot sample from the Forum Central survey, which was small snapshot specifically sampling a cross-section of 30 organisations providing health and care
Risk of service reduction
There are also links to the West Yorkshire Combined Authority’s work on developing a Fair Work charter across the region. Some of the elements they consulted on align with the recommendations included in our report, so we are keen to understand how Leeds partners are engaging in this process and what it means for the third sector.
Turning the Workforce Survey into action
With this in mind, we are requesting opportunities for collective, cross-sector thinking to develop a clear shared strategy and implementation plan to address the issues presented. We need to emphasise the urgent importance of making progress across the areas of concern.
We have taken this to the Leeds One Workforce Board and Leeds City Anchors (ie large Leeds focussed bodies including NHS and Universities) Workforce Board in August and have shared with the Director of Public Health and our new West Yorkshire Third Sector lead, Kim Shutler.
We are asking for the Forum Central survey to be tabled at relevant boards and groups across the city including the Leeds One Workforce Programme Board. The report recommendations are structured by the employee life cycle
Forum Central is also working to coordinate our members’ involvement in city plans with:
- Leeds Health & Care Partnership /Leeds office of the WY ICB (the new partnership now that Leeds CCG no longer exists.
- Leeds City Council
- Third sector infrastructure partners (incl. Voluntary Action Leeds; Leeds Community Foundation and the Food Aid Network
Links to other resources:
Debt and Money Worries – Mindwell
Cost of Living Support – Mindwell
LCC – CoL page https://www.leeds.gov.uk/campaign/cost-of-living – financial, help at the hubs, heating, water, jobs, housing, health, emergency foods
Leeds Food Aid Network (FAN) https://leedsfoodaidnetwork.co.uk/ exists to bring together a range of food aid providers, agency workers, the city Council and members of the wider public, to help tackle food poverty effectively in the city of Leeds.
Voluntary Action Leeds (VAL) https://doinggoodleeds.org.uk/voluntary-action-leeds/
Food Resilience Toolkit comprising of:
- Food aid provision and resilience
- Signposting to services that can offer support
- Information for food aid providers.
Fuel Vouchers can be provided by the following:
Money Buddies https://moneybuddies.org.uk/, The Welfare Support Scheme (working with Green Doctors – Useful for people on direct debits not prepayment metres) https://www.leeds.gov.uk/benefits/help-with-food-and-bills, Citizens Advice Leeds https://citizensadviceleeds.org.uk/, Leeds Food Aid Network with the Fuel Bank Foundation https://www.fuelbankfoundation.org/news/partners/leeds-food-network/.
LCC is working alongside voluntary, community and social enterprise organisations to establish a network of Warm Spaces across Leeds this winter. These include libraries, community centres, community hubs and other places offering a warm welcome and free to use for anyone struggling to heat their home. Some venues will also offer hot drinks, activities, and other services such as free Wi-Fi. Warm Spaces will be heated, safe and friendly places where you can comfortably spend time reading, studying or chatting with others. You can find a map here to the nearest warm spaces.
LCC are establishing a gold, silver and bronze set of meetings to coordinate Cost of Living response at all levels. Forum Central will be involved in the silver meeting (strategic level). More info to follow on info and comms that can help third sector orgs plan and coordinate with city partners better.
The gold meeting will be director level and will ensure that key information is fed through at a CLT type level – for both LCC and Health. This will be a very tight group but will serve a very important purpose.
The silver meeting will be a strategic level , cross-sector meeting that will focus purely on Cost of Living and welfare response – with specific focus on Food, Fuel, Housing and Digital Inclusion. Frequency is to be determined but we anticipate a fairly regular gathering to ensure effective coordination, collaboration and to avoid duplication.
To ensure the practical applications of effort there will also be a more operational bronze meeting overseeing networking, info sharing, best practice sharing and making sure any proposed new developments are considered with a partnership approach. Silver group attendees will be asked to nominate operational level colleagues to attend this meeting, and the usual Financial Inclusion Steering Group membership will also be invited. Again frequency to be determined but will be regular to ensure the conversation remains current.
We massively appreciate all that your organisations are doing and hope the approach outlined above is useful. Do let us know what you think and we will keep you informed.