Regeneration and Renewal

First for regeneration

LSPs must support the third sector

Friday, 05 August 2005

BACKGROUND Project: Active Partners. Period of evaluation: October 2004-March 2005. Evaluating organisation: Imogen McClean, an independent evaluator.

Evaluation commissioned by: Urban Forum, umbrella group for community and voluntary groups with interests in urban and regional policy, and the Home Office.

Aims and outline of project: To provide the voluntary and community sector with local strategic partnership (LSP)-related information; facilitate a national LSP-related support network; link the VCS with policymakers; increase the capacity of marginalised groups to participate in LSPs; and strengthen the VCS in non-Neighbourhood Renewal Fund areas.

Scope of evaluation report: Assessing the impact of the project on the VCS's capacity to participate in LSPs.

KEY LESSONS

Adam Fineberg writes: The Active Partners project has been successful in helping the voluntary and community sector engage in local strategic partnerships, according to this evaluation. It also indicates that the project has led to a greater emphasis on LSP-related work throughout the Urban Forum's wider activities, which has had knock-on benefits for its members.

However, the evaluation reveals that the VCS must overcome the problem of finding individuals with the skills to take on the role of 'LSP representative' and that the forum should identify the key issues the VCS will face in the future.

The evaluation found positive examples of the voluntary sector using its expertise to develop and lead on areas of work including neighbourhood renewal and neighbourhood management. But it also identified a lack of clarity on the impact the VCS is making at a strategic level.

According to the report, a key challenge for the sector is finding individuals willing and able to perform the role of LSP representative effectively.

Rather than acting as a spokesperson for a few groups, representatives need to provide a more rounded reflection of VCS priorities and what the LSP needs to know.

The evaluation also places particular emphasis on reviewing the challenges the VCS has been facing and anticipating future support needs in the light of forthcoming changes. These include changing government policy, an emphasis on sustainable regeneration driven by local economic development, and the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister's 'the future of local government' debate. All these factors make this a crucial time for the VCS's engagement with LSPs.

- Adam Fineberg is an independent policy and regeneration consultant and author of the 'Growth Coalitions' project.

- Active Partners Evaluation is available via www.regen.net/docs

Contact us. Do you know of an evaluation report with important lessons for other regeneration professionals? If so, contact Shafik Meghji on shafik.meghji@haynet.com.

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