Demonstrating Our Impact


Embed or link this publication


VAC Annual Report 2012-13

Popular Pages

p. 1



p. 2



p. 3

CHAIR’S MESSAGE Voluntary Action Camden (VAC) is about supporting people and organisations to have the confidence to respond effectively to the challenges that we all now face. VAC supports people in acquiring new skills and puts individuals and organisations in touch with each other so that we can all share experience and knowledge. Today, with the emphasis on outcomes, impact and collaboration, VAC is working with people across different sectors to develop the skills and approaches that we need over the next few years if we are going to remain strong and effective. What I am particularly excited about is the work VAC is doing in communities. This ranges from our renewed emphasis on preventative work, peer mentoring, health advocacy and community planning, through to neighbourhood forums, community land trusts and supporting the development of new community based services. I think VAC’s work, with some excellent partners, has been very impressive and I am sure this area will continue to be a high priority in the future. VAC continues to provide the more traditional forms of support ranging from training and support on the roles and responsibilities of trustees, how to manage accounts, how to achieve best practice in the development of staff and volunteers through to how to raise income effectively using a number of established and more recent tools such as crowd funding. VAC also has an important leadership and voice role for the sector. It is no longer good enough to simply say that the sector is good value for money. We are in a climate where everyone has to demonstrate value and impact. VAC has been taking this approach forward and is now well placed to act as an informed ambassador for voluntary and community activity. The quality of VAC’s staff, volunteers and trustees is very high. They have an in depth understanding and knowledge of the sector and have also moved with the times. The organisation is very aware of and responds quickly and flexibly to new developments. The quality of the team, along with VAC’s extensive networks, has been fundamental to success. VAC is definitely not settled into a groove; it’s picking up new things as it goes along and leading them to some extent as well. People ask me how VAC can do this with such limited resources. That’s where volunteers become so important. I’m a big supporter of volunteering. It hugely benefits the organisation and it hugely benefits the individual if it’s done properly. Coupled with the quality of the team and the networks, what has made VAC stand out is its ability to build strong relationships with key people from within communities and across sectors. VAC’s ability to develop relationships with Camden’s emerging communities and other stakeholders is not a static activity. Face-to-face contact makes a huge difference; there are emerging communities and shifts in existing communities that VAC needs to know about to be able to bring their concerns forward. My vision for VAC is that it continues to be a beacon of excellence in supporting and developing a really good voluntary and community sector. That’s what I want it to be and it displays that in all sorts of different ways. My hope would be that in the future VAC would have effective, secure premises, talented staff team, a strong executive committee, a significant pool of volunteers and a reputation as the ’go to place’ for individual and organisations that want to get something done! SUE WILBY 1


p. 4

ABOUT US VAC has its roots in the pioneering philanthropy of the nineteenth century and traces its origins back to the Charity Organisations Society of 1860 and the pioneering work of nineteenth century Hampstead philanthropists. At the turn of the last century the Hampstead system was widely recognised as a pioneer of cooperation between municipalities and the voluntary sector and was also pioneering in acting as a coordinating body for a plethora of overlapping organisations, democratically setting common policies and organising the implementation of policies in a coherent way. Broadened to be Camden-wide in 1965 to coincide with the creation of the London Borough of Camden, the Camden Council for Social Service gradually became VAC. The name was changed to VAC in 1983 and it took on the full council for voluntary service role in 1990. Today VAC continues to build on these firm foundations. The organisation – whilst focusing on work in the London Borough of Camden – also works across Greater London providing bespoke and specialist services. VAC’s mission is: ‘To work with local residents and key organisations to develop and support a vibrant civil society that underpins a high quality of life in Camden and the surrounding areas.’ VAC has achieved significant successes in delivering a range of services and activities for civil society organisations both within Camden and across other boroughs. To illustrate success VAC has to demonstrate the impact of its work. In this annual report we set out our key areas of work and seek to demonstrate the impact that this has on civil society – individuals, organisations and communities. At the turn of the last century the Hampstead system was widely recognised as a pioneer of cooperation between municipalities ENABLING PEOPLE TO DO WHAT THEY WANT TO DO Direct Support Our development work behind the scenes with civil society organisations (CSOs) allows them to do what they do best – their own work. Whether it’s setting up a new group, governance, financial or business planning, payroll & accounts, income generation, human resources, ICT support or communications. Last year we helped support over three hundred CSOs to develop their potential and become more effective and sustainable. ‘‘ 2


