Join the West Midlands Civil Society Forum (WMCSF)
The West Midlands has a new Combined Authority which will be making big decisions about our economy, livelihoods, priorities and public spending.
We believe these decisions should be made with the influence not only of local government and business, but also of civil society – those who understand and care about our communities and environment.
This is why we are forming the West Midlands Civil Society Forum – to provide a voice for civil society into the Combined Authority. We are seeking ways of engaging with how decisions are made. Membership is open to all voluntary and community sector organisations in the area covered by the WMCA.
We’re keen that this network is welcoming to every organisation who sees the WMCA as relevant to what they do.
Interested? Keep reading!
What is the WMCSF
The West Midlands Civil Society Forum (WMCSF) has been established to provide a means for communities and civil society to engage with the work of the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA).
About the WMCA
The WMCA consists of 12 local authorities and three Local Enterprise Partnerships working together to implement the current government’s model of devolution. Various powers are proposed for devolution to the WMCA in a ‘deal’ with central government that has been negotiated without any civil society involvement. We are keen that in future, in line with good governance practice, this combined authority includes the voice of civil society alongside that of local government and business.
Our aim is to help shape WMCA activity so it meets social, economic and environmental needs across all communities and neighbourhoods, leaving no voice unheard. In particular, we will help the Combined Authority to handle how it buys and commissions services, research and goods so that they benefit all neighbourhoods.
Who can Join
Membership is open to all not-for-profit voluntary organisations operating in the area covered by the West Midlands Combined Authority Area.
The forum is still being established. Those attending previous meetings have involved about 8 – 20 voluntary organisations based in the West Midlands including:
- Birmingham Citizens
- Birmingham Churches Together
- Birmingham Council of Faiths
- Equality West Midlands
- Friends of the Earth West Midlands
- Futures Network West Midlands
- Localise West Midlands
- Regional Action West Midlands
- RnR Organisation
- Unlock Democracy
- Solihull Sustain
- West Midlands Politics of Networks
- West Midlands Regional Churches
- West Midlands Regional Sustainability Forum
- West Midlands Voice
How your organisation can take part in the Forum
As a member, you can send a representative to meetings, participate in discussion on the online forum, and participate in subgroups on key themes. In the coming months we hope to have some formal engagement with the WMCA: decisions on who represents the forum and on any statements made will be made at meetings, and notified to members by email.
How to join
Send an email requesting membership of the Forum, giving address and contact person details, to Sharon Palmer: SharonP@rawm.co.uk. You can then be added to the list of members and joined to an online forum/email list through a google/yahoogroup where you can choose whether to receive all emails or read them online. Announcements on important Forum matters such as notices of meetings will be emailed out, but wider discussion can be held on the forum.
How it operates and how its decisions are made
The acting chair is Jon Morris of Localise West Midlands, who brought the initial meeting together. Decisions are currently made by those members who attend meetings. Those representing networks are responsible for seeking and bringing their network’s views to meetings. In future, some Forum statements may be agreed by email.
We are establishing a web and social media presence and formalising our membership and ways of working. We are also setting up some working groups that can discuss the key issues the WMCA is considering:
- Transport and Spatial Planning
- Housing (inc homelessness)
- Mental Health Commission
- Local Economics, Training & Workforce Development
- Civic Engagement
- Youth Justice
In the coming months we will draw up a constitution and arrange an AGM to ratify our ways of working and roles. We may also form a steering group (made up of the Chair, Secretary and representatives of the subgroups) to guide how the forum develops.
Regional Action West Midlands has offered some coordination support to the forum on a temporary basis.