"Closed for Good" by Clarity CIC

Jul 3, 2016

"With the EU referendum result last Friday, Chief Executive of NCVO , Stuart Etherington says in his blog “The voluntary sector is needed now more than ever” yet over the past few months we have seen a number of organisations that support charities and voluntary and community groups put their shutters down for the last time:

o The National Federation of Community Organisations trading as Community Matters went into voluntary liquidation in March 2016;
o Also in March, Gloucestershire Association for Voluntary and Community Action (GAVCA) Trustees took the decision to embark on a managed closure;
o According to Gateshead Voluntary Organisations Council (GVOC) website they closed ‘for good’ in May 2016.

It makes you think what does the future look like for support for grassroots organisations in the UK? Generally funded by local district and county councils, traditional voluntary sector support services, have felt the cold chill of local cuts as ‘third sector infrastructure’ is not seen as an essential service.

Yet without these organisations the smaller charities and other voluntary groups will find the work they do even harder.

So what is replacing these organisations? – Looking on-line perhaps remote support is the way – with numerous ways of getting information and toolkits to follow - do the people that run charities and other community groups need an actual person to speak to?

I think they do –particularly in times when the voluntary and community sector are being increasingly asked to provide social care services, are facing challenges in governance, and scrutinised over their fundraising activities.

Organisations that offer face to face advice and support to the sector are responsive to need, adaptive to the conversations held and able to build relationships which go beyond the wispy touch of an online FAQ’s sheet or quick chat of a webinar.

These organisations may not be the traditional model – indeed there are many new forms of support which offer similar, but complementary services to their older cousins. They form the part of a wider and growing picture of support across the country and could help build the bridges that will be needed in communities over the next few years.

Sir Stuart Etherington also said in one of his speeches – this time at the Big Assist Beacon Awards in Manchester last year: 

“These organisations may lack the glamour of their sisters on the front-line, but I think it is about time a spotlight was shone on the vital work they do. They are the ones in the boiler rooms at the back, powering the best voluntary sector to be found anywhere in the world today, and creating new partnerships that are capable of transforming the life chances of our communities".

So, as the EU referendum result brings in new challenges for the voluntary sector, perhaps we will also need our boiler rooms and ancillary services even more than before." 

Clarity CIC is a South West based non-profit company which offers a skilled resource for the not-for-profit sector, helping organisations solve everyday issues and adding capacity to existing organisations. 

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