About VASA

Voluntary Action South Ayrshire (VASA) is the local Third Sector Interface. It 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.

As VASA has been created from an amalgamation of Volunteer Centre South Ayrshire (VCSA) and Council for Voluntary Organisations in Kyle and Carrick (CVOKC) it is founded on a wealth of experience gained during decades of work with Third Sector organisations, agencies and groups operating in South Ayrshire.

Our primary purpose is to progress the 4 key Interface functions, as set out by Scottish Government. These are:

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

VASA has a Board and a team of Development Officers who are able to offer wide ranging experience and expertise to progress the work of the 4 Interface functions. The VASA team has passion and enthusiasm about enhancing these core functions to provide a quality needs-based service for local Third Sector organisations, agencies and groups.

It is perhaps inevitable, that as a result of the current economic situation and ever shifting sands, that the Sector and VASA will have to face and overcome many challenges. VASA is ready to embrace such challenges by providing a quality-effective service that will enable our members, and indeed the broader Third Sector, to advance and work towards sustainability.

Board Members

Linda Muir - Life Long Learning Advisor
Linda Muir

Linda joined VASA in 2013. She is an experienced teacher, lecturer, trainer and education manager. Recently retired from her post as Literacies Manager for South Ayrshire Council, she has trained and coordinated volunteers for almost fifteen years. She has also worked closely with the Third Sector and is fully aware of the contribution it makes across South Ayrshire   Knowing the value of the Third Sector and its volunteers, she is keen to share her professional know-how to support VASA and its partner organisations in their work in this community.

Joe Mullen - Vice Chair
Joe Mullen

Joe has been involved with the Third Sector for over 15 years.  He has been associated with VCSA (now VASA) for more than 10 years, including 2 years as the VCSA chair.  Joe’s professional background includes business development, project management, sales and marketing - mainly in the retail and tourism sector.

Hugh Clark - Community Representative
Hugh Clark

Hugh has been involved with the Third Sector for more than 20 years.  He was a former CVO board member and was heavily involved in the local community of Craigie in Ayr.

John Walker SSC - Company Secretary
John Walker SSC

John Walker is a local solicitor and partner with the Ayr firm of Kilpatrick & Walker.   As a well-known member of the local community, he advises many charities and voluntary organisations.  He is Chairman of the Scottish Charities Appeals Panel (John Walker Chair of Ayr Flower Show - 2nd right).      

Margaret Bryson - Employability/SQA Advisor
Margaret Bryson

Margaret has worked in Education and Training for over 20 years, much of that time within the Voluntary  Sector.  She has recently completed her 6th year with national charity Rathbone, managing their programmes across Ayrshire and Dumfries.  Much of their provision is to offer education and training opportunities to Children and Young People.  As Head of School and Centres, Margaret works with her teams to progress young people on to Further Education, Training or Employment addressing barriers to these destinations along the way.  Margaret joined VASA early in 2012 and with a keen interest in Health and Safety, Child Protection,  Quality Auditing and HR.  Margaret is hoping to contribute to the work of the Voluntary Sector in her home area of South Ayrshire.  

Rhona Devlin - Financial Advisor
Rhona Devlin

Rhona has been in financial services for over 24 years in a variety of roles.  She came to VASA over 2 years ago to help her find an organisation where she could add value by volunteering.  It was at this time she became a volunteer and has been helping others ever since.  She is also a committee member at the local out of school club and has been for 6 years.

Peter Sturgeon - Health and Safety Advisor
Peter Sturgeon

Peter has worked in local government for 30 years and has been volunteering on the board of VASA for 4 years. Peter has a strong interest in Amateur Radio and has been a holder of an Advanced Licence since 1997.  He has been active and eager to advance Amateur Radio in South Ayrshire by volunteering, as part of a small team, conducting courses for candidates of all ages and abilities to achieve the Foundation and Intermediate licensing examination.  He also has an active interest in Broadcast Radio and currently volunteers as an on air presenter for UWS Radio. Peter has been station and project manager on community radio projects Girvan FM and Ayr FM and has gained considerable technical experience to his roles.   

