Feelgood Choir has plenty to sing about: Grant funding success!

The Feelgood Choir really does have something to sing about, after being awarded a grant from Awards for All!

I’m really pleased to have been able to help the Feelgood Choir to get established and to access some funding to give it a great kick start!

The Feelgood Choir originally started as Dudley Mind Feelgood Choir, with the idea that group singing could be a wonderful aid to mental health. The choir regularly sang at shows and events, including at two Dudley Volunteer Awards where they really revved up our attendees.

Late last year, two choir members contacted me to explore the idea of setting the choir up as an independent group that might be able to manage itself and make it more sustainable. Due to cuts to the voluntary sector, Dudley Mind could offer the choir limited support and a free venue for rehearsals, but could no longer cover all the costs involved with running the choir.

I got together with Jan and Val and talked them through setting up as a voluntary group. I helped the group get set up on a firm footing by explaining the role of the committee and helping to develop the constitution.

The next step was to think about planning the group’s work so that we could identify what difference the group wanted to make to people’s lives and how it would do that. This also involved thinking about what costs were involved so that any funding application we worked on would be as detailed and specific as possible. We came out with a simple plan and I recommended Awards for All as an appropriate funder to approach.

Jan worked incredibly hard on the funding application, putting in research, stories from members and learning from running the choir with help from Dudley Mind. I was on hand to review the application and make some suggestions for improving it so that it was completely clear. It was a great application; you can always spot a good application but these days the competition is so tough that there’s never any guarantee.

feelgoodAfter a few months of waiting and nailbiting, we finally heard the great news! Jan popped into our July DY1 drop in, with a beautiful orchid and a beaming smile to say thank you for the support. It really was a pleasure to help them and Jan should get great credit for all of the commitment she’s put into making it happen.

While working on the bid, Dudley Mind had to close Dove House where the Feelgood Choir rehearse because of further cuts to its funding. Thankfully, the Feelgood Choir was able to secure another venue – DY1 itself! – to continue rehearsing and now it has room for many more members. So if you’d like to join a fun, welcoming group, you can go along at 6.15pm on Wednesday evenings (except in August). It’s £4 per week and no experience is necessary. They don’t do auditions either; everyone is welcome.

The Feelgood Choir is also holding a summer fundraiser on Friday 21 July, 6.30-9pm at the Carlisle Centre in Stourbridge. Admission is £5 and you’ll enjoy homemade cakes, a quiz and of course performances from the choir itself. For more information on this event and to learn more about the Feelgood Choir, visit its lovely website: feelgoodchoir.co.uk

Hints and tips on creating a charity

You might have seen that at the tail end of last year, I shared some lovely news about three organisations I’ve been supporting that successfully became registered charities. I thought it might be good to give some insight into the processes these organisations went through and share some hints and tips for making a successful application. Continue reading

A snapshot of our work supporting people, communities and organisations over the last year

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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.

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Bayer Street Allotments flushed with success!

Bayer Street blog‘Flush and grow’ is a great title for a project. This is what Bayer Street Allotments Association have called their new project, which will help people in Coseley grow more green-fingered thanks to a grant of £10,000 from Awards for All. It’s been both fun and fascinating to support this group of volunteers who’ve given so much of their time to the community in recent months.

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Dudley groups that got involved in Small Charity Week

Small Charity Week 2016I just wanted to say a big ‘THANK YOU!’ to everyone who got involved in Small Charity Week in Dudley borough and to highlight the organisations that joined in our conversations.

We had quite a few conversations online and some busy activities that I really hope were useful and stimulating for everyone that joined in.

 

 

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DY1-stop shop: Open door for anyone involved or wanting to be involved in community initiatives, charities or enterprises

DY1-stop shop poster for socmed

On Wednesday 2nd March, Eileen and I are launching DY1-stop shop! We’ll be throwing open DY1’s doors to anyone who wants to chat through anything to do with:

  • Setting up a project or group – information and guidance on how to get started, what routes you could take, how to get support
  • Running a charity or voluntary organisation – you might want information on leading an organisation, responsibilities of being a trustee, compliance, help with rules and paperwork, finance, planning
  • Recruiting and supporting people to help run your group or activities – you might be looking for volunteers or helpers to make great things happen
  • Getting more active in your community – you might be interested in volunteering, joining local groups, clubs and organisations
  • Connecting with other organisations

Whether you’re from an existing voluntary group, charity or social enterprise, or you’d like to do more to support your community, come along to get your questions answered, generate ideas and feel supported all over a friendly cuppa!

