Governance and sustainability in Bedfordshire - Refugee Council
October 3, 2008

Governance and sustainability in Bedfordshire

By Shpetim Alimeta

The Voluntary Sector Refugee Network for East of England (VSRN-EE), in collaboration with Bedford African Community Centre (BACC) and Centre for African Families Positive Health (CAFPH), organised a very successful training day on 2 September aimed at improving the capacity of voluntary and community organisations in terms of sustainability and strengthening governance.

These two crucial areas might not at first look to be directly linked but sustainability and good governance really do go hand-in-hand.

The first part of the training day was on the ‘Sustainability of a voluntary organisation’ and was delivered by Rob Burton, a popular local consultant.

The second part of the day was delivered by me, focusing on the issues and challenges for “Improving your organisation’s governance”.

Both topics generated lots of discussion and it was encouraging to see so many management committee members from organisations in Luton, Bedford and Huntingdon as well as members of staff.

Sometimes, if Chairs can’t attend these kinds of training events, they find it very hard to delegate someone else instead, i.e. another trustee, to come. But it was great to see that, on this occasion, they managed to delegate a substantial number of trustee members from their organisation.

And it was truly inspiring to see trustees from the various organisations showing such willingness to participate in workshops.

The community organisations that attended the training day were of different types and size.

BACC and CAFPH, both based in Luton, not only attended the training but helped to host it. They are established organisations that are now looking to consolidate their development.

The other two organisations in attendance were Huntingdon Community Group (HCG) and Bedford African Community Support Project (BACSP) who are clearly also very active and keen to succeed.

Another successful element of the day was the close cooperation between the VSRN-EE and the Basis Project. And, at the end of the day, attendees were able to participate in a question and answer session with Fazil Kawani, Head of Development at the Refugee Council, on practical matters around the subjects discussed.

The feedback we received was excellent and by the end it felt like we were all one big community sharing common goals across the region.

Shpetim Alimeta is the Basis Project Organisational Development Officer for the East of England.