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

 

Let’s celebrate and recognise amazing local volunteers across Dudley borough.

It’s that time of year again, when volunteer-involving organisations’ thoughts turn to how to celebrate their wonderful volunteers.  However, a volunteer is for life and not just Volunteers Week, so I thought I would share a series of posts around ensuring your volunteers have the best possible experience.

So lots of articles out there around managing volunteers and good practice tend to focus on the volunteer-involving organisation’s view of the volunteering journey and I’ve decided it’s time to see things from the volunteer’s perspective.

Running a volunteer centre means that I am often contacted by volunteers who feel they have not had the best experience, been treated unfairly or are quite simply disillusioned with the whole thing and have decided it’s not worth the effort!  I’m often called on to do mediation or advocacy to try to repair the volunteer/organisation relationship too, so I’m encouraging you lovely volunteer managers out there to walk in your volunteers’ shoes and see the other side of the relationship.

These posts are not a criticism in any way of how you do things, they are just aimed to help you understand a volunteer’s perspective and enhance your volunteer/organisation relationships.   Managing volunteers is challenging as all volunteers are totally unique and often you are constrained by systems and procedures you don’t really have control over: however, you can certainly personalise parts of your volunteer management systems to make them more volunteer-friendly I’m sure.

Hopefully this series of posts will help you see things from the volunteer’s perspective and improve the way you interact with them, after all a happy, valued volunteer is more productive and a great advertisement for your organisation.

There are eight elements to this series and although there may some sections that appear to repeat what is in other posts, I felt it would be easier if I themed each one, so please do bear with them.

  1. Recruitment
  2. Selection and interviews
  3. Induction
  4. Support
  5. Motivation
  6. Development and training
  7. Recognition

Capturing the character of amazing local volunteers

At the start of 2018 DCVS was invited to assist Midland Film And Art, a collection of artists, craft workers, writers, performers and film producers, who were applying to the Arts Council (England) for funding towards a Character Portraits Project. The idea for the project was to create 24 real-life portraits of volunteers from across Dudley and Sandwell in recognition of what volunteers do to help their local communities.

DCVS agreed to support the project and put forward the names of 12 Dudley volunteers, including our Chairman, Mike Abrahams.  The artists taking part included writers and actors, and all went through an application and selection process.

The project application was approved by Arts Council (England) and this wonderful project commenced.

The Dudley borough volunteers who had been nominated were celebrated in variety of creative formats including the written word, sculpture, portraits in oils, felt and graphite, and even a mutoscope!  MFAA recorded films to record the process for each piece of art and these are available on our YouTube Channel if you would like to watch them.

On 12th April we will be holding a celebration event where family and friends of the subjects, plus the artists and supporters involved from MFAA will have a final opportunity to see the original pieces. The Mayor of Dudley, Cllr Alan Taylor, will be presenting the originals to the subjects for them to keep.  Local art lovers are most welcome to pop in and see these amazing pieces for themselves between 3 and 4 pm on Friday 12th April, in the main hall at DY1 Venue, Stafford Street, Dudley DY1 1RT.

However, this will not be the last time you get to see these pieces as we have plans to convert images of the artwork onto canvas prints for public display, and for them to tour the borough displayed in various locations so everyone can enjoy them.

Over the next few months we will be sharing pictures of these wonderful creative pieces individually and telling you the stories behind these amazing volunteers who are featured in them.

One of the portraits will be on display in the café at DY1 Venue from 15th April until 30th June 2019.  Steve Mukanovic (Ford) passed away in late December and was a well-known local volunteer, who had also volunteered as a minibus driver for Dudley CVS.  As he had so many friends, Dudley CVS thought it would be appropriate for his portrait to be displayed in the café so that friends and family could pop in for a cuppa and reflect on their much loved friend and relative.  The portrait will hopefully be going to a permanent home where he volunteered for over 30 years, but we wanted to share this beautiful piece of art with the world before it goes to its final location.

‘Fed up with looking at four walls? Then come and look at ours instead!’ – Senior Citizens Enterprise Woodwork Group

Based at the Meadow Road Youth Centre, the Senior Citizens Enterprise Woodwork Group, in Dudley, is a group for older people who are interested in woodwork.  It’s a fun and friendly environment offering older people a place to learn new or develop existing woodworking skills. It’s also a great place to find new friendships. The group has 23 members in total. Some members live on their own, some are widowers, some just like to get out of the house, make something and put their skills to good use! The oldest member, Ken, is 93 years old.

