May 20 2013 Latest news:
John Phillips , Senior Reporter
Thursday, August 16, 2012
Voluntary sector boss Carl Blackburn coordinates the support given to more than 500 organisations helping to improve the lives of people in Barking and Dagenham.
Here, we speak to the Council for Voluntary Service chief executive about his work acting as an anchor for established charities and a launch-pad for newly formed groups.
Carl Blackburn joined Barking and Dagenham CVS eight years ago when groups met in separate rooms at St Georges Centre in St Georges Road, Dagenham.
Then in 2010, the CVS was able to take over Ripple Hall in Ripple Road, Barking Town Centre, and turn it into a modern facility with a meeting hall on the ground floor, a conference room upstairs and even add a mezzanine with a hub for new social enterprises.
The umbrella organisation was able to invest £2million of government funding into the former council hall to give community groups a bright centre providing advice on charity law, commissioning and business plans, just minutes away from Barking Station.
The mezzanine has become a hub for groups without a home or ambitious individuals launching new groups.
Over the last year for instance, the centre helped Barking and Dagenham Faith Forum continue with its activities during the refurbishment of its former premises at the Salvation Army in Ripple Road and welcomed a newly formed sickle cell support group.
Up to 15 organisations use the mezzanine suite at any one time, creating an open environment giving workers a solid foundation to bounce ideas off each other.
Mr Blackburn, 48, said: “We try to create a good mix so that it will be a dynamic place to work. What the hub creates is a real buzz.”
Other groups come to the CVS to navigate the maze of bureaucratic and legal pitfalls associated with the launch of a business enterprise.
“Many people get involved because they have a passion,” the chief executive explained. “They do not necessarily have all of the legal background.
“They are not necessarily interested in the bureaucracy so we try to get them through what can be a bit of a murky maze at times.”
The CVS also helps to raise the profile of little known groups who work with marginalised people, such as ex-offenders, and support the destitute through charity appeals.
Mr Blackburn added: “A lot of my time is taken up in meetings with the council, police, NHS and other statutory bodies, making sure that local community needs are at the heart of all strategies, services and decisions.
“However, I am also a strong believer in making things happen, not just talking, and earlier this year got together with other voluntary organisations to deliver duvets, blankets, clothes and food to isolated residents, and provided warm centres for them to go to during cold periods.”
For more information on the CVS call 020 8532 7300 or log on to bdcvs.org.uk