The countdown is on, but you still have time to nominate for this year’s Dudley CVS Kindness Awards 2021

It’s that time of year again and we are looking to celebrate, and recognise amazing individuals, groups and businesses.  We want you to nominate those who have made a difference to people and communities across Dudley borough for our Dudley CVS Kindness Awards 2021. We’ve pulled together some inspirational stories to help you with your nomination and fit some of the potential categories we’ve come up with this year.

GIVING JOY 

Do you know someone who always has a smile on their face or makes other’s smile?  This is what we would love to celebrate with this category and have found the perfect story to demonstrate perfectly, the power of bringing a little joy into our lives.  Hopefully it will inspire you to nominate. 

“These awardees were recognised for their real sense of fun and providing light relief, bringing laughter into people’s lives.  

Andrea and Carly are two amazing ladies, who made so many people laugh during COVID-19 lockdown. Every day they recreated famous art, films or album covers from everyday stuff they had in their houses and posted the photos on Facebook alongside the originals with hilarious results! They gained 500+ followers from all over the world, people who just needed cheering up and would tune in every day to see their recreations, and they made us all smile, and laugh out loud even on the gloomiest days. 

The amount of comments they had from people saying that they were helping them to keep smiling through this difficult time was unbelievable. Each day was sillier than the last, with some of the photos causing hilarity when people were struggling to lift their spirits. 

If that was not enough, they ran a Facebook poll to find the most popular recreations and have had a calendar made. They covered the printing costs by getting local company sponsors and have raised over £1000 for Dudley Mind, and A Gift To Lift charities. These ladies need some recognition their dedication to daftness and making people smile.” 

Why not nominate someone you know who brings a smile to people’s faces? 

BEING NEIGHBOURLY  

Having a good neighbour is important in times of need and never was their more need than during the pandemic in 2020. We want to celebrate those amazing people who stepped up and helped out their neighbours when they needed it.  Here’s a story for one of last year’s Covid Hero main awardees, Rose Cook Monk, who truly was a good neighbour and made a huge difference. 

“I had a telephone call this afternoon from the Queen Elizabeth hospital in Birmingham saying that someone was in there that had a message for me. I was naturally concerned because I wasn’t aware of anyone I knew being there. 

It turned out to be an elderly gentleman that I’ve been doing shopping for since the lockdown after being matched with him by Dudley CVS Volunteer Centre (who are doing a fabulous job in our community during this most difficult of times). 

I had been given his name and number but no other information. I’ve been taking his shopping which I pay for, I ring him to tell him I’m on my way and he puts the money in an envelope – I ask if he’s ok – he always says the same thing ‘I am now I’ve seen you bless you for looking after me’. 

Yesterday he fell downstairs in his maisonette and was found by his neighbours. When the nurse asked if there was anyone they could call I was the only person he could think of. I have only known him five weeks, barely had any conversation, his weekly phone call with his shopping list is always quite short, he always asks how I am and worries that I’m keeping safe. 

So why after such a short time with such little contact was I his only ‘friend’ – what on earth did this poor man do before the lockdown? Who helped him? Who did he talk to? I offered to visit but they aren’t accepting visitors -they couldn’t even tell me his surname because I’m not a relative. 

I felt so bad for him and so very sorry. After all this is over how am I suppose to walk away from him? There must be hundreds of people like him out there. 

Please if you live by an elderly person or even someone living on there own – keep yourself safe – socially distance yourself – but knock on their door – drop a note through their letterbox and check that they are okay. 

“One face, one voice could make all the difference to their day. My thoughts tonight are with a lonely old man who needs a friend… I’m going to be that friend!” 

Why not nominate someone you know who’s been a great neighbour? 

STEPPING UP 

People really step up in a crisis and this was never more true than during last year’s Coronavirus Pandemic. Suddenly people had to isolate and were unable to leave their house.  To inspire you to nominate for this category, we thought we would share two stories from last year’s main Covid Heroes awardees. One is a group and one is business, but they both have something in common – they stepped up!   

