Civil Society Involvement (CSI) works 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 will assign legacy funds after Brexit – is funding made available for initiatives supporting employment and promoting economic and social cohesion.
Historically, European Funding has 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 seeks to bridge the gap in communication between the government departments managing European Social Funding and small third sector organisations. The project gives third sector bodies a voice and makes sure their needs and practices are 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 who 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 can now gather evidence and take suggestions back to the committees to help create change.
Impact on the local organisations
The funding landscape is now more accessible to third sector organisations. By signing up to the newsletter, any third sector organisation will receive the information they need to know when calls have come out in their region, along with a clear explanation of how to navigate the process, and how EU funds can work for them.
By connecting with the reps who now sit on the 9 national subcommittees and Growth Programme Board, organisations can also report issues and share ideas to help shape the final phase of the programme.
Due to CSI, Citizens Advice Halton are now a partner in four European funded programmes, and have also accessed European Funds directly through an ILM programme, which has 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 have 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 brings a unique and valuable skill-set to the board:
Helen Millne – Deputy CEO of The Women’s Organisation
Helen sits 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 sits 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 sits on the Evaluation National Sub-committee
Carol Botten – CEO of VONNE
Carol sits on the National Growth Programme Board and the Performance and Dispute Resolution National Sub-committee
Hitesh Patel – CEO of Halton Citizens Advice
Hitesh sits on the Employment, Skills and Social Inclusion National Sub-committee
Joanna Cain – Director of Education and Deputy CEO of the Workers’ Educational Association
Joanna sits on the Employment, Skills and Social Inclusion National Sub-committee
John Hacking – Associate Director, Network for Europe
John sits on the Communications National Sub-committee
Phil Lakin – National Trust, European Grants Manager
Phil sits on the Sustainable Growth and Development National Sub-committee
For More Information on CSI
Contact our team to share your experiences in accessing European Funding and help shape the remaining 2014-2020 programme via:
Telephone: 0151 706 8104
Visit the Civil Society Involvement website