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About Us

South West Forum supports voluntary groups to be better at doing what they want to do. But we also work with local authorities, health agencies, universities and other public bodies as well as businesses to help them build strong relationships and partnerships with voluntary and community groups. 

We run networks, broker consortia and partnerships, advise on measuring impact and help improve commissioning processes.  We help organisations to understand and interpret what government policies such as localism, big society and social value mean in practice. 

Above all we strive to be an influential voice for South West voluntary groups with government and other key decision-makers.

We believe that the work of voluntary and community organisations is fundamental to an effective and healthy democratic society.

Our vision is for the South West to have strong independent voluntary and community organisations.

Our mission is to be a strong and authoritative voice for voluntary and community organisations; promote and safeguard their independence and values; support their development to be as effective and as efficient as possible; and enable them to collaborate effectively with partners in the social enterprise, public and private sectors.

Our values are to strive to be inclusive, compassionate and fair; maintain and defend our independence; be collaborative; have democracy and accountability at the core of our governance; provide the highest quality of service; be as effective and as efficient as possible; and be creative, imaginative and innovative.

Established in 1999 South West Forum originated in the desire of voluntary groups to have a strong voice in the new regional structures which emerged in the late nineties. Since the 2010 general election many of these regional bodies have been swept away but we believe the Forum continues to have a very important role.

Our focus now is on helping voluntary groups to understand and interpret key policy issues; connecting and networking people and groups; and influencing government and other decision-makers to ensure they respond to the particular needs of south west groups.

We also work with public bodies and businesses to help them build strong relationships and partnerships with voluntary and community groups. Increasingly we find that bringing together different sectors and interests in the “same room” is the most effective way of devising practical solutions to long standing problems.

Regional Voices, the national alliance of all regional networks, provides South West Forum with a means of influencing and engaging with government nationally and drawing on experience and practice from right across England.

As a charitable company limited by guarantee the Forum is governed by a board of trustee directors who are elected by its members. The Forum employs a small expert staff team all of whom are also personally involved in voluntary and community activity.