Sedgley Coronavirus Support 

“This community volunteer group was specifically formed quickly under the guidance of Jack Withers to respond to the Coronavirus outbreak. Jack recruited 20 volunteers local to the Sedgley area and immediately answered the call from Dudley CVS to register the group. They also arranged leaflet drops around the local community, so that vulnerable people could feel safe in the knowledge that there was someone there at the end of the phone, to help provide essential supplies of food and medicines and befriending telephone calls.” 

Dudley Arms 

“Disaster struck on Friday March 21st 2020 when all pubs were forced to close. They closed the doors not knowing what would happen to the business, the staff or their own future. During this time their team set about doing all they could to make sure that local residents were catered for and that any opportunities to be active throughout the pandemic were achieved. They heard of the plight of a local older peoples sheltered accommodation and their need to receive meals during the pandemic.  

Despite knowing there was no income from their regulars, the brewery pressuring them for rent and facing an immediate future of no income, they still continued to provide food for the centre to prepare meals. In fact they prepared more than 2000 during the lockdown period. They supported the team through regular communication and when they heard that their local football team coached by Adam from Black Country Wellbeing Centre were struggling for sponsorship this year, they once again stepped in and saved the day.” 

Why not nominate someone you know who’s stepped up and made a difference? 

YOUNG BELIEVER 

Young people don’t always get the best press and we think this is really unfair.  We love to celebrate amazing young people under 25 at our annual awards and last year’s ‘Young Believers’ showed that young people can make a huge difference in their local community.  They often overcome barriers and tackle challenges with passion and enthusiasm.  

The awards panel were impressed with two truly outstanding nominations last year and made a joint Young Person’s Award 2020. This was given to Alex Griffiths and Katie Davies.  

Katie volunteered with Halesowen Business Improvement District, working hard to support people in Halesowen Town Centre and encouraging shoppers to use local retailers again during lockdown.  

Alex was a volunteer producer and presenter with Black Country Radio, and also worked at Russell’s Hall Hospital on Covid Wards, providing vital support to seriously ill people, during the height of the pandemic. 

So why not nominate a young believer [under 25] today? 

TECH FOR GOOD

Do you know someone who’s used technology creatively to support people to make them feel less isolated, or just someone to talk to when they needed it?  This could be setting up a helpline, a What’s App group to connect people, using Facebook, Zoom or other online platforms, in fact absolutely anything where technology has been used to help others.  Let’s hear about all those creative ways they have connected people.  

We have chosen an example of where technology can be great from Just Straight Talk and their Community Connectors, who ran virtual coffee mornings.   

Virtual Coffee Mornings  

The role of Just Start Talking’s (JST) Community Connectors is to bring together people at risk of or experiencing isolation or loneliness. Before lockdown, JST’s Community Connectors had built up relationships with people of all ages and hosted regular coffee mornings and craft sessions at the Rainbow Community Centre in Coseley.  

When lockdown restrictions were imposed, coffee morning regulars (and new people introduced through the COVID-19 Support Network) were invited to join a virtual coffee morning using video communication platform, Zoom. This gave people the opportunity to continue to meet in a safe environment and chat over a ‘virtual cuppa’ without having to leave their home. Many people in Coseley have since been supported by Big Local to get online and use new technology through one-to-one coaching (socially distanced or over the phone). The group were asked to come up with their own ideas for activities, including virtual games and quizzes. Participants are also encouraged to lead and host Zoom coffee morning sessions to build their confidence, for example, the quiz winner is asked to host the next quiz. 

“Shona and myself make regular contact with many of the participants who were attending coffee mornings prior to lockdown. We have done some shopping for them and have regular chats. We started a virtual coffee morning using Zoom and those who dropped in really enjoyed it and want it to be a regular feature. For those that weren’t sure, we spent some time on a 1-2-1 basis coaching them through the process.” JST Community Connector 

Why not nominate someone you know who has also used technology to connect with people? 

ARE YOU OK? 

There are times that we all feel we need someone to talk to, so we don’t feel alone in dealing with whatever life has thrown at us today.  All over the country there are amazing people who step up to check in with people and to ask the question “are you ok?”   

