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Universal Credit in Sandwell

From the 5 July 2017 parts of Sandwell are moving to what’s called ‘Full Service’ Universal Credit (UC). This change applies to people who live in postcodes which start with the following combinations: B62 8, B64 5, B64 6, B64 7 B65 0 and B65 8

Most people, who are of working-age who live in one of these areas will no longer be able to make new claims for the following benefits (collectively known as legacy benefits): Housing Benefit, Income Support, Job Seekers Allowance (income based), Employment Support Allowance (income related), Child Tax Credit, Working Tax Credit. Instead – anyone who would previously claimed one of these benefits will now have to make a claim for UC (although there are certain limited exceptions, such as families with three or more children). If you live in the rest of the borough – you should still claim legacy benefits, although if you have no dependent children living with you and are under retirement age, you may be directed by the DWP to claim UC anyway.

People claiming UC who need help with housing costs should now claim for the Housing Cost element of UC rather than Housing Benefit, although some people aged under 22 are excluded from receiving this and will be unable to claim any support with housing. (Information about exemptions, i.e. young people who can still claim, is available on gov.uk). It is important to stress that anyone claiming UC who is liable to pay Council Tax should still make a separate application to the council to see if they are entitled to Council Tax Reduction. Sandwell residents can do this here.  Landlords and advice agencies etc will no longer be able to chase progress on claims for support with housing costs with Sandwell Council as the council will no longer be responsible for administering those claims.

Sandwell’s Revenues and Benefits Service is putting out updates on Universal Credit progress (and similar subjects) via their Landlords Blog. Despite the title, the blog is aimed at anyone, not just landlords interested in housing or benefit issues. If you sign up as a follower, you will receive regular updates on Universal Credit and related subjects. The blog already has several articles on different aspects of UC, particularly around questions of rent payment/arrears. You can also find full information about UC on gov.uk. If you need more information about Sandwell Revenues and Benefits, please contact their Stakeholder Relations Officer – Oliver Wright at oliver_wright@sandwell.gov.uk

Please note that the ‘roll-out’ to Universal Credit Full Service is happening at different rates in different areas and is more advanced in some neighbouring authorities than in Sandwell. A complete conversion to Full Service to cover all Sandwell postcodes is expected in July 2018.


Homeschool Social Enterprse – Food Bank

At Homeschool Social Enterprise (an Independent Christian Primary School) we run a weekly food bank through our ministry – Active Christians, where we offer food for those people who need it with the goods donated to us. 

Our supplies vary each week so please contact us for details on how you can donate goods to support this or if you are interested in becoming a volunteer with us or to find out more about this service by:

Telephone: 07500416635/ 0121 649 1599
Email: homeschool@live.co.uk

For more information on what other services we offer please go to www.activechristians.org.uk

Ten Tips to Stop Your Charity Breaking the Law

From 25 May 2018, thanks to new laws under General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the consent of your supporters to receive updates and information on your latest campaigns etc., will need to be freely given, specific, informed and unambiguous; given by way of a statement or clear affirmative action to be lawful. But what does that actually mean in practice?

Here are 10 things you need to know about consent:

1. You will no longer be able to bundle consent requests within wider terms and conditions. A request for consent to receive marketing materials should be separate from terms and conditions and should not be a precondition of the provision of a service unless it is necessary for that service.

2. Pre-ticked opt in boxes or opt-out boxes will no longer be valid. You must now use an un-ticked opt-in box or similar opt-in method that allows choice.

3. Requests for consent should be broken down into different categories where possible to allow your supporters to consent separately.

4. Your charity must be named along with any third parties (e.g. fundraising partners or agents) who will rely on the consent.

5. You must keep good records allowing you to show: who has consented, to what they consented, when and how they consented.

6. You must tell supporters that they have a right to withdraw their consent at any time, and you must tell them how to do this. The process for withdrawing consent cannot be more difficult than it was to give the consent in the first place!

7. Supporters have the right to object to direct marketing and your charity must bring this right explicitly to the attention of supporters from the start.

8. There is no set time limit for how long a person’s consent lasts but the Information Commissioner’s Office recommends refreshing it every two years.

9. If you ignore the new law not only do you risk reputational issues but you could be fined up to €20m or up to 4% of your turnover.

10. You should have started to prepare by reviewing the data you currently hold; assessing the reliability of the consent; and think about whether you have told your supporters of the changes being forced.

Luckily for charities two pieces of recent guidance on the subject have been issued by key data protection players in the third sector. The Fundraising Regulator issued guidance earlier this year on fundraising which makes reference to upcoming changes expected by GDPR and the e-privacy regulation. The ICO has also issued draft guidance on consent under the GDPR.

Source: Charity Digital News

Women’s Aid and Facebook Join Forces To Help Keep Women Safe Online

Women’s Aid, the national domestic abuse charity, and Facebook are launching a new guide to empower women to stay safe online.

The guide by Women’s Aid and Facebook provides advice to help women and girls understand the risks and tools needed to protect themselves and stay safe on social media. The guide has a lot of helpful tips – from how to report something that is abusive, to stopping an intimate, private or sexual image from being shared online. It aims to help women take greater control of their own safety on Facebook, whilst staying connected to the people and causes they care about.

