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.

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.

Conversations with the funder – Lloyds Bank Foundation

Last week, we held a ‘Meet the Funder’ session for charities working in Dudley borough to learn from and connect with the Lloyds Bank Foundation. Peter Cunnison, Grants Manager for the Lloyds Bank Foundation, joined us and other participants to tell us more about the aims and priorities of the Foundation, which opened to applications earlier this month.

The session was recorded and you can now listen to or watch it here:

Audio only:

Video (with slides)

Make an impact for a small charity: Become a trustee of ARC-AID

Are you interested in becoming a charity trustee? Do you have the skills to make a big impact to a small charity? Do you want to help lead campaigns that raise awareness for people and families affected by industrial cancers and diseases?

This might be the opportunity for you.

ARC-AID (which stands for Asbestos Related Conditions – Allied Industrial Diseases) is a small charity based in Dudley and it is seeking new trustees to help it maximise its work in raising awareness of industrial cancers and diseases, typically caused by exposure to asbestos . The charity raises awareness and campaigns for people and families affected by Mesothelioma and other industrial diseases. The principle ways ARC-AID does this are through awareness raising events and by providing grants and donations to charities that support people affected by Mesothelioma and cancers caused by exposure to asbestos, such as Mesothelioma UK.

The bulk of ARC-AID’s work is raising a platform of awareness through its shop and through talks. The charity runs a little charity shop in Dudley town centre and host a variety of fundraising events throughout the year. They would love to get more people involved, both at trustee and volunteer levels in order to maximise the support the charity can offer, improve its networks and amplify its messages so that more people and families can be helped.

In particular, ARC-AID is looking for a chair, secretary and people with skills in areas such as

  • financial management
  • digital
  • volunteer recruitment and support
  • fundraising
  • legal
  • marketing
  • networking.

Trustees are the people in charge of a charity, which means they do have legal responsibilities. They often give their time in the background, making sure their charity operates properly, safeguarding its staff/volunteers and the people it supports and making sure the charity fulfils its purposes. I’m currently offering support to the charity and can give in-depth training and support (through online video meeting) to anyone interested in this role. You won’t be left alone and I’ll support you every step of the way.

So, if you’re interested in becoming a trustee, or you’d like to find out more, download ARC-AID’s trustee recruitment pack and feel free to contact me at smallgroups@dudleycvs.org.uk. Alternatively, call Dudley CVS on 01384 573381 and request a call back from me so that we can have an informal chat.

If you’d like to find out more about being a charity trustee, meet other trustees and get further support, why not join us at our next virtual Trustee Chat on Tuesday 23 February at 10am, which we’re running with our friends SCVO? Book your place here.

Make a difference in Pensnett: Help to breathe new life into Fens Pool Community Centre

Are you passionate about bringing the community together? Do you believe that residents can lead, organise and create projects that bring life to a community? Do you have skills, passion and time to give to make things happen and help the community in Pensnett to thrive?

If any of these questions apply to you, this might be just the opportunity for you!

Pensnett-based charity, Fens Pool Voluntary Association, is urgently looking for new trustees to help bring new life into its community centre. The charity has traditionally run activities for children and young people as well as recreational and social activities for older people, bringing people together to improve the community’s wellbeing.

Fens Pool Voluntary Association faces significant challenges as sources of funding have steadily diminished over the years and trustees and other volunteers have moved on. Members of the Association are seeking new trustees to breathe new life into the charity and get it back on track.

Like all charities, Fens Pool Voluntary Association is set up to achieve its charitable objects – they’re its reason for existing. In summary, the charitable objects are to bring the community together in a common effort to advance education and provide facilities for the community in a way that supports social welfare. This means that new trustees will have the freedom to set up any projects or activities that will contribute to those aims, so this could be an exciting opportunity for people who want to make new things happen.

Trustees are the people in charge of a charity, which means they do have legal responsibilities. They often give their time in the background, making sure their charity operates properly, safeguarding its staff and the people it supports and making sure the charity fulfils its purposes. I’m currently supporting some of the members of Fens Pool Voluntary Association who are looking for trustees and I’m pleased to offer in-depth training and support (through online video meeting) to anyone interested in this role. You won’t be left alone and I’ll support you every step of the way.

So, if you’re interested in becoming a trustee, or you’d like to find out more, download the trustee recruitment pack and feel free to contact me at smallgroups@dudleycvs.org.uk. Alternatively, call Dudley CVS on 01384 573381 and request a call back from me so that we can have an informal chat.

Lots on offer to support new and experienced trustees this Trustees’ Week

Trustees’ Week has landed again and I wanted to share some of the great resources out there that can help you become a better trustee, as well as invite you to an informal Trustees Week chat that we’re hosting alongside our colleagues from SCVO. Many of these resources will help you all year long, whether you’re thinking of become a trustee, you’re new to the role or you want to build upon your experience.

Trustees are the people in charge of a charity. They often give their time in the background, making sure their charity operates properly, safeguarding its staff and the people it supports and making sure the charity fulfils its purposes.

