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? 

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.

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.

Dudley CVS AGM and Covid Heroes Awards 2020 – Celebrating inspirational people and vibrant communities across Dudley borough

At our virtual AGM and Covid Heroes Awards 2020 this year, we shared highlights from our work during 2019/20 and celebrated the outstanding contributions made by both individuals and groups to support those most vulnerable during the Covid-19 pandemic.

During the first part of the evening we shared highlights from our year; how we’ve been connecting, inspiring & championing great community work across Dudley borough: http://dudleycvsreview.org – You can download a snapshot of our annual report 2020 here: https://bit.ly/35xHUgO

During the second part of the evening, we recognised the amazing volunteers, staff and local groups who have truly gone the extra mile during these challenging times.

We are delighted to share this storyboard on our blog and hope you enjoy reading about our main awardees. You can watch nomination videos and also videos from some of our awardees, who have shared their thoughts on receiving an award.

Faith in the Community Award – Presented by Mark Axcell

Main Award: Michelle Smith

Michelle has a demanding full-time job and three young children, and yet for almost two years has led the Champions Kitchen outreach ministry. Pre-COVID 19 this involved organising and managing a weekly soup kitchen that served sit-down hot meals to around 70 people while also providing all guests with a bag of essential food supplies. This was delivered by a volunteer team of approximately 20 people each week. Michelle led the team which involved co-ordinating rotas, arranging food purchasing, liaising with local supermarkets for essential supplies and supervising the evening’s activities. 

Since COVID19 and the lockdown Michelle’s desire and passion to make sure no-one in need goes without has seen the weekly soup kitchen grow and expand into a weekly hot meal and essential supplies delivery service now catering for and delivering over 300 hot meals every Tuesday evening since the end of March.

Kindness in a Crisis Award – Presented by Paul Assinder

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.

Main Award: Shona-Rose Gilsenan, Just Straight Talk

Shona was visible and responsive within multiple communities across Dudley from day one of lockdown. Providing essential food and prescription drops to the boroughs to many people that simply could not do these everyday tasks for themselves. From those that could usually function that found themselves housebound to those that are the most vulnerable within our neighbourhoods.

She provided an avenue for people that live on their own or with people that do not communicate with other in their household talking to them for long periods of time over the phone and setting up zoom meetings and coffee mornings. Shona gained funding from additional sources to enable the purchasing of digital devices to connect with lonely and isolated people. She arranged events and quiz’s for people from all walks of life to get involved, make new friendships and grow and develop their own confidence and self-esteem without even leaving the house. In particular Shona encouraged people to lead within the groups and each week they became the co-ordinator of the session, they led the quiz and this gave the individual an enormous sense of pride and satisfaction.

Shona led and facilitated this and it became something very special. She stepped up almost immediately to the challenges Covid presented whilst juggling her own personal life and childcare. We feel very fortunate at Just Straight Talk as does the community as a whole, to have had her dedication and loyalty, always with a spring in her step and a smile.

Shona Gilsennan

Covid Community Champion Award – Presented by Kim Madill

Main Award: (Group) 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.

Main Award: (Individual) Andrea Childs and Carly Grandini-Williams

These wonderful ladies re-created Art during lockdown and shared via Facebook with hilarious results!! They gained a huge following of over 400 people on Facebook, people who just needed cheering up. 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.

Business with a Big Heart Award – Presented by Tim Jones

Highly Commended: Abrar Ahmed, One 4 You Services Ltd

Their nominator told us that Abrar and his team have been so much help to the community by keeping them safe and meeting their needs during the pandemic. He gave free taxi rides to nurses and doctors to the hospitals, delivered medication and food parcels to vulnerable people so they didn’t need to leave the house. He and his team also provided 3 course meals to staff at Russells Hall hospital. This demonstrates that Abrar and his team really care for the community and have been a big help to them.

Main Award: Dudley Arms

For our main awardee, 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 Covid Hero Award – Presented by John Cook
Joint Main Award:

Alex Griffiths

Alex Griffiths

Alex’s nomination form – 024 Alex Griffiths

Katie Davies

Katie’s nomination form: 018 Katie Davies

Covid Superstar Award – Presented by Bal Kaur
Joint Main Award:

Rose Cook Monk

As soon as the pandemic started in March, they were one of the first volunteers to sign up to support Dudley CVS’s Covid Community Networks. They were matched up with Dennis on their first day, who had been referred for support by his neighbour. Dennis was vulnerable, isolated and shielding, but they started doing his shopping each week and cooking him home-made treats. They were horrified to hear he subsisted off frozen ready meals and was soon dropping off homemade dishes for his freezer. They used to chat a couple of times a week on the phone too and used to ask if he was ok. Dennis always said “I am now I’ve seen you and bless you for looking after me”.

