Social innovation opportunities in the North East
Challenge North East

By Laura Elliot, Membership and Communications Support Officer at VONNE

VONNE delivers the Social Innovation Cluster for Innovation SuperNetwork, which involves supporting innovation in the voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) sector in the North East. As a Regional Infrastructure Organisation with over 1,600 members, we’ve got a long history of supporting our sector. Our member’s voices give us a unique perspective and have fed directly into our plans.

The North East VCSE sector is incredibly varied, encompassing everything from small, locally focussed volunteer-run groups, to large scale charities with national impact; all of them delivering vital work. One thing that unites us is the amount of change we’ve seen in the last 18 months, which has forced us all to think about how we can do things differently.

This is where the innovation opportunity comes in. Whether it’s finding new ways of working or re-designing services to better meet user needs, VONNE’s sector surveys have revealed how the social sector is reviewing services and adopting new ways of working like never before. We know that digital inclusion has proved a challenge to the sector in terms of digital service delivery; that trading income and fundraising have been hit as a result of the pandemic; and that people are presenting to services in greater need as a result of compounded impacts of poverty, Covid-19 and restrictions, and sometimes delays in being able to access services.  As cluster lead, we’re aiming to ensure VCSE organisations of all sizes have access to good quality innovation support to help navigate these changes and make the most of the opportunities they present.

VONNE’s programme

We’re delivering support through a varied programme of workshops, peer learning, one-to-one support and tailored advice. All of this is designed to help you do ‘more for less’ by brokering cross sector relationships to deliver support for your organisation.

A number of workshops are already in the pipeline, with more planned for the future. Topics include Hybrid Working, Design Thinking and Project Management in partnership with Accenture, plus a session on understanding third part compliance and data protection. Keep an eye on our website events page for further details and to book your free place.

Other kinds of support

We can help you access other support too. For example, work placement students – particularly in digital – with payment incentives through Sunderland College. We’re also hosting sessions to share information about relevant funding opportunities for your innovation projects.

VONNE want to hear from you

Flexibility is key, so whether you’re a small, locally-focussed group, or a region-wide organisation, if you’re looking at how you can do things differently and need support, we’d love to hear from you.

Blog post author

Laura Elliot

Membership and Communications Support Officer at VONNE

Laura joined the VONNE team in December 2019 and brings more than 12 years’ experience in the charity sector, including roles in commercial management, fundraising and marketing for a range of charities big and small. She has also worked in employment rights advice and local government.

Laura provides support for VONNE’s membership and communications activities, as well as supporting on project delivery.

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