At Voluntary Action Camden, we describe ourselves as an ‘umbrella organisation’ which broadly explains how we work in the voluntary sector: we coordinate activities, pool resources and share information with our partner organisations. But our role in the community runs so much deeper than that.
This short video explains what we do to help support voluntary organisations in Camden
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 the organisations we support are usually run by 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.
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.
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.