Choose Action alliance Executive Summary by fdjerue7eeu

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									                                 Choose Action alliance

       ChangeUp National Infrastructure Modernisation Fund Report

                                   Executive Summary

This is an exciting and challenging time in the history of young people’s volunteering and community
action. New initiatives to encourage and support young people to volunteer and participate in all
aspects of community life are emerging all over the UK, funded by individuals and organisations with
vision and enthusiasm. The Corporate Sector is also working side by side with Government and the
Voluntary and Community Sector (VCS) in planning to deliver volunteering opportunities for young
people, the like of which has never been seen before, and which will transform the face of
volunteering. What is more, youth-led volunteering and community action has been placed at the
heart of young people’s volunteering by many of these new initiatives, as underlined by its prominence
in the Russell Commission report. Choose Action, a collaboration of five leading national youth
organisations is both capitalising on this spirit and driving forward the youth volunteering agenda.
Choose Action consists of five partners, Student Volunteering England (SVE), Youth Action Network
(YAN), Worldwide Volunteering (WWV), YouthNet (YNUK) and Changemakers (ChM), who have
come together to pool their knowledge and experience to play a leading role in the transformation
of the youth volunteering sector and, specifically, youth-led volunteering and community action. All
five organisations believe that their partnership is a natural coming together of like-minded people and
agencies, since they all have proven track records in delivering high quality young-person led and user-
focussed programmes. They also share a fundamental vision that young people can make a valuable
contribution to society if offered adequate and appropriate opportunities so to do.
The Choose Action consortium has been meeting for eighteen months to discuss what added value it
can deliver as a partnership above and beyond what the five organisations already deliver. The initial
partnership consisted of three of the current five partners and their then aim was to ‘offer young
people, their facilitators and volunteer opportunity providers the ‘sea change’ they want, and ongoing
support they need, to change the face of young person centred civic engagement within England’.
Choose Action’s original vision was three fold:
  •   Create the essential infrastructure: to build ‘on the ground’ capacity within youth
      action projects and VIOs to create meaningful volunteering opportunities for young people
      facilitated by trained adults.
  •   Build the technical capacity: to connect VIO’s with the technical infrastructure and
      medium that young people so readily engage with (primarily the internet but also digital TV
      and mobile phones) so that there is a comprehensive conduit between those who want to
      volunteer (young people) and those needing volunteers or providing volunteering
      opportunities. (VIOs)
  •   Develop reach: to reach young people by providing the definitive route to youth action
      opportunities that can, at the same time, be communicated and marketed in a range of ways
      depending on the segmentation needed e.g. specifically for 16 – 18 year olds or themes such as
      local action, curriculum based, gap year or career focused.
Naturally, given the time of Choose Action’s birth, much of its energy over the last eighteen months
has been focused on working with the Russell Commission. Throughout this time however, the
partners have not lost sight of their original mission and continue to see their work as being primarily


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focussed on infrastructure development to improve youth-led volunteering and community action.
However, given the growth in the partnership, and the ever-evolving context within which they have
been working, (including the arrival of v) the partners recognised the need to revisit their original
mission.
In addition the Choose Action partners realised that there was a necessity for a detailed analysis of
how they might proceed within their alliance in order to move forward confidently and with alacrity.
To enable this capacity building work Choose Action were successful in securing a grant from the
National Infrastructure Modernisation Fund (NIMF).
NIMF allowed Choose Action to work with external consultants, 3Consultancy, to deliver the
following:
  •   To help each organisation better meet the need for youth-led action by internal capacity
      building and stakeholder mapping
  •   To improve working in partnership and working practices which will lead to improved methods
      of providing services by agreeing the consortium’s formal or informal (whichever is the most
      appropriate) constitution
  •   To reach out to more young people having consulted using formal and informal methods, both
      online and face-to-face via focus groups
  •   To identify the barriers that voluntary and community sector (VCS) and volunteer involving
      organisations (VIOs) have and use the findings to address these issues thus creating more
      effective practice, processes and infrastructure to support engaging young people in
      volunteering.
  •   To help Choose Action become “organisation ready”, in the right position to engage more
      young people on youth volunteering
  •   To improve consortium working between Choose Action and other VCS and VIOs, by deciding
      the most appropriate ways forward
The NIMF report details the consultants’ work and makes recommendations for the future working
of Choose Action. The consultants interviewed the CEOs and senior staff of all Choose Action
partners as well as senior staff in other key organisations in the VCS, the legal field, the corporate
sector and Government agencies. They also attended Choose Action meetings, ran a strategic
planning workshop, reviewed relevant literature and conducted a survey on youth-led work with over
180 VCS/VIOs.
As a result of their work, the consultants are convinced that Choose Action is an innovative and
exciting new venture, pioneering new ground for the VCS at the national level. As such, it has a vision
and is a model with great potential. There are very few similar models of strategic collaboration
within the VCS, although the Community Alliance offers an example of one such successful
partnership. Details of how the Community Alliance was set up and its functioning are included in the
report.
Key recommendations for how Choose Action should proceed include positioning itself as a national
strategic alliance for youth-led volunteering and community action work. Any strategic positioning
must take into account other leading agencies in the field and connections with these and other
partners should be created as is deemed appropriate. Choose Action could become a beacon of best
practice for the VCS by virtue of its collaborative approach and by working together for the next 4-6
months it should develop and clarify its vision, mission, positioning and structure and begin to develop
its offering for organisations and the sector.
July 2006




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