Councils for voluntary services and volunteer centres

There are two main types of infrastructure support organisations which exist to support frontline voluntary, community and social enterprise sectors in London. They are councils for voluntary service and volunteer centres.

London directory

CVS – Council for voluntary service 

Volunteer centres


CVS – Council for Voluntary Service 

  • CVSs are charitable organisations, operating in 29 of the 33 London boroughs.
  • They act as an umbrella organisation for the voluntary, community and social enterprise sectors (VCSE) in each borough.
  • They offer a wide variety of services for example:
    • Training and development support for community organisations.
    • Networks and forums to encourage information sharing and innovation within the VCSE.
  • CVSs are involved in advocacy for the local community groups they represent, and broker communication between the local voluntary sector, faith, public and private sector organisations. Some also develop consortia of local organisations to deliver programmes which tackle inequalities or act as system leaders around key issues affecting Londoners.
  • A CVS may or may not incorporate the local volunteer centre.
  • CVS meet up sub-regionally through initiatives such as the West London Network and the South London CVS Network
  • London Plus facilitates the pan-London CVS Directors’ Network which meets quarterly and is chaired by Jake Ferguson (Hackney CVS)

Volunteer centres

  • Volunteer centres (VCs) are local agencies that promote volunteers and volunteering. In London they are borough-based and normally work with people living, working or studying in the borough, and support organisations operating or wanting to recruit locally.
  • In most, but not all boroughs, the volunteer centre is a part of the local CVS, but retains a separate focus for volunteering.
  • All Volunteer Centres offer a brokerage service, which means they match volunteers to local organisations, in person, by phone and online.
  • Some volunteer centres offer specific services to volunteers with disabilities, organise group volunteering or work with private sector companies.
  • Alongside the core brokerage service, Volunteer centres promote volunteering locally and provide strategic leadership on issues relating to volunteering.
  • Each borough’s volunteer centre will have a service unique to that organisation in response to their local partnerships and residents.
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