Locally in Dudley borough we are fortunate to have special individuals who do exactly that on a regular basis and we felt that the three people who took last year’s ‘Kindness in a Crisis’ Highly Commended Awards, were brilliant examples of the difference a friendly voice or face can make in times of need.   

Highly Commended: Esther Olivier, Mary Stevens Hospice 

“Esther is from Mary Stevens Hospice and throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, she has supported people with long-term conditions and their carers in the local community, in addition to patients receiving palliative and end of life care within Mary Stevens Hospice. Esther has worked above and beyond her role in several ways, with a dedication to help those most vulnerable in our Dudley community and always with kindness and compassion.” 

Highly Commended: Zyllah Moranne-Brown, Black Country Radio 

“Zyllah is a volunteer at Black Country Radio and has worked tirelessly, both within her remit as volunteer Head of Marketing and in other capacities, to ensure the station stayed on air and its volunteer base remained consistent during the pandemic. Her work can often go unnoticed but was essential for ensuring the station remained on air throughout the Coronavirus pandemic. Zyllah was responsible alongside another volunteer for picking up some of the 500+ calls from frequently anxious and vulnerable individuals, to the Black Country Radio Covid Support Helpline and signposting them to partners such as DCVS for support.” 

Highly Commended: Lottie Woodward 

“Lottie had a stroke at the start of January so was unable to do any ‘hands on’ work, so she created a coronavirus mental health page on Facebook. Using her skills as a counsellor and 30 years’ experience in domestic abuse, people have used this group to seek help and support. During lockdown, cases of domestic abuse cases have soared, and Lottie has selflessly given her time for free to help women who have got in touch with her to help them escape or manage dangerous situation.” 

Why not read about these inspirational people and nominate someone who has made sure that others are ok today? 

Holiday Activity Fun!

The Government has allocated Dudley Borough with £1,200,000 from the Holiday Activities and Food Programme funding to be spent by the end of 2021 on activities and refreshments for income eligible, free school meals pupils for a week at Easter, 4 weeks in the summer and a week at Christmas. 

The approach we have taken in Dudley is to work with children, young people, their families, and schools and providers to ask what activities children and young people would really benefit from. 

We want this to be an enriching experience that gives many of our children a chance to try new things they may not have tried before or visit places they may not have had the opportunity to visit. 

This is the first year the Holiday Activity Fun (HAF) has ever run and we are delighted to have worked with 103 schools, over 50 providers and been able to offer over 50,000 sessions to nearly 4000 children and young people.  

There is a real pick and mix variety of activities, with something for everyone! There are school holiday clubs, where little ones can let off steam and take part in action-packed sports and activity camps, are being organised in selected schools. 

At Baggridge Country Park, children can try out the High Ropes adventures and will be invited to join a summer sports camp where they can try karate, fitness and exercise, indoor soft football, dance, yoga and rugby. 

Many parents, young people and children told us how they would love the opportunity of a day out together, so we have worked with Dudley Zoo, The Black Country Museum and The Canal Trust to offer great family days out for people who may not normally be able to afford it. 

For our SEND children with have a make your own afternoon tea with Kayleigh (who is a young person with Learning Disabilities who gives a tutorial on how to make the scones and put the afternoon tea together) there is also the opportunity to try golf and animal petting.  

For our teens we organised a Mocktails and Tapas with a Black Country twist! A group of young people got to make their own alcohol free mocktails, learn about Spanish food and compare it to traditional Black Country offerings such as faggots and Liver and onions! We also encouraged them to have a go at making their own fakeaways, healthy versions of KFC, Pizza Hut, Nandos and a curry. Once they ‘rate their plate’ and send us a photo and review of their finished dish we send them a voucher for the real thing to ‘treat their mate’ 

A number of other universal activities have also been organised for all children across the borough. There will be ‘Diddy Dinosaur’ craft sessions at Dudley Museum, a Fairies and Dinosaur Day at Himley Hall and Park, play and adventure at Sycamore Adventure and sports and swimming activities in leisure centres.  

