Voluntary and Community Sector

Coronavirus voluntary and community groups

There are lots of ways that the community are coming together to help one another during the Coronavirus outbreak.

If you are part of a voluntary/community group that is helping others then you can have the work you are doing published on our list of Coronavirus voluntary and community groups. Please provide us with some detail around the help you can provide by completing our voluntary group form.

If you are individual that would like to help, you can complete our individual volunteering form. This information will be shared with Ashford Volunteer Centre who are working with us to co-ordinate help. 

General voluntary and community groups

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 and 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 Kent the VCS is supported by Stronger Kent Communities who can advise on setting-up new groups, funding, training, and business planning.

Ashford and District Volunteer Centre provides information on volunteering opportunities for all including 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.

For more information about the voluntary and community sector in Ashford, please contact:

Michelle Byrne
Funding and Partnerships Officer
01233 330485