When Dennis was rushed into hospital after falling down the stairs, they were the person he rang as he had no-one else to call. They were horrified that someone they had known for 5 weeks was completely alone and was determined to be a friend to him going forward. After he came out of hospital they continued to support him and when they couldn’t reach him on the phone a week later, called around his house to be told by his neighbour that he had died. They were devastated, but a little consoled with the fact they had made a huge impact on his life in a very short time, providing him with a friend when he needed one!

During the pandemic this volunteer looked after 14 vulnerable, isolated people, with shopping, prescription collections etc. They also raised money through their own voluntary group, the Duncan Edwards Foundation, to purchase PPE for those who needed it, making up over 500 care packages for keyworkers with toiletries such as skin creams – as wearing face masks all day was causing skin issues for NHS and care staff. They have even been so far as Derby delivering care packages for those who need them. They have, with the support of their family and friends, donated over 7,000 pieces of PPE to key and care workers, people who have been caring for elderly or vulnerable family members, and latterly to people who have been self-isolating who could now go out but were still wary to do so. In addition, they have also become a donation point for the food bank and donated 600 meals to needy families.

Phil Alliband

They were an active volunteer for the Dudley CVS Covid Locality Networks and they told us this about them:

My colleague and I have nicknamed this volunteer ‘Thunderbird 1’ as they leap into action within minutes for any crisis that may arise and never say ‘no’! They are our go to volunteer for anywhere in the borough. We have had calls at 5 pm on a Friday to the Black Country Radio helpline, when people need urgent prescriptions but could not leave their house to get to the chemist, as they had been shielding. One call to this volunteer and within an hour the prescription is collected, delivered and they are on their way home.

Phil gives everyone he helps his number and he’s the first person some of them call in an emergency. Barbara rings him often when she had a problem, such as needing to go to the GP surgery. Phil kitted himself and Barbara out with PPE, settled her in the back of his car and took her there himself.

We had some PPE donated by an anonymous donor during the pandemic and this volunteer collected the items from the donor. On one collection they needed to go with another volunteer and they took 8 car loads each! They took charge of the stock, logging what was available and fulfilling the order lists that they were sent weekly. Driving the length and breadth of Dudley borough, distributing over 200,000 items of PPE to schools, faith groups, charities, community groups etc., ensuring it was shared out to those most in need, including the Foodbank. They have been invaluable and without their commitment and organisational skills, this would have been a challenge with the restrictions during the pandemic.

Phil Alliband

A special thanks to all the amazing Covid heroes across the Dudley borough, and to those who contributed to making the evening such a special event!

Celebrating Covid Heroes in 2020

We have been distributing some thank you packs to local volunteers who really made a difference during the Covid-19 Pandemic, supporting individuals and communities in all sorts of ways. They have been asked to share a selfie with us and we thought it would be wonderful to share these superstars in regular posts.

Here is a gallery of the first superstars who have sent us their selfie!

Why not nominate your Covid Hero/es today!

2020 has been an unprecedented time for us all with the Covid-19 Pandemic and Dudley CVS feels that this year’s awards need to recognise and reflect the outstanding contributions made by both individuals and groups, to support those most vulnerable during these challenging times. We wish to recognise volunteers, paid staff and local groups who have truly gone the extra mile.

Please visit our Dudley CVS Covid Heroes Awards 2020 page and nominate today!

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!

#VolunteersWeek2020 – A round-up of our virtual week of celebration and a heartfelt thank you to all our volunteer stars!

This week we’ve been celebrating #VolunteersWeek2020 and saying a special thank you to volunteers who have been supporting their communities through our six virtual Covid-19 support networks across Dudley borough. These incredible volunteers have worked tirelessly to support local vulnerable people, and those self-isolating or shielding, helping with medication collections, essential shopping, or simply befriending to lessen feelings of isolation, loneliness and uncertainty during these difficult times.

We’ve heard so many heart-warming stories of kindness, companionship and newfound friendships. We’ve also heard how volunteers have gone the extra mile to help people to feel a little bit of normality during lockdown, including deliveries of Friday night fish and chips! Volunteers have responded with such positivity and we’ve seen overwhelming acts of kindness.

As Volunteers Week draws to a close, we look back at just a handful of some of the wonderful stories shared by volunteers and our staff. We also want to pass on the many warm messages of thanks that we’ve received on behalf of the people supported. Many have said how incredibly grateful they are to have had the support of volunteers through these uncertain and difficult times. (Visit our Dudley CVS Covid Heroes Awards 2020 page to find out more about how to nominate your Covid hero/es.)

On Wednesday, Becky, our Small Groups Officer, shared a story about Stourbridge Covid-19 Community Support Group, a brand new mutual aid group that has been working with us since the beginning of lockdown. The group has more than 200 volunteers making shopping trips, collecting medications or offering companionship over the phone. Read the full post here

We’ve shared the stories of volunteer stars, Sheila, Phil, Sam, Sharon, Francesca, Dave, Jayne and Steve, talking about their volunteer experience and how it’s made a difference their lives and the lives of others. Here are some of those stories… 

 “I was quickly matched up with three people who needed help with their shopping.  When I first rang to introduce myself, I was a little nervous but we soon started to get to know each other.  We have now got into a lovely little weekly routine starting with a chat for the shopping lists and a chance to find out a little bit more about each other.  My Mum is vulnerable and lives in Shrewsbury so when we went into lockdown I knew that my sister would take care of her but I felt a bit useless. So, I started this process to help where I could.  What I didn’t expect was to find three different, lovely people who are so grateful of my help but, in turn, have also helped me through these strange and unprecedented times by giving me a sense of purpose.

