Guest blog by Jan Thornton
The Rural VCS Policy Group, hosted by Involve Yorkshire & Humber, meets about every couple of months and is one of the increasingly rare opportunities for those working in the voluntary and community sector with a rural interest to get together to share ideas and exchange views on the current state of the sector across the region.
At the latest Rural VCS Policy group meeting this week, those present all agreed that the disappearance of regional structure has had a big impact regarding the loss of intelligence and feedback ‘cross sector’ – for example the disappearance of groups such as the Yorkshire & Humber Environment Forum and the Regional Community Empowerment Consortium which enabled people to pick up ideas or provided opportunities to work with other organisations, who primarily had a different focus, for mutual benefit.
A real benefit of the Rural VCS Policy Group is to learn about issues that we may have missed. For example at this week’s meeting, Simon Bowens told us about the Government’s proposals to end people’s right to be notified about plans to drill for gas and oil under their homes. What about Localism, community rights and encouraging local involvement in planning issues through neighbourhood planning?
The group also looks at ways in which we can raise the profile of some of the high priority rural issues. Recent successes have included two leading front page articles in the Yorkshire Post as a result of the Policy Group’s paper on rural health and social care and ACRE’s press release around the effect of the Government’s ‘bedroom tax’ introduced in April.
Good links with the regional press are paying dividends in raising the profile of the VCS and key issues, but coverage is often reliant on the availability of evidence, personal stories, case studies and comments from across the sector. If you can support us to raise the profile of rural issues by putting yourself or your organisation forward as a case study or spokesperson, please send your details to Helen Robinson at Involve.
The Rural VCS Policy group members are:
- Simon Bowens, Friends of The Earth
- Penny Brown, Humber & Wolds Rural Community Council
- John Brown, Pocklington and Wolds Gateway Partnership
- Tina Chamberlain, Rural Action Yorkshire
- Kate Dale, Yorkshire Agricultural Society
- Alison Eagle, Keighley and Ilkley Voluntary Community Action
- Stephen Hewitson, Rotherham Community Transport
- Andrew Leeming, Yorks, North Yorkshire and East Riding Local Enterprise Partnership
- Paul Lightfoot
- Soo Nevison, Voluntary Action Calderdale
- Carol Renahan, North Yorkshire and York Forum
- Judy Robinson, Involve Yorkshire & Humber (Chair)
- Rita Sanderson, York Racial Equality Network
- Linda Slough, Selby District Association of Voluntary Service
- Leah Swain, Rural Action Yorkshire
- Tania Weston, Rural Action Yorkshire
- Allyson Whisker, Citizens Advice
More information for and about the rural VCS:
- Yorkshire & Humber Rural Network (YHRN)
- Resources for the rural VCS
- Rural VCS Health & Social Care Policy Paper (2013)