Reflections from DoFest Dudley

DoFestLast Monday-Wednesday I took part in DoFest Dudley, an inspiring festival of doing and creating.

The festival was packed with activities to get people thinking about the skills, resources and passions that they can share to bring vibrancy and real wealth to their communities; from learning labs, lightning talks, bartering skills and knowledge to making things together. It was infectious! In fact, I’d only booked for Monday’s activities and ended up joining in for parts of Tuesday and Wednesday, such was the contagion!

I saw lots of smiling and sharing, people supporting each other and having a go. A bunch of us put together a wiki wendy house, a fun, exhilarating (and noisy!) activity that demonstrated how open source design can help provide solutions to housing (visit DemoDev for more). We quickly organised ourselves and shared hammering duties to create a cosy little space in Gather Dudley.

It was lovely to join the Coseley Crafternoon session, where we made cards. I’ve never been particularly crafty, so it was good to be gently helped with ideas and suggestions from someone who’s an expert. In fact, I found that dynamic to be analogous across the whole three days – one moment someone was learning a skill, the next, they were sharing it with others.

For me, all of this culminated in Pam Warhurst’s wonderful and provoking talk at the DoFest Dudley Summit about the power of small actions, of getting on and doing things without waiting for money, without complaining about the status quo or waiting for someone else to do something (incredibleediblenetwork.org.uk). This was really powerful stuff, demonstrating a clear link between growing free food for all and resilient communities and wider system change; and I’m sure many of us in the room were inspired to do more in our neighbourhoods. Thanks to Anneka Deva and Andrew Lightheart for getting me along to this!

Since DoFest (and at times during it), I’ve been thinking increasingly about how I can relate this to my work supporting groups, and I’d love to have more conversations about how we can encourage and nurture this kind of activity. In some ways, perhaps I have already started: I often say to groups ‘Let’s imagine there is no funding’ because traditional funding can encourage deficit thinking (needs, gaps, insufficiency of something), competition. Funding can create dependency in some cases, and what happens when the grant comes to an end? It also creates bureaucracies and red tape that could be avoided when all sorts of people come together to make something happen – whether it’s someone with a bit of space going spare, skills, knowledge or equipment. The Incredible Edible movement didn’t begin with a need for funding. Instead it began with people and their willingness.

Of course, some things do need to be paid for. But through starting something lean that’s free to do, making the most of what’s already there, perhaps you could start to make a demonstrable difference and create an impact that will resonate with people, maybe even people with money!

DoFest Dudley has certainly given me lots to think about! Please feel free to share your thoughts with me too.

A year of DY1-stop shop!

It’s been a year since Eileen and I launched ‘DY1-stop shop‘, our monthly drop-in for anyone with questions about community groups, charities, social enterprises, getting involved in community activities or volunteering.

Here’s a little infographic that gives you a little bit more detail about the kinds of conversations we’ve been having over the first year!

DY1-stop shop

I’ve really enjoyed working in this way. It’s a non-threatening way for people to make their first contact with us and it’s quite fun not knowing what to expect from one month to the next! I think Eileen and I have both benefited from each other’s differing knowledge and skills, on top of those of our colleagues we’ve been able to call on by virtue of simply being in the same place – thanks to Donna, Nicki, and Melissa from Healthwatch Dudley for being there for us! It’s meant that people have left us buzzing with new ideas, contacts and lines of inquiry.

dy1shot
Most recently, Eileen and I met Cllr Steve Waltho and his wife, Jayne, who are part of a new group being set up to keep alive the legacy of Dudley mountain climber and peace campaigner Bert Bissell. I gave Steve some help with a constitution to help formalise the Bert Bissell Memorial Society and Eileen had lots of ideas for connections the new group could make.

At April’s DY1-stop shop we’ll be joined by our Funding Officer, Martin and Inderjit Nijjer who’s the External Funding and Community Grants Manager on the ESF Programme at Walsall Council. Inderjit will be available to answer any questions you may have about the ESF grants programme.

DY1-stop shop is open on the first Wednesday of every month, 10am-1pm in the coffee shop of DY1, Stafford Street, Dudley. Maybe I’ll see you there soon!

Hints and tips on creating a charity

You might have seen that at the tail end of last year, I shared some lovely news about three organisations I’ve been supporting that successfully became registered charities. I thought it might be good to give some insight into the processes these organisations went through and share some hints and tips for making a successful application. Continue reading

Three new charities in Dudley borough

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.

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Friday 16 December 2016: The first ever Local Charities Day

This Friday is the very first Local Charities Day, a day to celebrate small, local charities and community groups.

Local charities are being encouraged to use the day to showcase their great work and celebrate their successes.

In January, I posted results of research carried out by TSB, which suggested that only 10% of the population could name two or more local charities. Perhaps Friday will be a good reason to spread the word about the wonderful work of local charities that happens every day!

To join in with showcasing your local charity, find out how here. And of course, you can join in on Twitter using the #LocalCharitiesDay tag.

Giving to charity: a survey of public attitudes by nfpSynergy

Photo credit: jovike via Foter.com / CC BY-NC

Photo credit: jovike via Foter.com / CC BY-NC

Recent survey results of public attitudes towards giving to charity make interesting reading and could help you to plan better, more transparent fundraising campaigns.

The research was undertaken by research consultancy nfpSynergy, which also released results of its survey into what puts people off giving to charity.

Based on 1,000 respondents aged 16+, it reveals that the top factors that encourage people to give to a particular charity are:

  • The charity is clear about what donations are spent on (56%)
  • Learning about the impact the charity has (47%)
  • Positive stories about the charity in the media (37%)
  • Case studies / stories about individuals that have been helped (33%)

Interestingly, the results suggest that people aged 55 and over were more likely to want a charity to be clear about what donations are spent on and information about the charity’s impact. People under 35 preferred case studies more than older age groups and they wanted to be able to take part in fundraising events, receive thanks yous and have volunteering opportunities.

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A snapshot of our work supporting people, communities and organisations over the last year

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I’m really pleased to share the work that my colleagues and I have been doing over the past year in a our most recent annual report. So new, it’s not yet hot off the press, the 2015-16 annual report is a snapshot of the work we’ve done between April 2015 and March 2016 to support individuals, communities and organisations across Dudley borough.

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Bayer Street Allotments flushed with success!

Bayer Street blog‘Flush and grow’ is a great title for a project. This is what Bayer Street Allotments Association have called their new project, which will help people in Coseley grow more green-fingered thanks to a grant of £10,000 from Awards for All. It’s been both fun and fascinating to support this group of volunteers who’ve given so much of their time to the community in recent months.

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Dudley groups that got involved in Small Charity Week

Small Charity Week 2016I just wanted to say a big ‘THANK YOU!’ to everyone who got involved in Small Charity Week in Dudley borough and to highlight the organisations that joined in our conversations.

We had quite a few conversations online and some busy activities that I really hope were useful and stimulating for everyone that joined in.

 

 

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