The guide is specifically designed to provide information and advice to survivors of domestic abuse. Whilst the online world should be open and safe for everyone to use, many women experience domestic abuse online. Though many survivors are already experts at managing their own risk and safety, Women’s Aid and Facebook have brought together some specific steps they can take to protect themselves online.

Polly Neate, Chief Executive, Women’s Aid said: “Online abuse can be just as harmful and disturbing as abuse perpetrated in person, so we’re delighted that Facebook is working with us to tackle this issue. We hope the practical advice in this guide will help women feel safe and confident using social media. We want to ensure survivors experiencing online forms of abuse, coercion and control know that they can get help and support from Women’s Aid and Facebook.”

Caroline Millin, safety policy programmes at Facebook, added: “We know that perpetrators of domestic abuse can abuse partners or ex-partners online. This behaviour is unacceptable and against Facebook’s Community Standards. We’re proud to be working with experts like Women’s Aid to empower women to stay safe online.”

The guide is available to download at https://tinyurl.com/ycec5488

Source: Charity Digital News

Sandwell and West Birmingham Equality Awards 2017

Did you know nominations for the Sandwell and West Birmingham Equality Awards 2017 close on Wednesday 26 July?

The categories are:

• Learning Disability Award
• Partnership Award
• Statutory Sector Award
• Voluntary Community and Faith Sector Award
• Primary Care Award

Not heard about the Awards?  Click here to find out everything you need to know.

The Awards Ceremony will be on Thursday, 2 November.


Revenues and Benefits Newsletter

Sandwell’s Revenues and Benefits service have just released its latest newsletter.

This includes articles on forthcoming benefit changes, an update on Universal Credit and how much of their service is accessible online. For more information about Revenues and Benefits – please contact their Stakeholder Relations officer – Oliver Wright at oliver_wright@sandwell.gov.uk

What’s the Latest at Community Foundation?

Community Foundation is organising a trip to Blackpool on Saturday, 5 August 2017, for people from the local community. The coach departs at 9.30 am and is due to return at 9.00 pm. 

The cost is £10 per person but is free for anyone over 50. The trip is open to all but places are limited.  Seats to be allocated on a first come, first served basis.


The Foundation is also pleased to announce that their Rainbow Day Nursery has been judged as a ‘GOOD’ Early Years Provision by Ofsted, following its first inspection in April 2017.

There are a limited number of FREE full time nursery places for children aged 2 – 4 years old. The nursery is open Monday to Friday, 9.00 am – 3.30 pm.

You can visit the nursery during office hours at 20 St Silas Square, Lozells, Birmingham B19 1QW, telephone 0121 238 3282 or email info@thecommunityfoundation.org.uk.

Family Health & Happiness Day at Brasshouse

Brasshouse Community Centre, Brasshouse Lane, Smethwick, is having a free Family Health and Happiness Day on Saturday, 17 June, 10 am to 3 pm.

There will be lots to do including Children’s Gardening Activity, Music, Cookery Demonstration, Arts & Crafts, Face Painting, NHS Health Checks, Health Information and Advice, Storytelling, Information from Citizen Coaching CIC and a visit from Cradley Heath Creative Oss Box.

Ever had a Reiki, a hand massage or an Indian Head massage? You will be able to experience these with experienced and fully qualified therapists.

Mindfulness. What is it? How does it work? Find out at the Introduction to Mindfulness Workshop, and lift your mood with Laughter Yoga.

Take the family or friends  to Brasshouse for a happy and fun day!

Bearwood Street Festival – Sunday 11 June 2017

On Sunday 11 June from 11.30 am to 5.30 pm, Bearwood High Street will host its first ever community-led music and arts festival right in the centre of the neighbourhood.

Odd things have been happening and Bearwood’s own paranormal investigator Ivor Goosebump, has been reporting this in his regular blogs. Could the recent reinstallation of Bearwood’s iconic timepieces somehow have caused time to go wrong?

A theatre trail performed by Highly Sprung will bring to life the mystery. Characters from Bearwood’s past and future will help visitors to find the missing ‘cogs’ needed to repair time. Highly Spring’s innovative blend of physical performance and animated storytelling is sure to excite audiences.

Younger visitors will have plenty to keep them busy with futuristic themed crafts, games and street art workshop.

Live music on the main stage will reflect Bearwood’s eclectic musical heritage with something for all tastes. Headliners, The Electric Swing Circus, bring an explosive sound fusion that reverberates back through time.

There will be cultural and audio feasts provided by the Community Stage.

Some of the best in regional street foods will be available in the Food Parade and a host of local entrepreneurs and crafters showing their goods in Bearwood Indoor Market.

If travelling by car, you can park for free at Lightwoods Park Extension and catch a vintage Midland Red courtesy bus to the festival drop-off point by St Mary’s Church.

Make Sunday 11 June a date in your diary to visit this amazing free event.

visit We are Bearwood

Summerfield Community Garden Project Open Day – Saturday 10 June 2017

Summerfield Community Garden Project would like to invite you to their Open Day on Saturday 10th June, between 11 am and 4 pm, at the City Hospital greenhouse, Western Road, entrance.

Why not pop along to:
Make your own hanging baskets and troughs
See the beehive and meet the rabbits
Learn about wormeries and how to compost your household waste
Lean how to take cuttings
Buy some plants.

Refreshments available.

To find out more information call Ernie on 07946 738758.

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