Getting the voice of the sector heard

Published on 15 February, 2024

We’re proud to share the work of Natascha McAllister, Chief Executive at SEDCAT, who supported by CAN, as a VCS Involvement Partner,  represents the VCS on the Safeguarding Adult Board for Dorset and BCP Councils.

The role of this Statutory Board is to support the wellbeing and safety of vulnerable adults across all of Dorset and protect them from any type of abuse.

On behalf of the Board, CAN asked our members if they would put themselves forward to be the voice of the VCS by representing them at Board level.  Applications were shared with our members and Natascha was elected to the position.  Her role as Voluntary and Community Sector Involvement Partner (VCSIP) provides an essential bridge between the community, the voluntary sector and the Board.  It helps the Board identify how their work impacts on and is supported by the work of the VCS.  It also gives Natascha access to information about safeguarding such as issues, training and advice, which she can share with the wider VCS.

The Safeguarding Adults Board is chaired by Sian Walker McAllister who spoke with us about how vital it is to have the VCS represented.

“Natascha represents the sector and brings that experience and expertise to the table… having Natascha ask questions from the VCS makes the Board stop, check and think about the impact of our work and holds us to account in a really thoughtful and invaluable way.”

Natascha said: “Our Chair has been great, providing clear guidance.  Being part of the Board, I’ve felt welcomed, listened to and had the opportunity to share information and experiences.  It’s vitally important to have a link between communities and the Board. We’re the ear on the ground on a daily basis.”

At our regular networks, Natascha meets with other local voluntary and community sector groups, gathering insight from them about their concerns and celebrations. Attending these networks also ensures Natascha knows which organisations she can signpost the Board to for appropriate support and can ask specific groups for feedback on issues raised by the Board.

Natascha said: “CAN has supported me, met with me and made themselves available to me. I haven’t had any frustrations (on the board) but if I did, I know I would be able to ask CAN for help.”

Natascha also attends the Community Engagement Group (CEG) meetings which are one of the three subgroups linked with the Safeguarding Adults Board. CEG meetings are for members of the public with an interest in or lived experience of safeguarding matters to meet with each other and voluntary and community sector groups.  They’re an opportunity to share information, insights and to raise awareness about safeguarding. Natascha, as a member of both groups, can help CEG members share their stories and experiences which feeds into improving the policies and procedures of the Board.

Natascha’s experience on the Board has highlighted where safeguarding training is needed, how it can support and prevent harm and how to access it.  Being on the Safeguarding Adults Board has enabled Natascha and her volunteers to access training to help them understand what it means, what signs to look out for and how and who to report to.

With SEDCAT’s volunteer drivers providing a lifeline of contact and support to more than 1000 people who are unable to access public transport, often through disability, they are well placed to see changes in the welfare of their passengers which provides an early warning when more support may be needed.

For Natascha, being a VCSIP means she can support other members of the voluntary and community sector and the wider community to have their voices heard, their opinions sought and their insights shared.

Natascha said; “Safeguarding is fundamental to the work of the voluntary sector and I could see how important input at this level could be, so put my name forward. I’m delighted to represent the VCS in this way.”

If you would like to find out more about being a Voluntary and Community Sector Involvement Partner, please get in touch with