At Voluntary Action Camden, we describe ourselves as a ‘CVS’ or Council for Voluntary Service. We are also known as an ‘umbrella’ or ‘infrastructure’ organisation’, which broadly explains how we work in the voluntary sector:
But our role in the community runs so much deeper than that.
This video from London Plus explains more generally what a CVS organisation is and the kind of work infrastructure organisations like VAC are often involved with.
Because of the geographical spread of CVS’s across the country (and therefore local priorities and available funding), services, projects and range of work tends to vary from one CVS to another.
This short video explains how VAC operates as a CVS and looks at some of the recent work we have done to help support voluntary organisations in Camden over the last year.
For a small organisation we do a lot of different work and have done since 1907. We help new organisations to get started and we support established organisations to achieve their goals. All of the organisations we support are usually run by a small staff team and/ or volunteers on a not-for-profit basis. We help them in the most important facets of running a voluntary organisation, such as building capacity around technical work and advising as to financial management and good governance.
As a local support organisation, we provide practical support, skills and guidance including bidding for funding, team development and business planning. We also represent communities at the strategic level where policy is made, ensuring local needs are understood by Camden Council and other governmental bodies.
We describe our core functions as:
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.
Formerly VAC’s Office and Projects Manager, Kevin has worked in Camden in various non-profit roles all his working life, initially in pan-London training for public sector care staff. At NCVO in the 1990s he was Trustee and Governance advisor contributing to work on codes, standards, CSR, regulation etc. Kevin has also been chair, treasurer and secretary of a variety of national, international and local charities ranging from overseas aid to local infrastructure.
IT and Digital Manager
Alex has worked in the Voluntary and Community Sector for over 15 years and first joined VAC as an Administrator back in 2006. She has gone on to have varied roles, both within and outside of VAC and has strong skills in impact and evaluation, finance and data. Today, Alex leads on IT and digital at VAC. 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. She currently leads a programme of IT and digital training in collaboration with our partners.
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.
Community Partnership Lead
Dianne is Project Lead for the Community Safeguarding Partnership, responsible for the coordination, delivery and engagment of all safeguarding training, consultation and development for BAME community, faith and supplementary school settings.
Community Development Manager
Donna started working with VAC in 2006, coming from a community arts and urban regeneration background. Her first role at VAC was developing the Community Empowerment Network. Since 2013 she has been involved in developing VAC’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 VAC’s social prescribing work and manages the Community Links service, and work with groups developing neighbourhood projects and services.
Data Entry and Website Volunteer
Hasel has been volunteering for VAC 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.
Community Links Volunteer Co-ordinator
Mandira joined VAC 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.
Manuella has worked for VAC since 2007 as an Accounts Assistant then became VAC’s Finance Manager in 2017. She manages and monitors the day-to-day financial operations and, alongside our trustees, helps ensure VAC is a strong and financially sustainable organisation. She also offers advice and support to community groups on financial management.
Community Links Coordinator - Referrals Lead
Nasrin is a lifelong Camden resident with a background in business studies and human resources, and is an accredited Mentor. Nasrin started volunteering with VAC in 2016, researching and updating information about activities delivered by local community organisations for our Health Advocate volunteers based in GP practices, and supporting training sessions. 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, maintaining links with voluntary sector providers and following up with residents who use the service.
Building & Finance Administrator
Ricky started volunteering for VAC in late 2011 as an Administrator for various projects and now works part-time as VAC’s Building and Finance Administrator. Throughout his time at VAC 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.
Community Engagement Officer, Cultural Advocacy Project
Zubair has resided in and worked with vulnerable and disadvantaged communities in Camden for many years. His background is in the advice sector primarily with the Citizen’s Advice Bureau Service and then specialising in advocacy and representation at Disability in Camden. In more recent years, Zubair has been working on community based mental health initiatives including community navigation and advising on research studies locally and nationally with UCL.
At VAC, through the Cultural Advocacy Project, Zubair leads on engaging with communities through the organisations they access and attend to raise awareness of mental well-being from a cultural perspective, breaking down barriers and promoting learning. The role involves developing peer support groups in local settings and one to one peer mentoring.
At the present time, he also works for Camden council as manager of the Covid 19 Community Response Team.