In the last few weeks, three of the brilliant groups I’ve been supporting have successfully become registered charities, hopefully unlocking further opportunities for each of them. This is great timing, as the inaugural Local Charities Day is coming up on 16 December!
The three charities do very different work, which goes to show the enormous variety of wonderful work that benefits people and communities.
Woodside Crafts is a social enterprise with a shop on King Street, Dudley. The charity helps people with mental health related issues. Through the charity, people can increase their skills and creativity and improve their wellbeing by learning a new craft or trade. Products made by the people the charity supports are sold in the shop to help the charity be self-sufficient.
I started working with Woodside Crafts a few years ago, when they were based at Woodside Day Centre and I wrote about working with them on this blog. The group started making wooden products in group workshops as a therapeutic way to support people living with mental ill-health. Group members quickly realised there might be a market for their products and that they could sell them as a way to raise income and make the group sustainable.
Martin and Chris opening the Woodside Crafts shop on King Street, Dudley, in November 2014
Woodside Crafts have shared the lovely story of their journey from small group workshops at Woodside Day Centre to opening a shop on King Street, making all sorts of creative products and running lots of learning workshops. You’ll find their story on the Woodside Crafts website.
After working together on the application over a couple of meetings in the shop, Woodside Crafts became a registered charity on 14 October. Here’s its entry on the register of charities.
Dudley Deaf Theatre
This group grew out of a project run by some members of Dudley Deaf Social Club, in partnership with Black Country Touring, to bring performing arts to the deaf and hard of hearing communities and to increase public knowledge of the achievements of the deaf and hard of hearing communities in the performing arts.
The group had been working with Black Country Touring to stage accessible productions that could be enjoyed equally by hearing, deaf and hard of hearing communities. Group members carefully select productions, work with theatre companies, interpreters and venues to ensure everyone can enjoy the theatre. Another element of their work was to put on comedy and drama workshops for people from the deaf and hard of hearing communities, thereby teaching new skills and increasing confidence.
After some successful shows and workshops, groups members decided to set up Dudley Deaf Theatre as a charity in its own right and got in touch with me. Over the past few months, I’ve been working with Dudley Deaf Theatre, Black Country Touring and interpreters to understand their work, guide them through setting up and help with the application to the Charity Commission.
I really enjoyed working with Dudley Deaf Theatre and I learned so much about my own communication and about the communities and cultures that deaf and hard of hearing individuals feel part of.
Dudley Deaf Theatre successfully registered as a charity on 25 November. You can find Dudley Deaf Theatre on the register of charities.
Hawbush Community Gardens
An oasis on the Hawbush estate in Brierley Hill, you’d be forgiven for not even knowing this lovely place existed!
Over the past few years, local residents have lovingly tended the site, and this work has intensified over recent months. Residents and volunteers have created beautiful community allotment space alongside a handful of private allotments for local people on a first come, first served basis. The facility has plenty space for outdoor learning and recreational activities covering biodiversity, health and fitness and creativity. There’s also a centre offering indoor space for all sorts of community activities too.
The group had made links and learnt lots from Jasmine Road Community Gardens in Kates Hill, a group that was helped through the process of becoming a registered charity by my colleague Caroline. It’s really great when groups learn from and help each other.
Members of Hawbush Community Gardens had lots of ideas for projects that could happen on the site. They were also interested in taking on the lease of the community building from the local authority, so they thought that registering as a charity might be helpful. Over a few months I met with the committee, now a trustee board, to talk them through what being a charity meant, the types of structures available to them to help them make the best decision for their circumstances, and helped them to set up. I then worked with a couple of committee members through regular meetings where I talked them through the application process and supported them with it.
Hawbush Community Gardens successfully registered as a charity on 28 November and you can see the charity’s entry on the register here. Members also sent us a lovely testimonial, saying:
I am quite sure that our organisation would not have had the confidence to move forward towards charity status. It is a matter that has been discussed on previous occasions but it was the help and involvement from Dudley CVS that allowed us to navigate our way through the application
I’ve really enjoyed working with Woodside Crafts, Dudley Deaf Theatre and Hawbush Community Gardens and I’m so pleased about their recent successes.
Next week, I’ll follow up this post with a piece about registering as a charity. If you’d like some support with developing your organisation, please feel free to get in touch.