Graham Hart - Independent Living Advisor
Graham Hart

Graham has spent over 19 years working in local authority social work departments (older people’s services) as Dementia Support Co-ordinator.  Over these years Graham has promoted the need for psycho-social approaches as pertinent to coping with and managing dementia, both from the training perspective and with regard to improving the environment for the person living with dementia. Throughout Graham has ensured that he has supported the person with dementia, their family and informal carers and the staff providing their care. Graham is now retired from local authority, but stays active in supporting people living with Dementia, as a training/coach adviser and retains his commitment with DSDC, at The University of Stirling, as an associate trainer. Graham is also a qualified Badminton coach tutor and continues to run weekly coaching sessions at the national sports centre in Largs, (Sportscotland Inverclyde). Graham’s main focus now is on equality and informed choice for older people in all aspects of living, from health to social care and support in the community.


Meet the Team

Marie Oliver - Chief Executive Officer
Marie Oliver

Marie has been involved with the Third Sector for over 20 years.  In her capacity as CEO of VASA she represents the Third Sector on the board of the Community Planning Partnership, is a member of the Community Health Partnership and the Ayrshire LEADER Funding Panel.  Marie also plays a key role in ensuring that the Third Sector is involved in the Change Fund.  Other commitments include being a Director of Bookcycle, Treasurer of AyrFM and organiser of the Christmas Day event for senior members of the community.   She has an Honours degree in Industrial Relations and a Post-Graduate Diploma in Information Technology.  She is a member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, and the Hotel Catering and International Management Association (now Institute of Hospitality).  Marie is also a trained mediator and independent examiner.  Marie is very proud to be supported by a committed and motivated team of board members, staff and volunteers, who in 2013 achieved Investors in Volunteering (IiV) accreditation.


Norah Williamson - Strategic Development Manager
Norah Williamson

Norah is a director of Bookcycle Ltd, a social enterprise with charitable status. She has a BSc in Social Sciences and a Post Graduate Certificate in Social Enterprise. She is a member of the Scottish Mentoring Network. She has 20 years sales experience, 8 of which involved running her own business.  Norah has been the Placement Officer at Volunteer Centre South Ayrshire where she had previously volunteered, and is currently Chair of the Lifelong Learning Literacies Sub Group.


Lynn Anderson - Development Manager – Third Sector
Lynn Anderson

Lynn brings considerable experience from public, private and third sector roles.  Originally working within Agricultural Economics & Marketing, capturing and monitoring rural enterprise and diversity activities, before moving into the IT industry within EMEA Sales and Distribution where she qualified as a BSI Auditor for Quality & EHS&S and attained qualifications with the Chartered Institute of Personnel Development.  Latterly she has worked in the Welfare to Work Sector delivering several DWP programmes throughout Ayrshire and Dumfries and Galloway.  Her role as chair of the Ayrshire Supported Employment Network achieved the introduction of the Business Diversity Awards to Ayrshire and hosting the SUSE Annual Conference.  She is involved in various community activities through her Community Council, Community Facilities Group and the Ayrshire Environmental Group.  She is keen to work with organisations, agencies and groups to develop the Third Sector Relationship with Community Planning as well as to capture and promote the volume and value of Third Sector activities throughout South Ayrshire.


Clare Graham - Capacity Building Development Officer
Clare Graham

Clare joined VASA in April 2013, in the role of Development Worker – Capacity Building.  The purpose of the role is to support and develop a strong Third Sector within South Ayrshire.  Whilst most of her experience has been gained in the private sector, Clare has worked within the Third Sector for over three years.  She is looking forward to working with organisations within her community and making use of the skills gained over the past 20 years.


Stuart McKie - Saltire, Social Media & Evaluation Support Worker
Stuart McKie

Stuart worked with VASA on a college placement in February 2014 and later volunteered in March 2014.  He has now joined the team in September 2014 as Information Assistant and in June 2016 he became Saltire, Social Media & Evaluation Support Worker.

