Joe Irvin, NAVCA’s Chief Executive, addressed his first big national NAVCA event today, when he opened the Chief Officers’ Residential Event (CORE) 2012. The event is a two day residential event, taking place at Yarnfield Park in Staffordshire. In his speech, Joe told NAVCA chief officers to be proud of what they do and to keep on making the case for infrastructure. He outlined some of the challenges that NAVCA faces and invited members to help NAVCA answer the big questions that NAVCA faces.
Joe told chief officers that NAVCA members will be vital in an age of austerity. Since becoming NAVCA Chief Executive, Joe has visited over 50 members. He says that these visits have made him totally convinced of the need for NAVCA members to make the “local sector work.” He told chief officers that “whenever you come under attack, whenever you feel overlooked or slighted just remember - you are doing something to be very proud of.”
In a section of the speech covering the range of work that NAVCA and their members are doing, Joe criticised aspects of the Work Programme and its dominance by big contractors. He warned against ‘compulsory volunteering’. Joe said, “call me old fashioned but in my book if it’s not voluntary, it’s not volunteering. It’s something else. Joe also said that politicians are sometimes guilty of viewing volunteering as a free good. He said that even though volunteers give their time freely, someone needs to organise and manage volunteering. Joe said, “it is not enough to put an advert in a shop window – volunteers wanted somewhere, sometime.”
In the final section of his speech Joe addressed the big questions that NAVCA faces. In particular he asked whether NAVCA “can we stay true to our mission in an age of austerity?” and “how we can ensure we remain on a sustainable footing?”
Joe said that we need to continue to make the definitive case for our work to government, the Big Lottery Fund, local authorities and other stakeholders. We need to raise standards through our Quality Award. We need to better use new technologies. He asked how the movement as a whole can best make alliances, which means exploring everything from sharing services to merging.