Local Impact Spotlight

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Spotlight on Smethwick Community Association

logoTell us what you do?
Smethwick Community Association provides support to the homeless and vulnerable members of the community; by providing social networks for those living on their own or who may be lonely and just want to get out the house, to providing health checks, luncheon clubs and meals on wheels services.

What is your proudest achievement?
Our proudest achievement so far has been setting our organisation up in Smethwick for the benefit of those in need within our community and embracing the financial challenges we have ahead of us to be able to deliver our activities to those who need us.

What is your experience of support received from SCVO?
Excellent! The support and input from SCVO has always been positive, nurturing and they willingly share information with us which. SCVO’s services are a real life line to us as newly formed organisation.

What is the most valuable lesson learnt about working with people?
We have learnt that there is support and services out there that are able and willing to help us on our journey, with this kind of support it has helped us develop and grow to the organisation we are now. It’s made it easier for us to get where we need to be quicker than if we had to do this on our own.

What are your plans for the future and some of the challenges you face?
Moving forward we need to increase our volunteers so we can develop the range of activities we are able to offer and work to generate funds to support our work.

How can SCVO help to support your organisation in the future?
The support we’d like to access in the future from SCVO is with helping us to develop our policies and business planning to help us focus in on the key prioritises that we’d like to address within our community.

If you’d like to volunteer or find out more about Smethwick Community Association please contact Sheila Lagenza on 07872451526.


Spotlight on Old Hill Boxing Community Club

logoTell us what you do?
Old Hill Boxing Community Club has been established promote community participation, exercise and healthy living through the practice of boxing and other health related activities. We do this by providing a facility that is accessible for our community, local young people and schools, with the aim of improving their health.

What is your proudest achievement?
Our proudest achievement is securing the boxing gym and setting ourselves up within Old Hill. We’ve been lucky enough to get support from other community services and the local businesses that are helping us to raise awareness of our club and what were here to do.

What is your experience of support received from SCVO?
SCVO are helping us set up and working with us to ensure we’re fit for purpose by assisting us with our constitution and other governance concerns we have. We are keen to get this right from the start and I’m confident with SCVO’s support we’ll be able to do this.

What is the most valuable lesson learnt about working with people?
We are aiming to bring together what we feel is a drifting community here in Old Hill and we are keen to create a community hub using boxing and health as the mechanism to create a more community minded environment where everyone wants to live and work.

What are your plans for the future and some of the challenges you face?
Our plans for the future are to register ourselves with the Charity Commission so we are able to access funding opportunities that will be of real benefit to our community.

How can SCVO help to support your organisation in the future?
We’re keen to access SCVO’s assistance in developing our policies and accessing funding for our community projects which will enable us to continue to meet the needs of our community.

If your interested in getting involved with the club please email Catherine O’Rourke mailto:oldhillboxingcommunityclub@gmail.com or call Rauf Raja on 07876387719


Spotlight on Hill Top Sons of Rest

hill-top-sons-of-rest-008Tell us what you do?
Hill Top Sons of Rest is a leisure club for 50+ year olds that provides recreational facilities, such as snooker, cards, dominoes and darts. We organise social activities aimed at creating new friendships and social networks for our members. We have 25 active members within our organisation all of whom have a really enjoyable time.

What is your proudest achievement?
Project focus is on attracting new members expanding on what we already do with adding evening events. We are always looking to increase our membership, so why not drop into the Eliza Corbett Memorial, Hill Top Park, B70 0RZ Monday to Friday from 9am till 12pm.

What is your experience of support received from SCVO?
We are very happy with the level of support we have received from our SCVO representative. They are very helpful and have provided us with informative and practical advice to assist us on our funding journey to develop the range of social activities our group is undertaking.

What is the most valuable lesson learnt about working with people?
Working with a diverse range of people has taught me not to take myself too seriously and just have fun with the people we’re here to support. It’s enabled me to increase my own social networks with individuals that I may not otherwise have become friends with.

What are your plans for the future and some of the challenges you face?
Basically our plans for the future are to sustain our clubs activities for the benefit of our members and to increase our membership. This is challenging as our club unfortunately is in need of updating and altering to enable disabled users to access our services.

How can SCVO help to support your organisation in the future?
Moving forward we’d like support to develop our plans to refurbish our club to make it more inclusive and accessible to all members of our community. SCVO’s support in helping us to plan and attract the funds needed to make these improvements would be invaluable.


Spotlight on The Pen Museum

pen-museum-imageTell me about what you do?
We started the Birmingham Pen Trade Heritage Association in 1996 as we felt there ought to be a museum to educate people on the history of the pen trade. At one point, Birmingham made up to 75% of the pen nibs in the world which were then exported globally.

As a result, we opened the museum in 2001 in order to educate people on Birmingham’s Steel pen trade and today we have over 5,000 objects which display its fascinating history.

