Money - spending the sensible way, and a bit of work with Brighton Uni in Hastings

Ok, so confession time - I used to work as a commisioning manager for a health authority, then for primary care trusts. All good, decent jobs, long hours etc. etc. which I felt quite good about until I made the mistake of answering someone at a party when she asked me what I actually do. I explained my job title, the ways we work and identify need, how we work with other partner organisations and so on. Perhaps it was a little long for an explanation but after listening intently for twenty minutes or so my friend turned to me and said; 'Bev, that was so boring, never tell anyone that again'.

So, after sharing that ahem, learning, I can tell you that North East Hastings Big Local are developing their Procurement Policy. This is essentially the detail about how we actually purchase services, and goods. We're lucky to have expert help from Hastings Voluntary Action in drawing up our policy. We're not at a formal draft stage yet so I can't share it on the website though rest assured it will be up here as soon as it’s signed off. The key principles of the policy are making sure we don't make it too hard for new, and/or small voluntary sector groups to access money, but at the same time, making sure our money is going to reputable trusted organisations and that they deliver what they say they will. We're going to go for a tiered approach, which is a practical way to do it; whereby if a small grant might just be to pay for, say £60 in repairing a boiler in a community centre we'll check it’s spent on that, but will make it a simple process to apply for. However for larger amounts, we'd be looking in detail at how the planned service meets need, if it can be provided from a local organisation, and that all the necessary regulations and checks are in place. We'll also be looking to get the best quality services and goods we can.

We of course need to make sure the North East Hastings Big Local Procurement Policy fits in to support local organisations, and work well with our 'locally trusted organisation' - Orbit's policies.

I know this kind of detail isn't everyone's cup of tea, but it is important work to get right, and I for one am pleased we're well on our way with this.

Now for more exciting news - we welcomed two representatives from the University of Brighton to our Resident Led Partnership Board this week. They'll be working with us as observers and advisers and will be helping us both research and evaluate our work and access research to help us in our work. A first project we might work together on could be media students interviewing local people year on year in our area to see what impact Big Local has over the ten year period.

We're also planning a Big Easter Event at the Ore Centre http://www.orecommunitycentre.co.uk/ - on Saturday 4 April. It will be a real family day and we're hoping to have a Easter hat/bonnet parade, face painting and much more. I'm wondering whether we could invent a craft based minecraft activity for our more techie youngsters, I'd love to hear any thoughts on that. We'd also love volunteers to help on the day, so please do email Jan Papworth via jan.papworth@orbit.org.uk if you can get involved in any way. 

Bev Jenkins, 5 Feb 2015, Blog post 4