Volunteer centre takes lead in new funding bid

Volunteer Centre
Volunteer Centre

A volunteer centre is spearheading a new £50,000 funding bid in an effort to secure its future and that of fellow centres across the county.

As reported in the Citizen last month, the Volunteer Centre Fenland (VCF) is facing closure after losing £16,000 of annual funding from Cambridgeshire County Council.

The charity, based at the Rosmini Centre in Wisbech, was one of eight volunteer centres in the county to be affected by funding cuts.

The VCF, which helps recruit people into more than 800 volunteering opportunities across Fenland every year, was left with enough sufficient reserves to keep going until December next year.

Now the centre has joined forces with the seven other volunteer centres to propose a new way of working.

And they are hoping to persuade the county council to give them a joint annual fund of £50,000 to maintain their vital services and save the authority money in the long run.

VCF manager Erbie Murat said his centre had been asked to take the lead in applying for the money from the Cambridgeshire Communities Innovation Fund.

He said: “In considering the county council’s key aims, and needing to change the way service provision and local communities interact and save the council money in its support services, volunteer centres across the county used their joint knowledge and expertise, user feedback and statistics to support their proposal to save the council money.

“The Innovation funding will enable us to work closely with these centres to provide a more integrated and seamless service.”

By working together, the centres believe they can create a county-wide portfolio of opportunities and recruit people from the most hard to reach groups including the retired, physically and mentally disabled, migrant communities and those with employability difficulties.

They also propose to administer volunteering opportunities provided by over 200 partner organisations providing health and social care support services.

The other volunteer centres involved in the funding bid are based in Ely, Peterborough, St Neots, Huntingdon, Ramsey, St Ives and Royston.

Wisbech homeless charity, The Ferry Project, has also moved to help the VCF. It considers the centre “an integral part” of its Job Cafe held at the Queen Mary Centre in Wisbech every Friday, and its latest bid for county funding has included up to £2,000 for the VCF to continue providing those services at its Job Cafe in the New Year.