Guest post: 2D carrying on in a different way

In the new year 2D will be absorbed by Groundwork NE & Cumbria, following the decision of directors and trustees of 2D (read their press release).  

Michele Armstrong, Chief Executive of 2D has written a guest blog for us to explain the thinking behind the decision and why she is proud of the pro-active approach taken.

Kate Culverhouse and Michelle Armstrong

I am very proud of the Directors/Trustees of 2D.  A managed exit is being achieved and positive results as a consequence of a decision that a lot of charities find hard to take.

Since its inception in 2001 operating as a CVS and Volunteer Centre across Teesdale and Wear Valley, we made a difference, we championed the voluntary and community sector of the Durham Dales and we helped thousands of individuals meet their volunteering aspirations.  We employed at times an extensive workforce, and propped up the local economy by buying lots of milk, tea and coffee and of course those Friday bacon sandwiches!

In 2009 Durham went Unitary and we were vital in helping establish local area action partnerships, sitting on the four in our area, chairing them and generally helping them tick. But the climate was changing we always knew that 7 infrastructure organisations in the county was not sustainable.

We have helped develop a new County Structure and have supported the process of streamlining and creating a less confusing environment for our beneficiaries.   We have invested in development and gained National recognition through a number of projects that enhanced the work of the Volunteer Centre function of the business.  We have always adopted a businesslike approach and the director/trustees carried on this approach when it came to looking at the future.

2D or not 2D was a very valid question to ask, despite having a reserves level that could have seen us through to 2017, we just felt that by removing ourselves from the infrastructure market place, would help the new County Wide Mechanism for the Voluntary and Community sector of Co Durham develop.

Over the years we listened to our members most of whom are real grass roots small organisations, they always said that small amounts of funding can make a massive difference to them. With this is mind we worked with Co Durham Community Foundation to establish a Community First endowment fund for the Durham Dales Area. We put in £100k it was matched with £50K no brainer really, and we have a mechanism whereby the 2D name can live on, this a legacy to the area that is an emotional one for me and the director/trustees, some of whom will go on to sit on the funding panel.

So having looked to leaving a tangible legacy, we then had discussions on how the ethos, knowledge and expertise of 2D might carry on. That’s when the unique relationship we had with Groundwork North East and Cumbria came to the fore.   So, Groundwork NE & Cumbria is expanding and strengthening its expertise by absorbing 2D.

Groundwork believes that 2D’s skills and knowledge will complement its focus on improving the lives of people across the region. All of 2D’s staff have been offered the option of transferring to Groundwork under the same terms and conditions, Support is also available for Volunteers working within 2D to move to Groundwork or other organisations.

Kate Culverhouse Chief Executive of Groundwork Northeast and Cumbria says

“2D’s areas of expertise dovetail perfectly with Groundwork’s values and principles and will enhance what we are able to offer communities throughout the North East and Cumbria.”

I will  become Groundwork Partnership Manager,  and I am looking forward to using the knowledge and experience from my time leading 2D to grow Groundwork’s Corporate Social Responsibility agenda and help it engage even more with the private sector. Moving to Groundwork offers me the fantastic opportunity to help improve communities across a much wider geographical area.

It has been an absolute pleasure to work for 2D and to be part of something that was dynamic, inspirational and aspirational, but times change, horizons change and adapting in business is a must, and taking the step to invest wisely is always difficult, but the Directors/Trustees have invested wisely and are leaving a legacy, now that’s not always easy to do.

So after 16 years at the helm I will hand in the keys to our offices on the 19th December 2014, and not have to worry about the building during the Christmas shutdown, Over Christmas I am going to look back fondly on my memories of 2D , but on the 5th January, put that behind me and make my way to an office that overlooks a duck pond and start an exciting New Year.

Michele Armstrong
Chief Executive Office, 2D