Dear Colleagues,

We’re writing to you as one of the over 6,000 Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise (VCSE) organisations in Devon, Plymouth and Torbay. Recognising the importance of what we’re all delivering, One Devon NHS and the Devon Recovery Co-ordination Group are supporting the formation of a new VCSE Assembly for Devon, including Plymouth and Torbay. We’d love you to be a part of this Assembly, which is a broad-based, inclusive and shared collaborative model. Our three driving principles are inclusion, accountability and transparency.


What exactly is the Devon VCSE Assembly?

We see the VCSE Assembly as forming a ‘Community Anchor’, bringing together independent charities and community-led organisations across Devon, Plymouth and Torbay. Together, we are multi-purpose and aim to provide holistic solutions to local problems and challenges. At a local level, our members are often the driving force in community renewal. The Assembly aims to support, complement and add value to local VCSE networks and partnerships, including Local Care Partnerships. Through the Assembly, third-sector organisations, community service specialists and people with lived experience will be enabled and supported to engage at a strategic level in service design and co-production. We are not only a voice for the sector at a strategic level, but also we aim to give voice to our clients and service users. We are not a membership organisation – anyone who wants to be involved can be involved. Instead, we are a space where people, communities and organisations can contribute and engage in improving how important services are designed and delivered in Devon.


What areas will we be working in?

We will be encompassing ALL areas of VCSE service delivery and people-led change, whether that’s nature and environment, transport, housing, health, enterprise – and any other area that supports Devon’s people and places. In the summer of 2022, we established the first two prototype Specialist Assembly Hubs on Food Insecurity and Health Inequalities. These were followed by a Community Resource Planning working group and, most recently, the development of a Mental Health Hub.


What have we achieved so far?

A VCSE Assembly Design Group has been working for over a year to collaborate on the development and way forward for the Assembly and continues to meet fortnightly to refine our processes. There is not a formalised structure, but rather a fluid alliance with specialists that can come together to address specific areas. VCSE Assembly contributors are already actively engaged in cross-sectoral strategic engagement activities with Devon County Council, One NHS Devon and other public sector partners. We have also recently secured funding for the post of Assembly Development Co-ordinator, which has been filled by Lindie Whitfield. In addition, we have secured some marketing and communications resources to support the Design Group and keep people informed about the Assembly’s progress, which is being managed by Sarah Newman and Emma Gibb.


How can I get involved?

We are still in our infancy and acknowledge that. Although we’ve made good progress, there’s lots more we can do. By getting involved now you can have your say in how the Assembly evolves over the coming months.

You can join our mailing list and agree to receive our communications to keep updated with Assembly activities. Please use this link or email [email protected] and we will add your details.

If you would like to find out more about the Design Group or Specialist Hubs, please contact [email protected].

We are currently working on the development of an online platform that will keep people updated on the work of the Assembly. In the meantime, please keep your eye out for our next email!

With best wishes, On behalf of the Devon, Plymouth and Torbay VCSE Assembly Design Group

Organisations that have contributed to the Devon, Plymouth and Torbay VCSE Assembly so far:

Active Devon, Age UK Exeter, Alzheimer’s UK Devon & Cornwall, Citizens Advice Devon, Citizens Advice Exeter, CoLab Exeter, Devon Association of Local Councils (DALC), Devon County Council, Devon Community Foundation, Devon Communities Together, Devon Mind, Devon STP, Devon Voluntary Action, E Culture Solutions, Exeter Community Initiatives (ECI), Elder Tree, Engaging Communities South West, Healthwatch Devon/Plymouth & Torbay, Heart of Torbay CiC, Improving Lives Plymouth, Integrated Care System (ICS), Intercom Trust, Involve Mid Devon, Libraries Unlimited, Living Options Devon, Mental Health NHS Devon Board, Parental Minds CIC, Mind Devon, Navigate, NDVS, NHS, NHS England Seasonal Surge Programme SW & CL, One Devon, Ottery Help Scheme, Plymouth Octopus, Plymouth Social Enterprise Network, Plymouth University, Raisin Consulting, South Hams CVS, South Hams LCA, Teignbridge CVS, Torbay Citizens Advice, Torbay Community Development Trust, Torbay Health & Wellbeing Network, TTVS, Wellbeing In Action, West Devon CVS, Young Devon, and Wellmoor.

Puzzle photo courtesy of