State of the Voluntary Services Sector – Bob Baker writes

State of the Voluntary Services Sector – here Bob Baker, Director of the Simon Community, writes in a personal capacity…..

“The so called voluntary sector is in a pretty parlous state particularly when it comes to any notion of resistance. I think that changes over the past 30 years have had really corrosive effects. One Continue reading

The real Big Society – Barnet activists show the way over library closure

An inspiring video – ‘A Polite Revolution’ – from activists in Barnet shows how an alliance between occupy, trades unions and local people can make an impact that goes beyond the sum of the parts. Faced with the closure of Friern Barnet library, the building was occupied and kept open by local people. This forced … Continue reading

From co-operation to competition and fragmentation

Listen to us cartoonThe experience of neighbourhood youth projects in Newcastle – In our latest story about commissioning, Michael Bell from the Patchwork Project in Newcastle describes the experience of local groups bidding against the big boy Barnardo’s..


Several years ago nine neighbourhood-based projects from acrossNewcastlestarted to meet in order to find ways of working better together, … Continue reading

Commissioning has got to stop!

Cartoon of stressed-looking woman at a desk scattered with papersIn late 2011, a major metropolitan borough council advertised two invitations to tender for their adult social care advocacy and carers support services at the same time, consultation was in parallel and the results announced together within one joint budget. Important aspects were not consulted on, for example, that competitive tendering would be the route … Continue reading

Awards are not enough…

NCIAThe Joy of Sound (JOS) is an award-winning arts and music voluntary organisation in southLondon. It is rooted in and committed to grassroots volunteerism. But when it started complaining about local council care provision , awards didn’t get it very far……

William Longden founded The Joy of Sound in 2000 as a result of visiting … Continue reading

Value what we do

How a CVS in Newcastle is using research to ‘speak truth to power’

Sally Young is the Chief Executive of Newcastle Council for Voluntary Services (NCVS), a large CVS with 500 members from big charities to small community associations. Newcastle historically is a deprived area with high unemployment. Sally says: “There’s a huge kind … Continue reading

Say what you mean and what you think

A contract with the local council has led a welfare rights service away from assessing and meeting community needs

A consortium of four different organisations – three registered local charities and one national organisation – successfully bid to run a welfare rights and community development service in a large inner city borough. It is a … Continue reading

You’re a free spirit…

Photo of Sarah FindlayWhy a small charity in Glasgow is refusing to become a social enterprise

Sarah Findlay runs Starter Packs a small charity in Glasgow that collects household items and gives them to people who need to get themselves back on their feet, generally after homelessness. The charity also provides volunteering for socially disenfranchised people who are … Continue reading

We’re still here

A spirit of independence helps an older people’s project in Leeds keep going without council funding but it’s a struggle to provide the activities that people need 

Stanningley and Swinnow Live at Home Scheme (SSLaHS) was formed in 1988 by St. Thomas’ Church Group and became part of a neighbourhood network system that was unique … Continue reading

How to survive resilience

Read NCIA member Kevin Blowe’s blog on how a policy of community ‘resilience’ will stop people getting independent advice in Newham, east London.

Kevin writes: “Local advice agencies in Newham are launching a campaign, starting with a FaceBook page and online petition, to try and stop the destruction of advice work in the borough … Continue reading