There’s a commonly used phrase where I grew up in Ireland – “it’s the same only different”. Over the past month as I’ve been finding my way in a new part of the voluntary sector it’s a phrase that keeps coming to mind. There is much that is new. So much in fact– different systems, different acronyms, different agencies and departments, different funding sources and different laws shaping what’s done. Different organisations with beneficiaries with many different needs. There are different challenges which face you all from where you work, who you work with, where your funding comes from and what you need to do.
But there is also so much that is the same. There are many of the same challenges that I’ve seen working across the voluntary sector in both the UK and Republic of Ireland and across different parts of the sector. There is a lot to do – an often seemingly unending struggle to support as many people as you can directly while advocating for more. There isn’t always the money you need and there’s never as much as you’d want. There are demands on your time, your resources, your services, your knowledge and your evidence; which compete and sometimes conflict. There is a huge level of unmet need. These similarities with other parts of the sector can often present their own challenges when working with people in the Criminal Justice System and their families – because they bring even more competition for resources, time, policy and public attention.
Over the last month you’ve been welcoming me into your services and settings with the same enthusiasm and warmth I’ve come to know and love in the voluntary sector. You’ve been sharing with me your knowledge of your own services, the people you aim to help over every obstacle with the same passion and belief with which I’ve seen help organisations achieve great things, even in spite of the greatest challenges. I’ve been bowled over by the achievements of your services and the people they support. You drive towards clear missions and visions with an appetite for change which is inspiring and yet familiar to me and which gives me the feeling that I can be part of this too.
Every day you create connections for people who often suffer such disconnect. Those connections, directly to the people you work with, to one another, to other services locally and nationally, to other partners in other parts of the sector, service to create connections for people to brighter futures than the pasts which have led them to your door.
I look forward to helping you make those connections, to one another, to others, to make connections for you, to facilitate you doing so yourselves. Tell me what you do, who you work with, what you need to do, what you’ve already done, what stands in your way, what helps, what you know and what you need to know so I can work with the brilliant team at Clinks to do what we need to do for you and those you serve. I have come from a different part of the sector but with the same passion and conviction for connecting people to one another which has helped me help them do what they need on many occasions.
So if you have some time to spare – or an event or a “do”, and I wouldn’t be in the way (I am a dab hand with a kettle and teabags – a dab hand!) maybe you’ll extend me an invite to come visit so I can see what you do and what we might do together.
I hope to see you soon!
If you'd like Anne to visit your organisation, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
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The RR3 special interest group on Covid-19 will today convene voluntary sector leaders to discuss what is needed to mitigate the impacts of the virus on CJS voluntary organisations and the service users they support. We'll publish the key points from the discussion in a blog.