‘Vital’ service for voluntary groups across Yorkshire to close

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A “vital lifeline” for voluntary groups across Yorkshire will close next month, leaving already-stretched organisations that are providing frontline services without expert support.

Involve Yorkshire and Humber, the body set up in the 1990s to support the voluntary sector, said it is being forced to close rather than “limp along under the threat of insolvency” due to lack of government funding.

The decision to close comes at a time when demand on its services is bigger than ever, but shrinking reserves and cash flow difficulties has left the charity facing no “realistic future”, chief executive Jane Hustwit said.

The charity has warned that the impact on frontline delivery organisations that work with some of the “most vulnerable and disadvantaged” people and communities in Yorkshire will be “immediate”. Ms Hustwit said Yorkshire voluntary and community organisations that rely on it for support will be forced to pay for private help.

The director of public policy at the National Council for Voluntary Organisations, Karl Wilding, said: ”Involve Yorkshire and the Humber is one of the unsung heroes of the charity sector. They’ve worked quietly in the background to help charities make their money go further.“

The voluntary sector in Yorkshire provides 86,000 full time equivalent jobs and contributes £1.62bn to the economy. Over the last six years, Involve, which has provided training, advice, and a voice for around 15,000 voluntary groups, has shrunk from around 25 staff to eight.