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NCVO Listening in Harrogate and Ripon

NCVO Listening in Harrogate and Ripon

The HARCVS team recently welcomed Lev Pedro, NCVO Senior Consultant, to Harrogate District as he visited towns around the country. Lev shared his blog on his day with us ....   

A Day Out in Harrogate and Ripon 

In September I had the great pleasure of spending a day in Harrogate and Ripon talking to colleagues from the local voluntary sector. To support our members well, we need to know what they are thinking about and what concerns them. So, two or three times each month I spend a day out and about.

I spent the morning at Community House, first with Karen Weaver discussing strategic issues that affect HARCVS and the local sector. I also met with NCVO member IDAS and with district council officer Ann Byrne. I was impressed by the smart way in which the CVS works, and how they clearly have constructive strategic relationships. The council officer clearly stated that they need HARCVS in order to fulfil various functions, such as community consultation. I was also pleased to hear that the council does not force key local organisations to compete on the open market to deliver their service, which is something we see happening in many local areas. It was encouraging to see that HARCVS also has a good working relationship with Community First Yorkshire and ensures that their services to the sector complement and do not duplicate.

I was inspired to hear about the growth of THE LOCAL LOTTO. This is a great model for bringing new money into local charities and at the same time building a feeling of connection to local charities among local people.

In the afternoon I attended the quarterly meeting of the chief officers and chairs group. I was impressed by the level of mutual support, colleagues giving each other tips and ideas, and so on. An interesting issue came up about the cost of transport between Harrogate and Ripon: It is only 12 miles from city of Ripon to Harrogate yet the £8 fare means that someone on universal credit ends up spending more than half of their week’s income on bus travel! Mark Hopley from Community First Yorkshire agreed to see if there is any influencing they can do on this through their network of rural community councils. I loved hearing about the new contactless donation machine at Citizens Advice Craven and Harrogate Districts. This has greatly increased donations, also cash donations, by making the ‘donation facility’ much more visible and engaging, compared to a bog-standard collection tin.

A key concern that several organisations raised was funding. One organisation commented that the fact that they operate across various districts in both North and West Yorkshire makes their funding picture very complicated, and it was noted that the funding environment is simpler in West Yorkshire, where there is joint commissioning between NHS clinical commissioning groups and local authorities. Another common concern was recruitment and retention of volunteers. One organisation is finding that often people come forward wanting to help but drop away when told what the charity actually needed!

When I asked the group what they would like from NCVO, two things came up. Firstly, a fundraising organisation asked us to lobby for increase in the threshold of £2,000 of Gift Aid that may be claimed on anonymous donations. They usually collect far in excess of £8,000 cash in collection tins but can only claim the additional 20% on the first £8,000. The recent independent Charity Tax Review in fact recommended this, but we must wait and see if Government takes up the recommendation.

The second request was for NCVO to highlight examples of good work that can be replicated. We currently do this through the case studies on NCVO Knowhow website. NCVO is planning to restructure Knowhow by themes to make it much easier to navigate, so watch out for this sometime next year.