Following significant changes to funding and contracts last year, the Trustees of Involve Kent initiated a strategic review, to ensure the organisation is well positioned for the future and continues to meet its original purpose; to develop volunteering and meet need in the community in Kent. The review involved consultation with staff, volunteers, clients, funders and other stakeholders. The review informed the strategic plan for 2017-19, and sets a clear direction for the organisation, moving away from the traditional concept of ‘Infrastructure’ to a model of community empowerment and social action. Our sole focus is now on improving health and wellbeing through giving, caring and bringing people and communities together.

This new focus alongside other changes has meant a change to the services we offer, and a staff restructure including some redundancies. Our focus is moving away from supporting other organisations, towards communities and individuals. Many of the services we deliver in Maidstone will continue; the forums, events, training, networking and information sharing; we are committed to improving communities by bringing people together. We will continue to promote volunteering and help the most isolated and disadvantaged benefit from taking part, and will shortly be launching our new ‘Volunteering for Wellbeing’ project.

However we will no longer be offering 1-2-1 advice and support or a volunteer recruitment service for other organisations. Stronger Kent Communities are now funded by KCC to ensure;
-Voluntary organisations are supported to recruit, manage and coordinate their volunteers.
-Voluntary organisations are supported to create opportunities for those who wish to engage in social action which reflects local needs and wants.

We are very sad to announce that our Voluntary Sector Support Service Manager, Jacqueline Bobb will be leaving us. Jacqueline has greatly developed our support service for other voluntary and community organisations, helping over 300 groups grow and develop. Her contribution has been significant and we wish her well with her next challenge.

Our new strategic vision is outlined below. We hope our partners and friends will continue to support us to make Maidstone and the wider area of Kent a better place to live.

We are Involve Kent – Together unleashing the power of giving to improve lives

Involve exists to support, enable and value giving in all its forms. This includes caring, volunteering, peer support, skill sharing, giving views to shape policy, social and community action, philanthropy and corporate social responsibility. We improve wellbeing and reduce isolation by bringing people together to help and support each other, recognising and enhancing everyone’s potential to improve their lives and the lives of others.

Our three core areas;
We improve the health, wellbeing and independence of Carers. We support Carers in their caring role; enabling people to provide unpaid support to a family member or friend who could not manage without help. We value and enhance the contribution Carers make to society by giving their time and support to others.

Older People
We improve the health, wellbeing and independence of older people by bringing people together. We facilitate and develop volunteering to provide practical support, information and advice, leisure, learning, health, wellbeing and social activities for older people. We value and enhance the contribution older people make to society by sharing their experience, wisdom, time and skills.

Health and wellbeing
To improve the health and wellbeing of disadvantaged, marginalised or vulnerable people by unleashing their potential to contribute to society and give to others. Build the confidence, skills, independence and resilience of people who have or are at risk of having mental health issues, by providing opportunities to come together, share experiences and give to others. Enable people affected by cancer to live well and have a good death. Encourage community cohesion and tackle discrimination and stigma by evidencing the value and contribution of all people and communities.