NCVO will manage Big Lottery Fund scheme to support front-line services

Assist Programme, to be launched in October, will run for three years, but exact funding is not yet known

NCVO
NCVO

The National Council for Voluntary Organisations will manage a new £6m Big Lottery Fund scheme designed to help organisations providing support to front-line groups to improve their services.

The Assist Programme, which will be launched in October, will run for three years.

It is a joint initiative between the NCVO and the BLF and is part of the first phase in BLF’s Building Capabilities for Impact and Legacy approach.

"The programme will help support and development organisations to understand the areas where they can improve the services they offer to the front line," a statement from the two organisations said.

It said the scheme was a "a radical departure from previous capacity building investments as the majority of funding will go directly to local support and development organisations".

"These organisations will then be able to choose what support they need in order to adapt their services to the changing needs, funding and expectations of front-line organisations," the statement said.

Lisa Herbert, head of support at the NCVO, said it had not yet been decided how much money organisations could apply for under the scheme. A BLF spokeswoman said funding might be awarded in the form of vouchers that could be redeemed with certain support providers, rather than actual cash awards being handed out, but this had also not yet been finalised.

The programme will also ask front-line organisations that benefit from the scheme to publicly rate the support they receive through the website, and take part in a peer-to-peer support programme designed to encourage mutual improvement of their services.

Stuart Etherington, chief executive of the NCVO, said: "We’re delighted to be leading this ground-breaking programme. It will give targeted support to infrastructure organisations as they look to make the changes they need to become more efficient, effective and sustainable.

"Putting both the money and the choice in the hands of the people who understand how infrastructure works, and how it needs to change, will better equip the sector as a whole to adapt to the current and future operating environment.

"Supporting the front line is more important than ever, as charities look to respond to increased demand for services, rising cost and an unprecedented fall in income."

Dharmendra Kanani, director of BLF England, said his organisation had in the past run schemes funded through intermediary bodies and that Assist’s direct approach would give more choice and control to benefiting organisations.

"Our ambition for Assist is that it will help to improve the legacy and impact of BLF funding," he said. "The NCVO has demonstrated that it has the trust, partners and track record and most importantly has been able to re-imagine the possibility of doing things differently to better effect."

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