I feel like we have sailed a path through these stormy waters together and we will keep going until we are able to step out onto a safer shore having battled this storm in the best way we can, with care and kindness for each other. We will never forget one another and I hope one day, when all this is over, we may be able to sit down and have a proper conversation over a nice cup of tea.”

Sheila Jones, volunteer.

Read more…

Nothing is too much trouble for Phil, and over the last 10 weeks, he has supported a number of people with their weekly shopping trips along with undertaking on average two medicine collection runs per week.

“I have volunteered for Operation Santa with my wife Sarah and when I heard Dudley CVS needed help during this current crisis I offered my help.

I was allocated an area and my role is mainly collecting and delivering prescriptions for vulnerable residents living in my local area. I’ve also been asked to help with some shopping and I shop for one lovely old couple every Thursday Morning.

I have earned the role of  ‘go-to source’ for any emergency requests as I am always willing and happy to drop everything and get the job done, and now have the nickname Thunderbird 1!

I have enjoyed meeting people living in my local area and also establishing a good relationship with local pharmacies. To have a sense of purpose during these difficult times has had a very positive effect on me.”

Read more… 

Volunteer, Francesca, said:

“Volunteering has been good for me too. As someone who struggles with anxiety, it’s pushed me out of my comfort zone sometimes, but it’s been very rewarding.

I’ve met some lovely people that (although our ages may differ) have become good friends. Being forwarded emails of thanks makes me realise how fortunate I am to be able to help others and not be reliant on the kindness of strangers – I try my best for them and it’s good to know they are happy with my efforts. I’ve even enjoyed the shopping experience – it’s been challenging at times, but it’s provided some humorous moments in these strange times.

Equally, the people I’ve delivered to have been so kind and appreciative, it’s put a smile on my face on many days. They may be “stuck” in their houses, but their strength and resilience is inspirational. I hope should they need help once we’re “out” of this pandemic they will know they now have friends in the community who are ready to assist. I believe it’s important we all learn from this experience and gain a sense of community so that we can take some good from it!”

Rose Cook Monk shared her heartwarming story of newfound friendship. An older man she was supporting was rushed to hospital as he had fallen down the stairs of his maisonette. When the nurse asked if there was anyone they could call, Rose was the only person he could think of.

“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”.

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?

There must be hundreds of people like him out there. Please if you live by an elderly person or even someone living on their own – keep yourself safe – socially distance yourself – but knock on their door – drop a note through their letterbox, check that they are okay. One face, one voice could make all the difference to their day.”

Read more…

Mother and daughter, Sam and Sharon, shared how they have been connecting with local isolated people.

“We have had a number of local residents in Kingswinford and Amblecote we have been shopping for, collecting prescriptions and offering a friendly chat on the phone when they need it.

We feel we have made a difference by allowing vulnerable people to have a connection to the outside world in this awful time. Without the volunteers, they wouldn’t have access to essentials at this difficult time. It has been a very rewarding experience and it’s brilliant to help the community where possible.”

Read more…

Dave has predominantly carried out collections of medication from chemists to deliver to vulnerable people.

“One man, in particular, stated that I was the first person he had seen face to face for a week and it was so refreshing for him. We chatted for about 20 minutes (at a safe distance of course).

I gave him my works number and told him that if he wanted a chat at anytime he could call me. He said that he had plenty of telephone calls but it was just nice to actually see someone and have a conversation.

I also support another Coseley resident who has not left his house since March. He is always very grateful for a quick chat when we deliver anything.​”

Steve and Jayne have been volunteering with Black Country Foodbank. They pay tribute to those wonderful people who are selflessly keeping the country going during the pandemic often at risk to themselves.

“I’ve kept my head down volunteering in the strange world of the Covid crisis but today need to pay tribute to WONDERFUL PEOPLE who give so much expecting little or nothing in return. My dear Jayne of whom I’m always proud has been volunteering with me since the start of the crisis three days a week at Black Country Foodbank with a brilliant group of like-minded volunteers whose only objective is to help those so much less fortunate. Thank you to all.”

Read more…

And, here, just one of the messages of thanks that was sent to us from a lady supported with essential shopping:

“I just wanted to thank you for arranging my shopping requirements, which arrived just after 7.00pm tonight. Your volunteer called me from her car after she had left the shopping on my doorstep, so she followed the separation guidance perfectly. The shopping was spot on, in every respect, and even though I did thank her, may I perhaps ask you to pass on my gratitude to her. I am a little embarrassed that I was unable to even offer her a contribution towards her additional fuel costs. Her voluntary actions have allowed me to relax now, and obviously this also wouldn’t have been possible without the actions of Gemma and yourself. The system works well! Thank you. Ironically, until he sadly passed away last July, for many years I was providing the same service to a 97 year old friend, never thinking that I would need similar help less than a year later. It goes to show that you never know what’s around the corner.”

