VCSA: Updates and your feedback needed 

Published on 3 April, 2024


– Karen Loftus – Chief Executive, Community Action Network 

The Voluntary and Community Sector Assembly (VCSA) is the collective term used by our NHS colleagues for everyone volunteering and/or working for a VCS organisation in Dorset, around 7,500 – 8,000 groups and thousands of volunteers.

The NHS is looking to better engage with and work in partnership with local charities and community groups. They see the new VCSA as their way to do that, and this holds great promise for strengthening the voice of the VCS in Dorset and fostering exciting collaborations. We have been working for many years to champion the role of the sector in working with our public sector colleagues and we welcome this development.

This blog post provides an update on its development and seeks your valuable feedback to ensure the VCSA effectively represents the sector’s diverse needs.

The importance of the VCSA

The NHS is committed to working more closely with local charities and community groups. NHS Dorset are funding the VCSA as a key initiative to achieve this, fostering collaboration and ensuring the VCS has a seat at the table and a place within the Integrated Care Board.

VCSA development

Community Action Network (CAN) was initially involved in co-designing the VCSA model. This model included a Governance Board for oversight and an Engagement Group (made up of CAN and #HelpAndKindness) for day-to-day work.

In August 2023, the VCSA Board decided to shift to a single Programme Director model.  Whilst we were not part of this decision, we remain committed to working in collaboration.

Moving forward together

The VCSA Governance Board recently held a workshop with VCS representatives to gather insights. We at CAN appreciate their desire to connect with existing VCS networks and avoid duplication of efforts.

However, some key questions remain. How will the VCSA Governance Board ensure representation of the sector’s diversity? How will collaboration with established VCS organisations like CAN be structured?

Your voice matters

We encourage your feedback on the following:

  • How can the VCSA best represent the broad needs of the VCS sector?
  • What existing VCS networks or mechanisms could be leveraged?
  • What are the most effective mechanisms for collaboration between VCS organisations and the VCSA Governance Board?
  • How can we all support the new Programme Director to have the mandate to represent the sector?

Please share your thoughts and any other ideas/feedback by emailing  Your input will be invaluable as the VCSA Governance Board moves forward.  Find out more information about the current team and plan of the VCSA on their website.