CVS Inverclyde’s recent third sector conference was a huge success and we want to express our gratitude to the sector both for their involvement and also for their incredible contribution to Inverclyde.
We had a day of though-provoking and impactful discussion and workshops discussing the cost of living crisis and how it will impact both our communities and third sector.
During our supporting communities opening session, we were joined by Cllr Elizabeth Robertson, Chair of Inverclyde Alliance, Community Planning Partnership; and Tom Arthur MSP, Scottish Government Minister for Public Finance, Planning and Community Wealth.
It was great to hear about Cllr Robertson’s roots in Inverclyde and she had a powerful call to action for all: “let’s scream about the benefits of Inverclyde… Tell others why this is where they should start their business or make their family.”
Tom Arthur MSP updated us on community wealth building in Scotland: “I urge you all to be bold, ambitious and creative and challenge yourselves (and us in government) to unleash the potential of community wealth building.”
Tom Arthur MSP was also asked about government funding for the third sector and whether this should be protected: “I recognise the huge challenges the third sector are facing… So much in our day to day lives that we take for granted is down to the third sector.
“We are at the limits of what we can do, our borrowing powers are restricted, our fiscal flexibilities are determined by decisions taken by the UK Government.
“We will do everything we can to protect those services that protect the most vulnerable in Scotland.”
The second aspect to the conference theme was help the helpers: exploring how the cost of living crisis is impacting third sector organisations and what support is available. We welcomed Kirsten Hogg, head of policy and research at the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO); and Stephen Cahill, special projects and regional manager in Scotland from Cranfield Trust.
Kirsten covered SCVO’s research into how the third sector is being impacted by the cost of living crisis and the support SCVO offers organisations. She told conference: “the word ‘permacrisis’ is often used: we’re still recovering from Covid, we have a cost of living crisis – third sector organisations have been on a knife edge for a long time.”
Stephen from Cranfield Trust discussed how there are still many unknowns about how the cost of living crisis will impact the third sector but said inflation is a major issue. He went on to outline the “mosaic of help” that is in place to support charities and community groups: “Inverclyde is inventive and resilient – we have to be.”
Stephen praised CVS Inverclyde’s partnership working: “CVS Inverclyde has an enviable relationship with Inverclyde Council and it’s something we can keep building on.”
Following the conference, CVS Inverclyde CEO, Charlene Elliott, said: “It was a brilliant event covering the most important issues our third sector is facing right now. We highlighted the incredible role charities, voluntary groups and social enterprises play in making our communities better places to live; and we’re also proud we spotlighted the impact the cost of living crisis is having on third sector organisations who are facing immense pressures too.
“I’m so grateful to all our guest speakers who joined us, we couldn’t have run our conference without your contribution, and you made the event a huge success.
“The variety and calibre of speakers who attended demonstrates CVS Inverclyde’s leadership in Scotland’s third sector and I’m proud of, and grateful to, all the CVSI team for delivering a fantastic event.
“It’s our ties with Inverclyde Council, the Scottish Government and of course local groups in Inverclyde that makes our work so impactful and our partnership working meant we could deliver another successful conference.”
CVS Inverclyde’s conference was also an opportunity to showcase some of the major projects that the we are working on.
Our Challenge Stigma workshop was run by our partnerships facilitator Vicki Cloney. We were thrilled to be joined by Dr Greig Inglis, lecturer in psychology at the University of the West of Scotland, who’s research includes how stigma can impact mental health.
Dr Inglis told conference: “stigma isn’t one thing, people experience it in different ways… it’s very complex and sometimes we gloss over that complexity.”
He went on to outline the consequences of stigma – it has a detrimental impact on our wellbeing and self-esteem: “when people anticipate they will experience stigma from others, they naturally withdraw socially.”
Attendees had the opportunity to use Slido to add their thoughts including what personal or professional actions they would take to challenge stigma.
As a third sector interface, volunteering is one of our core missions. We were grateful to Debbie Maltman, research officer at Volunteer Scotland, for delivering an insightful workshop on the impact the cost of living crisis will have on volunteering. Debbie detailed her work on quantitative data analysis to enhance the knowledge of volunteering participation within Scotland.
Attendees also heard from local and national funding organisations including Inverclyde Community Fund and Foundation Scotland. The CVS Inverclyde funding team also gave an update on the Communities Mental Health and Wellbeing Fund and we were excited to be joined by Chris Paul, CEO of Man On! Inverclyde, who updated us on Man On’s lifesaving work and how they have used the fund.