Drop in on us anytime between 10am and 1pm in the coffee shop area of DY1, Stafford Street, Dudley, DY1 1RT. This will continue on the first Wednesday of every month.

We’re looking forward to meeting you there!

How can we improve the diversity of trustee boards?

 

The Trustees’ Week website has lots of useful information about becoming a trustee, recruiting trustees and topics related to running a charity.

Amongst its posts is one piece about trustee facts and figures, which says:

  • There are over 1,000,000 trustee positions in England and Wales;
  • Estimates suggest that almost half of charities have at least one vacancy on their board;
  • Just 0.5% of trustees in England and Wales are aged between 18 and 24, (compared with 12% of the population as a whole);
  • The average age of trustees in England and Wales is 57, two thirds are aged 50 and over.
  • 43.4% of trustees are female, and 56% are male(Each trustee is counted only once, though some are trustees for more than one charity. The figure for female trustees should be treated as a minimum as only those whose titles are certainly female are included).

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Spotlight on Dudley CVS Trustee, Alison Sayer.

Earlier this year, (July 2015) I had the pleasure of interviewingAlison 04 cropped Alison Sayer, Chief Executive Officer of Halas Homes in Halesowen (www.halashomes.co.uk), for an article in the Dudley CVS Echo newsletter. Alison has been a Dudley CVS Board member since 2013, bringing with her a particular expertise in Human Resources and seemingly boundless energy.

I asked Alison to tell more about Halas Homes, which is akin to lighting the blue touch paper on a firework. “Halas Homes has been caring for people with learning difficulties for over 50 years. Today, it is a 24/7 residential care home for up to 36 adults with learning difficulties,” replied Alison, adding, “the adjacent day centre is open to residents and non-residents and hosts a wide variety of daily activities to aid health and wellbeing. There are also five ‘supported living’ homes for people with a degree of independence,” and by the way, “Halas Homes won a top award last year, picking up the Creative Arts Award in the national 3rd Sector Care Awards 2014. The award was presented by TV personality and campaigner, Esther Rantzen.”

Coming from a background in hospitality, Alison refers to the residents and the people who use the day centre as ‘customers.’  “It’s really important to find out as much as possible about our customers so that we can design services and activities that provide the best possible outcomes for them,” she said.

While Alison is clearly passionate about the work of Halas Homes, she is not so keen to be in the spotlight, preferring instead to conduct a guided tour of the Halas Homes premises and let some of the residents, members of staff and volunteers do the talking.

In the kitchen, we met Ken, who has been a Halas Homes resident for 39 years. While drying dishes, Ken spoke about how much he had enjoyed installing bird boxes in Halesowen earlier this year as part of Halesowen in Bloom. In the day centre, volunteer Glynis  Miles was leading an activity called Sing and Sign. The singing part was a boisterous rendition of “I never promised you a rose garden.”  The signing part involved two teams of residents and visitors taking part in a highly animated and competitive version of charades.

Outside, the allotment site was awash with produce ready to be picked and prepared in the on-site kitchen.  Also outside, Mark Stevens, an ‘invaluable’ Halas Homes volunteer for over four years, was busy cleaning one of the small mini-buses. “I started out as a volunteer here at Halas Homes, then I became a part-time employee, but I still do voluntary time as well because I like to help out in any way I can, such as running errands to pick up prescriptions. But most of all I enjoy helping with activities for our customers,” said Mark.

Alison also walked me the Coffee Cups Café in nearby Thornhill Road, where volunteer helper, Suzy Bury, had been preparing vegetable soup, something she was clearly very proud of. The café, which was acquired by Halas Homes in 2012, plays host to nearly 300 customers each week, providing home-made fayre at cost plus a small profit margin.

So, an interview with Alison Sayer that was supposed to last one hour extended to over three hours and I enjoyed every minute of it. Never once did Alison say “I did” it was always, ”we did.”