From 1 April 2013 the newly joined Harrogate and Ripon Centres for Voluntary Service will be responsible for supporting charities and volunteers across the entire Harrogate District. The previously separate Harrogate and Ripon Councils for Voluntary Service have a combined 75 years of experience and have always worked closely together. However over the past 18 months trustees from both boards have been exploring how to ensure that this vital support work is best led and managed in order to be sustainable in these challenging times for the voluntary and community sector.
Local charities and people interested in volunteering will still be able to access advice and support via teams based in both Harrogate and Ripon, but the merger gives the opportunity for the united organisation to be a key player in North Yorkshire and beyond, accessing funding and support that would be hard to attract at a more local level. It is also a timely move as the new NHS Harrogate and Rural District Clinical Commissioning Group takes over responsibility for many local NHS services, again with a District wide remit.
Karen Weaver will continue as Chief Executive of the new organisation which will now be responsible for all local support and development for the voluntary and community sector, including information and guidance, funding advice and organisational development, partnership working and ensuring the sector has a voice with key decision makers. Support for volunteering will continue to be provided by the Harrogate and Ripon Volunteer Centres and HARCVS will continue to provide a number of services directly for vulnerable and older people across the District. Ripon Community House will remain the responsibility of the existing (and to be renamed) Ripon CVS charity.
Tony Collins, Chair of HACVS, has led the process and paid tribute to his fellow trustees on the Shadow Board:
This has been a steep learning curve for us all and we are really pleased to have completed this process with a huge amount of goodwill and support from both organisations. Mergers are not easy but we have taken advice, taken our time and the end result is worth it. It is tougher than ever to secure funding for this vital “behind the scenes” support and development work and this places us in a very strong position going forwards.
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Harrogate and Ripon Centres for Voluntary Service receive core funding support from Harrogate Borough Council, North Yorkshire County Council and the NHS and also regularly attract support from the Big Lottery and other grant aid and trust organisations. This funding is then used to ensure a thriving local voluntary and community sector by supporting trustees and management committees with information, advice and guidance on how they can prosper in our area.