I’m really pleased to share the work that my colleagues and I have been doing over the past year in a our most recent annual report. So new, it’s not yet hot off the press, the 2015-16 annual report is a snapshot of the work we’ve done between April 2015 and March 2016 to support individuals, communities and organisations across Dudley borough.
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.
I’m really pleased to share the work I and my wonderful colleagues have done to support individuals, communities and organisations last year. The Dudley CVS Annual Report outlines how we’ve been connecting and inspiring people and organisations to achieve positive change and championing their work. It covers the year April 2014-March 2015.
Following four very successful years (funding wise) 2014/15 proved to be a year where funding successes were much reduced however other opportunities came to the fore.
In the 4 years previous over 100 successful funding applications generated above £5M in new money into Dudley to support the great work of the voluntary, community and faith sector. However in 2014/15 there were just 13 successful applications resulting in new funding for organisations in Dudley totalling just over £700,000.
Martin was always ready to answer questions as soon as he could and his response whether by phone or email was prompt and efficient. I knew straight away that I could rely on him and his knowledge
A friendly, approachable method of working and always professional, in meetings and over the phone and email
Nothing changed in my usual approach to supporting the sector; I worked with 30 organisations, having over 60 meetings during which funding opportunities were identified and applications discussed.
What did change though was being involved in different approaches to securing support for organisations in our sector and to help them in becoming safer financially and more sustainable. During the year I attended various workshops/training courses around Social Finance and European funding.
As a result a series of articles on Social Finance have appeared in the Echo newsletter during 2015. The Building Better Opportunities funding initiative financed through the Big Lottery and EU funding has been launched in the Black Country and we are very much involved in Dudley.
Alongside all this activity I am continually discussing with organisations other ways of being more effective and efficient in these days of funding cuts and austerity. Suggestions include expanding services and bringing in a charging structure where appropriate (trading) as well as working more collaboratively and sometimes in partnership to achieve economies of scale, reducing costs etc.
Whilst the aim of this short blog is to show our involvement and successes at the front line of funding it is also here to reassure the sector that we are very much at the forefront of change and always keen and willing to support organisations as we move forward in these often challenging and exciting times that we currently live in. Lynda sums this up well by saying:
With the impact of statutory funding cuts within the voluntary sector, I believe that the funding information/advice/support that DCVS offers is vital for voluntary organisation to obtain funding in the future
It’s that time of year again when we start thinking about our annual report, a review of how, collectively, we have helped to build caring, vibrant and strong communities where everyone can achieve their potential. I enjoy taking a step back and looking at what small differences I may have made throughout the year, so I’m inviting you to take a glimpse of my personal snapshot of 2014-15 (April-March), supporting small community groups, voluntary organisations, charities and social enterprises.
It’s a busy and exciting time here at Dudley CVS as we’re gearing up for our AGM and Volunteer Awards, which will be held on Thursday evening. Within all this preparation and planning, we’ve been working on a new style of annual report that celebrates what we’ve been doing to support our sector and the wonderful people within it and we’re so happy to share it now.