A year of DY1-stop shop!

It’s been a year since Eileen and I launched ‘DY1-stop shop‘, our monthly drop-in for anyone with questions about community groups, charities, social enterprises, getting involved in community activities or volunteering.

Here’s a little infographic that gives you a little bit more detail about the kinds of conversations we’ve been having over the first year!

DY1-stop shop

I’ve really enjoyed working in this way. It’s a non-threatening way for people to make their first contact with us and it’s quite fun not knowing what to expect from one month to the next! I think Eileen and I have both benefited from each other’s differing knowledge and skills, on top of those of our colleagues we’ve been able to call on by virtue of simply being in the same place – thanks to Donna, Nicki, and Melissa from Healthwatch Dudley for being there for us! It’s meant that people have left us buzzing with new ideas, contacts and lines of inquiry.

dy1shot
Most recently, Eileen and I met Cllr Steve Waltho and his wife, Jayne, who are part of a new group being set up to keep alive the legacy of Dudley mountain climber and peace campaigner Bert Bissell. I gave Steve some help with a constitution to help formalise the Bert Bissell Memorial Society and Eileen had lots of ideas for connections the new group could make.

At April’s DY1-stop shop we’ll be joined by our Funding Officer, Martin and Inderjit Nijjer who’s the External Funding and Community Grants Manager on the ESF Programme at Walsall Council. Inderjit will be available to answer any questions you may have about the ESF grants programme.

DY1-stop shop is open on the first Wednesday of every month, 10am-1pm in the coffee shop of DY1, Stafford Street, Dudley. Maybe I’ll see you there soon!

Three new charities in Dudley borough

In the last few weeks, three of the brilliant groups I’ve been supporting have successfully become registered charities, hopefully unlocking further opportunities for each of them. This is great timing, as the inaugural Local Charities Day is coming up on 16 December!

The three charities do very different work, which goes to show the enormous variety of wonderful work that benefits people and communities.

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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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Working Together for Change

changeOne of the highlights of my time with Dudley CVS has been the opportunity to help develop and support Dudley Parent Carer Forum – Working Together for Change. Not just because they are a group of awesome people with such amazing strength, that are giving, insightful and bundles of fun, but because they are completely committed to influencing decisions that affect their lives and the lives of other parents with children who have disabilities or additional needs. It has been a privilege to see their confidence and relationships with professionals develop and to see the real tangible outcomes of these collaborations. I truly believe that this has been possible partly because of the liberating leadership model of governance that they have chosen to use.

Strong foundations 

The forum formed just over 2 years ago now and is made up from six organisations, all with three seats each, and a number of independent parent carers and grandparents. The steering group is large in comparison to some organisations but it really works for WTFC; as parent carers have complex lives, having a large steering group removes pressure to have to be at meetings but still gives us solid representation to make decisions and move work forward.

The steering group is working to a liberating leadership style which makes the best use of people’s strengths, skills and experiences. Roles, tasks and groups are allocated based on interest and skills.

The forum spent the first few meetings really getting to know each other, forming a solid team with a collective understanding and vision. The purpose of the first session was to come together and collectively agree what the forum stood for and agree a way to move forward together. It was also an opportunity to agree how we want the forum to be seen. The session was designed to have an interactive and creative focus.

postcardsBox of postcards

To start the process the group was asked to look through a selection of postcards and pick one that they were particularly drawn to and one that they were not sure about. It was interesting to hear the reasons why different postcards were selected and different perspectives.

 Drawing with eyes closed

Each member of the group was given a piece of blank paper and a pen. They were then asked to draw a flower with their eyes closed and hand the drawing in without looking at their own or each others. Incredibly everyone identified their own drawing even though they had not seen what they had drawn!

The group again with eyes closed were asked to draw something they liked. They then had to identify who had drawn what. We learnt a lot about each other through these activities as well as identifying some ideas of what our visual identity should be.drawing wtfc

The group began to think about the importance of how they put their message across, and about the key elements that deliver that message such as a logo, the images we use, and our title. It was agreed that as a forum they need to be clear and say ‘this is what we do, and this is what we don’t do!’

After this session a clear vision was formulated which is to “Empowering Dudley Parent Carers to have their voices heard in a way that influences change & service design”

Having solid foundations and a clear vision has enabled the forum to work together, giving over 850 hours of volunteer time to collaborate with professionals, to influence policies, develop statutory organisations’ publicity materials and websites, encouraged partnerships working and discouraged silos and helped to shape new services!