Our Children, Young People and Families team shared stories of many incredible young people who are making a difference by getting involved to help and support others during this pandemic, delivering meals to families, shopping and collecting prescriptions for vulnerable people, baking cakes for key workers and producing information and resources to support other young people.

Tom an electrical engineer and Chloe a nursery assistant have both been furloughed so have plenty of time on their hands and wanted to help. Tom was clear from the start that he was not a ‘shopper’ and this would be his worst nightmare but he was happy to collect and deliver prescriptions which he did most days. They followed all of the social distancing guidelines and used hand sanitiser after each delivery. People were so incredibly grateful for their help, they got lots of smiles and waves which made it all worthwhile.

Katie is a student at Halesowen College and has been volunteering with Dudley CVS and partners including West Midlands Police for the past 5 years. Katie has a huge heart and passion to help others young or old.  A quick call to Katie any time of day with a chance to get involved will always result in a big yes, what time and where?  Katie arrives every time with a big smile and a huge amount of enthusiasm that is infectious.

During this pandemic volunteers from Black Country Wellbeing Hub, Dudley CVS and DMBC Public Health Colleagues delivered a massive 6000 meals to children across the borough in just 8 days. We calculated that just Katie and driver covered 376 miles and she alone must have jumped out of the car and run up drives to grateful families and smiley children at least 250 times. However this is not the end of Katie’s kindness, she has shopped for a family of 5 who are socially isolating due to their dad being shielded. She was the master of the Tesco scan gun!

Young Health Champion Becky has been busy writing blogs for www.dudleyyhc.wordpress.com. Becky has produced a number of flyers for young people on handwashing, things to do during lockdown and how young people can look after their emotional health.

Another Young Health Champion, Ash, has written a number of blogs providing information on dental hygiene during lockdown and other health-related information. Ash has also been shopping and collecting medication for local residents in Stourbridge.

We just want to finish by saying a heartfelt thank you to all our volunteers who have been supporting their communities through our Covid-19 support networks across Dudley borough. You’re all stars!


 

Why not nominate your Covid Hero/es today!

2020 has been an unprecedented time for us all with the Covid-19 Pandemic and Dudley CVS feels that this year’s awards need to recognise and reflect the outstanding contributions made by both individuals and groups, to support those most vulnerable during these challenging times. We wish to recognise volunteers, paid staff and local groups who have truly gone the extra mile.

Please visit our Dudley CVS Covid Heroes Awards 2020 page and nominate today!

Time to pause and reflect for Volunteers’ Week: A special thank you to volunteers from Stourbridge, Lye and Wollescote

It’s been quite a while since any of our team here at Dudley CVS blogged about our work. The reasons might be obvious; our work has changed beyond recognition since February as we’ve flexed to respond to and help our sector and our communities respond to the Covid-19 pandemic.

But it might be fitting that our first post, now we’ve been able to pause for breath, comes in Volunteers’ Week, which we are celebrating virtually this year. I wanted to celebrate and thank an incredible group of volunteers that has been working tirelessly to support people who may have needed some extra help during lockdown.

The background

In early March, our team started exploring how we might support the sector and help people who might start to come forward to lend a hand safely. We felt that many groups would want to help, that new mutual aid groups would spring up and that people would want to roll up their sleeves. We weren’t disappointed on that score!

We established six virtual Covid-19 support networks which covered the whole borough in six areas along the same geographical lines as our Integrated Plus project. These networks consisted of CVS staff and partners such as the local authority, police, NHS services and other voluntary organisations such as Black Country Foodbank. At the same time, we put a call out for individual volunteers and voluntary groups to sign up with us so that we could ensure that support was co-ordinated.

DCVS Covid 19

Dudley borough didn’t disappoint! We had 600 individual volunteers sign up and we’ve been bowled over that people have stepped up in their numbers to do whatever they can.

Eileen is spending this week sharing stories from our star volunteers who have been giving so much to their communities at the most testing times. I want to share how an army of volunteers have helped people in Stourbridge, Lye and Wollescote in all sorts of ways.

The amazing volunteers!

Through the six virtual networks, we’ve been supporting people who have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic, such as those with long-term conditions, as well as helping those who might be self-isolating or shielding. Networks have been receiving referrals from all sorts of places: GPs surgeries, local authority services, self-referrals to our helpline or the Black Country Radio helpline, Facebook, even from concerned friends and family members in different parts of the country.

