Stewartry Council of Voluntary Services folds after nearly 50 years

Stewartry Council for Voluntary Services has folded – a year short of its 50th anniversary.

The organization closed down its office at the Johnston Center in Kirkcudbright last Thursday.

The move came after an EGM of members and contributors backed the board’s recommendation to wind it up.

SCVS had been supporting, informing and providing services to local community and voluntary groups since 1973.

Chairman John Enos is now in the final stages of ratifying the closure with the Scottish charities regulator.

He told the News: “It’s very sad.

“But the world is changing all the time.

“I’m very committed to the community and we have not come to this decision lightly.

“What I hope I’ve done is to close a chapter in SCVS’ story in the most efficient and inclusive way.

“I did have some sleepless nights over this because I do greatly value it.

“The pandemic was a significant factor – without that we might not be having this conversation.”

Mr Enos said a switch in major funders’ priorities and Covid’s impact on community life had affected viability.

Former clients of SCVS bringing work in house had also been a factor.

He said: “The Stewartry and the Kirkcudbright area has a predominantly elderly population.

“I still think that some people are struggling to have the confidence to get back to pre-pandemic activities.

“The model which SCVS has operated in the past is not sustainable going forward.

“Our unique selling point – one valued by the community – lies in the variety of support we were able to offer.

“But these days funders are focused on very specific social needs against which they can measure a return on their investment.

“They may be funding a charity not a business but the process is the same.

“That made it more difficult for SCVS to source funding.

“All these factors have come together and made the decision unavoidable.”

He added: “I had to advise the board they had to decide whether they thought the trend over the past four or five years was going to continue.

“Our conclusion was that it would – and for a wide variety of reasons my recommendation to the EGM of our members and contributors was to wind up. We ceased operations on
March 31.

“Now the Scottish charities regulator OSCAR will give their final approval once we have done the winding up in the right way.”

Mr Enos paid tribute to previous chairman Derek Smith, from whom he took over in 2020, for his dedication in keeping SCVS afloat.

He said: “I can’t emphasize it more – I have a lot of affection for SCVS.

“To all those who supported us over the years I would just say thank you – that’s the big message.

“Hopefully we made a difference – I think we did.

“It comes down to a simple issue – did we feel it would be financially stable going forward?

“At the end of the day we can only operate if we are financially sustainable.

“It all comes down to that hard-nosed equation.

“Everybody who has done so much for SCVS over the past 20 plus years should be proud of what they have achieved.”

He added: “We may get to a position where the viability of community organizations is such that we need the services that SCVS offered in the past.

“Who knows whether SCVS will ever return.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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