They have achieved all this whilst still offering support, friendship and fun to all parent carers across Dudley borough, communicating and sharing with over 800 parent carers within the network.

You can find out more about Working Together for Change and their incredible journey by visiting the website or following them on Twitter.

Coming together is a beginning; Keeping together is progress; Working together is success!

 Henry Ford

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Join Dudley borough’s first voluntary and community sector unconference

BSCAMP

It’s great to invite anyone involved in the voluntary and community sector (or anyone that wants to learn more about it) to the brand new Bostin Summer Camp! We’re looking for people with a passion for the voluntary and community sector to join us on the day.

What on earth is Bostin Summer Camp?

Bostin Summer Camp is a new event for people that have an interest in Dudley borough’s voluntary and community sector organisations to connect, listen and learn from each other.

So if you’re from a voluntary and community sector organisation or if you’d like to know more about the changes, challenges and opportunities they are responding to in Dudley borough, then Bostin Summer Camp is for you!

The event will be run as an unconference. This means there won’t be an agenda set before the day so participants get to decide what’s important to talk about on the day. All you need is a desire to learn. Lorna, who’s co-organising Bostin Summer Camp has participated in a few unconferences now and has written about why she loves them! I’ve been involved in one unconference so far (VCSSCamp) and I love how open, unpressured and collaborative they are.

How you can get involved

Come along to Bostin Summer Camp on Thursday 21 July, join in the discussions as you please, make connections and learn. You can book your place here. It’s completely free to attend and you don’t need to be from Dudley borough or the voluntary and community sector.

Be a co-organiser: Don’t worry, we wont ask you to do too much! We already have a date and a venue. It would be awesome if people could join us in promoting the event, sharing on social media, being a friendly face to welcome people on the day, helping to facilitate building the agenda on the day etc. If you’d like to chip in, please do let us know!

Pitch a topic on the day or get discussing possible topics on the Bostin Summer Camp blog or by tweeting with the hashtag #bostinsummercamp. There’s no need to wait until the event to join the conversation!

 

 

Trade school – barter for knowledge

jam making 2Have you ever wanted the chance to try something new? Do you know someone that can shabby-chic, build or mend and do you think ‘Oh I wish they would show me how to do that!’? Do you know any amazing makers, bakers, growers, creators and think they are so awesome they should share their skills and knowledge to inspire others? Can you do something amazing and would love the opportunity to share how to do it with others? If so Trade School Dudley is just the thing for you!

Be a teacher, learner, co-founder or all three! Join me on Tuesday 7 June 10am-1pm at DY1 Stafford Street, Dudley to find out more!

Trade School is a non-traditional learning space that runs on barter where anyone can teach a class! People with a skill or talent that they can teach to others propose a class and ask for a small barter item from learners. For example, if you teach a class about making butter, you might ask students to bring cream, jars, bread, recipes, music tips, or help with something like finding a flat.

Learners sign up for classes by agreeing to bring a barter item for the teacher. Everyone has something to offer!

You could learn how to bake bread in exchange for potted herbs, teach basic bike maintenance in return for recipe suggestions or books, and learn how to use social media and the internet by bringing wool or materials. You can teach a class about anything you are passionate about –and say what you’d like to receive in exchange.

The Trade School network is made up of self-organized barter-for-knowledge schools across the world. It started in 2010 with a small group of friends in New York, but they now have Trade Schools in over 50 cities internationally. You can read more about trade school by visiting their website.

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Residents in Wrens Nest, Dudley have run a number of pop up trade schools and how to session over the last 3 years. This summer we are hoping you will help start Trade School Dudley and Trade School Coseley, because wow people can do incredible things and have the most amazing skills to share!

A magic moment for me is when Wrens Nest ran a trade school so people could learn how to make jam. I got chatting to Stuart, a local resident, about growing and he explained how his garden is overflowing with plums that he didn’t know what to do with. I told him about a baking project that a seven year old girl had started and said that I was sure we could make use of his surplus supplies!

