Voluntary Action Camden

About us

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: 

  • We help community organisations grow and develop
  • We help connect the sector through shared information, forums and networking opportunities
  • We help present a voice for the sector to help build influence where it matters most.

But our role in the community runs so much deeper than that. 

The Role of a CVS

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.

the role of vac

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. 

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, these groups face surmounting challenges which can hinder their ability to provide services and meet the growing demand. 
This is where our work comes in.
With the support and skills we provide, smaller organisations go on to provide many vital services in the community.  Our experienced team works closely with voluntary organisations to develop their capacity, allowing them to thrive and continue contributing to Camden’s communities.

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: 

  • Develop (capacity building and training)
  • Connect (networking and collaboration) 
  • Influence (amplifying voices in the community and advocating for the Voluntary and Community Sector)
Our team are passionate and devoted, bringing heart and humanity to the work, and a genuine commitment to helping the community sustain and improve itself. 
We take a local approach to addressing local needs; as a connector, an enabler and a go-to provider of information. We pride ourselves on our ability to bring groups together and enable collaboration in a way that reaches communities that statutory bodies would otherwise miss: we help parts of the community that others do not. 
The infographic below shows some of the key areas we work across.

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.

Our team

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 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.

Telephone 020 7284 6562

Email alexcharles@vac.org.uk

Available: Tuesday and Friday

Dianne Carlton Ogunyemi

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.

Telephone 020 7284 6575

Email dogunyemi@vac.org.uk

Available: Monday to Wednesday

Donna Turnbull

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.

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 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.

Telephone 020 7284 6564

Email volunteer2@vac.org.uk

Available: Tuesday, Friday and alternate Wednesdays

John Nellis

Communications Lead

John is the Communications worker for VAC. He started in September 2021 and works for the equivalent of one day per week, spread over 5 days. John is responsible for VAC external communications and strategy with the majority of his time spent producing the weekly newsletter.
John is also currently studying Media and Communications at university and will bring the knowledge gained on the course to VAC.

Email jnellis@vac.org.uk 

Available: Monday – Friday

Mandira Manandhar

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.

Telephone 020 7284 6573

Email mmanandhar@vac.org.uk

Available: Monday to Wednesday and Thursday until 2pm

Manuella Bunketi

Finance Manager

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.

Telephone 020 7284 6561

Email mbunketi@vac.org.uk

Available: Monday to Wednesday

Nasrin Rashid

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.

Telephone 020 7284 6565

Email nrashid@vac.org.uk

Available: Wednesday, Thursday and Friday morning

Ricky Singh Tokhi

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.

Telephone 020 7284 6553

Email rsingh@vac.org.uk

Available: Monday to Thursday

Our trustees

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Cassandra Austen


Arvinda Gohil



Chikwaba Oduka


Harry George



Hilary Barnard



Kathy Elliott



Sagal Abdi-Wali










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

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 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.

Arvinda is Chief Executive of Central YMCA, the first ever YMCA set up in 1844. Arvinda has worked in the not for profit sector all her working life, including Chief Executive of Community Links and Emmaus UK. Prior to this, she ran her own consultancy for five years, specialising in governance, leadership and equality.

Arvinda is passionate about bringing equity for and with people and is a collaborative leader looking to bring about systemic change where communities and individuals have been failed by those in power and those that distribute resources. She is passionate about place-based approaches where communities are given the opportunity to create environments that work for them.

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.

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.

Hilary’s main interest as a trustee is in the long-term direction for VAC and the benefits VAC can deliver to smaller charities and community organisations. Hilary is an organisational consultant specialising in strategic and business planning, governance and organisational development. He has carried out many projects for the Lloyds Bank Foundation Enhance programme, and has given consultancy support in every sub sector of the voluntary sector. Hilary is also a Camden resident.

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.

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.

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.