Justin Davis Smith among 12 jobs lost after NCVO closes volunteering department

18 Mar 2016 News

NCVO will close its volunteering and development department with the loss of 12 staff, including volunteering director Justin Davis Smith, it announced today.

Justin Davis Smith

NCVO will close its volunteering and development department with the loss of 12 staff, including volunteering director Justin Davis Smith, it announced today.

The infrastructure body made a decision to restructure after government and Lottery funding for a number of projects run by the department came to an end, including its Big Assist programme. Funding will run out on 31 March - the end of the financial year.

Davis Smith is the former chief executive of Volunteering England, which merged into NCVO in 2013. Both organisations were strategic partners of the Office for Civil Society and both had their funding reduced by the OCS in the lead-up to the merger. As part of the merger Davis Smith became executive director of volunteering and development, and former Volunteering England projects were absorbed by the new volunteering department.

Davis Smith is taking up a new position as a senior research fellow at Cass Business School, focusing on volunteering and development.

Following the redundancies NCVO will have 101 staff, equivalent to 95.2 full-time equivalent posts.

“Under the new structure, which takes effect from the new financial year, NCVO will have three departments- public policy and volunteering, enterprise and development, and planning and resources,” an NCVO spokesman said.

“The structure reflects a complete integration of volunteering policy and support into NCVO, following the merger with Volunteering England three years ago. This will allow NCVO to put its full weight behind volunteering policy and support, building further on its investment over the last three years.

“As a consequence of the restructure, three director posts were made redundant: director of public policy Karl Wilding, executive director of volunteering and development Justin Davis Smith, and director of enterprise Richard Williams.

“Two new positions were created: director of public policy and volunteering, and director of enterprise and development, which were ringfenced for applications from the directors whose roles were made redundant.

“Justin Davis Smith chose not to apply for any of the roles.”

The projects that are coming to an end are:

  • Big Assist, a Lottery-backed grant programme to help voluntary infrastructure organisations improve their operations and become more sustainable, delivering over £4.5m worth of support and advice.
  • Volunteering in Care Homes, a three-year Department of Health-funded project to build links between care homes and volunteer centres in five clinical commissioning group areas.
  • VCSE Health Review, a one-year project to assess funding and partnerships between health and care agencies and voluntary sector organisations, funded by the Department of Health, Public Health England and NHS England.

Additionally, the Cabinet Office has ended its funding for NCVO to run Funding Central, a website that lists grants, contracts and loans available to the sector. NCVO has said it will continue to run Funding Central and is “looking at various options to move towards a different funding model for this important resource”.

Sir Stuart Etherington, chief executive of NCVO, said: “NCVO is in a healthy financial position but we must act prudently so we can continue our work representing voluntary organisations and volunteering for years to come. We are undergoing what is an increasingly common fact of life in the sector – acting ahead of time to adapt quickly and effectively to changing funding circumstances. The new structure ensures that all our frontline policy and support work will continue and indeed be strengthened.”

New partnership between NCVO and Cass CCE

Cass CCE and NCVO have announced that they plan to work together on research into a range of sector issues, with NCVO part-funding Davis Smith's new position, which includes advising NCVO on volunteering matters.

Etherington said: “Justin has made a major contribution to NCVO. His skill and leadership in effecting Volunteering England’s merger with NCVO secured a sustainable future for its important volunteering policy and support work. I am very pleased that we will continue to have the benefit of his enormous expertise.

“We are partly funding this new role. We wanted to ensure that NCVO continues to have outstanding high-level counsel on volunteering matters. Justin is the country’s leading authority on volunteering and he is ideally placed to fulfil what is effectively a dual role, advising NCVO and taking forward a new stream of volunteering research at the Centre for Charity Effectiveness.”

On taking up his new role at Cass CCE Davis-Smith said: “Three years on from the merger with Volunteering England I am taking up this exciting new opportunity with a strong sense that volunteering is in safe hands within NCVO. It is a key element of the organisation's five year strategic plan and is increasingly well embedded within its policy, research, training and good practice work.

“I will not be breaking ties with NCVO completely and will continue to offer high-level strategic advice on volunteering. But after two decades working within voluntary organisations, I am relishing the opportunity of using my experience in my new role at Cass to undertake research and develop new thinking on voluntary action and to support leadership development within the sector.”

Professor Paul Palmer, director of Cass CCE, said: “The Cass Centre for Charity Effectiveness and NCVO are to work together on a broader agreement that will outline mutual work areas and further possibilities for partnership working in research and good practice on a range of sector issues.”

Additional reporting by Kirsty Weakley


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