The following week whilst the Seed and Feed growing gang were meeting, Stuart popped along with bags and bags of plums. One of the gardeners had harvested some beans from his garden and shared these with Stuart as thanks for the plums. We all sat staring at the ample pile stacked before us and thought ‘Right, what can we do… ‘ Steve, one of the gardeners, suggested that they would make great jam and it just so happened that he knew how to make it, which was a good job ’cause the rest of us didn’t have a clue! So Jam Trade School popped up.

Steve asked that learners brought barter items that included jars to put the jam into, anything that supported the gardening project, anything useful for baking or a surprise. People brought barter items including jars, tomato feed, pots, flour and one lady shared her grandmother’s recipes.

jamOur youngest learner was just five and our oldest was in their seventies but everyone came together to learn, have fun, share and take home some of the best jam ever tasted! There was even time to make upside down plum pudding! And Stuart who had donated the plums in the first place got a bowl of pudding, a jar of jam and some new friends in his community.

Other Wrens Nest Trade Schools have included gardening, crocheting, seed balls, how to make an insect home and relaxation techniques. There is something magical in seeing someone who has a skill like crocheting or jam making showing someone else how to start, the spark of passion being passed from one person to another, the patience and encouragement, the laughter and fun. It really is quite wonderful!

So come on, who’s up for bartering knowledge and getting Trade School Dudley on the go?!

Join me on Tuesday 7 June 10am-1pm at DY1 seed ballsStafford Street, Dudley. This session is for anyone interested in being part of starting, or teaching or learning at Trade School Dudley or anyone simply curious to know more. It will be a friendly, informal chance to find out about how Trade School started. Find out what types of activities you might do as part of a Trade School founding team or join a conversation about what the first season of classes could be.

Celebrate Small Charity Week with us!

Small Charity Week 2016We’re really pleased to be joining Small Charity Week (13th-18th June) again this year and want to invite Dudley borough’s small charities to help us celebrate and put your organisation and Dudley on the map!

“Small Charity Week celebrates and raises awareness of the essential work of the UK’s small charity sector who make an invaluable contribution to the lives of millions of individuals, communities and causes across the UK and the rest of the world.

Small Charity Week is brought to you by the Foundation for Social Improvement (FSI), who with the support of partner organisations ensure the work of small charities is recognised and celebrated.”

Small Charity Week website

The FSI defines small charities as charities and CICs that have an annual turnover of under £1.5million and we know that that will cover a lot of community organisations in Dudley borough, because the overwhelming majority of charities are small.

Like last year, the week is divided into themed days, and here’s how you can get involved:

  • Monday 13th June – join the #ILoveSmallCharities celebrations on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram by by posting a photo of yourself holding a poster showing why you love your small charity? You could get your members and supporters to join in too! And doing so could win your charity up to £450 in the process. Visit the #ILoveSmallCharities page for more information. I’ll be joining in by posting some stories here about some of the small charities I’ve recently supported.
  • Tuesday 14th June is Big Advice Day – Eileen and I will be on hand at DY1, Dudley for a special, mid-month DY1 stop shop. Pop into DY1 between 10am and 4pm to get guidance on any topic to do with running a voluntary and community organisation. We can cover topics such as:

– setting up
– legal structures and compliance
– policies
– asset transfer and development
– fundraising and finance
– involving and supporting volunteers
– planning
– promotion and marketing

And if you can’t make it, we’ll be monitoring our Twitter, Facebook and this here blog so that you can ask questions virtually.

  • On Policy Day, Wednesday 15th June, our friend and colleague Donna Roberts will be sharing how Working Together for Change, Dudley borough’s parent-carer forum, has successfully worked with and influenced decision-makers in the design and delivery of local services. Look out for her hints and tips on this blog.
  • Thursday 16th June is Fundraising Day – you’re invited to Synergy, the peer support network for Dudley borough’s charities and social enterprises, organised by our friend Andy Mullaney. Martin Jones, our Funding Officer, will be joining the event to share his insight and experiences when it comes to raising money for your cause. The event will be held at DY1, Dudley, 10am-12noon.
  • And finally! Friday 17th June is Volunteering Day – Eileen is planning a networking and support event for local small charities, including social enterprises, who involve volunteers. There’ll be an opportunity to meet new people, build connections and find out who’s out there to support, with hints and tips on the best way to involve volunteers. The event will run from 10am-12 noon. If you’d like to join this event, please book your place on Eventbrite.

We hope you’ll be able to join some of these activities and join us in celebrating the wonderful work our small charities do day in, day out.