Trustees’ Week is an annual campaign to showcase the wonderful work trustees do and to open up opportunities for more people to become trustees from all walks of life.

The Trustees’ Week website is a great starting point for information about trustees and the events and resources open to them. Here are some of my picks from the big programme of guidance, events and activities happening across the country, many of which you can access online.

Events during Trustees Week

Getting on Board’s Festival of Trusteeship

“It’s for people who want to become trustees, trustees who want to keep learning and developing, and for charity leaders who want to understand best practice in trustee recruitment and diversity.

We’ll have an action-packed week of events, with workshops, Ted-style talks, networking events, Q&A clinics, and more.

If you want to learn about: youth leadership, anti-racism in the boardroom, anti-ageism, charity finances, ableism, how to recruit amazing candidates, anti-sexism, how to manage volunteers, diversity & inclusion, safeguarding for trustees, how to be a strategic force for change, what charitable impact is and how to drive it forwards as a trustee, and even more… join us at the Festival of Trusteeship!

There’s also lots of webinars, workshops and discussions covering topics such as board diversity, governance in challenging times, recruiting new trustees and more. Find the full list here.

On Friday, we’re jointly hosting a Trustees’ Week chat with our colleagues from SCVO. Intentionally without an agenda, you’ll be free to join us to learn more about trusteeship, ask specific questions or share your experience and expertise. If you’d like to join us on this Zoom call, please register here.

Resources for trustees

The Charity Commission’s new ‘take 5’ guides

The Charity Commission has written new 5 minute guides, covering the top 5 areas of trustee responsibilities:

The Essential Trustee

The Charity Commission’s core guidance for charity trustees, which covers the legal duties and responsibilities of charity trustees.

The Charity Governance Code

A practical tool for charities and their trustees to develop high standards of governance.

NCVO Good Trustee Guide

Primarily for new trustees. This guide is available to NCVO members and has been made available to non-members until 9 November.

NCVO Trustee Recruitment Pack

A toolkit for small charities looking to recruit new trustees. This is available to NCVO members and has been made available to non-members until 9 November.

NCVO also has great resources and tools available all year round to help you to improve your governance. Visit https://knowhow.ncvo.org.uk/ for more.

Finally, we offer training to any Dudley-based charity on the roles and responsibilities of trustees using The Essential Trustee and the Charity Governance Code. This training takes boards through the principles of trusteeship and helps you to identify gaps, providing you with support, guidance and knowhow to improve your board’s performance. Please get in touch if you’d like this training.

 

Young Sketch Bookers: A lockdown project from Black Country Arts Council to help children and families to be creative

I’m really pleased to share the great news that Black Country Arts Council has received an Creative Communities commission from Creative Black Country to pilot a project called Young Sketch Bookers, which aims to bridge the gap between creative projects and community-focused outreach by offering free art packs to be distributed through the Black Country Foodbank and Dudley Performing Arts to children that may have barriers to learning.

Art Supplies 2

It’s a brand new project for the new-look Black Country Arts Council. For the last few years I’ve been supporting this small charity that has been running for a whopping 73 years to promote arts and creativity for everyone. I’m really pleased that it’s been able to launch a project in the midst of challenging circumstances.

In 2018, the charity faced a crossroads. Its board of trustees felt that they had taken the charity as far as they could in a changing world. The future was either to breathe new life into the charity by handing its reins to a new board of trustees or to close the charity completely. One long-standing member felt strongly that if the right people could be found, Black Country Arts Council could be rejuvenated and become a powerful network for promoting all art forms across the Black Country.

Together, we helped to identify and engage people who were interested in transforming Black Country Arts Council and soon we had a group of 7 potential new trustees who would come together as a sub-committee to explore what Black Country Arts Council could be. I helped the potential new trustees to do some visioning for the organisation and explore ways they could re-engage with and expand its membership. We looked at the constitution, thought about networks, what the offer was, how it could communicate, raise its profile and build its base with small scale projects. I also gave a brief workshop on the legal duties of trustees and helped the potential new trustees to liaise with the then current trustees so that there could be a seamless handover.

This resulted in a general meeting at which the new trustees were elected. The outgoing trustees gave some lovely encouragement and shared ideas for forthcoming activities that the Black Country Arts Council could get involved in (sadly, activities that will be cancelled or at least postponed in the current circumstances).

At about the same time, Creative Black Country was gearing up to launch its Arts Council funded project Creative People and Places into Dudley. This was a great opportunity for Black Country Arts Council to expand its networks and I was really pleased to see members at one of Creative Black Country’s meet-up events.

Thankfully, the connection that had been established meant that Black Country Arts Council trustees were organised enough to be able to bid to Creative Black Country’s Creative Communities programme, which now focused on kickstarting arts activities that could take place during the lockdown.

