In South Shields in the North East, the team went to meet Susan Carruthers, Business Manager at South Tyneside CVS. She explained to us how the CVS works and told us about the major restructures and reforms the CVS had been through in recent months.
The South Tyneside CVS is a charity that has four main focus areas:
- Offering advice, information and support to small, local charities and community groups.
- Representing the charity sector and influencing practice on a regional level with the local council.
- Working to encourage volunteering and positive community action in the area,
- Giving out impartial, independent funding advice. They mostly do this by focusing on directing groups to small council grants and lottery grants such as Awards for All.
In recent months, South Tyneside CVS’s income has moved from contract work back to grant funding. This has enabled CVS to focus on the charity’s core objectives and not be in competition with its members.
This meant CVS needed to restructure to allow the good work to continue whilst facing a reduced level of income. As part of the restructure, South Tyneside CVS reduced staffing levels from 16 people down to 6. Fortunately, 7 of these staff were working on a specific health training project and these members of staff were transferred to North East Counselling and Addictions (NECA).
Since the restructure, Susan said that she feels as though they have a much clearer direction for the future; they can now move forward and make a much bigger difference to the area.
What role does South Tyneside CVS play in the community?
South Tyneside CVS act as a mentor to small groups such residents associations – providing guidance such as how to become a constituted group, how to set up a bank account or how to maintain a group’s finances.
In the future, Susan said that they would like to expand the Volunteer Centre within CVS, continuing to provide advice and support to voluntary organisations of all sizes, whilst also developing further partnerships and networks.
Hospital Volunteer Service
South Tyneside CVS partnered with the South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust to run the hospital volunteer service. In this scheme, local volunteers support the local hospitals, helping out and interacting with the patients. The volunteers tended to extra duties to add a personal touch to hospital care.
How are they involved with Community First?
The South Tyneside CVS acts as a Panel Partner for the Community First programme for a couple of panels in the North East. Community First panels are teams of volunteers that work together to create a plan and decide how the funding is allocated. Susan has found that it has been very positive for the CVS, as groups funded by Community First have wanted to keep in touch about what they do and how it is all going.
And in recent months, the number of applications for funding has started picking up even more. All being well, they will be able to build upon these achievements for the final year of the programme.
A council for voluntary service (CVS) can help you in the initial stages of setting up your project, particularly around what can feel like unfamiliar territory such as finding out what’s already happening or setting up a group bank account. Why not take a look at our resource on how to find your local CVS for more information?