We recognise that commissioners and grant makers face increasingly difficult decisions with regards to how best to award funds and contracts. Diminishing statutory budgets, lower investment returns for trusts and an increasing number of requests from charities for support, mean that the voluntary sector needs to respond with new solutions to community challenges.
Across West Essex there are over 1500 VCSE organisations delivering a range of services and activities across a diverse geographical and demographic area with both areas of affluence and of high poverty and deprivation.
That’s a huge resource, rooted in the community but many are small groups in rural settings with minimal turnover and medium sized local organisations with small staff and volunteer numbers. Attempting to draw on that locally-based knowledge and experience for specific purposes is too much of an ask for commissioners tasked with making their commissioning more efficient.
WECAN aims to create a way for more local VCSEs to play a part in the delivery of larger contracts, whilst maintaining the economies of scale that commissioners need, effectively enriching the market for placing medium size contracts and improving the potential for prime contractors to subcontract where specialised local delivery is required.
Although WECAN offers clear advantages for delivering highly bespoke services across West Essex, it does not alter or diminish the established role of each of the three partner organisations within their locality. Our local commissioners and supporters have been vital to us and it is important to maintain and develop the strong connection with our respective communities. However, the WECAN model mirrors the collaborative working of the West Essex local authorities and the structure of the health agencies.