Charities join forces to boost services

A new front line community charity is being formed in Suffolk by 10 merging to boost the services they offer.

Community Action Suffolk has been formed by Suffolk’s ‘infrastructure organisations’ which are mostly funded by district and county councils and provide basic community services, like training, youth projects and befriending services.

It officially comes into being in April as a charitable company, effectively forming a single charity out of the 10, which include Bury St Edmunds Volunteer Centre, Suffolk Action with Communities in Rural England (Suffolk ACRE), Mid Suffolk Action Partnership and Young Suffolk.

Alex Skailes, chair of CAS’s transferee board, said on Wednesday: “We felt that by coming together we would be stronger in voice and in the way we operate, allowing more funding to go to the front line.

“It’s been done in several other counties, but on a much smaller scale than in Suffolk.

“We can see so much opportunity to improve over time. We can see geographical gaps where services aren’t provided and by working together we’re hoping to fill those gaps.”

She said the councils had been ‘extremely supportive’ of the plan.

On job losses she said: “We haven’t got a formal restructuring plan in place but all the organisations are pared down at the moment. There may be a few people who don’t adapt to change. There will be a few areas of duplications but I would hope we can move those people to other areas.

CAS last week appointed Nicola Thompson as its first chief executive. She is currently chief executive of a Dorset charity and worked at senior management level in the National Council of Voluntary Organisations.