Volunteering England warns that the recent loss of core local authority funding to several Volunteer Centres will lead to the fragmentation of the Volunteer Centre network and undermine the vital support they provide to the local community.
Justin Davis Smith, Chief Executive of Volunteering England, said:
"As our Annual Return of Volunteer Centres has shown, Volunteer Centres across the country have a strong record of helping people identified by national policy as benefiting from engagement in volunteering, particularly young people, unemployed people and members of minority ethnic communities.
"Volunteer Centres draw on knowledge about volunteering in their local communities that has been built up over many years by staff and volunteers, and we are concerned that this expertise and practical know-how will be lost.
"Local and national infrastructure bodies are facing a time of rapid change, and we both recognise and are rising to the challenge to review and modernise our services. But this change will lead to greater strength as an evolutionary process that builds on the knowledge and strength that already exists within local communities."
Sukhvinder Kaur Stubbs, Chair of Volunteering England, said:
"We recognise the role of new technologies in delivering a modern volunteering offer, but this is by no means a replacement for the face-to-face contact and personal guidance that is integral to supporting people into volunteering. It is this personal service that enables those who most need help to make the transition into employment, training and further education."
The Volunteer Centres that have most recently lost funding are accredited by Volunteering England for their work in developing local volunteering. This quality standard assures local communities and funders that their local Volunteer Centre is providing an excellent service across the six core functions of Brokerage, Marketing Volunteering, Good Practice Development, Developing Volunteer Opportunities, Policy Response & Campaigning and Strategic Development of Volunteering.