Buckinghamshire support organisations to join forces

Merger proposed for county's four volunteering infrastructure bodies, including rural community council

The four major voluntary sector infrastructure bodies in Buckinghamshire are set to merge to form one organisation that will provide support to the whole county.

Trustees from Voluntary Action Chiltern and South Bucks, Vale Volunteers, the Priory Centre, the council for voluntary service in Wycombe and Buckinghamshire Community Action, the local rural community council, have this month proposed forming one organisation.

It is thought the merger would be the first of its kind to include a rural community council.

The organisations are engaged in due diligence processes and hope to take a final decision on whether to merge in the autumn. If the proposals are approved, the new organisation could be launched in April.

The four organisations have already been working together since 2006 to deliver a contract providing infrastructure support for Buckinghamshire County Council under the name Voluntary Impact Bucks.

Andrew Long, general manager at the Priory Centre, said the move was motivated by a desire to improve the sustainability of the four organisations and a need to clarify where local voluntary groups could access support.

"One of the big reasons is branding," he said. "It is difficult for voluntary groups to know where to look for help, particularly if they are near one of the boundaries."

The organisations would initially carry on using the offices they currently occupied, although this would be reviewed as leases expired, said Long.

He could not rule out any job losses but said it was "highly unlikely" any jobs would be cut.

Vivienne Brown, member support and development manager at local infrastructure body Navca, said the merger was unusual. "As far as we are aware this is the first merger of infrastructure organisations with a rural community council," she said.

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