New service for voluntary groups

A “pioneering” service to help voluntary organisations raise external funding is being launched after Waltham Forest Council admitted it couldn’t sustain its own financial support.

The local authority says it wants the voluntary, community, and social enterprise (VCSE) sector to become more “self-reliant” and less dependent on the council for funding.

It follows the publication of a report this year, commissioned by the local authority, which found Waltham Forest has fewer charities, with 2.7 per 1,000 people, compared to 4.3 in Haringey and 7.6 in Hackney. It also found the volunteering rate, at 19 percent, was lower than London’s 26 percent average. The Echo reported in January that VCS income plummeted by a third in five years.

Councillor Liaquat Ali, cabinet member for community safety and cohesion, said the new VCSE Capacity Development Service would help voluntary groups grow. “The VCSE sector is hugely important and on a daily basis plays a vital role in helping thousands of residents to enjoy life here in Waltham Forest,” said the councillor.

“We’ve saved £100million since 2010, and still have to make savings totalling £24m by 2020 – but while we may not offer VCSE organisations as much direct funding, that does not stop us supporting them in new ways.

“Our new VCSE Capacity Development Service will help the sector become more sustainable, focussing on facilitating solutions and development opportunities, not doing things for them. With the new service in place, we hope to see VCSE organisations win more public sector contracts, work collaboratively on bids and projects, encourage residents to support good causes and ultimately bring more money into the sector.”

The service, due to launch in September, will also include advice on how to increase volunteer numbers. The contract to deliver it is worth £750,000 over five years, £150,000 more than the previous support contract with Voluntary Action Waltham Forest.