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A new home to help small groups think big

Small, local volunteer organisations rely on goodwill and the experience of individuals, but when they need more expert advice, community groups in Cambridge, South Cambridgeshire and Fenland can get in touch with The Cambridge Council For Voluntary Service – or CCVS for short.

Established in the 1977, CCVS provides business support for charities and community organisations in the region. The majority of its member groups have an income of less than £50,000 and rely on volunteers for a lot of their financial and management expertise.

It recently moved into new offices, which  act as a community hub and offer affordable rental space to other small charities.

“We help smaller organisations be more effective and sustainable, and empower them with the information and knowledge they need,” says Mark Freeman, CCVS deputy CEO. 

“We help bring different organisations together, and act as the voice of the voluntary sector in our region.” 

“We like to offer focused, hands on-support,” he continues. “For example, we’ve recently worked with a local village allotment society in South Cambridgeshire who wanted to get some toilets installed at the site.

“We helped them with their funding application and were able to draw out the ‘bigger picture’ – the fact that having toilets on site would increase the number and diversity of visitors who could come to the site. For instance, school parties would be able to visit – a fantastic learning opportunity for them. 

“We helped the society realise that simply by providing a toilet they could increase their appeal with the local community, which meant they had a much stronger basis for a funding application. 

“They managed to achieve £11,000 of funding, mainly from the lottery, but more importantly they reframed their view of what they are, and began to see the allotments as a community resource. 

“With this mindset, they’ve also raised funding to install secure cycle parking. There’s no stopping them now!”

CCVS has just five paid staff, all drawn from the voluntary sector and with backgrounds in management and fundraising specific to the charities and community groups it works with.

The organisation is a member of NCVO and is committed to helping people discover the benefits of volunteering, not just for society as a whole but also for the volunteers themselves, especially those who struggle to volunteer. 

CCVS has been a customer of The Phone Co-op since it moved into the new offices.

“We were recommended to choose The Phone Co-op for our phone and broadband and I have to say it was a good decision,” says Mark. “The overall flexibility and speed of response has been great, and the ability to offer our tenants a full function phone and broadband service makes the offices easier to rent. And it’s great for us to work with other non-profits.”