Art Supplies

Which brings us to the here and now! With a grant of under £1,000, Black Country Arts Council will be putting together 200 arts packs containing a range of accessible and quality art supplies, and a leaflet offering fun ideas for creative projects that children can engage in during the lockdown. The dedicated team of volunteers includes artists who will design the leaflet for the packs and offer instructional “follow along” videos through Black Country Arts  social media, supported by a British Sign Language interpreter to ensure everyone can be included.

These packs will provide support for up to 200 families across the region, offering ways for parents to engage their children, promote artistic interest and learn new skills. The packs will be distributed by Black Country Foodbank and Dudley Performing Arts to make sure they go to families that have been hardest hit by the pandemic and who may have barriers to accessing good quality arts materials.

The project-leads hope to flood social media with art, positivity and togetherness by encouraging people to post their creations using the #YoungSketchBookers hashtag and when the lockdown is eventually lifted there will be an exhibition of the artwork created, giving children a sense of achievement and community participation by bringing together everyone involved.

Banner Image

It sounds like such a positive project and I’m looking forward to checking out and celebrating the creativity of local children. I think we could all do with some of that right now!

Follow Black Country Arts Council for more:

Facebook: @dudleyartscouncil

Instagram: @blackcountryartscouncil

Twitter: @BlackCountryArts

Resources for charities and not-for-profits during the Coronavirus pandemic

It’s probably fair to say that it’s an uncertain time for the not-for-profit sector. The Coronavirus pandemic has affected organisations in different ways, depending on their activities, their size or how they’re funded. Some have had to suspend their activities; others have continued but scaled down; some have had their income streams completely dry up; others have faced an unprecendented increase in demand. Odds are also that added into that mix have been the challenges of doing things differently, loss of staff or volunteers due to sickness, shielding or furlough, and mental health implications.

Reassuringly, people have come forward in their droves to help in their community; this is very welcome and many of us are beginning to think about how this impetus is best harnessed as we enter new phases. The increase in volunteering could pose challenges in itself as organisations try to ensure that people volunteer safely.

I wanted to bring together some of the useful things we’ve been sharing to help not-for-profits over the past few months, share what’s coming up and pose some questions for us to explore over the next few months.

I’ll start with what’s coming up.

Next week is Small Charity Week and there are lots of events listed on the Small Charity Week website. We’re hosting three events next week.

Virtual drop in SCW

On Tuesday, we’ll host a virtual drop-in for small charities, voluntary groups & nonprofits. We can chat about anything to do with running a not-for-profit. We’ll also be joined by Jade from Severn Trent Community Fund and John from The National Lottery Community Fund.

Charity governance code SCW

On Thursday, we’ll run a brief training workshop on the Charity Governance Code to help trustees understand their role. It will be most useful for trustees of registered charities or people who are thinking of registering their organisation as a charity.

Sector catch up

And on Friday, we’ll host a sector catch up for charities, voluntary groups and other nonprofits. An opportunity to network, to catch up with developments and to discuss moving forward through the Covid19 pandemic.

NCVO (National Council of Voluntary Organisations) is also hosting a webinar on ‘Building organisational resilience: things for small charities to consider‘ next Wednesday.

This builds on the excellent series of webinars NCVO has produced on a whole range of topics, from protecting people, financial planning and making decisions during the Coronavirus pandemic. The webinars are all recorded and published on Youtube, so don’t worry if you’ve missed any; you can access them here.

I recently caught the recent NCVO webinar on ‘Board leadership: Supporting your charity through the next phase of the Coronavirus pandemic’

It encourages you to think about where your board of trustees are currently. Have they been helping out with delivery recently? It’s important to understand where the board is so that it can move on from emergency / survival stage and into the next phase; easing the board from management into governance and setting the charity’s direction will be important. And if planning might seem a futile exercise at the moment, there are some tools and tips for planning during uncertain times.

Finally, in case you missed our updates on our news page and in our regular email bulletin (you can sign up to that here), here’s a round up of the things we’ve put together over the last few months. The first two links are still regularly updated as the situation is changing quickly:

Help for not-for-profits

This resource covers

  • government guidance on working and providing services during the pandemic
  • guidance on governing your organisation, holding meetings, AGMs and other legal compliance matters
  • HR tools
  • financial help

It is regularly updated and visiting the page will always give you the most up-to-date version.

Funders for Covid-19

Covid19 funding

This is a comprehensive list of funders that have grants programmes for projects that will support the community during the ongoing pandemic.

It is regularly updated and visiting the page will always give you the most up-to-date version.

Helping in your community during Covid-19

community_action_response_facebook

For both individuals who want to help and groups that have been taking on more volunteers during the period. This contains

  • hints and tips for what individual volunteers can do to keep themselves and others safe
  • ideas for what people can do to help depending on their circumstances
  • help and resources for groups that involve volunteers covering safety, confidentiality, lone working guidance and more.

We are still offering one-to-one support to Dudley borough groups. We can offer this support either by email or by online meetings. We do have quite a bit of demand so we appreciate your patience on this; please don’t hesitate to make contact with us!