VoiceAbility merges with a charity and acquires a company

Advocacy charity combines with the East Suffolk Advocacy Network and buys Advocacy Experience

Jonathan Senker, chief executive of VoiceAbility
Jonathan Senker, chief executive of VoiceAbility

The advocacy charity VoiceAbility has merged with the charity East Suffolk Advocacy Network and acquired the private company Advocacy Experience, which runs advocacy services in north-east England.

The moves will increase VoiceAbility’s annual turnover from £6.7m to £8.2m, and its total staff numbers from 230 to about 280. The number of people that VoiceAbility supports will rise from 17,000 to 19,000.

The merger will lead to no redundancies except for Rob Harris, chief executive and founder of Advocacy Experience, who will step down. Esan does not have a chief executive, and its board will also step down.

Staff at both Esan and Advocacy Experience will continue to work in their existing offices. Esan will operate under the VoiceAbility name, while the Advocacy Experience name will continue. The Advocacy Experience acquisition will be complete on 1 November, the Esan merger on 1 December.

Jonathan Senker, chief executive of VoiceAbility, said he was unable to say how much the organisation had paid for Advocacy Experience. He said his organisation’s expansion was motivated by a need to "improve the quality of its offering in a difficult environment".

"For us, the main driver for expansion was to make sure quality services were available," he said. "People really need services like ours. We’re really keen to reach them."

VoiceAbility itself is the product of a merger between two other advocacy charities, Speaking Up and Advocacy Partners. The two charities merged in April 2010 and adopted the new name in December 2010.

VoiceAbility has also received £100,000, as management support, from venture philanthropy organisation Can Breakthrough, which supported the charity’s merger work and will also support it to improve the quality of its work in the future.

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