While our Integrated Plus colleagues have helped to ensure that services are wrapped around the people that need them, us CVS leads in each area have been matching those volunteers to people that need some extra support with things like picking up medication, essential shopping or telephone befriending. The ideal has been to help foster relationships and promote neighbourly behaviours so that the support is less transactional and in the hope that this relationship continues, though we recognise that people’s circumstances can change.

We’ve been so grateful for any help our borough’s volunteers have been able to offer, whether it’s been a one-off medication delivery or more sustained support. I know that the willingness of so many to help has given us confidence that people are getting support and we hear constantly from the people referred to us that volunteers have been lifesavers!

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In Stourbridge, Lye and Wollescote, the areas I’ve been covering, I’ve been particularly lucky to have the magnificent support of Cat, Emma, Lee and the whole team involved in the Stourbridge Covid-19 Community Support Group, a brand new mutual aid group that got in touch with us as soon as we put the call out for volunteers and groups to work with us.

The group has more than 200 volunteers and is remarkably well-organised, quickly adopting systems and processes to make sure their volunteers and the individuals they support are kept safe. They’ve given me incredible confidence that the people I’m referring will get swift and appropriate help.

As well as responding to the hundreds of referrals I’ve made to them, allocating volunteers to make shopping trips, collect medications or offer companionship over the phone, the Stourbridge Community Support Group has been taking referrals themselves, through their Facebook page or their phone line. They also offer food parcels to people who have found their income unexpectedly cut off. Their support is pretty much around the clock and as lockdown starts to ease, they are still offering help.

I’ve spoken to more than 200 people that have been referred to us for support, some of whom I’ve spoken to more than once or twice and I’ve been really blown away by the connection I’m feeling to people I’ve only ‘met’. I’m sure this is magnified for the Stourbridge Community Support Group, since when I’ve made a referral, I’ve learned that the group keeps in touch with that person to offer ongoing support, which is astounding commitment. Another thing I’ve been struck by is the number of people who have been shielding or self-isolating saying that they would ordinarily be volunteering if their circumstances were different.

In our last network meeting, which has representatives from the Stourbridge Community Support Group, Dudley CVS, Integrated Plus, the local authority, NHS mental health services and other partners, Emma from the Stourbridge Community Support Group asked for some feedback from us so that they could better understand whether there was a continuing need for what they were offering. The responses overwhelmingly showed how services and partners perceived the volunteers’ fantastic contribution as of equal if not greater value! I shared my own gratefulness for the group by sharing an example of how responsive they have been in urgent situations which are not so straightforward. A couple of weeks ago we had a lady referred to us who should have received a government food parcel, which hadn’t arrived, leaving the lady with very little food. I contacted the local authority to try to get to the bottom of what had happened and to set up a food parcel. Given that we were near the end of the day and local authority staff are juggling all sorts of priorities in very challenging circumstances, I also got in touch with the group, since I knew they are constantly checking their referrals email. Within ten minutes, the ever-ready Lee responded to let me know that they would get a food parcel to the lady within the hour. (Our local authority colleagues also responded very quickly and they’re doing a wonderful job within our partnership in really challenging circumstances – it really is a great team effort!)

At the moment referrals have tailed off. This might be a reflection that people have become more accustomed to the situation and got support in place. It could be because there is now a centralised helpline and food distribution hub in place, led by the local authority. But I think it’s in no small part to the incredible volunteers across the whole borough who’ve now built relationships with the hundreds if not thousands of people that were referred to us throughout March and April and are continuing to support them now. We’re so grateful for their willingness to help people in their communities and hope we can harness this positivity as we tentatively find new ways of working.

My usual job is to support people to set up, run and organise their voluntary group, charity or social enterprise. It’s quite a change that I’ve come to rely on a voluntary group over the last few months. I hope that I can return the favour and help the Stourbridge Community Support Group and its volunteers to think about how they can build on the goodwill of the army of volunteers, the connections they’ve made, the people they’ve supported and develop community resilience that outlives the emergency situation. At the very least, I hope to be able to thank them face-to-face someday.

thank you heart text

Photo by Řaj Vaishnaw on Pexels.com

Thank you; you’re all stars.

If you would like to donate to the Stourbridge Community Support Group, to help it continue its work, you can do so here: https://bit.ly/3dtknAl.

Operation Santa Dudley borough 2019 – another epic adventure!

Dudley CVS which is a registered charity, has run its Operation Santa appeal for over 40 years and in 2019 was proud once again to work together to connect, collaborate and build partnerships with individuals, organisations, groups and businesses across Dudley borough, and beyond! It was been another whirlwind of activity with 12994 donations and some amazing support, and goodwill along the way.  It’s truly been another phenomenal effort with more support than ever from kind-hearted individuals, groups, societies, statutory partners and businesses. Unfortunately there was also an 86% increase in requests for support!

Who do we support?

We try to provide a main present for children and young people who would otherwise receive nothing for Christmas.  This year we received 95 requests for support, with a maximum limit per request of 25 children, from schools, social workers, children’s services, children’s centres, other statutory partners, voluntary, community and faith sector groups.  There were also requests for grotto presents or presents for Christmas parties, which we did our best to fulfil.

