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Time for those in Parliament to listen to the voice of the Community Sector

Janet (1) (2)

Janet Miller

Organisation Manager | Community Research

“The view while one is in parliament that all change stems from there is far from correct. Nearly all causes with any value start outside parliament and are far ahead of parliamentary debates.  There is much more ability to change lives in the community than in parliament, particularly in the hands-off neoliberal age.” Liz Gordon The Daily Blog

As a former MP and with many years of experience working in the community sector, Liz Gordon is in a good position to offer insight into where change occurs. This recognition of the community sector as the birthing place of change is one I’ve heard voiced many times before. Most community organisations are working at the flaxroots level, where organisations are driven to change in order to respond to the need they see in the communities they serve.

Support for these observations can be found in the 2016 and 2019 State of the Sector surveys, where community organisations told us they were providing services for more people than in previous years. In the 2019 survey we found that 69% of organisations reported more people using their services than in 2016 (up from 65% in the 2016 survey), but only 31% had more staff than previous years (34 % in the 2016 survey). Also 73% of organisations were doing more work than specified in their contracts, up from 68% in 2016. Additionally, organisations reported that the needs of the communities they serve were increasingly complex. As a result, service provision was more challenging and time-intensive. “We’re continually adapting to the requirements of the environment we’re in as we’re committed to providing valuable social services to our communities…” Chris Glaudel, ComVoices.

Will we find the same trends reported in the 2020 State of the Sector Survey? Have the pressures and stresses on community organisations continued? How has Covid-19 affected our work? The 2020 State of the Sector survey is a chance for the voices of community sector organisations to join together to ensure that they are heard this election year, so please share your thoughts in this year’s survey at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/ComVoicesSurvey

In recent months those holding the purse strings have shown an increased interest in the work of the community sector. Many community sector organisations worked extremely hard through the lockdown period, responding to the changing needs of our communities. If our Sector is indeed the birthplace of change, then those in power need to listen to us to ensure we are able to meet the needs of our communities. With the coming election, this is an important time to remind those in power about the importance of the Sector and how they can support it better. The survey is open until 20 July so take the opportunity to share your organisation’s experiences now.

 

This blog has been contributed by a member of the ComVoices network. The views presented here are not necessarily those of ComVoices.

 ComVoices is a Wellington based network of national community and voluntary sector organisations. It was established so that sector organisations would have a more powerful voice at Government level and in the community.

 Click here for our website:  http://comvoices.org.nz/