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Our History

For over 40 years Hull CVS has worked to build and support local voluntary services and communities. Click through the slides below to see a snapshot of our history.

Picture of Helen Grimwood delivering speech

Hull CVS, which was then Hull Council for Voluntary Services, was incorporated 25th June 1981.

Hull was one of the last major cities in the UK to have a CVS, and came about largely through the need of Hull City Council to work in partnership with the voluntary and community sector to secure elements of the new Urban Programme.

Our earliest services included the Volunteer Bureau, and a payroll preparation service that was developed to support fellow tenants in the building we shared, with the first client being Homestart. From our very beginnings, we also delivered an information service, providing extensive and regular information to the sector, as well as maintaining a directory of local VCS organisations.


Since its very beginnings, Hull CVS has been an embryonic and incubatory organisation, and has been instrumental in the start-up of numerous organisations in its time; as well as the formation of countless key networks.

As early as 1982, Hull CVS had enabled the foundation of the Hull Federation of Community Organisations, and in 1985 were heavily involved in the formation of the Hull & District Council for Racial Equality and the North Bank Joint Care Planning Forum.


Hull CVS established the Self Help and Carers Service which supported the development of new self-help groups; provided carer training; and advice to carers. This was a tremendously busy service, with over 100 self-help and care groups in the city at the start of it, and on average 10 further groups supported to start up each year.

Likewise at its height, the service was handling around 1200 requests for support from residents each year, and 400 requests from statutory agencies. The success of this service grew and grew, to the point that it was able to form as the independent charity ‘Carers Centre Hull’ in 2000, where it remained independent until 2016 when unfortunately it dissolved due to losing the contract for its core funding.


Hull CVS started to provide social work teaching practice placements within VCS organisations. This saw CVS placing and supervising social work students in VCS organisations to support them in gaining experience in wider settings and develop their skills beyond the then traditional social work model of concentrating on problems and weaknesses.


In 1991, following their set up by Hull CVS in the late 80s, the Hull & East Yorkshire Advocacy Forum, the Branshome Women’s Centre and Endike Community Care were floated off as independent from Hull CVS, following the securing of funding for dedicated posts on the projects.


Following several years of delivering community development on Bransholme, the Bransholme Trust was established in 1993, to provide small grants to VCS organisations working on the estate. With thanks to donations from the Sir James Reckitt Charity and the Hull & East Riding Charitable Trust, this is a programme that we continue to deliver today nearly 30 years on.


In 1994, the government launched the New Deal initiative.

After a good deal of soul searching in to the ethics of our position in what was considered to be a ‘workfare’ style government programme, Hull CVS did go on to deliver the New Deal contract for Hull. To manage this contract and protect the charity from the risks arising from the payment by results nature of the contract, HCVS Trading Ltd was set up as a trading arm. At this time, such a contract was very reflective of the contract culture that was emerging; imposing on the sector a level of risk, limited sustainability and increased competition that had been contended with previously.


The early 2000s saw great success in the award of funding to deliver a range of volunteering initiatives. These included the Stepping Stones service in partnership with Mind, Millennium volunteers, the Young Volunteer Challenge, the Volunteer Support Project, VInvolved, Eco Challenge Extra, the DWP volunteering project, and the pilot for the National Citizens Service.

Through these programmes Hull CVS had a particular focus on youth volunteering and volunteering as a pathway to employment, and for a number of years delivered the local volunteer awards.


The provision of our payroll service also extended to serving recipients of direct payments who employed a personal assistant in 2002; another service that is still going strong today.

Sector voice and influence also became more fomalised, initially through the delivery of the Hull Community Network contract, and latterly the Local Involvement Network. The funding for the Hull Community Network, enabled 5 full time staff members to ensure that the sector was fully engaged in every level of local decision making, and was a significant period in history in recognising not only the need for this activity, but also that appropriate investment was needed.


Despite the successes of securing these programmes, Hull CVS met increasing challenges with core funding being subject to continuing cuts. In 2004, the decision was taken to rename the organisation from Hull Council for Voluntary Services to Hull Community and Voluntary Services, to better reflect the activity of the charity and to demonstrate the increasing independence from the Council.


The arrival of austerity measures from 2006, brought even further challenges to the charity and all VCS organisations. Due to government cuts many local authorities found themselves having to reduce or cease funding to the sector, with infrastructure funding being an area that was completely cut locally. Such measures led to the forever demise of CVS’s across the country, and Hull CVS recognised it needed to take bold moves to ensure its own survival.


New governments brought new employability initiatives and in 2010, we found ourselves again needing to embark on the delivery of risky payments by results employability programmes.

In an environment of ever increasing funding cuts and a competitive contracting culture, the organisation was left with little choice but to expand its activity geographically, and Meeting New Horizons (MNH) was formed in 2010. As well as delivering employability programmes across Hull and the East Riding including the Future Jobs Fund, Work Programme, Helping Hull, and Community Task Force; MNH went on to secure other community based contracts, including voluntary sector infrastructure support in Doncaster, the Volunteer Family Support Service in Scunthorpe, and the Digital Switchover community outreach programme across the Humber and Lincolnshire.

As well as the previously highlighted volunteering and grants programmes, Hull CVS was able to secure Hull based programmes including community centre development on behalf of the Council, Fundraising Plus, and a Young Adult Carers programme.


Faced with similar challenges affecting the sector at this time, Centre 88, which was at this point was still an independent charity, was struggling to be viable. To save the charity from closure, in 2012 Centre 88 merged with Hull CVS, and was able to benefit from the economies of scale gained from the wider infrastructure of CVS.

It was not just the voluntary sector that were struggling at this time. In 2012, CVS were made aware of a nursery that was facing closure. Recognising the detriment of the closure to the community, and in line with CVS’s long history of supporting people in to and to remain in work, CVS acquired the setting. In the absence of core funding for sector and support development, it also provided CVS with a much needed income to enable this core activity to be maintained.

For the remainder of the decade, the activities of MNH continued to grow, with the addition of a befriending service in North Lincolnshire, a benefits advocacy service for cancer patients in Doncaster, and award of Healthwatch contracts across the Humber region.


Hull CVS saw the appointment of the first female Chief Officer in the history of CVS, with Jenny Jenkinson stepping up to the helm.

Jenny had held previous roles within the organisation including leading on the GAFA guide and the Digital Switchover project, as well as project managing the refurbishment of the Strand.

Following the conclusion of the funding of our last portfolio of volunteering programmes, Jenny was instrumental in securing 5 years funding to deliver the SWITCH programme which saw volunteer mentors supporting those at risk of homelessness.

Following a gradual step down over the course of 2021, Jenny formally retired from the organisation on 31st March 2022, following 13 years’ service to the organisation with then Deputy Chief Executive Helen Grimwood being selected as her successor.

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