Northumberland CVA work praised
Charities and community organisations are happy with the way they have been supported by Northumberland Community Voluntary Action (CVA) and want the local authority to continue to fund this kind of work.
Northumberland CVA is now in the fifth year of a commission from the council to provide support services to the hundreds of small charities and local community groups that make up the voluntary and community sector in the county.
The purpose of the commission is to ensure that groups are well governed, managed effectively and supported to be as sustainable as possible, that volunteering activity can develop and flourish, and that the collective voice of the voluntary and community sector is heard to influence and shape decisions that are important to the sector.
The local authority has invested £137,500 per annum to fund these activities. In light of budgetary pressures, the new administration has recently conducted a consultation with the sector to find out how effective the services provided by Northumberland CVA have been, and to gather thoughts on how any future commission should be delivered, what specific services it should fund, and what budget would be appropriate.
Key findings of the consultation show that satisfaction with the services delivered by Northumberland CVA is high and that generally the range of services provided are what people want.
There is little appetite for change on how the commission is delivered, with one countywide commission being clearly identified as the continued preferred option going forward.
Unsurprisingly, the majority of respondents expressed a wish that the current level of support should be retained or even increased, but some also expressed recognition that times are difficult.
Some of the bigger funders, such as the Big Lottery, also contributed to the consultation and commented on the quality and the resultant success of Northumberland funding bids as opposed to applications from other areas in the North East, linking this success to the valuable support and opportunities given by Northumberland CVA.
CEO of Northumberland CVA, Anne Lyall said: “To deliver the commission Northumberland CVA offers advice, support and training on governance issues, managing volunteers and writing successful funding bids.
“We provide a fortnightly e-bulletin full of valuable information and host regular funding fairs across the county where community groups can talk face to face with funders about their projects.
“We also host volunteer fairs and, through our website, we offer Volunteer Connect – an interactive web-based database that gives both volunteers and organisations the ability to update and manage their own online profiles, to find suitable volunteer matches and have two-way communications.
“Also featured on our website is an events calendar that local charities and community groups can use to find information on upcoming training and events, as well as to post their own community events. Our members can also be listed in our new online community directory to advertise their services and other facilities.
“In addition, over the course of the commission, Northumberland CVA has developed the four geographical networks of Northumberland Voluntary and Community Sector Assembly to give charities and community groups in all corners of the county a forum to air their views and address issues.
“If your local community group needs support with funding, with finding volunteers or with governance issues, please keep an eye on our events calendar to find out about our funding fairs, volunteer events and training, and don’t hesitate to contact our dedicated support services on 01670 858688 to discuss any issues you may have.”