The RAN Annual General Meeting 2016 took place on Thursday 11th October 2016 at the Reading Town Hall, in the Waterhouse Chamber, from 5.30-7.30pm.
Twenty four delegates attended from a wide variety of RAN member organisations, responsible for delivering quality information, advice and sign-posting services across Reading.
Richard Harrison, opened proceedings with a welcome and summary of RAN project achievements to date. Elections were held for 2016/7 Trustees and the RAN accounts were agreed as a true record, as part of the Agenda for the evening.
Wendy Fabbro, Reading Borough Council’s Director of Adult Care and Health Services was the guest speaker and gave delegates an overview of the support that Reading Borough Council will continue to give RAN.
Summary of AGM Minutes:
Richard Harrison welcomed delegates to the meeting and gave a verbal report of RAN progress over the past six months, as follows:
The RAN project originated from the Advice Services Transition Fund, which ran for a little over two years to the end of 2015.
There have been five key RAN members who are all members of the RAN Partnership Board who have been committed to running the project. In the early summer of 2015, we formed a working group to try and establish a permanent Advice Network.
By July 2015, we agreed to focus the RAN development work around a simple set Aims and supporting Objectives, as follows:
- to raise the quality of advice and information available in Reading
- to make it more accessible to those who need it
- to become a voice - hopefully an influential voice - for the advice sector
- to win support for what we were trying to do, from Wendy Fabbro and her colleagues at Reading Borough Council
- to secure funding, towards the end of 2015, from the Earley Charity
- In February 2016, to get our constitution approved by the Charity Commission, so that we became a Charitable Incorporated Organisation
- In May 2016, to appoint our part-time Business Development Manager, Jayne Mills, which has greatly increased our capacity to make things happen
- to develop our Quality Standard
- to consul widely about our Quality Standards framework
- to secure funding for the assessment process, with the help of, and through a bid by, Rachel Spencer at RVA, from Reading Borough Council
- In June and July, to use independent assessors to test the draft Quality Standards out on three of our member organisations - Citizens Advice, Reading Community Welfare Rights Unit, and CommuniCare.
- During the holiday period to hold assessors’ meetings with key staff to discuss the reports on those assessments
- Once the assessors’ reports on the pilots are available to look again at the Quality Standard and decide how, if at all, we need to adjust it
- In September 2016, to get the number of our member organisations into double figures!
- Finally, in October 2016, to begin a 3 month pilot outreach programme in partnership with the Crescent Centre in Earley, using its Mobile Information Centre (MICe Bus).
These are real achievements, which have taken a lot of hard work and we are proud of them. However, we know we have only just started. Our next step is to start to pursue our Aims and Objectives through a programme of activities.
Two key elements will be to organise training and RAN Forum meetings. We will be consulting with our member organisations, and potential members, about shared training needs.
Forum meetings are also being planned, with the first on 17th January 2017 at the Civic Offices, where we shall be discussing the key social policy issues that are emerging from our members' work.
We also want to increase our membership because the more organisations that we can bring together the more we can do about the quality and accessibility of our collective services, and the stronger our voice for the sector.
Member benefits include:
- for support - the climate for voluntary organisations is cold and getting colder - it isn’t good to be out there on your own
- for the opportunity to learn from, and build relationships with, other organisations facing many of the same challenges you are
- for access to cost-effective high quality training opportunities for your staff and volunteers
- for the chance to publicise your services more widely through our use of social media and the RAN website
- for access to, and support to achieve, a good Quality Standard
- to be part of a strong collective voice for the sector and help shape service provision
- finally, to help build, across Reading, for people in real need, a network of connected and accessible services that is greater than the sum of its parts.
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