As Saltire, Social Media & Evaluation Support Worker his main role consists of registering Saltire volunteers and printing out Saltire certificates.  He also assists the Volunteer Development Officer with the Saltire Ambassadors and promoting the Saltire Awards within the schools.  He is also in charge of VASA’s social media channels, newsletters and evaluations.


Lindsey Howat - Befriending Development Officer
Lindsey Howat

Lindsey was originally employed by VASA in September 2013 to set up a Falls Prevention programme which is now up and running. In April 2014 she moved into the role of Befriending Development Officer and is enjoying the challenge of recruiting and training lots of volunteers to befriend lonely, socially isolated, older people in South Ayrshire. Before joining VASA Lindsey’s career mainly consisted of procurement posts in the electronics and construction industries. She did previously work as a Community Food Worker for East Ayrshire Council however and it was this experience of working in the community which prompted Lindsey to join VASA.  


Rachael Storm - FootcAyr Supervisor
Rachael Storm

Rachael has recently joined the VASA team, supervising staff and assisting the over 55’s to take care of their feet. She has a background in working with older adults as well as within a person centred environment through her previous career as a Psychological Wellbeing Practitioner. She has a BSc degree in Applied Psychology as well as a Post Graduate degree in Primary Care Mental Health. She is very passionate about working with older adults and making individuals feel welcome and valued.


Angela McWhinnie - Activity and Strictly Seniors Services Support
Angela McWhinnie

Angela joined VASA in February 2012 after working within the South Ayrshire community for 10 years delivering training to Older People. She is employed as the Activities Development Officer, taking a variety of affordable and accessible activities out into the community for older people (over 55) to access. These activities rely on the recruitment, training and management of volunteers to help deliver them.  Currently working towards her PDA (Personal Development Award) in Volunteer Management, she already has an HND in Business Information Technology and a BA in Business Studies. 


Rosemary Fotheringham - Business Advisor
Rosemary Fotheringham

Rosemary has over 15 years’ experience of working within the Third Sector and during this time has been responsible for providing business advice and support to social enterprises within North Ayrshire, developing and delivering of a wide range of economic development, community regeneration and employability projects and, latterly, managed a registered charity and social enterprise operating across the central belt of Scotland.  She has held voluntary board management positions within social enterprise and charitable organisations and has a Diploma in Business Advice and Counselling and a Postgraduate Diploma in Human Resource Management.  Rosemary is keen to work with, and support, social enterprise organisations to develop and build the Third Sector in South Ayrshire.


Hazel Vanzetta - Volunteering Development Officer
Hazel Vanzetta

 

Hazel joined VASA in March 2015 after over 12 years working within various Third Sector organisations supporting people back into work, identifying support and training needs and working towards achieving sustainable job opportunities. Together with HR and recruitment experience, she has also achieved a Diploma in Health & Social Welfare together with a Level 5 Certificate in Human Resource Management. As a member of the Core Team, the Volunteer Development Officer is responsible for supporting Volunteer Involving Organisations, promoting volunteering opportunities to a diverse range of people, promoting the benefits of volunteering and encouraging participation to benefit both themselves and their local community.  Hazel works closely with Third Sector organisations developing ‘best practice’, utilising the nationally recognised Volunteer Friendly Award and also develops and delivers Volunteering Involving Organisations quarterly Forums.

 


Mary Fitzsimmons - friendlyAyr Support Person
Mary Fitzsimmons

Mary joined VASA in July 2015 and brings with her over 20 years of experience in providing care and rehabilitation to older people in South Ayrshire attending a day care centre.  Her aim is to extend and share this experience by working for the "friendlyAyr" Befriending Service, incorporating the community connector role.

Mary`s experience in working with older people will be put to great use in this role which will address the problem of loneliness and social isolation in older people.  She is passionate about improving the self confidence and independence of our ageing community.


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