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We are all volunteering, but we need more cash
VOLUNTEER centres in Worcestershire have been overwhelmed with people wanting to give their help – but they are not getting the financial support they need.
The Worcester Volunteer Centre has seen an almost 40 per cent rise in people wanting to volunteer in the city since the London 2012 Olympics, but new rules have led to a sharp fall in funding.
Previously funded by Worcestershire County Council as part of its voluntary and community sector, new guidelines on who the funding is provided to and what for has left the centre with a massive financial shortfall.
Chief Officer Sally Ellison said the new rules had seen the centre lose £10,500 a year – half of its volunteer recruitment budget.
“We used to get funding from Worcestershire County Council, then it went through Worcestershire Voluntary Consortium and then it was through the Changing Futures fund. It means we stopped receiving funding altogether as it does not include funding for recruiting volunteers, marketing and brokerage,” she said.
The centre, and others around the county, have been using their cash reserves since the Changing Futures Fund took over two-and-a-half years ago and is now considering charging for their services so they can continue to provide companies and organisations with volunteers.
“We would be charging the organisations who need or want volunteers to promote their services, maybe through one-time charges or through memberships so they can get a reduced rate from us to advertise and help find the volunteers they want,” said Mrs Ellison.
A spokesman for Worcestershire County Council said: “We are committed to supporting voluntary and community organisations in these challenging times via the Changing Futures Fund. The Changing Futures Fund has proved very popular with organisations that have engaged with it to date and we’re confident this will continue.
“The Transforming Local Infrastructure Programme, via Big Lottery, provided a substantial grant to help transform local infrastructure organisations, including the Worcester Volunteer Centre.
“We respect the independence of the voluntary sector and any decision to adopt a model of payment for their services is entirely their prerogative to make.”
From July 2011 to June 2012 the volunteer centre referred 930 volunteers to companies, while from July 2012 to June 2013 1,301 volunteers were referred to companies.
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