Volunteer group appoints chair

Volunteering England, the UK's largest volunteering umbrella body to be created from the merger of three volunteering agencies, has appointed Dr Mike Nussbaum as chairman, a role he holds with Volunteering Development England.

The umbrella body will comprise of the National Centre for Volunteering (NCV), the Consortium on Opportunities for Volunteering (COV), and Volunteering Development England (VDE).

The umbrella body plans to improve the regional development of volunteers and build links with the Government to combat fragmentation within the sector.

Baroness Jill Pitkeathley has been chosen as president, a position she currently holds at the NCV. Pitkeathley also chairs the group overseeing the upcoming merger of the Community Fund and the New Opportunities Fund, which will create a new lottery distributor.

Christopher Spence, who has led the NCV for six years, was selected as the new chief executive in July.

It remains unclear what positions Chris Penberthy, chief executive of VDE, and Ruth Johnson, his counterpart at the COV will take.

The rest of the 14-strong trustee board will be elected by January.

Nussbaum told Third Sector: "Volunteering England will provide volunteering in this country with one voice and strengthen it with opportunities for research, policy and a grant aid facility."

He said the new entity would build on VDE's existing set of regional representatives for the 350 volunteer bureaux it helps to run by creating a network of paid regional officers to manage volunteer groups across England.

"We will be able to work nationally and locally to sustain volunteers, and back it up through NCV's Institute for Volunteering research arm. We hope to grow our current 2,000-strong membership organisations which will be offered increased guidance and access to research," said Nussbaum.

Nussbaum also hopes to expand its grant aid by obtaining more funding from the Government. Grants are currently awarded by COV, which gave £2.15m of Department of Health funding to volunteers for health and social care projects last year. But Nussbaum wants funding to come from different Government departments, "so we can fund broader activities in other fields".

All 48 existing staff will be told of the proposed new staffing structure today, to be followed by a 28-day consultation period. Nussbaum said there would be "very little difference to the number of staff at the three groups, as agreed with Amicus".

An identity for Volunteering England will be created once Spence takes up his post in January.

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