As part of the Scottish Government's commitment to developing the role of communities and the Third Sector, it invested in the development of a network of Third Sector Interfaces ( TSIs) across Scotland. In doing so, it aimed to ensure that the Third Sector was adequately supported and enabled to participate in community planning and contribute towards the achievement of local and national outcomes.
Third Sector Interfaces are funded by the Scottish Government to deliver four core functions:
- Volunteering development (support for volunteers and organisations who support volunteers).
- Social enterprise development (to promote and develop social enterprise locally).
- Supporting and developing a strong Third Sector (support for Third Sector organisations on setting up a charity, training and development, and funding advice).
- Building the relationship with Community Planning (acting as the conduit and connecting the Third Sector with the implementation of the Single Outcome Agreements and Community Planning process).
In February 2016, Blake Stevenson Ltd. together with Arrivo Consulting Ltd. was commissioned to undertake an evaluation of Scotland's Third Sector Interface network model and of Voluntary Action Scotland ( VAS). The aim of the evaluation was two-fold:
- To evaluate the role, function and effectiveness/impact of the Third Sector Interface network model and Voluntary Action Scotland.
- To explore with research participants what the future strategic direction and approach to Third Sector support in Scotland should be at the local level.
The research involved a survey of all TSI Chief Executive officers and Chairs; depth studies in 11 selected fieldwork areas; a survey of Third Sector organisations in the selected areas; interviews with wider stakeholders; interviews with VAS; interviews with key Scottish Government staff; and a literature review.
It is important to note that the purpose of the depth studies was to enable us to understand the way in which the model works in practice - they were not undertaken to evaluate the effectiveness or impact of individual TSIs.