HAF is offering children and young people the much-needed opportunity to build their confidence, socialise and have some fun this summer and the feedback from families has been overwhelmingly positive. 

“Thank you for giving this opportunity to our children, they’ve really suffered whilst being in lockdown so this extra bit of help for those who struggle sometimes more than others is really appreciated” 

We have a number of social media platforms to stay connected so please do give us a follow, like and share!  

https://twitter.com/DudleyHaf /  

https://www.facebook.com/groups/dudleyhaf/

Hey there!

New Dudley CVS podcast: Why funding bids can fail

Martin and I recently got together to have a conversation about why funding bids can sometimes fail and we recorded it for you. Bringing together a list pitfalls and mistakes direct from funders and sharing our own experiences of what turns funders off, this episode will hopefully help you to improve your chances when you’re bidding for grant funding.

You can watch the podcast as a video here:

Or if you prefer just to listen, it’s available as audio only here:

Riverside House successful funding application to the Severn Trent Water Community Fund

In February I met Clare Evans from Riverside House to discuss a funding application to the Severn Trent Water Community Fund. Following our meeting, Clare completed the application and sent it to me for review prior to submission.

By way of background, Riverside House is a grade 2 listed building situated on four acres of land between the River Stour and the Stourbridge Canal and is a former Iron Masters estate that had fallen into dereliction. The aim is to develop a place that inspires wellbeing and improves biodiversity by transforming the estate into a haven for people to explore the natural environment and engage with wildlife and ecology. They want to open the land up to the community so that people can share time and experiences together enjoying nature in surroundings that are unique with safe access (using accessible paths and fencing) to view the River Stour and the beauty of the Riverside House site for all members of the community. The wellbeing activities are delivered through the arts, traditional craft, ecology, heritage, food & nutrition and land-based work.

Riverside Stourbridge CIC was awarded £51,934 from the Community Fund in April towards the ongoing development of the project creating a unique wetland ecosystem treatment area to purify greywater improving biodiversity on the site. The greywater purification system will absorb and convert plant nutrients contained in wastewater from their off-grid container café into a biodiverse wetland ecosystem so that rainwater will create a varied biomass yield and wildlife habitat.

Initially they are focusing on supporting people with learning disabilities and autism, mental health issues and those looking for volunteering opportunities so that they can learn and develop practical skills. However, the goal over the next few years is to turn the site into a heritage centre with gardens, restaurant, craft shop, woodland and workshops making it a place where people feel included and bespoke opportunities are provided.

They are working in partnership and collaboratively with many organisations so that their service users can benefit from a variety of positive experiences that enhance the health and wellbeing of the local community. To date, these partners include the Birmingham and Black Country Wildlife Trust, Dudley Council, Dudley Job Centre and the Dudley CVS/NHS social prescribing service Integrated Plus.

The Severn Trent Community Fund is a £10M fund made available over a five year period (from 2020) to support new local projects, charities and community groups in the Severn Trent region helping to make a real and tangible difference with three levels of funding £2,000-£10,000, £10,001-£75,000 and £75,001-£200,000. Applications are invited from registered charities that work to improve community wellbeing for:

  • people providing them with activities so they lead a healthier lifestyle and gain new skills;
  • places by creating better places to live;
  • the environment giving people greater access to the environment or help look after water.

Applications can be made at any time.

Spotlight on Moms Mindful Hub, a small group with a big heart

Moms Mindful Hub is a small, volunteer-led group that’s there for moms, their mental health and wellbeing. The group is brought together by Leonie McDonald, who has been an absolute pleasure to work with over the last ten years or so. Although the group has stayed small in size, like many other community groups, they don’t let that get in the way of getting stuck in to make a great impact to the lives of moms.

A mom herself to three lovely children, Leonie takes her own experiences and uses them to build a supportive network of moms who care for one another without judgement. I started working with Leonie when Moms Mindful Hub was just an idea and, instead of pushing her straight into becoming a voluntary group with its added bureaucracy, I encouraged Leonie to reach out to others who might be able to help lead the group, share the vision and the burden. Amazingly, Leonie spent the next five or so years engaging moms from all walks of life, welcoming them in, supporting them (and being supported by them herself) and offering them a space where they could talk openly about the highs and lows of motherhood and take part in joint activities that would improve their health and wellbeing.

