Voluntary and Community Sector
Voluntary and community groups provide many of our cultural, sport and leisure opportunities.
In Ashford, more than 850 organisations deliver a broad range of local services to all kinds of people. Some are charities, some employ specialists, but many are informal volunteer based groups, and all play a crucial role in our quality of life and strengthening the fabric of our communities.
The Voluntary and Community Sector (VCS) provides a wide range of activities and services including:
- Advice and support for vulnerable people
- Services for the disabled and older people
- Protecting and enhancing our environment and rural areas
- Sport and leisure activities
- Mediation and counselling
- Looking after heritage sites and museums
- Activities and services for children and young people
- Community groups and forums
- Faith groups
- Black and minority ethnic support
- Health and social care services
- Managing leisure an community facilities
The VCS can be split into two parts – front line organisations that provide services to the public, such as Age Concern and the Citizens Advice Bureau, and umbrella or 'infrastructure' organisations that support these front line organisations.
In Ashford, there are two main infrastructure organisations who work closely together:
- Community Action South East Kent (CASE Kent) advises on setting-up new groups, funding, training, and business planning
- Ashford and District Volunteer Centre which provides information on volunteering opportunities for all, placements and support and advice to organisations who use volunteers
Why is the VCS important?
Ashford's VCS provides more than £150million worth of services each year and more than 12,000 people (1 in 8) volunteer at least once each month. The sector is a major employer with over 3,000 full and part time workers.
The VCS or 'third sector' is regarded by central government as a key partner in the delivery of better quality and more responsive public services. Departments across the council work closely with voluntary and community organisations to deliver public services and consult on new policy development.
Grants and funding to the VCS are available through the council's single grants gateway.
Urban Community Forums
Ashford Borough has four urban community forums which represent the views of people living and working in the urban area.
Each community forum is an independent voluntary group with its own constitution and is lead by a committee of local volunteers who help to communicate their views to Ashford Borough Council and other statutory organisations.
- Central Ashford Community Forum
- South Ashford Community Forum
- North Willesborough Community Forum
- Kennington Community Forum
For more information about the voluntary and community sector in Ashford, please contact:
Funding and Partnerships Officer