p. 5

BUSINESS 8 organisations supported to produce a detailed business plan. Targeted work with 10 play providers to develop new business models. HUMAN RESOURCES AND EMPLOYMENT 43 Camden groups received in-depth support on a range of HR issues. 5 went on to receive HR training on Employment Law Updates and 6 joined up to VAC's Target HR project for further in-depth support. FINANCE 10 new organisations signed up to the Community Accountancy Project. Over 65 organisations signed up to the Salary Administration Service. Succesfully dealt with over 400 finance enquiries from more than 96 different CSOs. INCOME GENERATION QUALITY ASSURANCE STRUCTURES AND GOVERNANCE 48 organisations helped to identify the most suitable structure to meet their operational needs, and recruit and train an effective management committee to improve their governance practices. 23 BMER organisations received advice and support to implement an appropriate Quality Assurance system. 33 Camden-based organisations received support and advice in fundraising and income generation and in some cases direct assistance to apply for funding. 12 organisations we supported to apply for the Innovation Fund were all successful in their applications. Through our Transforming Local Infrastructure Partnership work with the London Community Foundation, a further 17 Camden-based groups received a total of 24 grants totalling £319,860 3


p. 6

We asked several organisations we worked closely with last year to tell us how our development support impacted on the organisation and its service users. Here are their stories: Kiasuka Kiakanda, Congolese Community Youth and Development We started this organisation, The Congolese Youth Development, working with young children. I heard about VAC because I live in Camden and all the other organisations knew about this place. When you set up a new group we knew about VAC from other people as well. People working with a Slovakian organisation knew about VAC and said they could tell us what to do and what not to do and they give you training if you want to get better governance and how to work as an organisation. They could tell us how an organisation works. When you set up your organisation VAC will work with you, like a partnership. So they will tell you which documents you need, which document you don’t have – so they help you. VAC is a big organisation. They have all different types of services. If VAC is not there, many organisations will be having problems. VAC helps new groups and existing groups as well. Jane Lee, South Hampstead and Kilburn Community Partnership (SHAK) I started working with VAC in the last five years. We’ve always known they were there but we’ve tended to be spinning round in circles to make sure we keep things going. So in the last five years we’ve got quite a lot of support from them because the more staff you have the more problems you have, and this is where VAC has been great. The HR support we got was most helpful. VAC was always on the other end of the phone and always comes back to us. They have this capacity to simplify issues that seem overwhelmingly complex and talk us through finding a solution to it – and we wouldn’t be able to get that support from anywhere else. It’s made sure we’ve followed exactly the right procedure and followed all the correct laws regarding staffing and it’s made sure we haven’t ended up in trouble (which could easily happen), because the laws are very complex and longwinded and VAC have the capacity to simplify it all and talk us around all the loopholes. It means that our staff has been OK, and if the staff are OK then the project runs really well – and that’s extremely important. I don’t have a HR department, we’re a charity here and it’s very difficult to be expert in everything. So, we learn as we go along, and VAC has been a huge asset. I don’t think we could have gone on so long without problems if VAC hadn’t stepped in when we’ve asked them to. 4


