Six former CVS staff form support services cooperative

Workers made redundant by Harrow Association of Voluntary Services will charge voluntary groups for consultancy and training

Harrow Association of Voluntary Services
Harrow Association of Voluntary Services

Six former members of staff from Harrow Association of Voluntary Services in north-west London have launched a cooperative to offer support services to voluntary and community groups.

The staff received their redundancy notices at the beginning of March. The cooperative will charge fees for some consultancy and training services and has applied to Harrow Council for funding.

Sarah Kersey, a spokeswoman for the cooperative, which will operate as a social enterprise, said it had no resources yet. She said staff were offering some advice services free of charge from the premises of local voluntary organisations, which they were using in return for free training.

The six staff are committed to the cooperative until September at least, Kersey said, although two staff who originally intended to join the cooperative pulled out because of financial pressures.

The organisation would operate with a non-hierarchical structure, she said.

"What we have all recognised is that we are a group of people who have immeasurable commitment to the principles of the voluntary and community sector movement," said Kersey. "We have the expertise, experience, enthusiasm and determination to continue to offer a valuable service to people who work for charities and volunteer throughout the borough."

In November last year, Harrow Council said it was to review its system of payments to the voluntary sector after it was found that the Harrow Association of Voluntary Services, funded by the local authority, had been making unauthorised payments to staff.

The association’s former chief executive, Julia Smith, had received £30,000 in bonuses and payments not approved by trustees.

"Since the start of the crisis at HAVS in July 2010, we have supported each other and remained focused on delivering HAVS services to the groups that needed our help," said Kersey. "We knew that after 31 March there would be a need for services that support local groups, and we wanted to fill that gap."

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