If you know Gornal, you might have walked past Ruiton Windmill and thought it was someone’s home. Perhaps you’ve passed it many times and never got a closer look. Maybe you’ve always been curious about it. Well, now’s your chance to learn more about this fabulous building at an open day on Saturday 9 October, 10am-4pm.
Ruiton Windmill is actually a former windmill and now open as a public building where lots of activities take place such as caving, amateur radio transmission and paranormal investigations! The people who look after the windmill will be throwing open its doors to anyone curious to learn more about what happens there, see the view from the top or share ideas about what other things could go on in this brilliant building.
My own story is that I’ve often seen Ruiton Mill on the horizon from a nature reserve where I often walk. From there it looked like a castle keep and I often wondered what it was! I got the chance to put two and two together when I was invited by Dudley Council and West Midlands Historic Buildings Trust colleagues to support the Ruiton Mill Preservation Trust (the charity that looks after the mill) with trustee recruitment and the general development of the charity. The building is owned by Dudley Council and managed by the charity as a place where the local community can come together, learn and take part in educational and recreational activities.
At the end of July, I got my chance to visit the mill and to take a peek inside (and from the top!). It was amazing – full of potential for all sorts of things! It’s divided into three floors, plus a cellar and the roof (where the views are stunning) and it was once the HQ of Dudley Cave Rescue, now Dudley Caving Club. It’s also home to Dudley Amateur Radio Society and Paranormal Hauntings Investigations and it has been used for overnight stays (it has a bunk room!) for uniformed groups and others, and it could be used for so much more too!
I met David, trustee of the charity that looks after the mill and a member of Dudley Caving Club (and the former Cave Rescue) to learn more. As well as charity trustees, the charity would love to make links with the community and other community groups who could use the mill as well as people who could give practical help so that it’s an attractive place that people want to visit. All of this will help to sustain this historic building for generations to come.
So we thought an open day might be a lovely way to show people what the mill has to offer and I’ve been helping to plan it with brilliant help from Melissa from Healthwatch Dudley, who will also be there on the day to talk to local people. I’m really impressed with David’s enthusiasm for the open day (which you can see in some of the fun photos I managed to take for the press release advertising it!). As well as being principal tour guide and sharing his incredible knowledge of caving and local geology on the day, David has brought together a team from the various groups to make sure there’ll be lots to see and learn on the day. There’ll be demonstrations and talks from John Smith, an original member of Dudley Cave Rescue, Dudley and District Amateur Radio Society, Dudley Caving Club, Paranormal Hauntings Investigations. Refreshments will be available to purchase and there’ll be activities to entertain all ages. Melissa has even enlisted 1st Sedgley Morris who’ll be performing in the courtyard.
I can’t promise the weather will behave like it did when I visited in July and September, but we can promise a warm welcome, some fabulous views and fascinating stories. We’d love to see you there anytime between 10am and 4pm on Saturday 9 October.
Please note that parking is limited, so please consider that if you’re planning a trip. In addition, to keep the event Covid-safe, numbers in and out of the building will be managed, so you may have a little wait in the courtyard when you arrive.
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.
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.”
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!”
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.”
“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.”
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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 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
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.
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:
Tuesday 15 June – SCVO will host as Higgs and Sons join us to talk Volunteers and the Law. Book here.
Thursday 17 June – Dudley Brew, the network for the not-for-profit sector in Dudley borough. 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!
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.
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
volunteer recruitment and support
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 email@example.com. 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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Alternatively, call Dudley CVS on 01384 573381 and request a call back from me so that we can have an informal chat.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!