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Civil Society Involvement: Case Study

Third Sector Experts

Civil Society Involvement (CSI) worked for all third sector organisations involved in European funding programmes to facilitate a healthy exchange of knowledge and make sure that their voice is heard at national level.

What does CSI do?

The European Social Fund – and the UK Prosperity Fund, which assigned legacy funds after Brexit – made funding available for initiatives supporting employment and promoting economic and social cohesion.

Historically, European Funding had been under-accessed by the non-profit and charitable organisations as organisations were put off by complexity of the process or because they didn’t think it applied to them.

CSI sought to bridge the gap in communication between the government departments managing European Social Funding and small third sector organisations. The project gave third sector bodies a voice and made sure their needs and practices were considered at national and the highest strategic levels, whilst helping those organisations to access funds for local activities.

The Women’s Organisation set up Civil Society Involvement and 10 representatives were recruited from the third sector to sit on the national programme board and each of the national sub-committees to make decisions about these funds.

We also set up mechanisms to help each organisation report any difficulties they had meeting the funding body’s requirements if there was a clash with client need. Representatives could then gather evidence and take suggestions back to the committees to help create change.

Impact on the local organisations

The funding landscape was made more accessible to third sector organisations. By signing up to the newsletter, third sector organisations would receive the information they need to know when calls came out in their region, along with a clear explanation of how to navigate the process, and how EU funds could work for them.

By connecting with the reps who sat on the 9 national subcommittees and Growth Programme Board, organisations could also report issues and share ideas to help shape the final phase of the programme.

Due to CSI, Citizens Advice Halton became a partner in four European funded programmes, and also accessed European Funds directly through an ILM programme, which enabled them to expand their staff team.

Hitesh Patel, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice Halton said: “Not everyone has someone they can go to who is more experienced with the process and who can guide you through how to relationship build at Local Enterprise Partnership level – that is exactly why we need CSI. By joining up you can get yourself in the loop of when ‘calls’ are coming out. You can be regularly in receipt of information that will help to unpack the jargon and demystify the process.”


CSI’s expert representatives had been carefully selected to sit on the Growth Programme Board and its nine national sub-committees. Acting as the voice of the third sector, each member brought a unique and valuable skill-set to the board:

Helen Millne – Deputy CEO of The Women’s Organisation
Helen sat on the National Growth Programme Board, the Performance and Dispute Resolution National Sub-Committee and the Equality & Diversity National Sub-Committee

Maggie O’Carroll – CEO of The Women’s Organisation
Maggie sat on the Small and Medium Sized Enterprise Competitiveness National Sub-committee and the Sustainable Urban Development National Sub-committee

Anne Lythgoe – Vice Chair and Treasurer of Social Audit Network
Anne sat on the Evaluation National Sub-committee

Carol Botten – CEO of VONNE
Carol sat on the National Growth Programme Board and the Performance and Dispute Resolution National Sub-committee

Hitesh Patel – CEO of Halton Citizens Advice
Hitesh sat on the Employment, Skills and Social Inclusion National Sub-committee

Joanna Cain – Director of Education and Deputy CEO of the Workers’ Educational Association
Joanna sat on the Employment, Skills and Social Inclusion National Sub-committee

John Hacking – Associate Director, Network for Europe
John sat on the Communications National Sub-committee

Phil Lakin – National Trust, European Grants Manager
Phil siat on the Sustainable Growth and Development National Sub-committee

For More Information

Telephone: 0151 706 8111

Email: hello@thewo.org.uk

Visit the Civil Society Involvement website