This all led eventually to Leonie identifying some moms who could help her to formalise Moms Mindful Hub into a constituted voluntary group and a couple of years ago it got its very own committee and constitution, which would help it to develop its activities and apply for funding if that was necessary.

Moms Mindful Hub has done loads on a shoe-string with only a few grants here and there. Leonie is a Queen of linking with others and working together in a way that means Moms Mindful Hub can work from multiple venues, such as Jasmine Road Community Gardens, Huntingtree Park Hub and, more recently, Age Concern in Stourbridge. Not having grants can give a group a lot of freedom to do what its community want it to do without having to jump through lots of bureaucratic hoops, and the group has received some lovely press for the variety of work it’s doing. Just take a look at this Express and Star piece about Moms Mindful hub’s work at Age Concern Stourbridge.

Moms Mindful Hub didn’t let the pandemic stop its work, either. Although lockdown felt like a step backwards from all the progress the group had made, the group focused on staying positive and helping moms to stay positive by moving their activities online. They offered coffee mornings on Zoom as a way to help people stay connected, and they successfully applied to the NSUN (National Survivor User Network) Covid-19 Fund, which allowed the group to put together wellbeing care packages with leaflets, tips for recognising low mood, online resources for activities that could be done at home. They collaborated with the NHS to offer care packages to new and young moms.

As restrictions began to ease, Leonie and the group tentatively moved to outdoor activities, meeting for socially distanced walks three times a week and getting children and moms involved in nature play and education at Jasmine Road Community Gardens. Most recently, Moms Mindful Hub has linked with Age Concern Stourbridge, where they can offer indoor and outdoor stay and play activities. In future, the group is looking at outdoor, nature-based activities, developing its work with Rethink and is always on the lookout for organisations to work with to make this kind of stuff happen.

I’m constantly bowled over by Leonie’s energy and drive to work with other organisations in order to improve the health and wellbeing of the moms in the network. I probably shouldn’t be surprised by this now! It’s a testament to Leonie’s resilience, generosity and thoughtfulness that Moms Mindful Hub has been able to develop and flourish during such a challenging year, and long may it continue!

Moms Mindful Hub is very active on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Why not join them if you’d like to learn more or get some friendly support? I know you’ll be really welcome.

We’ve never met in person: Spirit of Djembe and Partners With Industry, two not-for-profits supported during a turbulent year

In March 2020, life as we knew it changed dramatically. As news of Covid-19 became increasingly concerning, Dudley CVS made the decision to suspend face-to-face meetings and we were faced with the task of pivoting to working remotely and holding virtual meetings, on top of adapting our work to support the community response to the pandemic.

I love my job. Every week is different. But a massive chunk of my time, perhaps 40%-50% of it, is spent in some form of face-to-face meeting. Whether it’s meeting groups and supporting them with setting up, planning, funding bids and the like, giving training, holding drop in sessions in cafes around the borough with Eileen, meeting with colleagues to cook up new ways to support the sector and at conferences.

In March 2020 all of that changed. How would we continue to support groups and help with the huge-scale efforts to keep those shielding or isolating connected?

Looking back into the whirlwind of that time from a much calmer vantage point, we moved to online support very quickly. We supported groups by email, phone and video meeting (first with Skype and then with Zoom and Teams!), learning as we went and supporting colleagues as well as groups with using online platforms. We offered drop ins, training events, networking meetings, one-to-one support and so many people and groups connected with us, many with a renewed eagerness to work together.

I’m amazed to learn that I supported 90 groups last year, giving support and guidance on the usual things like setting up, planning, community asset transfer and fundraising, and on new things like thinking through Covid-19 procedures and holding virtual AGMs, even helping to run a few! And I’ve helped people to set up not-for-profits without ever meeting them face-to-face. Sprit of Djembe and Partners With Industry are two very different not-for-profits that formalised during the year.

