Volunteer centre in big society vanguard area axes a quarter of its staff

Volunteer Centre Sutton's funding from the youth volunteering charity v ended in March

v funding has ended for the Volunteer Centre Sutton
v funding has ended for the Volunteer Centre Sutton

The volunteer centre in the London borough of Sutton, one of the areas named as ‘vanguards’ for the government’s big society agenda, has made eight staff redundant after funding of £621,000 came to an end.

The three-year funding from the youth volunteering charity v, was not replaced when it ran out in March. The charity has now made seven youth volunteering advisers and one manager redundant, leaving 24 employees.

Yvonne McPhee, deputy chief officer of Volunteer Centre Sutton, said: "We have looked for other sources of funding, but no one is offering that sort of money any more.

"The funding was a very valuable resource for us and the youth volunteering work was rewarding for the young people and the staff. Everyone was incredibly sad when it had to stop, and we certainly hope to start it again in future."

She said the charity, which had an annual income of £962,000 in 2009/10, also faced uncertainty about the future of its local authority funding.

"There are two programmes that we have funded with grants from the council, but both of these will be replaced with contracts that are competitively tendered," McPhee said. "In one case, a mentoring programme, about 30 other organisations have expressed an interest in delivering it. At the moment, I don’t know what financial position we will be in at the end of the year."

Asked about the big society agenda, McPhee said: "It has led to an upsurge in volunteering, which is a great thing, and I think that being a big society vanguard is a positive challenge. But there needs to be an understanding that volunteering must be properly resourced."

Third Sector reported in May that the volunteer centre in Liverpool, the city that pulled out of the big society vanguard scheme, had lost a £200,000 grant from v. The charity made five of its nine staff redundant after losing the funding, which represented half of its income.

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