Voluntary Action Camden

About us

Voluntary Action Camden is  a ‘CVS’ or Council for Voluntary Service. Organisations such as ours are also known as an ‘umbrella’ or ‘infrastructure’ organisation. Essentially, we are charity that supports other charities and community groups to thrive. 

Our work covers a variety of areas:


  • We help groups setup and develop through our capacity building expertise and training.  We take a local approach to addressing local needs; we are a connector, a facilitator and a provider of vital information. 
  • We work as an intermediary for voluntary services in Camden. We help these groups to network and collaborate and we link to local government, other decision-making bodies and the funders which make up the strategic public sector.
  • We help the sector build voice and influence to raise awareness of issues facing local communities. We pride ourselves on our ability to bring groups together to partner on projects that reach communities which statutory bodies might otherwise miss.

OUR WORK

For a small organisation, Voluntary Action Camden has a big impact on the voluntary community in Camden and we have been serving community groups in the borough since 1907!

The range of voluntary sector services in Camden is huge, from community arts to tackling health inequalities; from protecting the environment to safeguarding children. Many voluntary groups start informally, responding to a community need, but as the need grows, they face increasing challenges. VCS groups are able to turn to us for guidance on shaping their structure, collaborating with other community organisations and engaging with public sector bodies to build their voice and influence in the borough.

This is where our work comes in…

 

Our core functions are to:

 
  • Develop (capacity building and training for local groups)
  • Connect (networking and collaboration between both the local and the strategic sector)
  • Influence (amplifying voices in the community and advocating for the Voluntary and Community Sector)

We help new organisations to get started and we support established organisations to achieve their aims. Our consultation services provide a space where groups can ask us anything, and our long-established knowledge of local organisations, services and the local community allows for reliable and sustainable collaboration with other community groups as well as strategic bodies like Camden Council and the NHS. We also provide training through our website, on-demand or in person, and offer specialist services such as social prescribing, safeguarding and mental health.

Voluntary Action Camden is part of the rich tapestry of community services in the borough and is an anchor institution within the local eco-system. As such, Voluntary Action Camden commands a positive working relationship with key strategic partners including London Borough of Camden, and North Central London NHS. Voluntary Action Camden is also well positioned as a strategic leader and integrated in borough-wide decision-making. 
 

More recently, Voluntary Action Camden has been involved in informing public policy on Integrated Care Systems (ICS), cost-of-living, Covid-19 response, and community safety, enabling an avenue for voluntary and community sector groups to get their voice heard and to build influence on the issues that matter to the communities they support.

Our stRATEGY

vac strategy

Our story

Voluntary Action Camden has a long history of serving communities in Camden. We began life as the Hampstead Council for Social Welfare in 1907, but our origins stem from a popular movement for social reform that began in the nineteenth century.

CORE FUNCTIONS OF VOLUNTARY ACTION CAMDEN

Function of a CVS

The diagram above, produced by NCVO, outlines the many ways that a CVS, like Voluntary Action Camden, supports community  and voluntary organisations. London Plus has also produced a video to help people understand the role of a typical CVS.

Our team

 

Our team are passionate and devoted, bringing heart and humanity to the work. We have a genuine commitment to helping community sustainability and development.

 

Keith Morgan

Chief Executive Officer

Keith joined VAC in December 2021 after a successful 3.5 year tenure at Camden Youth Foundation as CEO. Keith is an ambitious leader with extensive experience of developing corporate and directorate strategy/plan. Experienced in stakeholder engagement, service design/redesign, project management, and building diverse networks. Enjoys using innovation to create new systems and processes that improve the efficiency and effectiveness of service delivery. Particularly experienced in delivering large scale projects focused on improving young people’s outcomes.

