End of an era as Royston & District Volunteer Centre closes its doors for final time

PUBLISHED: 17:05 28 September 2017

Then mayor Lindsay Davidson with Denise Graham officially opening the office at the town hall annex in Royston in 2013 - the centre has today closed.

Then mayor Lindsay Davidson with Denise Graham officially opening the office at the town hall annex in Royston in 2013 - the centre has today closed.

Archant

Royston & District Volunteer Centre is closing its doors for the final time today, after 22 years of commendable work enriching lives and benefitting the community.

Left, Councillor Lindsay Davidson with  Denise Graham,  and volunteers Rachel Crabtree, and Anne Beadman, right, pleased to received funds from Leanne Merrill of Affinity Water, centre.Left, Councillor Lindsay Davidson with Denise Graham, and volunteers Rachel Crabtree, and Anne Beadman, right, pleased to received funds from Leanne Merrill of Affinity Water, centre.

The centre was first based in the Citizens Advice Bureau office, before moving to Royston Hospital in 1996 and then to the Royston Town Hall Annex in 2013.

Manager Denise Graham has been in her post since 2005 and has also written a weekly column in the Crow for the last three years – reporting that it “generated a lot of interest and enquiries many of which have resulted in volunteer placements for local organisations, community groups and events”.

The centre is closing due to loss of funding and, in her final column for the Crow, Denise said: “Despite our best efforts we have been unable to secure ongoing funding to cover our core costs after the loss of all our local government funding over the past two years and the subsequent high demand on alternative funding streams which we have now exhausted.”

The Royston centre has played a key part in many national initiatives including the Inspiration and Legacy of the 2012 Olympics which inspired the Royston 2012 Year of Celebrations and the team were awarded an Olympic Inspire Mark for their efforts.

Denise Graham  presents the Six-point Promise certificate to Tina Filby, Royston Arts Festivals then committee volunteer co-ordinator. Picture: Terry HartgaDenise Graham presents the Six-point Promise certificate to Tina Filby, Royston Arts Festivals then committee volunteer co-ordinator. Picture: Terry Hartga

They were also recognised as a ‘local Do-it partner’ in recognition of the key part they played in supporting the development of the relaunched Do-it, a government-funded interactive website for volunteering.

Denise is passionate about the benefits that giving up your time for others brings and has worked tirelessly to ensure that good practice is shared and celebrated.

This led to the development of the six-point promise quality mark for volunteer-involving organisations which is achieved with volunteer centre support and training, recognised by funders and is the entry requirement for the prestigious Annual Excellence in Volunteer Management award.

Last year, Royston was one of the first volunteer centres in the country to be awarded the White Rose Volunteer Centre Accreditation, which carries the byline ‘Excellence as Standard’.

Denise said: “It has been a real struggle over the past couple of years with so much competition for reducing pots of funding and it is very difficult to have to close down a service that ensures the delivery of vital local services, brings the benefits of volunteering to local people and has helped change lives.

“However, I am glad that – through the close partnerships I have formed with my partner volunteer centres – there will be some support in place for volunteering in Royston, based from other areas.

“They are keen to make sure that the rich legacy of volunteering in the Royston community continues to flourish.”

Royston town councillor Lindsay Davidson, who is also the chair of trustees for the centre, said: “Unfortunately, in these times of austerity, massive cuts have been made to available funding from all sources which is impacting on the whole voluntary sector and all charities are vulnerable.

“We are so sad that we have had to close down this valuable service to the local community.

”On behalf of the trustees I would like to thank Denise Graham for her dedication and hard work over the years which have made the volunteer centre in Royston such a huge success.

“We are also very grateful to all our funders and supporters and special thanks go to the Brian Racher Trust, Johnson Matthey PLC, the Royston Area Committee, the Big Lottery Awards for All and councillors Fiona Hill and Tony Hunter.”

Volunteering opportunities can now be accessed on www.do-it.org and enquiries will be processed and supported by the Broxbourne Volunteer Centre for Royston and Herts SG8 villages by calling 01992 638633, and by St Ives on 01480 301462, for South Cambs SG8 villages.

You can also see www.volunteeringherts.org.uk for more information.

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