The Council for Voluntary Services

How many of us understood what C.V.S. stood for as we gathered in the Swan Hotel to hear Rose Vakis, their Lichfield director, speak about the organisation. What, where, when, why and how does it do what it does?

Rose told us that there are over 260 CVS groups throughout England. The Lichfield branch was established as a Registered Charity in 1985 and is a member of the National Association of the C.V.S. based in Sheffield. There are now 60 member organisations within the local CVS group and each one can call on the CVS for advice, support, information on employment, funding, constitutional, legal, health and safety matters. A bi-monthly newsletter is circulated and practical help is given through photo-copying, desk-top publishing, a payroll service and the provision of rooms for hire. Liaison is negotiated between statutory bodies and local voluntary groups - as in the case of the North Lichfield Initiative and the Lichfield Health Alliance.

The Council for Voluntary Service can sum up its purpose as "a voluntary coming together of individuals to engage in mutual undertakings for the common good" acknowledging that "as a society changes the contours of voluntary action also shift". Amongst the facts and figures it appears that the total value of voluntary contributions is estimated to be 25 billion overall; that 4 million adults give time to charities, 750,000 of these as trustees who bear the responsibility for everything a charity does and how it is done.

Voluntary organisations are mainly concerned with mutual support groups, delivery services and campaigning. All of these have been affected by political ideologies, aspects of the Welfare State, demographic changes and ultimately the 1993 Charities Act. The future will be governed by recommendations in the Deakin Report of 1996. Income is provided by local authorities and through fees earned for services offered, lottery sources, the Home Office, South Staffs Health Authority and the Single Regeneration Challenge Fund.

The local projects in which CVS has been and continues to be involved include; the Burntwood Chase Development, the Centre for Volunteering, the Voluntary Car Scheme, Support for the mentally ill and in Community Care liaison.

When the Premier Health Group needed to use the accommodation at St. Michaels Hospital the CVS became homeless and, as a temporary measure, moved into the Patients' Recreation Room! A successful lottery grant application enabled a move into less crowded premises at Mansell House in Bore Street to be negotiated.

The refurbishment of this Grade II listed building by local experts Lindford Bridgman took five months to complete; linking three floors and joining old rooms with new.

Brenda Towlson
June 1999