An update from DEVELOP Chief Executive Jane Windle-Hartshorn
We recently informed you that the contract for the Voluntary, Community & Social Enterprise (VCSE) infrastructure support in Wiltshire was not being renewed or to be put out to tender by Wiltshire Council.
This means that as of April 2016, DEVELOP will no longer offer this service as part of a contract with the Council. Despite Wiltshire Council’s decision not to continue funding this service, we know that there is still a need for infrastructure support in Wiltshire and we are actively fundraising whilst awaiting the outcomes of a number of funding bids.We are hoping to know the outcome of these bids by mid-to-end of March.
As an organisation we are currently in a crucial transitionary period. We need to secure approximately £32,000 of transitionary funding to allow us to continue operating in the short-term whilst we await these crucial funding outcomes.
We feel it is important to be open and honest with the sector about what could happen should DEVELOP be unable to secure funding, this is why we have prepared a Press Release to share with local press and radio as well as clients, members and colleagues to inform them that DEVELOP is at risk without financial support.
You may start to see information about our announcement appear in local press in the next week or so, we wanted to let you know that DEVELOP is still operational and continuing to provide services to the sector. We have also restructured and put cost efficiencies in place to ensure we can continue our work now and in the future.
We are confident that we will be able to secure the funding needed to see us through this difficult phase, we thank you for your continued support and the kind comments we have received over the last few weeks.
Press release: Wiltshire volunteering service at risk following Wiltshire Council funding cut
A local charity which promotes volunteering in Wiltshire and supports local community groups and voluntary organisations, has announced it is at risk following a decision by Wiltshire Council to stop funding the service as part of a cost savings exercise.
Staff at DEVELOP were disappointed when, late last year, Wiltshire Council informed the organisation that the contract, which supports the local voluntary and community sector and which includes the provision of an accredited Volunteer Centre in Wiltshire, would neither be renewed nor put out to tender. This is after 10 years of financial support from the local authority.
The Chippenham based organisation which recently celebrated its 30th anniversary was forced to make a number of redundancies following the announcement.
The charity has also warned that unless additional funding is secured the future of the volunteering and support service is at risk, leaving local community and voluntary groups with little or no support to recruit new volunteers, access guidance and resources, or to find sustainable sources of funding.
DEVELOP Chief Executive Jane Windle-Hartshorn said:
“Whilst we appreciate the Council is under financial pressure, it is counterproductive to remove a vital support service for the voluntary and community sector at such a critical time.
There is a significant increase in demand for volunteers to help charities and groups deliver services that Wiltshire Council would otherwise have to pay for. We expect to see a 40% growth in volunteering over the next 3 years.
When organisations like DEVELOP are at threat of closure, they cannot simply be re-created if a tendering process happens at some point in the future. Their unique skills, connections and their relationships with the people they serve will disappear forever.”
Chippenham MP Michelle Donelan has also pledged her support for the charity in the hope that it can continue to provide a free volunteering service for Wiltshire:
“I am committed to helping DEVELOP and other voluntary sector organisations seek alternative ways to keep going. Many charities around the country have had to become more entrepreneurial in their approach to funders and this in turn has strengthened many of them.
I intend to meet with a number of charity networks who have been able to share resources to see what might work here in Wiltshire. I will also be meeting with the Charities Minister to look at the potential for putting together a framework that will benefit organisations like DEVELOP who play an absolutely pivotal role in providing much needed services to volunteers and voluntary groups in our communities and especially in my constituency.
At a time when there is greater recognition for what volunteers actually bring to society as a whole, it is vital that organisations like DEVELOP are helped to adapt and change in order to survive.”
Whilst waiting for the outcomes of a number of funding bids, the charity plans to raise additional income through donations from a fundraising campaign which will launch in early March.