Voluntary and community groups joined the public and private sector from across the county to learn more about each other and find opportunities to connect and share ideas.
Held at Maidstone United’s Gallagher Stadium, about 100 people attended the networking event following a surge of interest in groups getting together to share ideas and skills.
It was organised by Kent County Council in partnership with KentCan, a Community Interest Company (CIC) that connects organisations wishing to support or enhance communities in the county.
It comes following KCC’s creation of a Voluntary and Community Sector (VCS) policy in September last year late last year.
During the consultation, groups asked KCC to assist in bringing the VCS together with other sectors across Kent, allowing them to discuss new ideas, share skills and ultimately deliver services for the best value.
Speaking at the event, Cabinet Member for Community Services Mike Hill said: “This event is the first of its kind and I hope it will prove very successful.
“Partnerships are increasingly important – these are challenging times for us all and there will be no let-up in the financial pressures.
“Thinking innovatively about how we can deliver services requires us to come together and share ideas and skills.
“Within KCC we have been changing our approach, undertaking transformation activity which moves us to a strategic commissioning authority. Having opportunities to come together with partners across sectors is vitally important to this process, and we hope this event is the starting point.
“This is not simply an opportunity for us to update you but for us all to share information and look for new opportunities.”
Other speakers included Chair of KentCan Jane Roberts and KCC’s Director of Highways, Transportation and Waste Roger Wilkin.
Mr Wilkin spoke of the opportunities available, for instance, waste contractors working with voluntary organisations to go into schools to discuss how it is possible to cut down on the amount of rubbish we produce.
KCC staff from policy, arts and culture; public health, funding and village hall grants, and adult social care were also on hand to answer any questions.
Attending were –
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Action with Communities in Rural Kent
Age UK Maidstone
Age UK Northwest Kent
Ametrine Holistics Ltd.
Ashford Mediation Service
Aspire2Be Recovery Community CIO
Big Lottery Fund
Broadstairs Town Shed
Citizens Advice Maidstone
City of Rochester Symphony Orchestra
Crossroads Care Kent
Digital Forensics Global Recruitment Ltd
Diocese of Canterbury
East Kent Mencap
Headway South East London North West Kent
Home Start Shepway
Home-Start South West Kent
Howard De Walden
Julia May Business Consultancy
KCC Libraries, Registration and Archives
Kennington Community Forum
Kent Community Foundation
Kent Enterprise Trust
Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce
Kent Ramgarhia Darbar
Kent Training and Apprenticeships (KCC)
Maidstone Area Arts Partnership
Maidstone Salvation Army
Medway Valley Countryside Partnership
Metro Bank plc
Morgan Chex Commercial Finance Limited
MyLife Living Assistance
North Kent Training Service
Relate East Kent
Sheppey Community Media Centre
Skillnet Group CIC
Thanet Volunteer Bureau Ltd
The Conservation Volunteers
The Hyde Group
The RSA/West Kent Recovery Service
Young Lives Foundation