Email kmorgan@vac.org.uk

Available: Monday to Friday

Alex Charles

IT and Digital Manager

Alex has worked in the Voluntary and Community Sector for over 15 years and first joined Voluntary Action Camden as an Administrator back in 2006. She has gone on to have varied roles, both within and outside of Voluntary Action Camden and has strong skills in impact and evaluation, finance and data. Today, Alex leads on IT and digital at Voluntary Action Camden. Passionate about helping mission-led organisations to build their own IT systems and digital capacity, Alex produces training and guidance for charities and voluntary organisations in Camden. 

Having introduced Salesforce to Voluntary Action Camden, Alex heads our CRM strategy for developing and maintaining the database and ensuring we make best use of the data.

Email alexcharles@vac.org.uk

Available: Tuesday and Friday

Dianne headshot

Dianne Carlton Ogunyemi

Community Safeguarding Partnership Lead

Dianne is Project Lead for the Community Safeguarding Partnership, responsible for the coordination, delivery and engagement of all safeguarding training, consultation and development for BAME community, faith and supplementary school settings.

Email dogunyemi@vac.org.uk

Available: Monday to Wednesday

Duncan Cordy

Communications Officer

Duncan started working for VAC in November 2023 as a communications officer. With a background in languages and writing, as well as experience in working with vulnerable groups, he is focused on making sure our external communications deliver key updates and information about our work, and the work of our partners and community groups.

 

Email dcordy@vac.org.uk

Available: Tuesday and Friday

Donna Turnbull

Health Transformation and Partnership Manager

Donna started working with Voluntary Action Camden in 2006, coming from a community arts and urban regeneration background. Her first role at Voluntary Action Camden was developing the Community Empowerment Network. Since 2013 she has been involved in developing Voluntary Action Camden’s work, and supporting community groups, in emerging policy areas important to our sector. These include community led and neighbourhood planning, and social prescribing/ health transformation. She leads Voluntary Action Camden’s social prescribing work and manages the Community Links service, and work with groups developing neighbourhood projects and services.

Telephone 020 7284 6567

Email dturnbull@vac.org.uk

Available: Monday to Thursday

Hasel Hooshiar

Data Entry and Website Volunteer

Hasel has been volunteering for Voluntary Action Camden since 2013. She has an important role in helping to keep information on VAC’ systems up-to-date. She adds funding opportunities to the website on a weekly basis and ensures the details of organisations on our database are accurate. She also provides support to other members of the Team to record their work and activities supporting Camden groups and residents. She also supports the Community Links Team to record their work and activities on Salesforce.

Email volunteer2@vac.org.uk

Available: Tuesday, Friday and alternate Wednesdays

Mandira Manandhar

Community Links Volunteer Co-ordinator

Mandira joined Voluntary Action Camden in 2012, having previously worked as an employability officer with Islington Council and an IT tutor teaching computing skills to adults in the community. She is an experienced community outreach worker and has been involved in organising and delivering a number of projects for VAC including training initiatives, and activities supporting mental health.

In 2014 Mandira started supporting the Health Advocate volunteers in GP practices and in 2018 became the Community Links Volunteer Co-ordinator within the Camden Care Navigation and Social Prescribing Service. Her role involves recruiting, supporting and training volunteers to deliver the Community Links Service in GP surgeries, remotely, and in other community settings.

Mandira continues her involvement in mental health initiatives through the Cultural Advocacy Project where she supports a women’s Peer Support Group encouraging participants to share their experiences and support each other.

Email mmanandhar@vac.org.uk

Available: Monday to Wednesday and Thursday until 2pm

Nasrin Rashid

Community Links Referrals and Case Management Lead

Nasrin has a background in business studies and human resources, and is an accredited Mentor.  In 2018 she joined the staff team to co-ordinate and develop Community Links, part of the Camden Care Navigation and Social Prescribing Service. Nasrin leads on referring residents into community-based support along with the NCLICB Social Prescribing referrals and case management including maintaining links with voluntary sector providers and following up with residents who use the service.