#Team Santa

Our wonderful team of committed elves were busier than ever. Thanks to Trev, Rose, Jayne, Steve, Sarah and Phil for their time and support. These lovely people are all volunteers who give their time around already busy lives.

Black Country Radio

Lee Southerton – Volks Magic, Garry Aulton – Beerbuz/VDubz in the Valley with Clive Payne – BCR

This year we were blessed to be offered a superb location for our grotto with Black Country Radio at their studio in Brierley Hill and the whole team really went the extra mile to support us.  They produced a special advert which they ran throughout November and December, invited us along to their shows to share our progress and challenges, and even added a special section on their website, with links and a contact form. They secured wonderful press coverage for our launch on 7th November, including the Express & Star reporter, photographer and also Radio WM, helping us raise our profile and even ran a special programme where our launch guests such as the Hope Centre, Top Church Training, Volks Magic and VDubz were interviewed live on air.

Brett Harris and his angels from Blaze Hair

Our committed Business Ambassadors were once again on a mission to generate as many donations as possible and achieved an amazing 2250 donations this year. They reached out to their network of supporters and helpers, including a fabulous donation of hundreds of brand new books from All Saints Church, Claverley.

Santa’s a Gangster and Volks Magic

Lee Southerton [Volks Magic/Santas a Gangster] with the Mayor of Dudley [Cllr David Stanley]

We were very fortunate to have Lee Southerton and his ‘Santa’s a Gangster’ supporters join us in 2017 and their ongoing support is invaluable to our appeal each year.  This year they raised a phenomenal £11,000 from their supporters and the VW Beetle Cabriolet Prize Draw.  This meant we were able to keep the grotto topped up with presents for children and young people who may otherwise think that Santa had forgotten them. A number of the supporters attended our appeal launch event in November.

Lee’s friend Jim Cousins, who was a keen supporter, passed away in early November and those attending his wake were asked to bring toys and gifts along to his final cruise, with over 300 presents delivered to the grotto directly afterwards.

This year these supporters generated an amazing 3022 donations in addition to their fundraising efforts!

Beerbuz and VDubz in the Valley

Garry and Hayley Aulton who run Beerbuz and organise an annual VW gathering called VDubz in the Valley raised a phenomenal £3500 at the event’s charity auction in September to add to the Santa’s a Gangster appeal.  They attended the launch and were able to share photos of the gifts which were purchased with the money they raised. Garry and Hayley were recognised with a special award at Dudley Volunteer Awards 2019.

Kingswinford Charity Football Club

We were lucky that the wonderful team of Jason, Carl, Mike and Simon were back to support us again this year, with a huge toy shop and funding another Christmas party with entertainment, hot Christmas dinner and a present from Santa at DY1 Venue. There was a magical grotto for Santa to sit in and the children had a wonderful afternoon as always.  The guys were also recognised with special 20 year long service certificates at Dudley Volunteer Awards 2019.

The Court House Carvery

Chris, Paul and Paula generously offered 100 free Christmas carveries for local kids again this year, despite the fact that the pub had been sold and they had to cease trading on 17th December immediately after our second Christmas carvery party. Paul again played Santa and gave every child a present. Their generosity was also recognised with a special award at our Dudley Volunteer Awards in 2019.

Prospect Coaches and Merry Hill Private Hire

We were grateful to secure free coaches again to transport the children to the Court House for their lunch this year and Adam Davies from Merry Hill Private Hire said why he was delighted to support Operation Santa.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Mayor of Dudley, Dudley MBC staff and councillors

Maren Lilley in the Council House foyer with some of the donations

We were once again fortunate that the Mayor, Dudley MBC staff and councillors again supported our appeal.  Special thanks to the Mayor, Cllr David Stanley and Maren Lilley, who organises the appeal across DMBC and the lovely staff, and councillors who helped this year.

 

Black Country Wenches

Michelle and Karen were kind enough to support us this year. They visited the grotto and made a special video which was very popular, with over 6000 views. You can watch the video on their Facebook page here: https://tinyurl.com/wh3sz66

Through their connections we were also able to channel some party presents to local foster children and a box of tennis balls was sent to the Greyhound Trust.

Daz Rudge and Craig Knowles [Virgin Media]

Daz and Craig who work for a well-known local media provider cycled an incredible 30K a day throughout November at a local leisure centre and raised a fabulous £675 in sponsorship, which they spent on toys for the appeal. Here they are unloading their van of goodies.

Glynne After School Club

The children from this club have been supporting us for several years and each child chooses a toy to donate that they would like themselves to give to another child who may get nothing for Christmas.  They visit us in the grotto each year and we always take a photo as a souvenir of their visit. [Here are Dean, Alexa, Ellie and Carley when they dropped off their gifts]

Brierley Hill Market

Special thanks to Santa for flying back from the North Pole especially to donate the money he raised at Christmas, in his grotto in Brierley Hill Market. Here he is presenting Eileen from Operation Santa with £350 to kick start Operation Santa 2020. Grateful thanks to Jason Keen, Malcolm Bridgwater and Steven Bridgwater for their efforts. So lovely that a local market and its traders want to make sure local kids don’t think Santa has forgotten them.

