CVS Cheshire East AGM + Beyond Survival: Strategic Planning to Thrive

Thank you to all our members who joined us at the AGM+ Beyond Survival Strategic Planning To Thrive event on the 8th March. The event was a great success, with informative and engaging discussions from key speakers and during our world café sessions. 

Kate Blakemore, CEO of Motherwell Cheshire, was the keynote speaker, sharing her valuable insights on the significant benefits that strategic planning can bring to organisations. Kate shared how working on Social Return on investment has benefitted Motherwell Cheshire and helped to shape the decision-making processes to meet the needs of the area.  

Homepage - Motherwell Cheshire CIO 


Samantha James, Deputy CEO CVSCE shared information regarding the new membership model.  

This model is designed to meet the evolving needs of Cheshire East's VCFSE sector and will allow CVSCE to work more collaboratively with member organisations to upskill, increase impact, and ensure long-term sustainability. 

Sam reflected on the high turnover of staff and the appointment of interim senior leadership team and the impact these changes have made. An internal review took place gathering information, reviewing CVSCE services and changing our internal organisational structure to better serve the membership and the wider sector. 

After conducting an internal review of CVSCE’s working practices and seeking feedback from the community, we have created an innovative and exciting new membership model. A clear outline what to expect from CVS starting April 1st, 2023 can be found on our website.  

Membership Benefits | CVS Cheshire East ( 

In 2023/24 CVSCE’s priority is being back out in the community engaging with members and the wider sector to rebuild relationships and networks. 

Sam also shared the changes to the team at CVSCE, introducing Rachael Cosby as the Membership Support Officer who will be the primary contact for all members and will enlist the support and expertise from the wider support team on your behalf. 


To round off the event, members divided into groups for discussions in our World Café. This was a chance to share ideas, views and areas of need within the sector and gain some insight and feedback from the CVSCE staff members. Four key areas were raised and a summary of some topics and future actions are included below:  

  1. Optimising Digital Communications 

An easier navigation of the CVSCE website would be beneficial for members 

Directory on the website to list clearly organisations and people and arranged geographically and by activity type 

CVSCE ebulletin – is a key point of information for a lot of members so keeping it fresh and relevant to ensure highest level of engagement 

Some groups are looking for support with website building, hosting and maintaining 

Requests for social media resources, for information of what’s most appropriate to use and how best to utilise these resources 


Running a range of short information sessions around communication methods 

Updated CVSCE website before the end of 2023 and will ensure easier access to resources 

From April 2023 CVSCE will have a team led approach to communications – we hope this will ensure the content of e bulletins is kept fresh and up to date, ensuring members are able to gain as much of an insight as possible  


  1. Membership offer, one-to-one support and training needs 

Lots of discussion around the changes set out to the Membership Offer 

Lots of positive reflections on changes and how it will benefit the members and wider sector 

Reflections on in person meetings as well the practicalities of online/hybrid discussion  


Priority for CVSCE trial a range of events to provide the most suitable options for networking within the sector  


  1. Strategic Development and the Impact of your organisation 

Collaborations and knowing what others are doing is hard within the sector – environment created in competitive bidding 

Members stated there can be a struggle with barriers and knowing how to develop things 

Feel there can be a disconnect between board and management level and people actually delivering the services 

There are a wide range of monitoring and evaluation systems and gathering this information isn’t always embedded in the organisation and so members aren’t always sure how it is gathered or used  

Social Return on Investment was not fully understood by members 


Potential for bespoke work provided by CVSCE to help with monitoring and evaluation 

Potential training for Social Return on Investment – bespoke or generic  

Develop a range of resources on outputs, outcomes and impacts as well of monitoring and evaluation 


  1. Connections within the system, council, healthcare and beyond 

Members feel they need wider sector areas explaining, so an understanding of who is best to contact in given situations – e.g. care communities, connected communities and neighbourhood partnerships.  

Mapping health structures within Cheshire East and its connections with Cheshire East Council and the wider area would be beneficial. 

Organisations need to know what social value is – understand how it applies to their organisation. 

Networking is important within the sector, now more than ever, but the pandemic put an effective halt to that so great to have events such as these where connections can be made.   


Regular information sharing sessions throughout the year, an opportunity to share our mapping and invite voluntary sector and statutory organisations to share their insight and understanding. We hope this will support a mutual understanding of the landscape as it continues to evolve.  

Information sessions on key issues as they emerge on subjects such as Social Value.


Thank you again to all those who attended, for those who were unable to attend, we hope you can join us at future CVSCE events.

Disclaimer: CVS Cheshire East cannot make any guarantees about news, events and training that have been submitted from external sources