Spirit of Djembe

Spirit of Djembe preparing to play in Mary Stevens Park in the summer before lockdown

Spirit of Djembe is an African drumming group based in Stourbridge. Their founder, Faith, got in touch with me to talk about formalising as a small not-for-profit with a constitution, something that they could work on while they were unable to get together for rehearsals and drumming sessions. Over a couple of months, I talked Faith through the process, introduced her to a simple constitution that would allow the group to open a bank account and fundraise in its own name, and supported Faith to engage with members in a way that involved them in the process and spread the leadership.

This work culminated in a Zoom meeting where I met some of the members of Spirit of Djembe, one of the loveliest meetings I’ve been involved in over the course of the pandemic. What struck me most about this welcoming group, was how members were so supportive of one another. Although clearly missing coming together face-to-face, they’d made an effort to come together socially on Zoom, and even worked out a way to rehearse their drumming online. Everyone made me feel so welcome. I know constitutions don’t get many people excited and engaged, but as I talked them through their draft, answered questions and made changes they wanted for their group, I felt that everyone was participating. At the meeting, I also helped them appoint their first committee and talked to the members about the roles and responsibilities of the committee. I left the meeting feeling that the group was really well organised and I hoped they would be able to get together to do what they love soon.

Fast forward a few months later and I’ve given the group some guidance around data protection principles and some pointers on insurance as Faith told me they have their first booking since the first lockdown began!

And if you’re looking for something new to do as restrictions ease, if you’d like to meet a welcoming and supportive group of people and learn something new, then now might be a good time to join Spirit of Djembe. If you’re interested in joining, you can call Faith on 07526 261250.

I do hope that as restrictions ease, Spirit of Djembe goes from strength to strength!

Partners With Industry CIC

Back in October, Partners With Industry CIC existed only as an idea of its founder Richard. Richard’s background was in automation and robotics and he wanted to set up an organisation that focused on equipping people who were unemployed or wanted to retrain with the skills required for jobs in the modern automated working environment of the future. Richard also wanted this work to benefit people with learning disabilities and the training would go from reskilling complete beginners to learn new skills to advanced skills to help existing engineers get back into the workplace.

I offered Richard a virtual meeting to have an initial chat about the possible routes available in our sector and the types of rules and regulations a not-for-profit would be subject to, and to learn more about Richard’s vision. At our meeting, I was really pleased to learn that Richard had started planning and had made links with Dudley College, West Midlands Combined Authority and Dudley Business First. Richard also told me that he was particularly interested in helping people living with dyslexia and autism to train and to have better opportunities to get into the industry. This seemed quite compatible with being a social enterprise, which is a business set up for social purposes.

I talked Richard through a resource which shows the similarities and differences between a charity, a social enterprise and a profit-making business/sole trader and the extra rules and expectations associated with being a not-for-profit. Richard was interested in learning more about social enterprise models; it felt like the CIC might be a good fit for the new organisation, which would allow it to pursue social aims for the benefit of the community and raise income in a range of ways, such as trading.

I gave Richard some guidance about CICs and directed him to some great resources provided by the CIC Regulator and encouraged him to look at examples of social enterprises provided by organisations like Social Enterprise UK and was on hand to talk through ideas that Richard was testing. I was really impressed with Richard’s ideas for operating as a business in order to benefit communities and the links he’d begun to make with potential partner organisations.

Richard brought a colleague on board and they decided to pursue the CIC route. Because both were new to CICs, I offered training on governance for CICs and supported them to get the company set up, giving step by step guidance, helping with the social purpose and explaining the memorandum and articles.

Then in January, I was pleased to learn Partners With Industry had officially become a community interest company. Richard got in touch to tell me the good news and told me

“We very much appreciate your help and it would have been impossible for us to do without your help, advice and guidance.”

Since then, Partners With Industry has set up its website, expanded its business to offer paid services to businesses and made partnerships across the country. I’ve also connected Richard with Eileen from our Volunteer Centre so that Partners With Industry can offer a great volunteering experience too. Richard also hopes to be a Voice of Innovation for the West Midlands Innovation Alliance, which promotes innovation in science and technology.