p. 7

Vicky Fox, Doorstep Homeless Families Project Last year VAC talked with us about developing a five year strategic business plan to help make the transition from receiving core funding to being financially independent. We lost 100 per cent of our funding in 2011 which decimated the staff team, all the redundancy notices were issued and then at the eleventh hour we were able to raise the amount we lost, but only for one year. We felt getting a business plan was absolutely crucial. We had to look at every possible scenario in the climate of cuts and income changes and changes to benefits. VAC led us through and facilitated the process of putting a business plan together. It was invaluable help and that process involved all the staff, every member of the management committee, all our service users, our partners and all the volunteers. We would not have had sufficient expertise to have done it all by ourselves. We needed that input and guidance. So by the end of that we were all really clear about what we were doing, why we were doing it, what the value of it was, and where we needed to go and how to get there. And then we got some more support from VAC’s financial department. To complete the business plan we needed five years of financial planning. So it was a dual input: the facilitation of drawing up the plan but also the financial information we needed to support the plan. And it’s an on-going relationship. Recently I submitted a funding application that required an external referee – someone who knows the work, knows the organisation but is not actually involved in it. And once again VAC has been able to provide that for us. Their help with the business plan has put us in a much stronger position to put our case to funders. It’s really useful to have the plan because it strengthens our case and demonstrates to people that we’re a professional organisation, that we know what we’re doing and know our strengths. We know how we want to develop and what our ambitions are, and that is reassuring to funders and shows that we looked at everything and are not just dreaming, that we have a strategic vision of what we are trying to do. INCOME GENERATION Jonathan Montgomery, Queen’s Crescent Community Centre Active Communities came about when I got an email about using the support of VAC to try and access the fund successfully. So we went along to the VAC training, and the one-on-one follow up. Being able to speak with someone in relation to our bid was really helpful, and being able to refine it and improve it. We were successful to the tune of twenty three thousand pounds over two years. VACs involvement was a real benefit, particular the one-to-one support. It was excellent. It allows us to go and sketch out our idea, refine it and then bounce it off someone to see if we’re on the right lines or not. The ideas were forming in my head about what I wanted to do. It’s having that bouncing board to able to refine the application that was important. That one-toone support made an impact. 5


p. 8

FINANCIAL ADVICE AND FINANCIAL PLANNING We support groups to manage their finances in the most efficient and cost effective ways so that they can focus on their own good work. Through our Community Accountancy Project we helped groups to: l improve their financial control and decision-making ‘‘ skills l increase their understanding of good accounting In terms of the workshops I attended, it was helpful to go through step by step of what the funder funded and what they didn't, and to have a focus. It was a good opportunity to read sample forms to get a better understanding of how to complete the application form”. Community Organisation, NW6 ‘‘ VAC does our salaries and they have done for more than twenty years. We took advantage of that because it would be labour saving and they had a specialism in that sort of thing. We need to know if everything we’re doing is legal – if our PAYE is legal, our taxes etc. – and VAC informs us of all the changes that are coming”. Louise Gates, Calthorpe Project practices l skill-up a designated finance ‘lead’ for their organisation l ensure compliance with Charity Commission and other statutory bodies’ requirements. Some organisations prefer to administer their payroll out of house. Last year we helped another 65 organisations to do this through our Salary Administration Service. ‘‘ 6 VAC does our payroll which is a great help to us because for small charity organisations it’s such a time consuming task. To have that particular aspect taken off our back is an enormous thing”. Vicky Fox, Doorstep Homeless Families Project


p. 9

ENABLING PEOPLE TO GET THE SKILLS THEY WANT AND NEED TRAINING Our training services empower and nurture an organisation’s most valuable resource – its people. We offer a wide range of accredited and non-accredited training opportunities to enable those involved in civil society to fully realise their potential and enhance the services their organisation provides. Working in partnership with the Mary Ward Adult Education Centre The feedback shows that people attending our training programme have used what they have learnt to significantly improve their organisation’s ability to respond effectively to the changing environment and become more sustainable. Various members of the team and me as well, have used their training on things like fundraising, how to make award bids, management training and other things. That side of the VAC organisation is very good as well. Any of the training I’ve been on has been good. There’s training available for our trustees as well”. Community Organisation, NW5 Ultimately [the support] must be making a difference especially the training we’ve done with them; it has a knock on effect. The better supported our people are, the better support we can give to our service users”. “The training has been for a broad range of activities, delivering services and so on but also many organisational aspects and legal requirements”. “VAC has also provided various relevant training which has enabled us to be kept up to speed with all the changes that have happened over the years”. Community Organisation, NW3 TRAINING Over 83 non-accredited courses and seminars delivered, including starting up social enterprises and small businesses through to business finance. Over 10 programmes of accredited training with courses in: Project Management, Governance, Operational Management in the Voluntary and Community Sector and in Mental Health and Youth Mental Health First Aid. Over 800 individuals and 400 organisations received training in the last financial year. ‘‘ ‘‘ ‘‘ The training has been good. VAC has been providing training for a long time, fees for members are very reasonable and we use the rooms at VAC for meetings, they make those available, I’m here every six weeks”. Arif Rahman, Crossroads Care 7