Email nrashid@vac.org.uk

Available: Wednesday, Thursday and Friday

Ricky Singh Tokhi

Building & Finance Administrator

Ricky started volunteering for Voluntary Action Camden in late 2011 as an Administrator for various projects and has works part-time as Voluntary Action Camden’s Building and Finance Administrator, now as a Grant Manager. Throughout his time at Voluntary Action Camden he has built up his knowledge, skills and confidence in supporting the VAC Team and Camden Groups. Ricky has a solid background in fundraising and helps groups search for funding to run their projects and activities. He also assists colleagues with IT, admin and project support, and supports Manuella to keep our finances on track. He is usually the first point of contact when getting in touch with VAC.

Telephone 020 7284 6553

Email rsingh@vac.org.uk

Available: Monday to Wednesday

Team Photo. Voluntary Access Camden AGM. Greenwood Centre. Camden. London. 4th July 2023.

Photo by Jason Urbano Garcia / Acava Shoots on behalf on VAC

Lola Bellot

Community Liaison Lead

Lola is our community liaison lead and works with the team in partnership with the Cultural Advocacy Project to deliver community outreach programmes to BME communities. Her role aims to build capacity and destigmatise matters pertaining to mental health. She is an experienced community outreach worker and mental health advocate having delivered many projects and peer support groups to support mental health.

Lola extends her involvement in mental health support through the Cultural Advocacy Project where she provides 1:1 advocacy to inpatients on mental health wards.

Email: lbellot@vac.org.uk

Available: Tuesday and Thursday

Vania Guetova

Membership Development Officer

Vania joined Voluntary Action Camden in July 2023 as the new part-time Membership Development Officer and will be helping the Camden voluntary and community sector grow and develop as part of the VAC enhanced membership offer. She will be supporting VAC members with creating sustainable solutions, joining the VAC team in launching a refreshed VAC training offer and bringing the VAC consultancy expertise to the Camden CVS organisations.  Vania has worked in Brent, Kensington and Chelsea, Croydon, Lewisham, Westminster, Wandsworth and across multiple London boroughs in the voluntary and statutory sectors and has wealth of experience in the voluntary sector capacity building, project and networks management and membership engagement. She is looking forward to meeting Camden’s diverse CVS organisations.

Email: vguetova@vac.org.uk

Available: Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday

Our trustees

BENAIFER BHANDARI

Chair

Cassandra

CASSANDRA AUSTEN

Treasurer

Harry George

Trustee

Arvinda Gohil

Trustee

Chikwaba

Chikwaba Oduka

Trustee

TRICIA RICHARDS

Trustee

Lotis

lotis bautista

Trustee

Kathy

Kathy Elliott

Trustee

Sagal

Sagal Abdi-Wali

Trustee

 

                                               We also have two observers from Camden Council, Cllr Richard Cotton and Cllr Nash Ali.

Like this:

Benaifer Bhandari is CEO of Hopscotch Women’s Centre, coming from the world’s leading health organisation dedicated to women, La Leche League. She has a passion for robust governance ensuring every action is reflected in mission and insisting deeply that every minoritised person and group have support in a person-centred and trauma informed way.

She has now taken her knowledge across to other organisations as trustee for C4 (Camden Community Centres Consortium), Chair for Global Generation and more recently she has been honoured by the appointed as Chair for Voluntary Action Camden.

CASSANDRA AUSTEN
Treasurer

Cassandra is a financial professional working for an economic consultancy firm in London. Before becoming a consultant, Cassandra worked for six years across the finance industry in the UK and Australia. She is passionate about volunteering, social enterprises and the role of sustainable finance in social policy. Cassandra holds a Bachelor of Commerce (Liberal Studies) with majors in Finance, Economics and Financial Mathematics from the University of Sydney.

Harry George is a social entrepreneur with a track record building profitable businesses that deliver impact and outcomes for a variety of disadvantaged groups including people with disabilities, refugees, the homeless, and young offenders. He owns and operates hidden coffee on Camden Road, where many of these groups are supported.

