Community Empowerment Networks
Community Empowerment Networks are defined as the vehicle for linking the community and voluntary sectors with Local Strategic Partnerships. The Network brings together a range of organisations from large ‘professional’ voluntary agencies to the smallest community or residents group. They are responsible for getting information about LSPs out to all sections of the community and for providing ways in which people most affected by poor service delivery can get realistically involved in discussing and planning how the services should be changed.
Originally 21 Community Empowerment Networks (CENs) were set up in the North West from 2002. The largest number in any region outside of London. They were funded initially through the Neighbourhood Renewal Fund but as this came to an end CEN's sought funding through a variety sources via Local Area Agreements. Since 2008 the number of CEN's in the North West has diminished and there are now twelve.
NW Forum of Community Empowerment Networks
The Forum began in 2003 when a number of co-ordinators met at a conference and wanted to be able to share information and practice and have a voice on issues of common concern. The Forum met on a quarterly basis and was attended by the coordinators and development workers from the CEN's. Due to the process of changes in funding for CEN's via Local Area Agreements and their decline in number it was decided that a broader forum was needed. This would addresss the needs of those working in community empowerment, whether funded through a CEN or not. The Forum ceased to meet and a Third Sector Empowerment Practitioners Forum was launched in May 2009.
The 12 CENs in the North West are: