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Building our Future Together – Conference Video

On 7 and 8 May 2024, staff from TSIs across Scotland came together to examine economic and social challenges, the contribution made by voluntary organisations and to identify how we better support those organisations at the coalface, responding to poverty, health and economic inequalities, in every community across every part of Scotland.

This short video provides an insight into some of the discussions and sessions on day 2, where we focussed on equality and human rights issues

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Building our Future Together

TSI Scotland Network Conference, 7 and 8 May 2024, Edinburgh

Staff from Third Sector Interfaces (TSIs) across Scotland – from the islands to the Borders and every bit in between – will come together on 7 and 8 May for our first face to face conference for a number of years. 

The conference has been planned based on feedback from staff themselves and TSIs are coming together at one of the most challenging times that many of us can ever remember for the voluntary and community sector, for volunteering and for social enterprise.  

We’ve had over 14 years of austerity; the pandemic has changed many lives and communities irrevocably.  And now we face significant cost-of living-challenges which profoundly affect community groups and charities on the front line.  

In coming together for this conference, TSIs will take stock of where we are now, but also begin to think about how the TSI Network and TSIs respond to developing trends, policy changes and the social and economic challenges facing Scotland.   And, as we look ahead to future elections, how do we ensure that the community and voluntary sector is being heard?

We look forward to welcoming some amazing and influential keynote speakers and showcasing some of the talented and experienced staff from across the Network.  

TSI Conference Steering Group

TSI-Scotland-Network-Conference-May-2024-Delegate-Pack
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Our third sector needs progress, not reset.

Alan Webb, Chief Officer of Third Sector Dumfries and Galloway, outlines the distractions being created as we await a new First Minister for Scotland, reiterating the need for progress on fair funding and respect for the many thousands of community groups and enterprises which mitigate poverty and support health and wellbeing.

Alan Webb
Alan Webb, Chief Officer of Third Sector Dumfries and Galloway

The pending arrival of a new First Minister at Bute House has caught the attention of media everywhere, many analysts keen to tell us about the potential change, or otherwise, that’s to come.  It’s certainly distracted from the many crises facing our country, our world.  For most of my colleagues in the third sector, it has landed as a distraction from their important work or a further bump in the road on our route to being recognised and valued as a sector.

At a time when many organisations are still waiting for their promised investment for the new financial year,  the idea of a review or reset on the asks of the third sector across Scotland is unimaginable.  It would fail the thousands who work and volunteer in the sector, and the millions of people across the country who benefit from a strong sector in their community.

Today, and every day, charities, community and voluntary groups and enterprises – the vast majority locally based and run – are focussed on their impactful work; mitigating the worst of poverty and inequalities, supporting community health and wellbeing, creating opportunities for connection, building skills and readiness for work, supporting recovery, promoting creativity and the arts, developing our social economy and helping our public services.

All are giving hope, creating purpose. Many are filling gaps and navigating poor policy.

Whilst the new First Minister may be confirmed sooner than we thought, and as policy priorities and Cabinet posts are settled, our asks remain the same:

  • A commitment to our Fair Funding Charter – strategic, sustainable, multi-year and accessible investment in our sector;
  • Recognition of our impact and value – a £multi-billion sector, employing many thousands of people and reaching millions across Scotland should be involved in the big decisions facing our communities;
  • A direct meeting with Third Sector Interfaces to hear first-hand about local needs, work and impact.

Find out more about TSI Scotland Network asks in our Pre Budget brief here.  Alan Webb is Chief Officer of Third Sector Dumfries and Galloway.

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The Budget Must Protect and Value Scotland’s Voluntary and Community Organisations

As the Budget Bill is debated in the Scottish Parliament, the TSI Network in Scotland has called on MSPs to acknowledge the importance and contribution of the third sector and that without fair and secure funding, charities, community groups and volunteering organisations cannot continue doing more for less.    

In our pre Budget briefing, the TSI network highlighted that the third sector is likely to be significantly affected by national decisions and as those decisions filter down into local funding.   We have faced – and continue to face – unprecedented challenges as a nation.  Charities, community group, social enterprises and volunteers have consistently stepped in, time and again,  to bring people and communities together.  They are providing often critical services – delivering food; helping people come home from hospital; supporting families in real need; helping to tackle social isolation and are at the frontline of the cost of living crisis.  Yet, their contribution is still not fully valued or respected. 

