I am often asked what the role is of the modern CVS and it’s a hard one to answer as our role is so vast and wide ranging so I’ll concentrate on the role of our CVS here at Watford and Three Rivers Trust.
I like to think that we’re a connector and the central hub of the Watford community. Lots of our work is around supporting voluntary groups in Watford and these include everyone from small organisations run by a couple of volunteers right through to some of the really big established charities who are well known to everyone in the area. Support is a bit of a vague word and can mean all manner of things but essentially our support involves anything that we are asked for. It can be as simple as helping a group to book a room right through to helping to register a group as a charity or community interest group up to business planning and writing grant applications.
We like to respond to our users’ needs so if something comes up which groups tell us they need we’ll try our best to put that into place. Currently the main topic of conversation is all about funding – or more specifically the challenges around getting it and navigating the guidelines put in place by the many funders in the UK. It can be a terrifying prospect, and that’s even before any pen gets put to paper. To help with that we run funding courses to help make that a little bit more simple. We’re also running two courses on using social media for voluntary groups. Funders are increasingly using the buzz words “impact” and “outcomes” and we’ll be running some courses on what they mean and why funders what to know about them.
As I said earlier, we’re connectors, we know who the groups in Watford are and we’re able to draw on that experience to get a really broad picture of what’s going on in the local sector. Often two heads are better than one and we love collaborative working and in linking up groups who might want to work together. Maybe there are opportunities for joint projects or maybe it’s a great chance to share tales and experiences both good and bad.
We are also talkers, we like to meet as many groups as we can to find out what they need. We can offer some of our support directly but we also have a pool of approved freelance consultants, all experts in their fields who we can draw upon to offer an additional level of support in any area that a group need might need.
We work with everyone from established Chief Executive Officers who have their own regular network meetings to volunteer co-ordinators who get together in our offices at the Holywell Community centre. We also hold an informal annual conference for all voluntary groups with an emphasis on, yes, you guessed it, networking and meeting other local groups because we truly believe that is how the local voluntary sector grows.
If you are a voluntary or community organisation within Watford then join the W3RT CVS Forum, a free resource for people who work in the voluntary and community sector in Watford to find out about funding, news, share ideas, events, ask questions or start a discussion.
If you would like to find out more about what support we are able to offer you or your group then please contact me for informal chat on firstname.lastname@example.org or 07825 067411 (please note I work part time but leave a message and I'll call you back).
Finally it’s all very well having a fantastic charity or community group but none of them would be where they are without the lifeblood of the voluntary sector – volunteers. Young or old it’s the volunteers who are absolutely key to any operation. We keep our finger on the pulse ensuring that we are always up to date with local volunteering opportunities, so if you are interested in volunteering then keep an eye on www.w3rt.org/volunteering
About the Author
Debbie Bezalel - Director of Community & Voluntary Services at Watford & Three Rivers Trust
Debbie is responsible for securing effective support for local voluntary organisations, providing effective networks and communication, and ensuring that W3RT, volunteering and the voluntary sector enjoy a high profile and have a positive influence on local decision-making. Prior to joining W3RT Debbie was Head of Education and Supportive Services at Target Ovarian Cancer and Schools Membership Manager at CASE. She also spent nearly 4 years as Regional Development Officer at The Foundation for the Study of Infant deaths where she covered the East of England.
Member since: 6th November 2013
Watford & Three Rivers Trust was formed in 2012 from Watford CVS.
Watford CVS has been serving the community since 1974 and is now based at Holywell Community Centre, which is in King George V Playing...