A leading Trafford Labour politician has applauded the launch of the borough’s new voluntary sector strategy that focuses on improving the lives of those people most in need.

Cllr Joanne Harding, Executive Member for Culture, Leisure, and Community Partnerships, lavished praise on the plans particularly as they recognise how critical the sector is on delivering vital services and support within communities.

The five-year strategy, drawn up by Thrive Trafford in partnership with Trafford Community Collective, aims to support the council’s work within its Voluntary, Community, Faith, and Social Enterprise (VCFSE) sector.

Speaking during the launch on Thursday, held at Stretford Public Hall, Cllr Harding highlighted the passion and commitment that exists within the borough’s voluntary sector.

“I really want to bring a human element to the purpose of what we are doing here today,” said Cllr Harding.

“When I left school, I volunteered in a veterinary practice because all I ever wanted to do was work with animals – and it was very proud day for me when I eventually qualified as a veterinary nurse.

“However, life would take a different turn when my brother started to use heroin aged just 21, unfortunately, addiction has blighted my family.

“This forged an interest for me to investigate the impact of addiction within families and communities resulting in me volunteering at needle exchanges, working with prostituted women and in prisons.

“I was supported and encouraged by some incredible professionals and organisations – and respected the fact that they made a huge difference not only to people’s lives but to entire communities.

“I know first-hand how vital this work is – and I stand here very proud to be able lend my voice to highlight such brilliant work.”

The VCFSE strategy includes:

  • For the sector in Trafford to grow and become more resilient and sustainable
  • To embed the sector in Trafford as a strategic and influential partner
  • To support the sector in Trafford to offer meaningful volunteering opportunities and pathways to employment
  • Make sure the sector supports residents to live well in their communities and provide support to those people with additional needs
  • Make sure the sector delivers and can benefit from social value commitments

Cllr Harding continued: “We all witnessed during the pandemic how much the voluntary sector was heavily relied on, then it was tasked to help deliver on the Ukrainian refugee support scheme, now we are facing an unimaginable cost of living crisis.

“And once again, here we are turning to our army volunteers who offer genuine support to the borough’s most vulnerable residents and communities.

“Quite frankly where would we be without them.

“Recently, I visited Age UK as part of the ‘Know Your Neighbour Scheme’ where I was delighted to see a young woman, who attends Flixton Girls School, eager to volunteer – and this is the passion and enthusiasm we need to continue fostering right here in Trafford.

“I applaud the new strategy and look forward to working with all our partners to make sure we deliver on our pledges.”