p. 10

PATHWAYS TO EMPLOYMENT Through volunteering, peer mentoring and our links to civil society, service providers and local business, we enable opportunities for paid work and offer an effective support network for the Voluntary and Community Sector workforce. Last year we ran several ‘Volunteering to Paid Employment’ courses which were well attended and resulted in three volunteers securing paid work. We ourselves recruited several volunteers to support staff and our member organisations, and we’ve trained Royal Society for Public Health ‘health advocates’ to gather intelligence in the community to improve local health services. Volunteering at VAC has not only been beneficial for volunteers, who gain experience in the work place and develop new skills, but it also supports staff with valuable mentoring and professional development. In some cases this has enabled VAC to diversify and pursue areas of work not usually associated with a council for voluntary service but which are key to engaging with new policy areas e.g. neighbourhood planning, land trusts, loan funding and impact bonds. This also fills a gap where there is no local community based support – the alternative for local communities would be through the unaffordable private ‘for profit’ sector. VAC Volunteer I was made redundant and my world just crashed around me. The process was drawn out and it eroded my self-confidence and ability to recognise my workplace skills and experience. I had an important job, was very busy and worked long hours. I came to VAC and felt that my contribution was appreciated and I had a purpose and didn’t feel on the scrapheap. That turned things around for me and gave me confidence and I started getting interviews. The main change was that if you’ve got that air about you, that you’ve got no confidence, then people don’t have confidence in you. 8


p. 11

PEER MENTORING Over the last year we have been developing a number of peer mentoring initiatives. This includes a European project with five partners called, ‘How to Educate Learners through Peer-Mentoring‘ (part of the Lifelong Learning Programme), and a project on Mental Health Peer Mentoring. We trained twenty three individuals on the Peer Mentoring and Coaching Programme with seven peer mentors now delivering mentoring sessions on governance, strategic planning and financial management, and a further twenty four peer mentors now delivering sessions with peers on mental health awareness raising and the management of human resources. Shani Williams from the Terence Higgins Trust talks about how she utilised VAC’s Peer Mentoring training to support a project on improving sexual awareness amongst young people. I’ve been in contact with VAC about getting the word out about my project. I thought we would start by linking in with the local organisations because they’re on the ground and know about other projects as well. So when I heard about VAC offering a coaching and mentoring training course I thought that would be perfect because a big element of what we’re doing is peer mentoring. Before I did that course I didn’t really have a good idea about what I wanted the peer mentors to do. So the VAC training gave me very specific ideas about what I could ask the young person to do [and] if someone asked me the difference between coaching and peer mentoring I could tell them now. We’re actually developing a workshop on peer mentoring and going out and with that in schools. Instead of just giving out information we can now say, look this is what peer mentoring is and you can actually go out and do it in your schools and youth clubs. So the VAC training has taken this idea that was floating around in my head and made it real and something we can sell. It can only enrich the work because there is this bank of experience and knowledge that I’m unaware of because I’m so new to this area. There’s this massive network that I’m now a small part of and that’s really helpful, that there’s this central organisation that’s specific to Camden that I can link in with. The only way to tap into the local communities is to do it through the local communities rather than a mass, blanket advertising campaign. VAC is very effective and I think using them will help me understand the needs of the community as well. With VAC the links are already there, the expertise has already been identified, the ground work has already been done. 9


p. 12

2321 room bookings made by Camden groups and local stakeholders. ENABLING PEOPLE TO ACCESS RESOURCES AND SAVE MONEY. We provide access to meeting rooms, office space, equipment and hot-desking facilities and support the sharing of ‘back room services’ and bulk purchase. 446 hours use of our hotdesk facilities by local groups. (*£50/month lowest rate for desk on Office Genie, Oct 2013) ‘‘ ‘‘ The hot-desking is also photocopying and telephone as well as the computer. Before the hot desk we couldn’t get in touch with different organisations. So we can call people outside now. It’s a change, a big change” Small Community Organisation, NW6 We use the meeting rooms, we’ve just found out we can use their franking machine which has meant a big savings for us. We just started using that about four to eight weeks ago and that’s really going well”. Tenant at VAC ‘‘ 10 VAC informed us that as a charity we didn’t have to pay full VAT which we didn’t know. So we’re getting a refund. One of the reasons our electricity was so high was the VAT issue. We’ve had around £2000 credit, which was nice. We’re also looking to take part in anything that we can where bulk purchasing makes things cheaper…. If we could reduce our regular expenses like that over a year we would save an absolute fortune”. Louise Gates, Calthorpe Project BULK PURCHASE 20 CSOs supported to access savings on electricity, gas and insurance through the Joint-Purchasing Network.


