North Yorkshire Voluntary Sector Support

North Yorkshire County Council (NYCC) and the County’s Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) have awarded a £1.4 million grant to a joint bid from Rural Action Yorkshire (RAY) and North Yorkshire & York Forum (NYYF). The money will fund support to charities, community groups and voluntary organisations across the county. NYYF is the current grant holder and has managed the funding since 2011. RAY has been working to support rural communities and groups across the County for 80 years.

Delivery of the new service will begin on 1 April 2017. RAY and NYYF are currently undertaking the steps required to merge the two organisations into a new charity in order to deliver the grant as efficiently as possible.

You can read our News Story for more details about the award of the new grant and funding. Below are answers to some of the questions you might have about the new services and what effect the merger of RAY and NYYF will have. If you have any further comments or questions please get in touch!

Merger FAQs

1. We have heard about the proposed merger – when will it be definitely going ahead?

Both the NYYF and RAY Board agreed last autumn that they would like to work towards a formal merger. Over the last few months we have been completing the due diligence process to get to know each other better and to make sure this is the right decision for both organisations. The final decision to proceed to a full merger was made by the RAY Trustees on 7th February 2017. We have requested feedback from both organisations’ members and have had positive feedback on the proposed merger as long as RAY maintains its existing services – which it will do.

2. You are merging with another organisation – who are they and what do they do?

We are merging with the North Yorkshire & York Forum (NYYF or the Forum), a charity which has been established since 1986. The Forum is a strategic body which champions the voluntary sector by connecting, representing and supporting voluntary and community organisations and social enterprises. The Forum represents voluntary and community organisations and social enterprises in discussions with colleagues from the public and private sector to influence policy and decision making. The Forum supports the voluntary sector by working in partnership and providing a range of services and products including the Employment Advice Service, DBS Checking Service and disseminating vital, up-to-date information every day.

3. When will the merger take place / new organisation be up and running? Will there be any gap in services during transition?

The merger will take place on the 1st April with the new organisation open for business on Monday 3rd April. We are planning for a smooth transition to the new organisation and we do not anticipate any gaps in service provision. In addition, the staff you are familiar with from RAY and NYYF will be moving to the new organisation.

4. Why is the merger happening?

RAY has been seeking to merge with a compatible organisation and NYYF has emerged as the clear, preferred option for a beneficial and dynamic merger which will provide wide-ranging, enhanced support to voluntary, community and rural organisations across North Yorkshire. Such a merger will allow both organisations to develop new services and broker new opportunities for members, partners and customers.

5. Who will run the new organisation?

Leah Swain, Chief Officer at RAY, will become Chief Executive of the new organisation. Supporting her will be a Board of Trustees comprised of 4 NYYF trustees, 6 RAY trustees and two new, independent trustees. The recruitment of the two new Trustees will commence after the final February Board decisions to merge. David Sharp, Chair of the NYYF Board, will chair the board of trustees of the new organisation.

6. Will there be any job losses?

We do not anticipate any job losses as a result of the merger.

7. Where will the office be based?

The new organisation will be based at RAY’s office on the outskirts of York which has good access to the whole of North, South and West Yorkshire.

8. What will the new organisation be called?

We are in the final stages of naming the new organisation and expect to be able to reveal the new name in the next few weeks once members have had time to vote on the proposal that it is called Community First Yorkshire at an EGM in March. Watch this space.

9. What difference will the merger make to our work?

The merger is anticipated to create a more sustainable support organisation for the whole voluntary and community sector (VCS) sector in North Yorkshire and specifically for rural communities across the whole County. It will allow us to continue to deliver the valued current services of both organisations and to build on and enhance that as our work develops.

10. What changes will be made to service delivery?

We are planning to develop our services to enhance them and make them more accessible – but with the same great staff answering your queries and providing support. This is likely to mean more online information and training. As the new organisation develops it may win new support contracts that allow us to do more. For example, in North Yorkshire we are delighted to have been awarded the grant to provide VCS capacity building support to voluntary and community organisations and volunteering. Put simply this grant will allow us to offer help to all voluntary and community groups across North Yorkshire – this might include advising on your governing documents, training your Trustees, helping you find funding for a new service or building work, or representing your views locally, regionally and nationally. This will give us additional capacity and staff over the next three years to support groups across the County. In South and West Yorkshire we aim to continue to build on our current rural services and community development projects.

11. What geographical area will the organisation cover?

The new organisation will cover York, North, South and West Yorkshire.

12. How will the new organisation be funded?

Our funding sources will continue to be many and varied. Our funding tends to be a mix of membership fees, grants for local authorities, project funding from the Big Lottery, Trusts and others. The rural community council work we undertake across the three Counties is kindly grant funded by Defra – this gives us the capacity to champion rural issues and ensure that we can support rural communities to stay viable and vibrant with equitable access to services as urban areas.

13. As a member will I still be able to access the services and/or advice I receive from you?

Yes, absolutely. Simply contact us by phone on 0845 3130270 or by email using the RAY or NYYF email addresses you have that will be forwarded on to staff. As soon as we have the new organisation name agreed we will put new contact details up on our website.

14. Will the people I usually speak to or receive support from, change?

The current RAY and NYYF staff will still be here after the 1st April. In addition we are excited to be welcoming some new staff from 3 April to support delivery of the new grant in North Yorkshire. We will be introducing you to them soon.

15. Will my membership automatically transfer to the new organisation?

We are currently working through the logistics of transferring two sets of members to the new organisations’ membership scheme. We are also developing a new membership offer and will launch this in April. We will write to all members to inform them of changes but aim to make the transition as easy as possible.