It’s been great supporting these and many other organisations during a challenging year, and I’m looking forward to working with more as we emerge from the pandemic.

In fact, Dudley CVS is collaborating with consultant David Waterfall to bring an exciting new opportunity to support the sector in Dudley borough to reset and rebuild following the pandemic.

Reset, Rebuild & Reimagine will provide the opportunity, with guided expert external facilitation, for the sector to take stock, refocus and reimagine where next in terms of rebuild and recovery. More specifically Reset, Rebuild & Reimagine will offer:

  • Opportunities to explore and share together what impact the pandemic has had on your organisation
  • The opportunity to help co-design future Reset, Rebuild and Reimagine sessions
  • Opportunities to develop and learn new skills and insights from a range of external professionals. Topics may include: improving resilience, employment law in relation to Covid-19, help with technology adoption, market development, engaging clients in new ways, business modelling, impact evaluations, financial sustainability, forward strategy etc
  • Dedicated time and space for peer support and action learning
  • A platform for embarking on a journey of exploration, skills development and shared learning together for resetting, rebuilding and reimagining the future of the VCFS across Dudley Borough, and
  • A platform to share amazing stories about how you have adapted your organisation to meet the needs of Dudley residents.

Reset, Rebuild & Reimagine will kick start with two sessions on 28 June to co-design with you the shape and content of this exciting and innovative programme, with two places per organisation available. For more information and to book, please visit our story on Reset, Rebuild & Reimagine.

Lots on offer during Small Charity Week and June’s Month of Community

Small Charity Week runs from 14-19 June and is a national campaign to raise the profile of small charities and the big impact they have in our communities. To mark the week, we’ve teamed up with our friends SCVO to bring you some activities and sessions to help you learn, connect and celebrate.

Each day of Small Charity Week has a particular theme:

  • Monday: I Love Small Charities Day
  • Tuesday: Big Advice Day
  • Wednesday: Policy Day
  • Thursday: Fundraising Day
  • Friday: Small Charity Big Impact Day
  • Saturday: Appreciation Day

Here’s what we have on offer during Small Charity Week:

Monday 14 June – An Introduction to Charities, for anyone who wants to learn more about how charities work. Book here.

Tuesday 15 June – SCVO will host as Higgs and Sons join us to talk Volunteers and the Law. Book here.

Wednesday 16 June – Being a Charity Trustee. A brief introduction to the legal duties of charities trustees. Book here.

Thursday 17 June – Dudley Brew, the network for the not-for-profit sector in Dudley borough. Book here.

Thursday 17 June – Meet the Funder, featuring the Tudor Trust. Book here.
Friday 18 June – Trustee Chat, a supportive network for established and new trustees and anyone interested in becoming a charity trustee. Book here.

We’re also cooking up a social media Q&A event for Friday 18 June. Keep an eye on our Twitter, Facebook or news page for details!

Don’t forget, you can check out other events happening during Small Charity Week right here.

Month of Community

This year, the national partners behind Small Charity Week have teamed up with others for the Month of Community. Month of Community is about creating a focal point in the year to bring people together to reconnect, celebrate what’s local and help bolster the recovery effort with something that touches everyone. It’s an opportunity to bring our neighbourhoods closer and shine a light on the amazing communities we live in and to give community spirit a boost as we head into summer.

Despite the difficult times for every one of us during the COVID-19 pandemic, many people feel that there have been some positive things to come out of this time. Spending more time at home and being more present in our communities has brought with it a heartening wave of community action, seeing neighbours talking and supporting one another far more than ever before.

Good causes across the UK have teamed up to celebrate summer 2021 with a #MonthOfCommunity. Join in when it works for you and your community, whether that’s to say cheers to volunteers, connect with your neighbours, support a cause you care about or simply to say thank you.

