For over 40 years Berwickshire Association of Voluntary Service has been supporting communities to help themselves and their latest recruit plans to build on their success.
Kathy Cremin joined BAVS as its new executive officer after Tony Fowler retired after 17 years at the helm and over the past few weeks she has been familiarising herself with the numerous community groups around Berwickshire.
And so far she is impressed with what she has seen.
“The commitment in Berwickshire for community support is growing and there are a number of reasons for that,” said Kathy.
“One is there is less happening automatically and people are aware they need to keep things happening for their communities.
“Our previous development worker Philippa was very well connected at a community level and it’s a legacy of hers that there are so many capable community groups but what’s clear to us is the nature of Berwickshire and that there are small, specific communities whose needs aren’t as well known or as visible and what we need is to develop our volunteer force and we need to start building up our development workers.
“I really want people to know we are there to support communities in developing themselves. We want to revisit some of those previous areas of work that BAVS supported and are becoming important again as the world around us is changing.”
Set up in 1971 BAVS role is to support, inform, represent and provide services to community and voluntary groups in Berwickshire. To support its work it runs three charity shops in Duns, Eyemouth and Coldstream and in more recent years has been operating the community transport service Berwickshire Wheels.
Kathy’s previous experience stands her in good stead for her new role since she and her partner moved to Foulden.
She was part of the team that brought the monastery at Jarrow back from the brink of closure to become the successful Bede’s World, a museum dedicated to the life and times of Venerable Bede and also a community hub.
She has won a number of awards for her community work including the Charles Parker Award and had roles as a community development worker in Bradford and elsewhere in Yorkshire.
Working on a Clore Fellowship, where she looked at community engagement in small communities in India and Yorkshire where people power was changing big things from the bottom up started Kathy’s move from culture to community voluntary sector.
“Berwickshire is a big area with a big history,” said Kathy.
“I’m really thrilled and excited to be working here, it’s a privilege to have the opportunity. I have had a great welcome from other partners in the central Borders, the BAVS board, Connect, Berwickshire Housing Association and the Social Enterprise Chamber.
Kathy is already making a difference in bringing groups together for the benefit of everyone. One of her first successes is to arrange for the Berwickshire Wheels vehicles to be available out-of-hours for Connect, Berwickshire Youth Trust, which will mean young people living in the more remote parts of the county can get to youth sessions and events and not miss out on activities because of where they live.
And that’s just the start of Kathy’s Berwickshire journey.