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Two North East charities, VODA and Newcastle CVS, gained national recognition for their hard work in promoting and supporting a thriving local voluntary sector, as they collectively won three awards from NAVCA - the National Association of Voluntary and Community Action.

Infrastructure charities or ‘CVS’s (Councils for Voluntary Service)’ aren’t widely known outside of the voluntary sector. That’s because their focus is on supporting other charities to set up and grow. Their work is seldom in the public eye yet they are a vital component of the voluntary sector, providing access to extensive networks and acting as a voice for the sector to campaign on important issues. This is something that VODA has been doing in North Tyneside for over 25 years and Newcastle CVS since 1929.

On Tuesday 19 March, NAVCA, the national membership body for infrastructure charities, hosted their inaugural NAVCA Awards ‘to celebrate local infrastructure - the unsung heroes of our sector’. NAVCA has a membership of over 200 organisations that support over 145,000 local charities and voluntary groups across England. To have two winners from the North East is a tremendous achievement and testament to their hard work in helping a region of the voluntary sector that is valued at £750 million and supports countless individuals and communities.

Newcastle CVS jointly won an award for Leadership and won a second award for Embracing Digital. Chief Executive, Sally Young, spoke about the challenges of leadership in turbulent times for the sector, and of Newcastle CVS’ promotion and development of digital through a community website ‘’ and an app ‘DIY Advocate’:

“We have been investing a lot of time and resources into our digital services so we are delighted to have our efforts recognised through this award. Digital technologies offer a powerful way to extend our reach beyond our geographical area and using digital allows us to do things that we have never done before. OurGateshead is more than just a community website; professionals use it for social prescribing and understanding the reach of the voluntary sector. DIY Advocate is used to complement our award-winning advocacy service but it also offers tremendous scope to be applied throughout different voluntary and health services as a decision making tool.”
“All of the Newcastle CVS team are really proud to have been recognised for our work. It is particularly fitting in our 90th year that we continue to provide an award-winning service to local people, organisations and communities.”

VODA won the award for Collaboration and Partnership after nominating their Sector Connector project; an initiative that enables businesses to engage with their local communities by providing one-to-one mentoring and advice; taking part in team volunteering days; sharing skills and expertise by delivering workshops for groups of community organisations; or by becoming trustees. Robin Fry, VODA’s Chief Executive said:

“We nominated Sector Connector as we believe it is a shining example of how the private and third sectors can work together for mutual benefit. Since the project began, over 100 businesses have engaged in Sector Connector, having a hugely positive impact on North Tyneside’s voluntary and community sector. Collaboration is one of our five core values at VODA, and facilitating cross-sector partnerships is a key strategic objective. I am immensely proud of the work that our Sector Connector project has achieved to date, and look forward to seeing what the future holds.”

David W Bavaird, Chair of North Tyneside Business Forum said:

“We are delighted to hear that VODA have won this award. We have been working with them on the Sector Connector project for a number of years connecting businesses to the voluntary sector and we’re pleased that it has been recognised in such a way”.