Warm words about the third sector will not help to embed fair work practices, or respond to recruitment challenges, continued short term funding and insecurity.   We are already forgetting the lessons of the pandemic – the importance of local responses and strong communities.  Whilst public services struggled to respond, the third sector and TSIs stepped up – often using their own reserves and funding to do so.  These vital community groups are likely to be hit as local budgets are set. 

We again urge the Scottish Government to look at how the Scottish Budget better supports the third sector, so it can continue to play a part in creating the kind of country we all want to see – fair, compassionate, welcoming, equal and focused on the wellbeing of every citizen.   

We have also called for a third sector summit with the First Minister to look at how we work in partnership to respond to the significant economic and social challenges we all face. We make that call again with urgency, as the Budget Bill makes its way through Parliament.

The third sector has repeatedly stepped up … it needs security, value and respect if we are to continue responding to families and communities in need.   Every one of us – Government, third sector, local authorities and other public bodies – must work collectively to help ensure recovery, hope and wellbeing are a reality for every community in Scotland, especially in these challenging times.

For more information:

The TSI Scotland Network pre-budget briefing outlines some specific asks of the Budget and of Government.  Read it here. Our initial response to the Scottish Budget can be accessed here.

Some local TSIs have been contacting local elected representatives about the Budget.  Read one of the letters here. 

You can read the Fair Work asks developed by the Network and SCVO here.  The TSI Network has also produced a Local Fair Funding Charter to support discussions and partnerships with local public bodies and local authorities. 

For more information contact lynn.williams@tsi.scot

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TSI Scotland Network initial response to Scottish Budget 2024/25

“Like others across the third sector, the TSI Scotland Network is taking time to analyse the Scottish Budget, to understand what it means for us, for the community and voluntary organisations we work with, for the people and families we stand with in these difficult times.

We welcome a commitment on multi-year funding linked to employability, and ask if this approach can be extended to other policy areas.  However, we remain concerned about what the Budget means for secure funding for the third sector; for Fair Work, employment security and reduced participation and widening inequalities in volunteering.  

Some of the most obvious funding reductions may affect the sector’s capacity and ability to respond to emergencies, to deliver important local services at a time when they are needed more than ever.   We have heard warm words from Government about the third sector’s contribution to the economy and society – yet this barely featured in the Budget.

More broadly, we share the concerns of others about the effects of the Budget on poverty and equality and crucial safety nets e.g. the Fuel Insecurity Fund and the Scottish Welfare Fund.   Any reductions here will undoubtedly lead to more people in real crisis turning to local charities and community groups.   Any changes to budget lines linked to rural and island areas could make life harder for areas already facing challenges linked to depopulation, transport and climate change.

The lack of any real detail on social care could lead to further pressure on local organisations working with disabled and older people and unpaid carers.  The £12 per hour commitment on social care and childcare pay is important, but no new action to ensure pay fully reflects the critical nature of this work is disappointing.   As Health Boards call on families and communities to do more during another difficult winter, the impact of national decisions on important community infrastructure could actually lead to increased demand on health and care services.

There was no mention of volunteering or social enterprises; numbers coming forward to volunteer have dropped and this is a real concern for the TSI Scotland Network.  There must be a commitment to properly fund community voluntary involvement and volunteering organisations who together provide lifeline support to people across Scotland.

We understand that were no easy decisions for the Scottish Government here, but the third sector will be affected by the choices made. Without fair and secure funding, charities, community groups and volunteering organisations cannot continue to do more for less.    

We’ve already asked for a third sector meeting with the First Minster and Cabinet in our Budget briefing and make that call again with urgency.   The third sector has stepped up time and time again, and we need to find a way through the current difficulties we are all facing.  But our sector needs security, value and respect if we are to continue responding to families and communities in need.” 

Further information:

The TSI Scotland Network is a group of local organisations which exists to support charities, community groups, volunteering organisations and social enterprises across Scotland.  This work is relevant to many Scottish Government policy areas and our links with community groups across Scotland mean that we share the Government’s commitments to Equality, Community and Opportunity.  Work such as the administration of the Scottish Government Communities Mental Health and Wellbeing Fund, welcoming refugees, delivery of local support during the COVID pandemic and throughout the Cost of Living crisis highlights the critical importance of local, voluntary sector organisations and TSIs.  Find out more about TSIs and the significant contribution of Scotland’s voluntary sector here

You can read more about the importance of Fair Work and Fair Funding here.  There is a local funding charter available here.

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Third Sector, TSIs and Scottish Budget 2024/25 – TSI Network Pre Budget Brief

“We ask Government to use the upcoming budget to ensure the third sector can continue to play a part in creating the kind of country we all want to see – fair, compassionate, welcoming, equal and focused on the wellbeing of every citizen.”

