Voluntary & community sector in Northumberland

Here you will find information for and about the voluntary and community sector in Northumberland.

We see the voluntary and community sector as vital partners in achieving economic and social growth in Northumberland

Despite the problems that the sector will face, we are confident that an effective relationship can be maintained.

We are currently seeking your views on the Council’s proposals for future funding of the VCS.  Please read the document below, and complete the survey using the link below:
The voluntary and community sector is explicitly valued as a key partner. The sector plays a major role in strategies for the county and the county council.

We will face a number of challenges and opportunities during the next three years, such as the impact of the recession and reduced public sector funding, but we remain optimistic about the future.
There is no statutory definition of voluntary and community sector. However, when we use the term we include community groups, voluntary sector organisations and social enterprises. These can collectively be referred to as the third sector, civic society and sometimes VCSE: voluntary, charity and social enterprise.

This group encompasses a wide range of organisations. This stretches from a village hall committee all the way to national charities such as Age UK. Their activities are diverse, ranging from local drama groups to delivering public services and producing goods and products.

What these groups have in common is they are set up and operated because people want to make a difference. Internal rules say that profits/surpluses are used for the organisation’s purposes, not the members.
Size of the VCS sector in Northumberland and the North East
There are several estimates of the number of voluntary organisations in Northumberland; most suggest a figure of about 1,000.

Breakdown of activities of VCS organisations in the North East
Organisations that provide social services dominate the voluntary and community sector in the North East. This is also the case in the UK.

Income and expenditure of the VCS sector
In 2007/2008, general charities in Northumberland had an income of £83.9 million, spent £73 million and had assets of £161.3 million.

Number of employees in the VCS sector
Estimates for the number of employees working in the VCS sector in the North East in 2007/2008 range from 28,700 to 36,700. This represents approximately 3.4% of the workforce of the North East in 2008.

The percentage of people who said that they had volunteered at least once a month in the past year was higher in Northumberland (24.9%) than the North East figure (18.6%) in 2008.

'Below the radar' organisations
'Below the radar' organisations are those not registered with official bodies such as the Charities Commission or Companies House. Figures from the Northern Rock Foundation suggest there are about 9,000 of these organisations in the North East.
Advice to residents and other people active in their community
There is a web-based guide for residents who are keen to start or improve a community project or to be more closely involved in decision-making in the county through the ‘Let's Do It’ guide.

Community chest grants
There is a fund available to support grassroots community activity.

Services to support the sector throughout Northumberland can be accessed through Northumberland CVA.

The council has changed the way in which it funds support to the sector, moving from funding organisations to funding the delivery of support services.

Social enterprise support
Social Enterprise Northumberland offers expert advice, support and guidance to social enterprises or prospective social enterprises across the county.

Buildings and rate relief
The council has a community asset transfer policy, which outlines a proactive approach of using our property to support sustainable communities. Organisations that benefit the county may also be eligible for discretionary rate relief. Community rights
The Localism Act 2011 established a new set of rights for communities, designed to put more power in the hands of local people. Doing business with the council
The voluntary sector also delivers a wide range of services for the council.
A social enterprise - what it is and how to start one.

Social enterprises can address their community’s needs in effective, inclusive and sustainable ways. They engage individuals who don’t have mainstream employment opportunities because of disadvantages, rural isolation or lack of opportunities.

They provide an alternative business model that is attractive to those who want to make a positive difference and can fill gaps in the local economy. An example is preparing young people for the world of work or manufacturing local produce.

Social Enterprise Northumberland’s support typically includes:
  • helping you to decide on the best legal entity for your business
  • supporting developing governance arrangements
  • guidance on business and strategic planning
  • supporting funding applications where appropriate
For support and guidance, please contact Social Enterprise Northumberland on 07917 266864 or email Tony.Kirsop@northumberland.gov.uk.

The council recognises that social enterprise forms part of the voluntary and community sector.
Manifesto for social enterprise in Northumberland
Social enterprises are already in our communities. From local shops to sporting facilities, they all actively support growth across the county.

The combination of doing business and doing good deeds makes promoting social enterprise a priority for us. Our aim is for social enterprise to flourish and we’ve drafted a manifesto to help.

We also have an action plan for the county. Click below to read it.