‘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.
I 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.
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.
People in Lower Gornal have rallied, mobilised and rolled up their sleeves to reopen the Friday night youth club at Lower Gornal Youth Centre, and I’ve really enjoyed supporting them to make it happen!
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.
“The digital revolution has already happened, and we are living in the aftermath”
A really practical report and wonderful set of resources was published by Julie Dodd (@JulieDodd) a few months ago which I would highly recommend having a look at if you work or volunteer in our sector. It is all about how we can make our way along the journey to using digital technology to achieve the outcomes, impact and change which our organisations exist for. The resources have been created and drawn together following interviews with 50 senior leaders and digital experts from both inside and outside the non-profit sector. The New Reality site is a helpfully curated online resource comprising:
- An overview and links to content about each of the 6 key themes:
- service delivery
- Some really lovely and useful resources, called take aways, which include the poster below, snappy slide sets and a video
- The full report and an executive summary
The following are a few of the insights from the Executive Summary which really resonate with me:
- Digital services will deliver greater value than anyone can imagine (but first we need to address the culture and infrastructure issues that are standing in the way)
- Until sector leadership stops delegating responsibility for digital we’re not going to get very far
- You don’t need a digital strategy. “Having a digital strategy will soon seem as ridiculous as having an electricity strategy”
- A tried and tested process for delivering transformation already exists – it’s just not being used
- The next stage of digital for non-profits is not fundraising and marketing
- We need to think beyond web to a broad range of digital technologies to achieve maximum impact
I’ve been meaning to write here about The New Reality resources for some time (thank you to Paul Webster for bringing this to our attention), and I started working on this post while at Local Gov Camp in Leeds. Local Gov Camp is an unconference bringing together people who care about public services, which has a strong focus on digital / tech. I was fascinated to discover that people who work in local government seem to have many of the same concerns and challenges as people in organisations in our sector, though our starting positions are different. Perhaps there is potential for developing some solutions together.
Below is one of the take aways from The New Reality: 20 ways to achieve digital transformation in our sector (also available in pdf). I’d love to hear what you think about The New Reality research, the resources and what support you would like from Dudley CVS in relation to digital transformation. Leave a comment here or get in touch with us on twitter (@dudleycvs) or Facebook.
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
Small Charity Week (15th-20th June) celebrates and raises awareness of the essential work of small charities (defined as charities and CICs that have an annual turnover under £1.5million).
This year, we’re joining in with the celebrations and running special activities and workshops across the week including:
I am pleased to share some information with you on a series of events we are co-hosting with Simon Hall from the Black Country Consortium. These events will help you to learn more about the funding opportunities that will become available through European funding in the future.
The Big Lottery Fund is making available £220M against a similar figure from the European Social Fund (ESF). These funds are available to support communities and people most in need with the following priority areas:
- Targeted community support
- Digital and financial inclusion
- Troubled families/families in focus
- Employment support for the over 25s
Funding will be delivered through Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) paying particular attention to the above local priorities. Examples of work that could qualify for support are:
- Improving employability for the most disadvantaged
- Helping those with multiple and complex needs
- Improving financial literacy
The briefing will outline both the ESF/Big Lottery priorities and the expectations of the Black Country LEP around each of these themes and how you could potentially get involved.
The same briefing will be run on three different occasions as follows:
- Wednesday 6th May (morning) in Halesowen
- Wednesday 27th May (afternoon) in Brierley Hill
- Thursday 25th June (evening) in Dudley
To book please click on the appropriate link above.