Launch event success!6 Feb 2019
Last week we celebrated the official launch of London Plus. We would like to say a huge thank you to everyone who braved the wintry weather to attend our launch at City Hall.
A special thank you goes to our guest speakers Deputy Mayor Debbie Weekes-Bernard and Vikki Wilkinson, CEO at Bexley Voluntary Service Council (BVSC). It was a fantastic opportunity to hear from Debbie about how important it is to support our community organisations, who provide vital services to Londoners. We also heard first hand from Vikki about the support London plus provides BVSC as part of our consortia project we run jointly with Pilotlight.
If you were unable to make the launch or missed Margaret Cooney’s (CEO at London Plus) speech about our work now we have officially launched, we have posted it below.
It’s appropriate that we are standing on a giant map of London with you, covering the entirety of the capital because that’s exactly what London Plus is – a pan-London organisation, that brings together networks of civil society organisations (CSO’s) across the city.
We’ve brought you together tonight to celebrate, enjoy a drink, a canape and some networking, but in future when we bring civil society together we will want to focus on doing not just thinking, and that’s what I’m going to touch on briefly tonight because I know people that’s why people are here, to find out about more about who we are and what we are going to do.
Before that, I want to acknowledge the hard work and thinking that has gone into rethinking and reimagining the support to civil society in London. We are grateful to everyone who was involved in the Way Ahead conversations – many of them are here tonight. It was a bold step, generously supported by City Bridge Trust and shepherded through by Greater London Volunteering.
There were differences of opinion along the way, but it started an important conversation that is ongoing. And it did reach a broad agreement about the vision; to create a small, focused knowledge and information ‘hub for London’ delivering functions identified as essential for civil society in London to thrive: namely: data and intelligence, networks and partnerships, advocacy, voice and influence and linked to all of this, communications and operations.
And now that we’ve ‘moved ahead’ progressing from GLV to London Plus, tonight’s launch is an important milestone on that journey of change.
If those deliberations made it seem like we’ve been around a lot longer, it has only been 6 months since the team was appointed, but a lot has been achieved during that time.
I’m fortunate to have a talented and committed team who over the coming months will be delivering activities based on those functions.
Data & intelligence
Dr Natasha Codiroli is the London Plus data and intelligence coordinator and a qualified data scientist. She is leading a project suggested by the equalities subgroup, which will identify what a good equality monitoring data standard looks like.
It’s a really important and necessary piece of work that we are delivering in partnership with a range of organisations with the aim of increasing inclusion and shining a light on the lived experience of, to begin with, deaf and disabled people in London. The plan is to share our learning with other equalities organisations.
She will also deliver thematic research informed by the needs of our networks, sometimes in partnership, and will soon be launching a solo research project about volunteering in London, which complements what our hosts here at City Hall have been doing to better understand the barriers and incentives to volunteer.
We have an excellent partnership with Superhighways and work closely with the data policy officer in the civil society team at GLA Hannah to deliver data literacy sessions across London because our ambition is to make CSOs in London more data literate than anywhere else!
Leah Whittingham is London Plus Networks partner. Her role is to convene and connect infrastructure networks, to focus on themes that will enable us to share information and opportunities, and most importantly, give us greater insight into what’s happening on the ground.
She’s working with the networks of Volunteer Centres and Councils for Voluntary Services, as well as specialist infrastructure to be better informed, generate new ideas and raise the profile of their work about what happens across London. A big focus of that work over the coming months will be on social prescribing.
On 19th March we will be jointly delivering a sub-regional event in a partnership led by Croydon VC, who are working with VC partners across south London to run a learning event using their wealth of expertise to support 100s of smaller CSOs across the 4 boroughs to put volunteering at the heart of civil society.
Leah also facilitates cross-sector collaborations across different disciplines, for better sharing across our networks and to build a stronger evidence base of what works well. A project that she has developed in response to an identified need within our network is a partnership with Pilotlight; a new and exciting take on skilled volunteering support to smaller organisations working in a consortium. Our next speaker, Vikki Wilkinson of Bexley Voluntary Services Council will talk about this in more detail, so I’ll leave it there, but we are delighted to be working with Pilotlight who if you don’t already know, have an award-winning reputation for bringing excellent business mentoring support to the sector.
Advocacy, voice and influence
We are here to speak up on behalf of your work and change the attitudes of policymakers and funders towards CSOs, particularly infrastructure. This cuts across all of our work but I’m going to highlight one piece of work being delivered by Rayhan Haque, who leads our employment and skills policy and project work, supported by Trust for London. He is developing a high-profile commission that will draw on the insights of civil society leaders across London to look at what ‘good work’ looks like for all London citizens.
There are a number of reports or initiatives looking at this issue now, but CSOs who are at the frontline of supporting some of the city’s most disadvantaged and excluded individuals into work are too often missed out of the debate. We’ll be addressing that through the commission and using its findings to shape the debate and promote the role of civil society.
Communications/digital content and operations
We have a bold new look and a new website that we will use to share information, knowledge and resources about the vital role CSOs play in the lives of Londoners.
Emily Coatham, London Plus coordinator leads the work to make us the knowledge and information hub for London and is developing and driving the content strategy and will be encouraging her colleagues and our partners to share information, case studies, and learning resources with us.
There’s a reason for that; we see our role as shining a light on what is happening within civil society in London, showcasing and unearthing good practice. Emily also runs the operations of London Plus.
Now that we are here, we’ve got a strong sense of mission and a willingness to experiment, share good ideas and best practice with our partners. It is our first year so a lot of this will be testing and learning but that’s how change happens, and you will have heard from the examples I’ve given that we are really committed to sharing what we know with you.
The external challenges are very still tough, and most of the organisations here tonight will know only too well how it feels to pick up the pieces of a broken system, but I liked a term used by Matthew Taylor, Chief Executive of the RSA when he described his organisation being stronger as a ‘partner in change’. It could apply to London Plus, where our work helps the organisations whose values we share to have a greater impact, which in our case will be to show why civil society in London is so vital for a thriving capital.
I’m going to finish here and ask Vikki Wilkinson, the CEO Bexley Voluntary Services Council to tell you why she decided to join our partnership project with Pilotlight.
Thanks to you all for coming.
If you would like to find out more about our work please contact us.