p. 13

ENABLING PEOPLE TO BUILD HEALTHY AND SAFE COMMUNITIES MENTAL HEALTH We help bring mental health awareness into all Camden communities improving the capacity for communities to deal with mental health issues. The Mental Health Project supports communities to promote and raise awareness of mental health and wellbeing; and to influence commissioners and providers of services. Training sessions were delivered to community members on psychosis, depression, challenging stigma and discrimination, and the cultural perspective on mental health. The Mental Health First Aid training continues to very popular and is often oversubscribed. The Bangladeshi Mental Health & Wellbeing Forum (BMHWF) has been key in facilitating dialogue between commissioners and communities and assisted in addressing concerns around the recommissioning of services. The Mental Health Information & Networking Sessions enable the exchange of information and discussion. Participants have the opportunity for informal discussions with the presenters. VAC is a regular attendee of Camden Mental Health User Involvement Service Steering Group and Camden Borough User Group meetings and continues to outreach to more communities in Camden. During the year ten local people were recruited and trained as mental health peer mentors. They are now working with black and minority ethnic communities to increase their understanding of mental health and pilot new ways of working. TRAINING SESSIONS OPEN TO ALL: An Introductions to Personality Disorders Stigma & Mental Health Mental Health First Aid 60 people attended representing 34 organisation. ‘‘ The impact of VAC has been to give me the information I need to give back to my team so we can do our work, which is exactly what I wanted. We couldn’t have found all that in one place anywhere else, not to that degree”. Paul Larkin, NHS Mental Health Intensive Outreach Team TRAINNG SESSIONS DELIVERED IN-HOUSE: Mental Health First Aid Peace of Mind (Understanding depression) Religious & Cultural Perspectives on Mental Health Stigma & Mental Health 66 people trained representing 11 organisations 11


p. 14

SAFEGUARDING CHILDREN IN THE COMMUNITY This year our Community Partnership Advisor Project, (CPAP) funded by the Camden Council Children’s Safeguarding Board, has delivered child protection and safeguarding training to 180 individuals representing 19 different Black, Minority Ethnic and Refugee communities across Camden. We have developed trust and a strong working relationship with communities around the issues of safeguarding children and harmful traditions. Throughout the year the ‘Protecting Children in our Community’ training sessions for local community organisations, faith groups and supplementary schools have been an important area of work. By demystifying the different roles of Family Services, Social Work, the Metropolitan Police and Children’s Services, we’ve facilitated a better understanding of the services available to safeguarding children. We have also increased the knowledge of UK laws and regulations and demonstrated why certain practices are seen as harmful or abusive to children. The awareness on how community groups can help protect their own children has been increased and by identifying key people within target groups we’ve developed child protection policies, procedures and vetting systems that reflect their communities’ aspirations. “UK laws are not there to punish my culture and belief but to protect my child too… even from certain practice/s that I never thought would be harmful” A training participant. “Learning from other cultures is always a gain but it also helping us why harmful certain practices get excused” Staff member from statutory body “I got access to BME community and faith groups through this Project that I would otherwise struggle to gain access” Staff member from statutory body ASHA-KIN DUALE, COMMUNITY PARTNERSHIP ADVISER. 12


p. 15

COMMUNITY SAFETY The Camden Community Police Consultative Group (CCPCG) is a community-led forum that has been at the forefront of police and community engagement in Camden for over twenty five years. They have a borough-wide remit to hold the police and wider Community Safety Partnership to account. “VAC has access to emerging groups. When there are changes of demographics they’re the first to see it. I work with established groups. Neighbourhood groups, tenants all rock solid, been there years. What VAC is good at is if there is new crime associated to a new community they can give me access to those communities and I can start reflecting their concerns. Their grass roots work in those communities is very useful. The groups I work with the police struggle to talk to and the groups VAC work with I struggle to talk to. So with VAC’s help we can break down barriers”. PETER WARD 13



no comments yet