We reflect on our wonderful 2021 conference!

Linda McEnhill, Chair of the CVSI board and CEO of Ardgowan Hospice; Louise Long, CEO of Inverclyde 
Council; Shereen Nanjiani; Charlene Elliott, CVSI CEO

Our annual Third Sector Conference, with a theme of “Future Thinking”, has just taken place and it was a huge success. 

Although held virtually for the second year due to ongoing restrictions and concerns surrounding Covid-19, our discussions were no less lively, thought-provoking or passionate. We wish to extend heartfelt thanks to our host, Shereen Nanjiani MBE, as well as our wonderful speakers on the day: Louise Long, CEO of Inverclyde Council; Dr Linda de Caestecker, director of Public Health for NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde; Mary Mosinghi, grants manager, at the Henry Smith Charity; Hayley Cook, funding officer, The National Lottery Community Fund; Annie Paton, director of Indigo Project Solutions; Allan Farmer, head of place at the Corra Foundation; Jen Wallace, director, and Anna Cook, senior policy development officer, of Carnegie UK; and Shona Robison MSP, cabinet secretary for Social Justice, Housing & Local Government for her video message.

The pandemic has arguably been both the worst and best of times – the worst imaginable circumstances have been hugely challenging for communities around the world. However, these same circumstances brought out and shone a light on the very best in our own Inverclyde community. Our response to the challenge has been truly inspiring. The unique spirit of Inverclyde was witnessed in the joint efforts of Inverclyde Council, CVS Inverclyde and a veritable army of volunteers, working together to pull our community through the pandemic. As Louise Long, CEO of Inverclyde Council noted, now is the time for “talking up” the many positives we have here in Inverclyde, to challenge the headline narratives that paint the area in a problematic light and look to our pandemic response as the true, underlying nature of the area – kind, compassionate, ambitious and hungry for change.

Louise Long, CEO of Inverclyde Council

Louise’s passion for the area was clear and ignited a similarly passionate response from the audience. A timely reminder that we can put our minds collectively and collaboratively to a challenge and build a response that moves swiftly and effectively towards the future. The Third Sector finds its place here, on-the-ground with communities, sharing a unique and intimate knowledge of our people and their needs. As Allan Farmer of the Corra Foundation discussed, a truly “place-based” approach to community need is the sweet spot for Third Sector Interfaces, and where CVS Inverclyde really does shine.

One of the overriding takeaways from our conference was that this very response to the pandemic – collective, far-reaching, determined – is the same one we need to carry forward as we emerge gradually from restrictions and begin to look ahead to the future and identify all the opportunities that now lie before us. The pandemic proved, perhaps above all else, that change canhappen – and happen at pace – and it is essential that we capture this momentum and use it carry us forward. We have a unique opportunity in this sense to turn our attention ambitiously towards the future, to create change that benefits many more and in much greater capacity than ever before.

One of our Keynote Speakers, Dr Linda de Caestecker, head of Public Health for NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde noted that “normal led to this”, in relation to the oft-expressed desire that the Pandemic be over, so that things can “just get back to normal”. However, she asked the audience to consider the fact that we now have a real opportunity to move beyond normal, to create something new, something that works to address the huge levels of inequality being experienced in our communities.

Dr Linda de Caestecker, director of Public Health for NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde

In many ways, as highlighted by our pandemic response, the Third Sector gives the people in our communities the chance to find their voice – and have it listened to. The power to create lasting change lies here, right where the Third Sector finds its place. A voice, an opportunity, a facilitation for “ordinary people to help ordinary people”. At CVS Inverclyde we are proud to be that voice, looking ahead and putting all of our future-thinking ambitions into action.

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