Prepare to set sail on a sea of potential

9 November 2023

Community First Yorkshire colleagues, Dena Dalton, Vicki Sharp and Andy Shield attended the York & North Yorkshire Local Enterprise Partnership Business Summit on 27 Oct in York. Below they share their thoughts on the future for the voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) sector:

‘Potential’ was one of our key takeaways from Business Summit – and that’s an exciting place to be.

This blog starts with the sea…

Who knew we would walk away learning about the potential of seaweed for mitigating climate change and that just off the Scarborough coast, there exists a first-of-its-kind marine organisation dedicated to growing kelp and, as importantly, contributing to the local economy and community through recruiting and developing a local workforce.

York’s UNESCO Status

Who knew we would walk away learning about the potential of York as a media arts city and as such, has been awarded UNESCO status. Creative industries deliver outcomes way beyond economic development: they enable social cohesion, talent development and innovation. Aesthetica is a great example of that.

Artificial Intelligence: A Revolution Unfolds

Who knew we would walk away, equally inspired and alarmed about the potential of artificial intelligence (AI). Piers Linney, a former BBC Dragon’s Den Dragon, spoke of AI ushering in the fourth industrial revolution. He won’t mind us sharing that he converses daily with his ChatGPT Plus (check it out), regularly asking it questions, the answers of which have helped him enormously in developing his successful strategic thinking.

Devolution and Community Empowerment

Speeches from both Helen Simpson, Chair of York and North Yorkshire Local Enterprise Partnership, and Councillor Claire Douglas, Leader of York City Council, referenced the economic and social potential for the future of our regions when devolution comes to fruition and the Mayoral Combined Authority is created next year. Opportunities will arise to improve our regions’ infrastructure and help address key local priorities through decision-making made closer to our communities. For the VCSE sector, what is our potential to ensure we remain fully engaged and influence positive change and collaboration in empowering our communities when this change happens?

This leads to the key reflection on what the potential impact is for, and on, the VCSE sector when it comes to looking at the future beyond the opportunity of devolution.

Navigating AI’s Potential: is this a lifeboat or an iceberg?

What does the potential of artificial intelligence look like for the sector and how can we best harness that opportunity? We already know the challenge that exists for many of our communities when it comes to digital access and connectivity, which could lend itself to a deepening exclusion and even greater inequity; yet also, the challenge exists for the sector itself if we do not stay on, or ahead, of the AI curve. As Piers Linney stated in his talk, artificial intelligence is currently a ship in the harbour, as it sets sail it will gather speed, moving further and faster away and those who are left behind on the harbour will remain there.

So this blog started with the sea… and it ends in the ocean

How can we ensure our sector and the communities that we work within do not remain moored and unable to leave the harbour? We need to ensure that we are ready to set sail and embark on the ocean of the fourth industrial revolution.


If you want to get in touch with Dena, Vicki or Andy to discuss these ideas further please email them:

Dena Dalton, Head of Health Collaboration

Vicki Sharp, Development Officer

Andy Shield, Development Officer