My Week: Kevan Liles tackles more competition and formality

The chief executive of Voluntary Action Leicestershire recounts his week

Kevan Liles
Kevan Liles

Monday: Two years ago, we expanded our services into Leicestershire with a new contract. Sadly, this meant we took money from colleagues in the districts who were previously providing the service. Relationships since then have been difficult and today I am embroiled in complex negotiations with district councils and colleagues about new arrangements that may include some sub-contracting. I am sure this is the shape of things to come for our sector - more competition and more formality.

Tuesday: We are supporting Leicester City Council in a major event with voluntary and community sector groups and I chair the graveyard-shift session after lunch. It ends up a bit like the quick-fire round of a TV quiz as people contribute to discussions about how to better engage the VCS. The sector in Leicester is robust and may be bloodied, but is unbowed.

Wednesday: Like far too many other local VCS groups in the country, we have had to make redundancies and for us it has meant 11 posts going out of 80. It has been a very traumatic period and today I am agreeing terms with two staff who are leaving. Throughout the process, I have seen staff leaving VAL who I would dearly love to keep, but can no longer afford. It is our small part of what is becoming a national tragedy.

Thursday: Our new board, with a new chair, meets for the first time and has decided to act differently. We slipped into a public sector style of officers (i.e. me) producing detailed reports with recommendations. The new chair has instead set up three sub-committees that report without my input. That is scary for a chief executive used to more control over agendas.

Friday: We work with a Tory county and a Labour city council, which means the phrase "big society" cannot be uttered in the city, but the county is enthusiastic. The county cabinet has recommended a £500,000 investment to support the big society agenda, so we work on trying to secure some resources for our ideas. We are eager to move on from the doom and gloom and into the brave new world.

Voluntary Action Leicestershire supports local groups and volunteers across the county

Kevan Liles is chief executive of Voluntary Action Leicestershire

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