Geoff Hill Charitable Trust

Geoff Hill was a long-term supporter of our Operation Santa appeal and Sue Hill, his wife has generously continued his legacy again this year, for which we are very appreciative.

Feedback from those we have supported

Supporters List

We had so many lovely people who have supported us this year and here is a full list is available here: https://wp.me/P1ZP0K-x

Every picture tells a story

Photos from this year’s Operation Santa are available here: https://wp.me/P1ZP0K-MX

Why not follow us to see what we are up to and help us spread the word

opsantadudleyborough

What we can achieve if we work together! Celebrating inspirational local people, groups and projects across Dudley Borough #dva19 #dvastory

Dudley CVS’s Annual General Meeting and Awards is a celebration that recognises inspirational local volunteers, people and groups who generously give their time to help make life better for others in Dudley borough. It’s also a time to reflect on some of our greatest achievements throughout the year and to spotlight some of the amazing projects, groups and individuals we have supported. It’s also a lovely opportunity to join our colleagues at the Brierley Hill Civic and showcase our wonderful venue and what it has to offer.

At this year’s event we spotlighted some of the projects, groups and individuals we have been working with during 2018-19 and shared a snapshot our annual review; how we’ve been connecting, inspiring and championing great community work across the Dudley borough. Take a look at the full annual review here: http://www.dudleycvsreview.org

Last year our Carers Co-ordinator and Integrated Plus team continued to support more than 1,000 unpaid carers, people in crisis and those with complex needs. Our Integrated Plus team build a network of support around individuals, ranging from practical help, financial support and community activities to help them to become more socially connected and resilient.

During our AGM we spotlighted our work to develop the Integrated Plus High-Intensity User Service (HIU), supporting people in crisis and those with complex needs. Read more about the project on Danielle and Kelly’s blog post, “Our support to individuals all starts with a phone call and a cuppa.” https://bit.ly/2oXV5X6

Our Healthwatch Dudley colleagues shared highlights from their work last year, you’ll find their annual report here: https://bit.ly/33RAT7K

Integrated Plus, Healthwatch Dudley and our Carers team bring their different skills and experiences together in a way that benefits the sector and ultimately, the communities the sector supports.

Our work with Dudley’s Young Health Champions inspired Lauren to tackle period poverty. Her idea to make up packs now sees them distributed in all sorts of places, from family centres to schools. Lauren is making a real positive difference to the mental health of other young people https://bit.ly/2BEL7fT

We spotlighted Airtime, a weekly group for members of the community with COPD and related conditions, and our work to support the group to become independent and sustainable. Airtime was one amongst 200 hundred not-for-profits we supported last year.

We worked with Age UK Dudley to support a common aim: keeping vulnerable people connected and well. 9 groups were helped to kickstart or expand their activities with grants of between £250 and £500. Age UK funding helped Wall Heath Ladies Choir to get started and get a further grant of £3,000 https://bit.ly/31DCOeD

Our support to groups last year led to 32 successful funding applications totalling almost £2,000,000. We’ve supported groups to raise more than £11.7 million from grant funders over the past 11 years!

Our work with Dudley Voices for Choice (DVC) resulted in them being awarded a grant from the National Lottery Community Fund totalling £415,720 to maintain a regional self-advocacy network https://bit.ly/2MGZeYd

We brought together local charities CHADD, Barnardos and Phase Trust to design a service that would support vulnerable people who were involved or at risk of becoming involved in child criminal exploitation. Read more about the NAVIGATE project: https://bit.ly/2Jf3H2r

We’ve gathered local doers, creatives, makers and all kinds of people who shared an appetite nurture a culture of curiosity and kindness in Dudley town centre. https://bit.ly/361vrkQ

Our work in both Dudley and East Coseley Big Local show how we bring all sorts of people, organisations and partners together to build kinder and more connected communities.

Our Volunteer Centre helps people from all walks of life to connect with good causes and start making a difference. Last year we linked the Art Yard with incredible volunteers doing great things across Dudley borough. Artworks were created in celebration of what volunteers do to help their local communities. https://bit.ly/32C6URb

Following our AGM and highlights from 2018/19 it was time to focus on the awards part of the evening, celebrating local volunteers, people and groups who generously give their time to help make life better for others.

Listen back to the Dudley CVS Awards on Black Country Radio!

 

Deb Brownlee received the Arts and Heritage Award for her tireless work to reopen and restore St John’s Church in Kates Hill and turning it into a community hub. Deb’s nominator said “The ‘never say can’t’ attitude of this group is utterly remarkable and the obstacles they’ve had to overcome would have defeated most. Deb’s dedication is exemplary and having spent 1000s of hours on her beloved project is fully deserving of an award”.

