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The Voluntary & Community Sector Reference Group (VCSRG) was formed to take over from where the old SUSTAiN Consortium left of but providing a much broader range of organisations and with the specific role of representing the views of the wider sector – both to partners but also informing the services that SUSTAiN provides


In early 2009 Colebridge Trust Ltd. and the SUSTAiN consortium merged. The merger saw the formation of a new board comprising appointees from the original Colebridge Trust board and the SUSTAiN consortium. Whilst retaining the name Colebridge Trust Ltd., it is now a much broader organisation incorporating both Colebridge Trust’s community development work and SUSTAiN’s role as infrastructure support body for Solihull’s voluntary sector.


By late 2008, it was clear that the project managed by the Colebridge Trust on behalf of the Consortium had grown to such an extent that it occupied the bulk of the Colebridge Trust’s time. The Board of Trustees at Colebridge and the SUSTAiN Consortium agreed that a change was necessary.


In 2007, Solihull Council put the contract for Voluntary Sector services out to tender. Solihull Council for Voluntary Services decided not to bid and sadly closed down. In early 2008, the contract was awarded to SUSTAiN.


In 2006, Colebridge Trust Ltd. took over the role as the accountable body for this Consortium. Nationally, the programme moved from the Home Office to the newly created ‘Office of the Third Sector’ and became managed by an organisation called ‘Capacitybuilders’. The ChangeUp programme moved up a gear. The SUSTAiN Consortium obtained additional funds from Capacitybuilders plus funding from the Learning and Skills Council and the Big Lottery. The team of people directly employed on the SUSTAiN project grew.


SUSTAiN began life in 2005 when a group of support organisations formed a partnership in response to a central government initiative called ChangeUp. They called themselves the SUSTAiN Consortium. The early part of the Consortium’s life was spent researching and deciding what was needed to be done in Solihull to prepare Third Sector organisations for a future where things were likely to be different. The government’s aim for its ChangeUp programme was to equip Third Sector organisations to deliver more public services. The logic being that the Third Sector was better at doing this than anyone else.