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Observer readers urged to help struggling volunteer centre

Worcester Editorial 16th Apr, 2014 Updated: 19th Oct, 2016

BOSSES at a struggling charity which leads the city’s volunteering network fear it could be forced to close its doors if it does not receive more funding.

Worcester Volunteer Centre has helped thousands of people enhance their chances of employment as well as providing a vital service to companies looking to take on volunteers since it opened in 1989.

But Sally Ellison, chief officer at the centre on The Tything, which is set to celebrate its 25th anniversary later this year, said they have been struggling to keep the organisation afloat since the county council changed its funding policy three years ago.

As well as being forced to cut back on a number of its projects, Mrs Ellison told the Observer they have had to make five staff redundant in recent months in a bid to balance the books.

“It is incredibly tough at the volunteer centre at the moment,” she said. “We are making redundancies and we are even looking at charging for our services.

“Some of our members of staff who have left had been working on projects which had been running for a number of years, but because we have got no funding for it we have had to stop them, which is very hard to do as it helps a lot of people get into volunteering.

“Everyone talks about how important volunteering is but nobody wants to fund it.

“It is the worst I have known it being and I have been here for 20-odd years.”

The centre has recently secured a grant of £10,000 from the Big Lottery Fund’s Awards for All programme, which will go to providing training for voluntary organisations in south Worcestershire.

Although Mrs Ellison said she was absolutely delighted to receive the money, she admitted it did not solve the bigger problem as she looks plug a significant funding gap.

“If you look around the country organisations like ours are closing,” she added. “But I will do all I can to not go the same way and that is why we are applying for the Awards for All and other grants.

“I have got two or three bids in at the moment and we will continue to look for more funding opportunities and take whatever donations comes our way.”

To donate visit www.worcestervolunteercentre.org.uk or call into its office at 33 The Tything.

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