Alba, Main Street, Golspie
VG-ES is a Council for Voluntary Service (CVS) and exists to support the voluntary sector in East Sutherland
East Sutherland has a population of approximately 10,000, and voluntary sector activity is relatively high. It is a sparsely populated area within the Highland Council local authority. It has small, scattered townships none of which has a population greater than 2000. There are no large towns or centres in Sutherland. Unemployment rates are higher than the Highland average, and in line with the national trend, the population of Sutherland is getting older, and outward migration is increasing. However, crime rates are very low and the scenic beauty of the area and its wealth of natural and cultural heritage makes it an attractive place to live. In a recent survey of people who left Sutherland over the past 20 years, over 75% wanted to return if suitable jobs were available. There is still a great sense of community in East Sutherland.
• Voluntary Groups – East Sutherland was formed in 1973. It has grown from a part-time worker, who worked from her kitchen table, to an organisation with a full-time organiser, and a dedicated building for voluntary sector activity.
• Its main core funding comes from the Scottish Executive through the Voluntary Issues Unit, plus some funding through the Highland Council.
• It is a company limited by guarantee with a board of directors elected from the membership at the AGM. Each director may serve for up to three years and is eligible for re-election after that period.
• The company also includes under its umbrella the East Sutherland Village Advice Service and the East Sutherland Community Care Forum.
• It is recognised as a Scottish Charity
• Its role is to support the voluntary sector in East Sutherland through practical and advisory services which include:
• 172 local voluntary groups became members of Voluntary Groups East Sutherland in 2002. The breadth and diversity of activity is inspirational, ranging from small local groups to branches of national organisations.
In March 1999 the National Lottery Charities Board awarded VG-ES a grant of £108,475 to purchase and refurbish a building for voluntary sector activities. The aim of the project was to maximise resources in a rural area through shared accommodation and facilities. In November 1999 VG-ES moved into the re-furbished building which has become a much-used resource centre for the voluntary sector in East Sutherland. The building has a meeting/training room, which is dedicated to voluntary sector activities such as committee meetings, workshops and training events. It is a well-appointed and well-used facility for the area.
The building comprises office accommodation for ourselves and several other voluntary sector groups:
◊ Crossroads (East Sutherland) Care – providing respite care for carers and a befriending scheme for the elderly
◊ RSPB – the protection of birds
◊ The Life Peatlands Project – restoration and conservation of the Peatlands of Caithness and Sutherland.
◊ North Highland Forest Trust – advice, information and support for community based forestry.
◊ East Sutherland Village Advisory Service - an independent advice service which follows CAB guidelines, which includes a Welfare Rights Service and a Money Advice Service.
VG-ES MISSION STATEMENT
The Council for Voluntary Service exists to represent and support the voluntary sector, to assist organisations in coming together for common purposes, and to enable local people to gain access to the decision making processes which affect their community.
It aims to present the common policies and concerns of voluntary organisations, to develop new ways of responding to need in partnership with statutory and other health, social work, education, environmental and recreation agencies and others concerned with the social and economic regeneration of the area.
THE AIMS OF VG-ES ARE:
◊ To assess local needs.
◊ To assist Voluntary Organisations and help them respond to changes and needs.
◊ To encourage people to participate in voluntary work.
◊ To provide practical and advisory services to members and to the public.
◊ To liaise with Voluntary Organisations and Statutory Bodies to promote communication and co-operation.
◊ To encourage support from private and public bodies to the voluntary effort in East Sutherland.
◊ To respond to emerging needs identified either by us or brought to our notice by an individual or group. This is perhaps our most important function of all.
Visit our website at: www.vges.org.uk