An innovative no-cost way of encouraging businesses, local authorities and voluntary organisations to share skills, knowledge and physical resources through a ‘time and talent bank’ was launched in Mid-Sussex last night.
The brainchild of the Queen’s local representative, the Lord-Lieutenant of West Sussex, the imaginary bank’s reserves are made up of social capital rather than cash and are there for public, private and third sector groups to both invest in and borrow from.
Already successfully trialled elsewhere in the county, the Lord Lieutenant’s Voluntary Sector Support Group (LLVSSG) has made a significant difference to a wide range of organisations by simply matchmaking needs and resources, leaving money out of the equation.
The Lord Lieutenant, Mrs Susan Pyper, explained to more than 120 guests at the South of England Showground conference facilities that she wanted to bring together the commercial, public and voluntary sectors to share the skills and expertise that each other has.
“I’m not asking for money from anyone,” reassured Mrs Pyper, “it’s really just to try to find those trustees that some commercial companies might be hiding or use the skills of the people working in the commercial sector, or perhaps to offer up premises.”
The Mid Sussex launch was the fourth to take place in West Sussex, and deputy-lieutenant Margaret Bamford who organised the first in Worthing said last night’s was the best yet.
“The links we made were absolutely incredible,” said Mrs Bamford - “space for meetings, space for training, offering to do mail-shots, offers for all kinds of help.
“It was absolutely magic – this was undoubtedly the best yet.”
Mrs Pyper was very pleased with how the evening went and commented on the ‘real buzz’ and energy in the room as representatives from all walks of life discussed what they need and what they can offer.
“What we have to do is translate the talk and genuine enthusiasm into delivery and action now,” the Lord-Lieutnant told the Mid Sussex Times.
“But I know that we’ll do that, because I know Mid Sussex.
“I know the three towns in Mid Sussex and the rural areas and the people involved in this initiative and I am really hoping that together we can achieve an awful lot for West Sussex.”
Representing Burgess Hill-based charity Time 4 Children Kate Sapara said the event had proved ‘really worthwhile’.
Like many not-for-profit organisations they are looking trustees, help with IT and a website, and on the evening they were also offered furniture - a common need for many groups.
Elizabeth Peel, who chairs the board of The Yews Centre in Haywards Heath, agreed, saying it had been a ‘really positive’ meeting.
“Seeds were sown which may genuinely germinate into something very useful,” she reflected.
The event was organised by local deputy-lieutenants Liz Bennet, Carole Hayward and Margaret Collins.
Mrs Bennett said: “It is not about money, and that immediately breaks down all sorts of barriers.
“I am thrilled with the way it has gone.”
Mrs Hayward added: “Already we have some brilliant ideas of links whereby businesses are going to support charities and charities can offer something back to businesses – that is exactly what we are all about.”
For further information about the LLVSSG Mid-Sussex Working Together group, and to see what you could offer or gain from the bank of local social capital, visit West Sussex Lieutenancy website.