Events include:

This year, the our brilliant Volunteer Centre colleague Eileen is inviting you to share your great volunteering stories and how you’re recognising your volunteers this Volunteers Week. Eileen has also created free customisable certificates for you to download to say a big THANK YOU to your volunteers.

Conversations with the funder – Black Country ESF Community Grants

Last week we held a third ‘Meet the Funder’ event for not-for-profit organisations across Dudley borough. This time we welcomed Ruth Burgess, Grant Manager at Black Country ESF Community Grants. We were also joined by not-for-profits from across the Black Country who heard more about the programmes criteria and priorities.

The session was recorded and is now available as a video and audio podcast.

Ruth has also shared a lovely case study about a Dudley-based organisation that successfully applied to Black Country ESF Community Grants. Scroll down to read more about this and to get more inspiration from a real-life example.

Here’s the video, complete with slides.

And here’s the audio only version:

Example of a fantastic Dudley based project: Magic Touch Network was funded by ESF Community Grants in the summer 2020 to run the “Progression Project”. The project worked with women in Dudley running courses focused on health and beauty as well as additional support with English speaking, reading and writing. The project was designed to help the participants move closer to the job market and equip them with the social and interpersonal skills needed to improve self-confidence.  

Ruth from ESF Black Country Community Grants spoke with Sumaira and Maz from the Magic Touch project to find out more about their project

You were funded during a pandemic, what was the biggest challenge of running a project in 2020? Magic Touch: The biggest challenge was the delays and complications caused by Covid 19. Local people still needed a lot of support but it was hard to balance this with the pandemic restrictions. There were delays in starting the project and a lot more paperwork to do. We had to plan our activities in more detail and be very careful in the way we ran the project in order to keep everyone supported yet safe.

The project managed to get 8 people into work which is an amazing achievement. How did you manage this and what kind of work did participants go into? Magic Touch: Our success was due to working with the ladies on a detailed one to one basis. We had taken on learners genuinely interested in finding employment and worked with them in each session to apply for jobs that they were suited to. Care work was the area that women were mostly interested in and we worked really hard to create connections with care agencies and employers. We supported our learners in making connections with the agencies, this really helped as the informal connections led to interviews and job appointments for learners.

What difference do you think your project made to the people who took part? Our learners gained confidence, moving into jobs has made them feel more positive about their future. The project was a positive and productive experience, it bought them hope and positivity in the dark times of Covid19. 

ESF Community Grants New Rounds:

 ESF Community Grants awards funding of up to £20,000 to organisations who can run projects that support people unemployed (for 6 months minimum) back into work/ training.

The dates for the next 3 rounds are:

7th June 2021

29th July 2021

9th September 2021

Projects need to demonstrate how they can move participants closer to the job market and particularly how they get the long term unemployed ready for work. We aim to fund projects despite the current restrictions and applicants will need to demonstrate how they can adjust their project if needed, for example using remote delivery.

The guidelines, application and hourly rate calculator are available on request by emailing communitygrants@walsall.gov.uk or can be downloaded from BCTA Website  Please make sure you use the latest application, old formats will not be accepted.

Before you apply please contact Ruth.Burgess@walsall.gov.uk for an informal conversation about your application.

Conversations with the funder – Enovert Community Trust, The National Lottery Community Fund and Severn Trent Community Fund

Following our first online ‘Meet the Funder’ event with Lloyds Bank Foundation, we held another focusing on three funders a few days later. This time, the ‘Meet the Funder’ event welcomed and heard from Angela Haymonds from Enovert Community Trust, John Goodman from The National Lottery Community Fund and Jade Gough from Severn Trent Community Fund.

The session was recorded and is now available as an audio podcast or a video of highlights.

The full session complete with Q&A is available to listen to below:

Find specific presentations at the following times:

  • Enovert Community Trust: 33 seconds in
  • The National Lottery Community Fund: 35 minutes
  • Severn Trent Community Fund: 49 minutes

The shorter version, complete with presentation slides is available as a video here:

Our next virtual ‘Meet the Funder’ event on May 10th will welcome Ruth Burgess, who’ll be talking to us about ESF Black Country Community Grants. To attend, book your place here.