Youth volunteering charity vInspired is set to close with the loss of some 20 jobs, after struggling to cope with the loss of government funding.
vInspired was set up by the Labour government as a vehicle to support to volunteering programmes, but was forced to downsize in recent years after coalition and Conservative administrations significantly reduced funding.
It ran services that matched young people with volunteering opportunities, and also held a contract from the government to deliver the NCS in the North East of England; worth £8m a year to the charity out of its total annual income of £9.3m.
It had until now been using its reserves to cover the costs of its other activity. It has been running at a deficit since 2014.
In a personal statement posted on Twitter Jessica Taplin, chief executive of vInspired, said the charity had been in the process trying to make itself less reliant on government funding over the last few years, but that its financial position was "not as secure as we had hoped".
“Since the returning of funds to government in 2017, the charity’s position was not as secure as we had hoped when we started our turnaround strategy in 2016,” she said.
“We’ve attempted to achieve financial sustainability much sooner than originally anticipated but unfortunately have insufficient forward funding commitment to support our core service. Unfortunately, having exhausted all options and our reserves, we know that we can’t achieve sustainability for the charity in the time that our financial position allows.”
vInspired launched its new strategy in 2016 which had seen it develop more strategic partnerships with other charities; invest in improving its digital offering' launch a reward scheme for volunteers and refresh its branding.
It had also launched a volunteer reward card earlier this year which 15,000 young people have signed up for
Transfer of services
vInspired's trustees have appointed Antony Batty & Company LLP to wind-up the charity.
All of its London-based staff have now been given redundancy notices, dated for the 27 November.
Taplin said she hoped that the charity’s services could be transferred to another organisation: “I am confident they will continue conversations already started with a similar organisation willing to continue vInspired’s legacy and in the meantime they will continue operating the vInspired website, connecting young people to volunteering roles across hundreds of charities and community groups.”
vInspired Education, a subsidiary company set up to deliver the NCS in the North East, will continue to deliver the programme.
Maxine Tennet, director of operations at vInspired, and its regional team will reportedly continue to run it.
vInspired delivered the NCS contract in partnership with the National Youth Agency, another youth charity, which has issued a statement on its closure.
“The loss of vInspired will be felt keenly by the youth sector, as a national champion of young people.NYA has enjoyed a close partnership for NCS and youth social action in particular and will continue to work with vInspired Education for future quality provision in support of young people.
"At a time when we are being promised an end to austerity, we need to hold on to, invest in and develop the youth sector, and support those charities and services which in turn invest in young people – supported in the present, ambitious for their future.”
Latest financial information
vInspired had not filed its accounts for the year ending 2017/18, and its accounts for 2016/17 indicated that it was heavily reliant on income from NCS but was in the process of taking steps to diversify its funding.
Its accounts said it aimed to hold six months’ operating costs in unrestricted reserves, but that it held significantly more than £3m in order to “meet ongoing operating costs”.
“The amount of the reserve remained higher than the target level reflecting ongoing uncertainty around the fundraising pipeline and the level of income to be generated in 2017/18 from fundraising and trading activities such as the NCS North East Contract where performance-based payments were linked to overall volume delivery,” the accounts said.
While it reported £437,000 as income from donations and legacies, £436,000 of this was “in-kind” support. vInspired also earned £230,000 from private sector grants and £513,000 from trading.
Total expenditure was £11.4m. The charity has been running at a deficit since 2014.