Marie Oliver of VASA – 15 January 2019

Voluntary Action South Ayrshire (VASA) is the local Third Sector Interface enabling access to a range of third sector services. Marie Oliver its CEO visited Ayr Rotary Club to explain more about the organisation and its functions.

VASA is recognised by Scottish Government and South Ayrshire Council as fulfilling a key role in ensuring the continued development of a robust Third Sector in South Ayrshire. It was created from an amalgamation of Volunteer Centre South Ayrshire (VCSA) and Council for Voluntary Organisations in Kyle and Carrick (CVOKC) and is founded on a wealth of experience gained during decades of work with Third Sector organisations, agencies and groups operating in South Ayrshire.

The primary purpose is to progress four, key, Interface functions, as set out by Scottish Government:

  • Volunteering Development
  • Social Enterprise Development
  • Supporting and Developing a strong Third Sector
  • Building the Third Sector Relationship with Community Planning

Amongst an array of services supported by VASA through their many volunteers are an older persons’ forum, foot care (by FootcAyr), community companions, and a car transport service.  With the opening of a coffee shop and second hand book shop, ‘the Book and Bun’ in Newmarket Street, Ayr, a social enterprise in partnership with Bookcycle, South Ayrshire Council and the NHS, they now have a lovely, bright, airy venue at the rear of the shop where activity classes are held. Current activities include: Arts & Crafts, Quilting, Knitting & Crochet, Tai Chi, Creative Writing, Sketching & Painting, Yoga, Basic IT, Relaxation & Meditation and Line Dancing.

A major initiative recently begun is “South Ayrshire Life” which is a self-managed, on-line support tool to guide users to appropriate services (activities, social and health).

Looking to the future, Marie confirmed that there were many challenges but that she, and VASA, were committed to building a more enterprising and collaborative third sector and on developing a greater outreach into rural communities.

Complimenting Marie on her very obvious enthusiasm for her role, Neil Beattie observed that it was good to see South Ayrshire leading the way in coordinating help services through the South Ayrshire Life Initiative.