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In 1937, Newcastle journalist James Spencer published a collection of local people and places – a chapter called ‘They do good quietly’ introduced Miss Teresa Merz one of the most remarkable women in the North East.’ ‘Though few people are aware of her activities, she has been a lifelong social worker, and knows the underdog as well as anyone in the kingdom.’  Teresa Merz was one of the founders of Newcastle CVS. She was also honoured by the Crown Prince of Serbia and the Red Cross for her work with war victims in the Great War, was appointed as a magistrate in 1921, and in 1928 Teresa was awarded an OBE.

Amy McKie Amy McKie, Marketing and Communications Officer

Here at Newcastle CVS our Support and Development team has four Infrastructure Officers who are dedicated to providing specialist support to charities, social enterprises and community organisations to help them be successful.

As you can imagine this is an immensely varied job and not without its challenges and sometimes unexpected turns. Luckily, our Infrastructure Officers are experienced in handling a variety of queries and supporting all kinds of projects across Newcastle and Gateshead.

I caught up with Barbara, Debra, Emma and Nicola to ask them what they get up to on a typical day and find out if they have any advice to offer on what makes a project successful.

Barbara Hind Debra Lagun Emma Warden Nicola Dale

Sally  Sally Young, Chief Executive

Should I stay or should I go? This isn’t just a great song by The Clash but a genuine dilemma that leaders will face throughout their career.

Sometimes there’s an external pull - that other job you have always wanted or an internal push - you and your Chair REALLY don’t get on or there are major problems you genuinely can’t resolve at work. Of course there is also real life - birth, bereavement, divorce / separation / relationships and illness - which often makes us review our priorities. But what if everything is going well - supportive Board, finances and operations in order and it feels right? When is too long, too long?

I’ve often thought seven years in a Chief Executive role was the optimum - you are there long enough to understand the organisation and the role, change and deliver what’s needed, but recognise you can leave without the organisation being restricted to your style. Also I like a challenge and a change - but not everyone feels like that. However I have seen some great leaders who have been there for over twenty years and they continue to inspire and keep fresh and have lots of ideas - but often they are memorable because they are the exceptions.

Jack  Jack Summerside, Infrastructure Officer

The first paragraph of this article was originally published in Autumn Inform magazine

Last year, I wrote about how presenting something as simple as a lunch club more clearly in terms of its social impact could make it more attractive and relevant to funders. If you’re a smaller or more generalist voluntary organisation, the chances are you don’t fully highlight the value of what you offer in terms of improving the health and wellbeing of the communities you serve. Why not try stepping back from what you currently offer and think about what health impact it has on current users? Who could benefit from it further, and what new doors might open if you presented the offer differently? Even if you do not find any indirect health benefits in the work you do, is there an opportunity to share health messages to your beneficiaries?

Sally  Sally Young, Chief Executive 

In summer 2018, I was asked by the Newcastle Voluntary Sector Liaison Group to provide a paper around food poverty in Newcastle. Newcastle City Council had done a significant amount of work in relation to their response to the impact of Welfare Reforms. Newcastle was the first city in the UK to experience full service Universal Credit.

I wanted to do a paper that provided a nuanced approach; not just refer to the well-known West End Foodbank, which is the largest in the UK and the well-respected People’s Kitchen which has been active for over thirty years, but how other organisations approached the obvious rise in food poverty. Also, and indeed more importantly, how did food poverty affect people and particular communities?


 Martin Gollan, Support and Development manager

Leaving an organisation that you’ve worked at for thirteen years is unquestionably a time for reflection and thinking what have you actually done all that time? This question becomes trickier if, as I have, you’ve been mainly working in the rather gnomic area of policy, networking and representation, where the journey between intention and result can prove to be a considerable and a winding one. 

Arriving at Newcastle CVS in 2005, it was a time of relative abundance for public sector budgets and spending. Newcastle City Council’s net revenue budget for 2005-06 was £348.5 million, an increase of £4.8m on the previous year. Contrast that with its budget proposals for 2019-20, where net revenue is set at £226.2 million, dropping to £223.2 million in 2020-21. 

Amy sml Amy McKie, Marketing and Communications Officer

Earlier this year the Lloyds Bank UK Digital Index 2017 reported that 100,000 charities are lacking basic digital skills. This is a huge missed opportunity for those charities to increase their online presence, improve efficiency within their organisations and increase their turnover. The study found that charities using social media are 51% more likely to report an increase in donations, and that ‘highly digital’ charities are ten times more likely to save costs. The Charity Digital Code was released in November and aims to tackle some of these issues with a set of guidelines for small and large charities.

Amy sml Amy McKie, Marketing and Communications Officer

Should I consider crowdfunding my project / idea? With the availability of grant funding dwindling, many charitable organisations are considering alternative routes to generate funds. Crowdfunding has become a widespread approach in recent years, enabled by clever online platforms and digital campaigns. Crowdfunding is not, however, a new concept (records of crowdfunding date back to the 1700s!) and crowdfunding should not rely on digital campaigns and individual pledges alone.

Sally  Sally Young, Chief Executive 

A few years ago I was accused by a well-respected commentator on the voluntary sector of ‘crying wolf’. I had predicted the closure of some local charities because of austerity. I reflected that maybe my perspective was disproportionately negative as CVS often supports organisations in difficulties.

Martin Martin Gollan - Support and Development Manager

Psychologists define cognitive dissonance as simultaneously holding two or more contradictory beliefs, ideas, or values. If you want to know what this might feel like have a skim through ‘Building a future that works for everyone’ the government’s new Civil Society strategy.