As a Camden local with deep roots in the area, he is keen to engage with isolated communities within the borough and provide his own network and knowledge to the board. He is humbled to be involved in a storied organisation like Voluntary Action Camden and hopes to channel his own skills into community outcomes whilst learning from the talented team.

Arvinda is an experienced Executive and Non-Executive leader with significant experience of working in the housing, homelessness, charity and social enterprise sectors.

She had held leadership roles as Chief Executive of Central YMCA, the founder YMCA; Chief Executive of Community Links a place-based charity in Newham London; Chief Executive of Emmaus UK; Director for Membership, Governance, and Regions at the National Housing Federation; Assistant Director for London at the Housing Corporation, Social Housing Foundation – a capacity-building agency in South Africa for emerging housing organisations, and as Chief Executive of two BAME led housing associations.

In addition to the Executive roles, Arvinda has held several non-executive and Trustee roles including in Housing Associations, refugee organisations, a University and a social investment charity. She is currently on the Board of Sanctuary Housing, where she Chairs its subsidiary Swan Housing Association, chairs a place-based charity in Clerkenwell, London called the Peel and is a non-executive Director at the Conduit, where she leads on Impact, Ethics and Culture.

Arvinda is passionate about creating Equity in the world, bringing people together to find ways of creating synergies and enabling collaboration that creates real and lasting impact.

Chikwaba is the African Health Forum Lead on Ageing Better in Camden (a Partnership of 7 BAME organisations). Also a qualified counsellor and therapist, she has over 10 years’ experience supporting individuals and families and is committed to delivering client-centred support that empowers individuals to self-actualise. Being a VAC Board member is a two – way street. She will be expanding her skillset and network within the field whilst bringing her experience, expertise and knowledge, especially on Black African communities. She will work towards promoting collaborations with other diverse groups to improve and for better chances of sustainability.

Tricia has over 19 years’ experience working within the voluntary sector in Camden and became CEO of Castlehaven Community Association (CCA) in May 2019. She has created, managed and delivered a plethora of community-based projects and has set up and lead many partnership projects with national & local charities, businesses and schools/collages. Tricia has worked and managed over 60 international internships and has experience in recruitment of a multitude of roles. Tricia is the vice chair of the IAG Camden board, a trustee of Camden Community Centres Consortium (C4) and a rep for C4 on the Ageing Better in Camden Strategic Board. Tricia’s interest in becoming a trustee of VAC is purely based on sharing her knowledge, experience and finding out more about the voluntary sector in Camden, whilst supporting staff & volunteers who work within VAC.

Lotis is an educator with 10 years’ experience working across Primary, Secondary, Further and Higher Education, including Camden’s own City Lit. Prior to joining VAC, she helped to build campus-wide digital systems for graduate schools in Asia, as well as running an education technology company that matched charities across the UK with highly skilled student volunteers.

Lotis is passionate about using her knowledge of digital and learning to empower local organisations to reach more beneficiaries, more effectively, and is honoured to join an organisation with a long history of innovation and supporting the borough’s most vulnerable residents.

Kathy recently retired from her work in the NHS and public health and is now enjoying using her skills and experience in new ways. She is active in the UK Public Health Register, an independent, dedicated regulator for public health professionals in the United Kingdom. She recognises the importance of voluntary and community organisations, and people themselves, to improving health and wellbeing, and reducing health inequalities. Like so many others, she has gotten to know her neighbourhood better as everyone has helped each other during the pandemic. She is pleased to be bringing her experience of health, partnerships and leading public sector organisations to her role as a VAC trustee.

I’m a local government worker, charity volunteer, school governor and local activist. For over a decade I’ve been a volunteer committed to working closely with community and charity groups in Camden who focus on women and young people. I was inspired to join the VAC Board as a trustee to help steer it as we move into these ever more difficult times and ensure that it continues to deliver for our community and local groups.

ajax-loader