Charity Cafod rejigs restructure in wake of concerns from volunteers13 March 2015 | by Joanna Moorhead
Cafod has apologised to its volunteers and says it will modify its plans for restructuring the aid agency following complaints that it did not liaise adequately over its proposals.
“We understand that we did not communicate as well as we could have and we will learn from this process,” the charity said this week. “We appreciate your patience and understanding as we work through a period of change.”
The most contentious elements of Cafod’s development plan, announced at the end of last year, surrounded the scaling back of its diocesan offices. Currently, the organisation has 21 staffed offices across England and Wales, and in its original proposals it envisaged instead creating four regional teams to straddle different dioceses.
However, as a result of feedback from its non-staffers the new plan is to have a volunteer base in each diocese, but to reduce the number of staff in these regional offices over the next two years. Currently Cafod has the equivalent of 37.4 staff jobs in these offices. That will gradually reduce to 26.5 posts over the next couple of years.
“We have listened carefully to your concerns and we have modified our original proposals,” says the charity’s response document. “We appreciate in particular your concern about maintaining a local presence in each diocese, and having a local place where volunteers can meet to plan and support each other.”
Complaints that Wales was not sufficiently catered for in the original proposals has led to a beefing-up of plans for the country’s Cafod representation, and additional resources, in the shape of a fixed-term post, have now been promised, in order to take “full account of Welsh national identity and particular opportunities in the Welsh church”.
Other feedback included suggestions that the costs of upkeep of Cafod’s London HQ, Romero House, were too high, and some of the charity’s supporters floated the idea that a move outside the capital would be a positive way forward. In its latest document, the charity says that London-based staff will work locally and face-to-face more often.
“For example, our professional fund-raisers will attend volunteer meetings regularly in order to listen to you, as well as to encourage you in your fund-raising and explain any new ideas,” say managers.
In a covering letter to Cafod supporters, the charity’s director, Chris Bain, emphasises that it is essential to make savings, and stresses that these will be made through reductions in spending at head office as well as in locally-based teams. The cutting of posts, he says, has involved “very difficult decisions”, none of which has been taken lightly.
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