Speaking out: why the voluntary sector needs to hold on to its campaign roots

megaphoneResponding to Mike Aiken’s report on campaigning and voluntary services, and with the General Election looming, Gavin Barker explores what we might actually do to counter our “hollowed out democracy hijacked by a corporate elite”. Linking the muzzling of dissent to the general weakening of democracy, Gavin argues that the election provides the opportunity to Continue reading

Commissioning & consortia – an advantage or a threat?

rivers edge

Rivers Edge Community Project (RECP) defines its overall mission as ‘to promote a vibrant, self-sustaining community in the Rivers Edge estate and surrounding area’ and its core values as:
working ‘with’ members of the community and not ‘for’ them.
– developing activities and resources that are locally owned and run’.
– helping those involved … Continue reading

Volunteers – cheap labour or free spirits?


Mark Restall, from the world of volunteering, tell us how volunteering has never been higher on the political agenda. Government ministers and voluntary sector Chief Executives love to tell us how important it is. He says, “I know it’s hard to believe, but I get the impression that they don’t actually understand voluntary work at … 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

We don’t need no thought control

Photo of Bernard DaviesAs analysis of the riots replaces knee-jerk condemnation of young people, Bernard Davies reflects on NCIA’s research about voluntary sector youth work.

Four case studies show how local organisations are striving to continue community-based youth work despite pressure to deliver the latest policy initiative or be subservient to contractors.

The case studies show how government … Continue reading

A personal take on the voluntary sector’s dilemma

Photo of Sarah LambSarah Lamb, trustee of Adur Voluntary Action and a lifelong volunteer, explains why the Transforming Local Infrastructure scheme won’t work

The beauty of the voluntary sector has been, and still is in many instances, precisely the fact that the solutions it finds, the ways it relates to the people it serves and the people it … Continue reading