Voluntary sector should “rise to the challenge” of delivering public services

The voluntary sector “must not forget” its role as the “voice of
marginalised groups and unpopular issues” in the wake of the
expansion of public services provision, the ACEVO annual conference
heard today, writes Maria Ahmed from the

John Low, chair of the Association of Chief Executives of
Voluntary Sector Organisations (ACEVO), called on delegates at
ACEVO’s annual summer forum in London to “respond to the challenge”
from the government to deliver more public services.

He hinted that the forthcoming White Paper on public service
reform would be “likely” to recommend big increases in the role of
the voluntary sector.

Low insisted that voluntary sector organisations could combine a
campaigning role with a service delivery role and work as a “key
partner” with the government.

He said: “Voluntary and community organisations have a unique
understanding of our users, a closeness that cannot be replicated
by a private company or a government department.

“We must always ensure that deeper involvement with the delivery
of services never leaves us without our own unique voice and

Andrew Hinds, chief executive of the Charity Commission, said
maintaining public trust would be a “critical” issue for the
voluntary sector.

While some delegates expressed concerns that organisations could
become too government-led, Jeremy Swain, chief executive of
homelessness charity Thamesreach Bondway argued the sector “should
listen and respond” to the government.


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