‘Fed up with looking at four walls? Then come and look at ours instead!’  That’s the motto of the Senior Citizens Enterprise Woodwork Group.

The wood workshop is fully equipped with modern tools and machinery. There really isn’t much that the group hasn’t made, and they’re always on the lookout for new projects to keep them occupied. They’ve kindly created cosy homes for many of the animals at Dudley Zoo, a castle hideout for the zoo’s female guinea pigs, a hotel for rabbits, bird, bat and red panda boxes. They’ve even built penguin boxes – they tell me that they have successfully bred since, so must have done a good job making them feel at home!

Members have also kindly given their time and skills to build a variety of bird habitats for the Midland Metro Alliance which will be installed along the Wednesbury to Brierley Hill route for the Midland Metro. It’s hoped that the bird boxes will attract a wide range of nesting birds.

They’ve built a bench for Acorns Children’s Hospice, nest boxes for local schools and they’re now looking to build Pine Marten boxes for an RSPB site in Shropshire.

The group acquire offcuts of wood donated by local businesses which enables them to build all of the items, these materials would otherwise have gone to landfill. They have even rescued supermarket trolleys from the canal and used the wheels to make wood replenishing trolleys that fit snuggly under the workbenches.

Steve is one of the youngest members of the group, he joined when he was 63 and mainly makes things for the family like shelving and benches. He tells me that people like to come to the workshop because they enjoy the camaraderie and they like to have a good laugh. A couple of members don’t look forward to the Christmas holidays as it just imposes on them coming to the workshop! They’ll open up again as soon as Boxing Day arrives, as long as there are two people in the workshop, for health and safety reasons, they will happily come in over Christmas!

Steve contacted Dudley CVS to get support to apply for a Dudley Community Forum Grant of £550. The application was successful, helping them to purchase sanding disks, belts, saw blades, machine saws and new router bits. They’ve also received £900 from Age UK, which they have used to buy a new router machine.

Dave is one of the founding members of the group, he’s made things including rocking horses and dolls houses. It usually takes him about 3 months to make a rocking horse which is made in blocks, glued together and then carved and painted. He’s also carved a shark out of wood, which sits on his fireplace at home.

Chairman Mick, is highly skilled on the woodturning lathes, he’s made fruit bowls and pens. He’s even made a beautifully carved walking stick.

Dave and Derek have a background in upholstery. Derek recently made an intricate money box. He enjoys coming to the workshop, but doesn’t like Thursdays much, as that’s when the workshop closes for the weekend!

Ken, the oldest member, is making clocks for his sons out of an old sideboard that belonged to his parents.

Bruce makes detailed wooden toy trains, plains and trucks. He finds his inspiration in woodwork books.

Bill is 84, he came to the workshop when he was 70, he started out as Chairman. He likes to make clocks and other things. He remembers the days when they used to walk around timber yards asking for offcuts of wood. He said “Coming here is good, we can discuss things over lunch, at our age, we don’t see anybody, pubs are too expensive and not good for you!’

George, the treasurer, likes to make boats with sails. He keeps them in his large shed, apparently, you have to go in sideways because of the number fabulous boats, lifeboats and submarines he has made.

All members are extremely skilled and talented. Some had skills before, some hadn’t, many have learnt skills from each other. All of their items are beautifully made and finished to a high standard.

The group originally started in the early 2000s when a few people were faced with redundancy from local businesses. It was suggested they go on other courses to re-skill, one of those was a woodwork course at Dudley College. When that closed down the group moved to Mons Hill in Dudley, then amalgamated with another group from Brierley Hill, it was then that they moved to Meadow Road Youth Centre where they have been based for over a decade now. They still use the original machinery that was donated by Dudley College over a decade ago.

The group has recently become a member of UK Men’s Sheds Association. Men’s Sheds provides support and guidance to individuals and groups across the UK, raising awareness of the social and health benefits of Men’s Sheds in reducing isolation, loneliness and in empowering local communities. Men’s Sheds supports individual groups to connect with new members of the community. They also provide advice and guidance on starting up and running a shed providing practical information guides, example documents and toolkits on topics such as registering as a charity, insurance, funding, sourcing equipment and venues, and volunteer recruitment.

To anyone who might be interested to join, they would say, “Come in, do your own thing, we’ve got heating, toilets and cups of tea to keep us nice and warm! What more could you want?”

To find out more about the group visit https://bit.ly/2WxNlHd