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|About the CVS|
What is a CVS?
The first CVS was founded at the end of the 19th century. Its aim was to coordinate voluntary effort and promote new organisations to fill gaps in local services. In 1945 individual CVS linked up to form a Standing Conference, serviced by what is now the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO). The National Association of Councils for Voluntary Service (NACVS) was established as an independent body in 1991 and now has a membership of over 260 CVS in England. There are specialist networks within the membership to enable CVS with specific needs and interests to link together effectively to share information and good practice.
The benefits of a CVS
Every area involves a variety of voluntary action without which many activities and services would not exist. Over the years, CVS have been established in order to
The design and development of a CVS
The value of a CVS is its ability to meet local need. Its design and development reflect this. On establishment, a CVS needs to have a clear structure and be of a certain size to support its core functions. Some CVS have existed for many years and have seen many changes both in growth and structure in response to local need. A CVS normally covers the same area as a local authority in order to perform its functions effectively. A CVS needs to provide local benefits and be able to remain responsive and proactive. This means both establishing accessible office bases from which to work with paid staff and volunteers, and having a working style which encourages participation.
Core functions of a CVS
A CVS has a development role in relation to: ! identifying local need ! working with others to develop appropriate local action ! working strategically to benefit the local voluntary sector.
An effective CVS develops and helps maintain links with a wide range of voluntary and community organisations. These include user organisations and those representing the diverse communities which exist within the area. In addition, the task of a CVS is to promote cross-sector relationships including those with the relevant local authority departments (not just social services), the health authority, other public agencies operating within its locality and the business world.
As an independent, non-party political organisation, a CVS has a particular role in enabling the local voluntary and community sector to present its views to local authorities and other public agencies. This can be achieved by developing the practical means to communicate effectively, and access to:
To achieve this, each CVS needs to develop effective consultation with the sector through forums, committees, seminars, or other consultative mechanisms. The CVS should be open in the way it seeks, collates, and enables representation of the views of the sector.
A CVS is a key resource and information point for local voluntary and community organisations. Such support can make the difference between a community need being identified and responded to, or not. Support can be wideranging. Key elements may include:
A CVS has many stakeholders predominant among which are its members. Others include staff, funders, users of local voluntary services, local authorities, and other public agencies which have a relationship with the local voluntary sector. However, a CVS is mainly responsible to its membership of voluntary and community groups and it is therefore important that its independence and integrity is clear to other stakeholders.
Every CVS has a constitution which details the minimum requirements for accounting to these stakeholders, and which reflects the status of the CVS either as:
NACVS Web site. Model Constitution and values statements.
These questions have relevance whether you are starting out to establish a CVS or reviewing an existing CVS.