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Council announces procurement of new voluntary contract
Southend-on-Sea City Council is to begin the procurement process for a new voluntary contract, which will provide volunteering services and opportunities throughout the city.
In line with contract regulations, it is now time for the council to go to market to obtain a new contract, which gives the council the opportunity to outline the needs of the Southend 2050 priorities within the new agreement.
The current contract is held by Southend association of voluntary services (SAVS) who have been operating in Southend since the early 1980s thanks to recurring funding from the council’s community grants scheme.
The current grant has been extended until 2023 to allow for this procurement process to be undertaken. Until 2019 SAVS held the ‘volunteer bureau’ as part of their service, which acted as a hub for those who wanted to volunteer in their community and for those who wished to find volunteers for their next project. With no recognised volunteer bureau at present, this will be considered as part of the procurement, with applicants taking this into consideration along with any other new priority set by the council.
In addition to contract legislation, the search for a new provider stems from understanding how valuable volunteers are to the various organisations across the city. If no new contract provider was to be found, the cost of hosting services such as a volunteer bureau would need to be picked up by the council. Instead, it has worked out more cost-effective over the years to fund the voluntary contract through community grants and similar initiatives.
The new requirements will focus heavily on ensuring there is a robust network of voluntary organisations and opportunities for people to volunteer within their local community. Another aim will be to build a more connected community, both with volunteers and organisations, sharing updates, assets and information on other key delivery partners in Southend. A consultation was also undertaken with the voluntary and community sector to determine the types of support that would be required under the new contract.
Cllr Kay Mitchell, cabinet member for adult social care and health integration, said: “I’m excited to see where the successful organisation will take Southend. The council will always be appreciative of the work that SAVS have achieved over the years and will continue to champion the organisation’s work going forward. It’ll be great to see the introduction of a brand new volunteer network that can help to build community projects that will in turn help more residents. Volunteers are such a valuable asset to any region or organisation, and it’ll be great to be able to host more volunteering opportunities as well.”
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