This week is Small Charity Week, an annual and national celebration of the great work of charities, voluntary and community groups and social enterprises that have an income of up to £1.5million. Don’t forget to get involved throughout the week – click this link to see how!
I wanted to share my experience of supporting groups across the last year (April 2015-March 2016), what I’ve helped them with, the amazing people I’ve got to know along the way and the wonderful work they do to enrich people’s lives across Dudley borough.
Supporting groups in numbers
Here’s a little infographic I’ve made that should give you more information about the work I’ve been doing to support groups.
Many people get in touch with me wanting support with paperwork and registration (whether as a charity, a company limited by guarantee or a CIC). These kinds of things really seem to daunt people, but honestly, they’re the easiest part of getting up and running and in many cases, they shouldn’t be the starting point. What I’m always keen to do is getting out and supporting people, hopefully taking that fear away and taking the time to work with individuals on what they want to achieve, bringing people together and helping them plot and develop into a team. Paperwork and structures alone don’t make a successful group. Conversely, getting the foundations right by supporting people to understand what they want to achieve and why, building a shared vision can tell us what structure and paperwork is best suited and necessary to the group.
A good example is the work Donna and I did to support Friends of Lye and Wollescote Cemetery, a group of people that had been volunteering on the site supported by West Midlands Historic Buildings Trust. They wanted to ensure that they still had a way to liaise with the local authority and to continue volunteering onsite once West Midlands Historic Buildings Trust’s funded project had come to an end. We worked with the volunteers using a variation of Team Canvas, to get them thinking as a collective about their vision, the great skills each of them brought to the group, the kinds of activities they would like to do in the short, medium and longer term. We also got the group thinking about specific things that people could do to support the group, from keeping a list of members, to looking after the Facebook group and leading guided walks. Finally, we collectively developed a short constitution to get all of this into writing.
It’s been lovely to take other groups, such as Coseley Working Together, Together We Strive CIC, Dudley Youth Council, Ehsas Carers, Friends of Hay Green Recreation Ground and others, on a similar journey.
Particular highlights have included:
- Seeing the launch of Black Country Integration Project, which works to challenge prejudice and
to bring communities together
- Working with determined volunteers to resurrect Friday Night Lower Gornal Youth Club
- Meeting members of the Roma Gypsy community and supporting them to set up a group, now called Reaching Out For Change, using Google Translate to get over our language barrier!
So that was my year. I’m already enjoying the challenges of this one and I’m looking forward to sharing more about the amazing work that Dudley’s community groups, charities, social enterprises, volunteers and active citizens do every day.