The TSI Scotland Network has today published a pre-Budget briefing outlining the critical role of the third sector and TSIs as we all try to respond to the unprecedented economic, health and wellbeing challenges we face as a nation. 

The social and community infrastructure provided by the third sector and TSIs has been called on repeatedly over the last decade – more recently, in coordinating local support for the COVID panic, in welcoming Ukrainian refugees and responding to winter resilience challenges.   As we do more, the need for fair and sustainable funding has never been more urgent, to ensure that our sector continues to assist and work with communities and families across Scotland.

TSIs and the wider third sector want to do what they can to aid recovery across the economy and in key public services.  We can only do that fully where funding is secure, longer term and enables us to fully implement Fair Work principles.  

The briefing covers:

  • The long-term challenges facing the third sector;
  • The expanding role, and the contribution of TSIs and the third sector to the Scottish Government priorities linked to “Equality, Opportunity and Community”;
  • The need to better recognise and respect the value of the third sector and people’s volunteering activities
  • The importance of involving the third sector in national planning and policies;
  •  “Calls for Action” for the 24/25 Scottish Budget 24/25.

For more information contact lynn.williams@tsi.scot.

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Scotland’s Voluntary Sector – A Guide for Councillors

Introducing Scotland’s Voluntary Sector – A Guide for Councillors

This guide has been produced for local elected representatives to provide information on the voluntary sector, volunteering, social enterprises and the role of Third Sector Interfaces.

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Local Fair Funding Charter

The TSI Scotland Network has developed local fair funding principles in a new charter.  This charter also includes practical, fair funding examples and is linked to Fair Funding work done in conjunction with SCVO . The network is encouraging funders to endorse these principles.

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Programme for Government 2023/24

TSI Scotland Network response

“It’s important to see recognition of the third sector as a key partner in public policy and service delivery within the Programme for Government.   What we need to see is greater clarity on how commitments to Fair Work and fair, sustainable funding will be taken forward.   The delay in implementing the social care pay increase affects third sector providers directly.  The focus on ‘direct care’ could mean that important sector roles working with older and disabled people are excluded from this increase.

For the childcare sector, there are similar questions around what type of role is included and how third sector organisations working with children are affected.

The absence of any reference to the national Volunteering Action Plan is disappointing,  particularly when current economic challenges may reduce volunteering participation to the detriment of a range of Government policy priorities that are reliant on volunteers e.g.; the Promise, tackling inequalities.

Whilst it’s heartening to see recognition of the important role social enterprises in the growth of Scotland as a Start-up Nation, it is disappointing to note that their vital contribution to the development of a Wellbeing Economy and Community Wealth Building is not fully recognised.

The cost-of-living impact, inflation and procurement challenges combine to affect the ability of charities, community groups and social enterprises to contribute as fully as we would like to the National Missions of Equality, Community and Opportunity.   They also affect our ability to achieve Fair Work practices, with an increasing gap between third and public sector pay and recruitment challenges emerging.

The Network is supportive of other responses to the Programme for Government including those from SCVO, CCPS, the Poverty Alliance and others.   The upcoming Budget provides an opportunity to move from the language of partnership, to actions which ensure sustainable funding, fairer procurement and greater parity for the third sector.  The TSI Network would like to meet the First and Deputy First Minister as work on the Budget continues apace to explore all of these issues.”

About the TSI network

The TSI Scotland Network is a body of charities that support the third sector across Scotland. There are 32 TSIs – or Third Sector Interfaces in Scotland, one for each local authority area. Some are partnerships working across large urban and geographical areas, some combine all the functions of the TSIs’ work under one roof.  They bring together social enterprise support, volunteering services and work with  local charities and community groups to continue delivering preventative, local services across Scotland.

Find out more about the Network and contact details for your local TSI here.  Contact us on tsinetwork@tsi.scot.

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 Investing in Communities Fund –  Slippage in Decision-Making 

The following letter is written to Ms Robison, Cabinet Secretary for Social Justice, Housing and Local Government on behalf of SCVO, The Third Sector Employability Forum, and The Third Sector Interface Scotland Network to raise our concerns about the delays in communicating the outcomes of the Investing in Communities Fund (ICF)

The below letter, signed by Anna Fowlie (SCVO), Anthea Coulter (Clacks TSI), Lesley Kelly (Midlothian Voluntary Action), Bridie Ashrowan (EVOC), and Pegs Bailey (TSEF), outlines the concerns our organisations hold and the steps that need to be taken to address the slippage in decision-making.