Report into West Lothian charity shows poor practice

Volunteers from Voluntary Sector Gateway West Lothian at thier office in Bathgate.
Volunteers from Voluntary Sector Gateway West Lothian at thier office in Bathgate.

The new board of a West Lothian charity has welcomed a report which raised “significant issues” over the way it was being run previously.

The former board of Voluntary Sector Gateway West Lothian quit their posts at the AGM on Monday, December 14 after it emerged there was a cash crisis at the charity.

The report, commissioned by the Scottish Government, said there were significant issues of inadequate governance and poor practice by the previous board.

A meeting between the current board and the government has already taken place to try and re-establish working relationships and to “address matters of policy and governance”.

Douglas Westwater, chairman of Voluntary Sector Gateway West Lothian, said: “The meeting was an important first step in ensuring constructive relationships and the building of trust.

“We left feeling that real progress had been made and with a sense of the genuine and practical support on offer from the Government to help us drive forward on our ambitions for a strong and effective organisation.

“We expect early discussions with senior officers at West Lothian Council and the new board is confident that it can deliver on the actions necessary to get into the position of being an effective partner to the council and the community planning partners.

“Work will take place over the Christmas and New Year period to finalise our immediate plans and priorities.”

The consultants, Avante, were tasked with reviewing the charity and did so by conducting an investigation of performance with a number of Voluntary Sector Gateway West Lothian’s membership organisations.

The report stated: “The organisation clearly enjoys the support of a highly-committed staff team who care deeply about the work.

“They deliver a number of valuable projects and are well recognised for their work recruiting and supporting volunteers and volunteer-involving organisations.”

It also reinforced the views of the membership not to place their trust in a board that “could not address the significant challenges facing the organisation and the wider voluntary sector in West Lothian”.

Members say a huge amount of support has been offered from organisations and individuals in West Lothian and further afield and it is expected further consultation will take place with members of the charity, as well as the wider community, early in the new year.