UK voluntary sector umbrella groups clubbed together to lobby European Union leaders to maintain funding levels for the sector as the leaders met last week to thrash out the rules that will govern the EU budget for the next seven years.
The NCVO, the SCVO, Nicva and the WCVA joined the Third Sector European Network to produce a joint position paper called Towards a Vision for the Future of Structural Funds. They launched it at a reception at Nicva's offices in Belfast last Thursday, as EU employment and social affairs ministers gathered in the same city for the first meeting of the UK's presidency of the EU.
The EU Structural and Cohesion Funds make up almost a third of the EU's budget, and are accessed by voluntary and community groups that exist to improve local communities.
Groups at the reception demonstrated how EU funding was being used to contribute to social inclusion and community building.