Melton community organisations work together ahead of planned merger

Samuel Roberts, Lauren Hubbard and David Holmes, of Voluntary Action Melton's Gardening Scheme, with gardening co-ordinator Chris McCluskey and homeowner Sara Westle EMN-151008-132819001
Samuel Roberts, Lauren Hubbard and David Holmes, of Voluntary Action Melton's Gardening Scheme, with gardening co-ordinator Chris McCluskey and homeowner Sara Westle EMN-151008-132819001
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Two popular Melton community organisations have begun pooling their resources to help people more efficiently and cost-effectively across the borough.

Melton Learning Hub, which runs educational and vocational courses for young people who are disengaged with learning, and Voluntary Action Melton (VAM), which uses volunteers to offer transport and gardening services to vulnerable adults, are in the process of merging.

Two of the benefits are that VAM’s community minibus will be used to help young people from the villages attend sessions at new youth centre facility, The Venue, and its gardening co-ordinator Chris McCluskey has become a tutor at the learning hub to help students gain qualifications in it.

There will be a joint board of directors and a shared management board with economies of scale which will reduce costs at a time when there are challenging economic conditions for the charity sector.

Sarah Cox, operations manager for VAM and a manager at the learning hub, said: “This is about sustainability when funding streams have started to become tighter.

“At a time when there is financial austerity we will now have a streamlined management approach and a programme of shared projects.

“We were always going to retain Voluntary Action Melton as a name because the community recognises it and associates it with certain services it offers in the borough.

“It is quite a significant undertaking to merge a charity and to merge the individual cultures but it will benefit all the people the two organisations help.”

The organisations were due to merge at the end of last month, to coincide with the end of their financial year, but there has been a delay in the response from the Charity Commission after it suffered significant recent funding cuts.

The merger is expected to officially go through at the end of August but the hub, which taught 144 students last year, is already working closely with VAM, which has 40 volunteer drivers, a dedicated gardening team and an army of voluntary support staff.

The VAM is based at Phoenix House in Nottingham Road in the same building as The Venue, which the learning hub launched in partnership with other agencies last month as an entertainment and education centre for young people in the borough.

Ms Cox added: “The hub and VAM are already working together and Phoenix House has now become a really important hub for support services for different generations of people in the borough.

“We are just now waiting for notification from the Charity Commission that they are not opposed to the merger and our solicitor is confident it will go through.”