Organisation has vital role in community

A CHARITY which supports community groups and volunteers in south east Northumberland is celebrating its silver anniversary.

Launched in 1987, the Wansbeck Centre for Voluntary Service (CVS) in Station Road, Ashington, was set up to help community groups across the county to grow and deliver projects which would help improve the quality of life in the area.

It provides groups and individuals in the community with access information and advice around constitutions, funding advice, fundraising, training and volunteering brokerage.

Over the past 15 years the organisation has enabled groups to gain £15m of funding for a wide range of projects, with the cash in the main being spent locally, helping to regenerate the community.

In addition, they have registered 2,000 volunteers and supported 500 volunteer-involving organisations to develop policies.

Projects and groups supported by the organisation over the years include the Newbiggin Maritime Centre, the Watbus scheme in Wansbeck and the Ashington Male Voice Choir.

Anne Lyall, chief executive of the organisation, said: “I feel extremely proud when I look at what we have actually achieved for the local community.

“We have undertaken research and involved people in major decision-making about their local community and helped local groups grow.

“We’re all about bringing people together and making a difference in the community.

“When we see organisations grow and develop, that has as much of an impact on us.

“We all feel very proud about what we have achieved.

“It is more than just a job, it’s a passion for all of us.”

The charity will officially mark its 25th anniversary at its annual general meeting on Wednesday, October 31, where there will be a buffet and entertainment by Ashington Male Choir.

Four volunteers from groups the charity has supported over the years have also been invited to speak at the meeting.

The speakers are Carol Sullivan, co-ordinator of Northumberland’s Macmillan Bereavement Service, Ann Widdrington, from the Toy Library in Ashington, Bill Ogilvie, chairman of the Bomarsund Welfare Cricket Club, and Karen Cook, chairwoman of Wansbeck Disability Forum.

Anne, a former governor for St Aidan’s First School in Ashington, said: “What we intend to do is put our resources where they are going to have the most impact.

“Volunteering, capacity building and employability are the needs that have been identified.

“Interestingly, these were the issues identified 25 years ago, so it is sad to think these issues of unemployment are still a concern in the local community.

“But I think it is good that we are still here as an organisation to help address some of those problems.”

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