The Sporting Champion Award was awarded to Bryn Nicholls and Briony Tonks from Oldswinford and Stourbridge Social Cricket Club. Bryn and Briony have developed a supportive and fun programme of cricket activities for disabled children and young people. Their nominator said “The needs of participants are to the forefront of Bryn and Briony, and sessions are planned and delivered so as to help all involved to develop both personal skills and social skills.”

Kyle Harper was awarded this year’s Ray McGuirk Young Volunteer of the Year Award. Kyle helped to set up All Stars Youth Club, and regularly volunteers at the club which caters for young people with special educational needs and disabilities aged 8-30 years. Kyle’s nominator said “All Stars Youth Club initially had no funding. Kyle decided to fundraise by doing a bag pack at Tesco which raised over £300. He also solely arranged a Charity Ball with singers, raffle, bingo and a disco, raising £700!”

The Business Supporting the Community Award went to Julie Bate from Amblecote Sainsburys for the dedication she has shown to local family carers and organisations that support them in Dudley borough. Julie’s nominator said “She has a social conscience and has made a real impact by helping us all to create positive spaces for people who are struggling with their caring role. She listens to people when they feel unheard, takes action and inspires others to do the same.”

Friends of Wollescote Park received the Community Champion Award for all their hard work to make the park a beautiful oasis for the community. The person who nominated Wollescote Park said “The group are really innovative and tenacious. Their exceptional commitment to involving the whole community and being inclusive is to be commended. Their project work is an inspiration for other community groups.”

Recovery Café volunteers received the Kindness and Inclusion Award. Their nominator said “All the volunteers are, or have been dealing with their own issues, whether that be mental health, addiction or financial hardship and they are all getting through it and supporting each other as well as the customers of the café.”

 

The Mark Ellerby Award for enterprise, digital and technology went to Mike Tolfree, Oliver Bennet and Callum Fowkes who are all volunteers at the Beacon Centre’s FabLab, a workshop that develops visually-impaired people’s digital manufacture skills. Their nominator said: “Mike, Oliver and Callum are hugely dedicated to the Beacon’s FabLab and their enthusiasm has been instrumental in ensuring the successful launch and 1st year of FabLab”

Their nominator said “Mike has pushed forward on an artistic level taking the quality of products to a level we didn’t expect so early on, enhancing photographic and personalised ornaments and corporate branded items such as T-shirts, keyrings and signage”

“Not only has Oliver immersed himself in smart device accessibility to help the Beacon Centre’s visually-impaired customers, he’s dedicated to 3 clients in our home visiting scheme, helping them get out and about, giving IT support & helping one to set up their own company.”

Callum’s nominator said that he “developed his knowledge of 3D printing and design for FabLab to produce bespoke items such as 3D tactile maps. These 3D maps enable visually impaired people gain a better understanding of new surroundings & environments through touch”

“Without Mike, Oliver and Callum, the Fab Lab would, quite simply, not be able to operate.”

The Gordon Lindsay Award for Long Service, is an award for special local heroes who’ve dedicated more than 20 years to their communities. This was awarded to Jillian Fielder.

Jillian has been volunteering for 35 years to help children and young people develop, either with the Boys Brigade or the toddlers group she leads. Jill’s nominator said that her Boys Brigade group “provides a safe environment where children can run off steam, be children, build their confidence and self-esteem by trying new things and discover for themselves who they are as individuals.”

Jill’s Mom & Toddler group “also provides adults with the rare opportunity of sitting and chatting with friends, which helps to reduce isolation and loneliness and encouraging people to make new friends”

And Jill’s nominator thinks Jill is so special because “She sees the hardships that some of these children are going through and strives to make a positive difference to their lives. She is a hidden gem to our community.”

This year’s event also introduced a new award Operation Santa Business with a Big Heart Award.    

Operation Santa is a local campaign, which is run by Dudley CVS. Every year donations of new toys, gifts, food etc. are collected and distributed to local voluntary and community groups who support children, young people and families in crisis within Dudley borough. This year Dudley CVS recognised two outstanding businesses that had generously supported the campaign.

The Court House in Kingswinford, provided 100 free Christmas carvery dinners for children who would otherwise not get a Christmas lunch.

Garry and Hayley Aulton behind Beer Buz, organised a reverse Santa where people brought presents, plus an auction of donated items.  This auction raised over £3500 for local children and young people this Christmas.

View the full photo gallery from the event on the #DVA19 blog

What people said:

Always a special evening … I am in awe of all the volunteers who give so much to this community

I never cease to be amazed at the wonderful work that is being carried out by our volunteers!

Kindness ♥♥

Inspired, enthused and motivated to volunteer. Thank you DCVS!

Lovely to see kind, hardworking people recognised and the difference they make.

Inspiring and humbled. Great to see people being recognised

Still lots of things to achieve but let’s hope we are on the right road to success

Proud to work in Dudley ♥

A wonderful uplifting evening

Volunteers are worth their weight in gold x