Dudley CVS commission Riverside Stourbridge CIC to deliver new outdoor social prescribing activities

Riverside House is a beautiful and ecologically diverse site in Stourbridge which runs alongside Stourbridge canal. Riverside House is in the process of transforming the 19th century ironworks area into a heritage centre with gardens, a restaurant, crafts shop, woodland and workshops but also a place where people feel included and bespoke opportunities are provided.

Much of this work is now well underway. Our capacity building team at Dudley CVS initially helped Riverside Stourbridge to get set up as a CIC, supported them with planning, building their vision and securing funding and it is fantastic to see the progress being made. The project works with a wide range of individuals from diverse backgrounds and supports them to learn new practical skills through the conservation and preservation of the estate.

In the winter of 2020, Clare and Lloyd at Riverside Stourbridge CIC applied for funding from our voluntary sector social prescribing fund. The fund makes it possible for new activities and services to be set up and delivered to meet the needs of our Integrated Plus High Intensity User social prescribing clients, who frequently attend A&E or call 999. Their application was successful and they’re now delivering three different workshops including copper & willow weaving, blacksmithing and green woodwork.

Ami is a client accessing the High Intensity User social prescribing service, after hearing about the workshops she was keen to try blacksmithing as she enjoys being outdoors and learning new skills. Ami attended the six week course and thoroughly enjoyed every session, she showed her Link Worker how she had made a plaque for her home to hang her keys on and how she has personalised it. Ami was able to recognise within herself how the workshop had built her confidence and helped her overcome her fear of new places.

“I attended the Blacksmithing course at the Riverside House Project and I loved it! Not only did I get expert and friendly tuition in a totally new skill I had never tried before, but the guys shared their vision and dreams for the Riverside House site during the sessions and got me excited for the future of the project. All the volunteers and leaders were friendly and welcoming, always encouraging and helped me feel confident in something I had never done before! Looking forward to joining with more projects and seeing the way the RHP develops and expands in the coming years.” Ami

To find out more about the other fantastic work that Riverside Stourbridge CIC deliver, click here.

To find out more about our voluntary sector social prescribing fund please email keeley@dudleycvs.org.uk

Carving spoons at a green woodwork session
Making copper bowls

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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!

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

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

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

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

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

Events during Trustees Week

Getting on Board’s Festival of Trusteeship

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

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

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

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

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

Resources for trustees

The Charity Commission’s new ‘take 5’ guides

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

The Essential Trustee

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

The Charity Governance Code

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

NCVO Good Trustee Guide

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

NCVO Trustee Recruitment Pack

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

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

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

 

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!

Dudley High Intensity User Social Prescribing Service continues to achieve excellent results

Vulnerable patients are continuing to benefit from the High Intensity User (HIU) project in Dudley, which is now entering its third year.

Year one saw a 33% reduction in A&E attendance and a 41% reduction in inpatient admissions saving the NHS over £492,995. Our second annual evaluation report for year two has seen a 75% reduction in A&E attendances and a 78% reduction in inpatient admissions saving the NHS over £546,540. New data has shown a 66% reduction in West Midlands Ambulance Service call outs with an additional saving of £230,193.

Delivered by the Dudley CVS Integrated Plus social prescribing team and match-funded by Dudley CCG and the Department of Health, the service offers a robust way of reducing avoidable frequent user activity to 999, A&E, and hospital admissions, freeing up front line resources to improve care for all patients and reduce costs.

The two Link Workers have continued to work in a flexible non-clinical way providing tailored support to frequent users of emergency services. The service has benefitted from being able to spot purchase groups, activities and services from our Voluntary Sector Fluid Floating Fund. So far we have been able to commission five different organisations to deliver creative activities, counselling, peer support groups, outdoor learning and housing and benefits support.

In addition to this we have been able to allocate personal health budgets up to the value of £100 per client. This has been a really positive intervention enabling Link Workers to work in a person centred way. Personal health budgets have been used to pay for transport to peer support groups which was previously a barrier and also items such as tablet computers to enable isolated clients to connect with the outside world.

A local service user said, “I needed more than a worker, I needed a friend, someone who could help me get in touch with the outside world, I felt so lonely and isolated. When I first met Kelly I had been in hospital several times, I was suicidal, and had given up, whereas now I enjoy life and am reconnected with friends.”

Another said,“This service has been extremely helpful, from the first visit from Danielle I was put at ease, she listened to me and I truly felt my issues were understood, which in turn enabled her to help me identify new avenues to explore. I am looking forward to starting my new volunteering role and giving something back”

Dudley CVS are delighted with the positive outcomes that the project is achieving. You can read the full evaluation report below:

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

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

Art Supplies 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

Art Supplies

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

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

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

Banner Image

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

Follow Black Country Arts Council for more:

Facebook: @dudleyartscouncil

Instagram: @blackcountryartscouncil

Twitter: @BlackCountryArts

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

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

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

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

I’ll start with what’s coming up.

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

Virtual drop in SCW

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

Charity governance code SCW

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

Sector catch up

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

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

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

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

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

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

Help for not-for-profits

This resource covers

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

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

Funders for Covid-19

Covid19 funding

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

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

Helping in your community during Covid-19

community_action_response_facebook

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

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

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

#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.”

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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.”

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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.”

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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.”

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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!