What is your proudest achievement?
The aim of our organisation is to spread the word and educate people on the history of the steel pen. Our proudest achievement is the fact that a large number of people come to visit our museum from all over the world. As well as this, we were recently on TV on the Antiques Road Trip which shows the large amount of interest we have received.  We are becoming worldwide now and this is definitely the best achievement we could have ever wanted to achieve.

Tell me about any experiences you have had with SCVO?
We have not had any experience with SCVO before.

What is the most valuable lesson you have learnt from working with people in Sandwell?
It is surprising how a large number of the local people had no idea Birmingham had anything to do with the pen trade. You find this in a lot of places that the local people aren’t clued up with what their ancestors did. We think it is therefore up to us to bring this out in the open and make people aware of the role Birmingham played in this industry.

What are your plans for the future? Any challenges you face?
In terms of the future, we just want to stay in existence. As we are a charitable trust we don’t charge people to enter the museum and therefore rely on donations.  So the biggest challenge to us is an issue of funding. The cost of electricity and rent is very expensive even with a sponsorship from our landlord.

In addition to this, because we are a small company it is very hard for us to advertise. Even for a small advert it is still expensive for an organisation like us.

How can SCVO help to support your organisation in the future?
SCVO could certainly help us by advertising on their website and elsewhere to make it known that there is a pen museum in Birmingham. At the moment we don’t charge for people to visit but as our costs are due to rise we may have to start asking for a small charge. However, we don’t want to have to do that. So funding is another area in which SCVO can possibly help us as it will allow us to meet these demands and remain in existence.

One last area would be through volunteers, we could certainly do with some for the long-term. Most of our volunteers tend to be short-term which means they are only here for a small period of time.

For more information please contact 0121 236 9834 or visit http://www.penroom.co.uk


Spotlight on REPC

REPC LogoTell us what you do
At REPC we do a number of things. Most importantly, we provide a data wiping service and security facility for large scale IT users. We also refurbish the equipment and upgrade the software as required. We are different from other IT recycling businesses as we put these pieces of hardware back into use. This is key our work as a social enterprise. In addition to this, we also provide high quality equipment to schools, charities, authorities, SMEs, the third sector and students at a low cost. We peovide these to people who cannot afford to buy brand new devices due to their budgets. As an authorised recycler we look to keep these devices in use.

What is your proudest achievement?
One of our proudest achievements is the work we do with young people with disabilities, people who have struggled written mainstream education. We do not discourage any individual and are proud to train and educate these individuals and prepare them for full time employment. In recognition of this, we have won a number of awards including one for greater community cohesion and programmes bridging the digital divide. We are also very proud of our work through connected housing led by 12 London and south based housing associations. This is helping to provide individuals with access to the internet, once again bridging the digital divide.

What is your experience of support received from SCVO?
We have previously trained and gained volunteers through SCVO and have attended conferences and events which they have conducted. This has helped us keep up to date with what is going on in the local area and specifically the third sector.

What is the most valuable lesson you have learnt about working with people in Sandwell?
I have learnt to never right anyone off, give everyone a chance. Lack of qualifications should be a barrier and neither should disabilities or gender. We find that people with disabilities can make the most loyal employees and can carry out very detailed work.  I have also learnt that collaboration with other providers is very important to providing more holistic services. No organisation can do everything so we strive to work with others in order to deliver broader and higher quality services.

What are your plans for the future and some of the challenges you face?
At the moment we are expanding and over the next 12 months we will be looking to double in staff. As a result, we will be looking for new employees and individuals to join and work for our organisation. The digital divide also remains a key issue and as a result we are looking to continue and expand our work towards eradicating this issue. In terms of the challenges, our most immediate challenge is keeping up with demand for our services. It is about having the right staff and training individuals. Therefore, we are looking to share resources with other companies to meet this demand. This is extremely important as this demand will only continue to grow.

How can SCVO help to support your organisation in the future?
SCVO could promote greater levels of recycling and reuse of IT and other resources amonghts its members and the third sector, encouraging them to  spend their money efficiently and use Repc’s  services to help them achieve efficiency saving.  From our experience, no organisation use the full capacity of a brand new computer system so, before you buy new, think about purchasing quality use equipment instead and spend more of your scarce resources on frontline services.

For more information please contact 0121 557 6439 or visit www.repcltd.co.uk


Spotlight on Wednesbury Tennis Club

Tennis Club LogoTell us what you do
We provide tennis for anyone in Wednesbury who wants to play.  We cater to all ages from junior to senior and offer social and competitive tennis. There are 4 all weather courts and coaching is available. We are keen to encourage more people to start playing tennis, regardless of experience or ability, at both junior and adult levels.

What is your proudest achievement?
We were established in 1903 and are still going so that is quite an achievement. Over the years we have had several county champions train here too.

What is your experience of support received from SCVO (if relevant)?
We don’t receive that much support from SCVO. Previously we have had help with applying to grants.

What is the most valuable lesson you have learnt about working with people in Sandwell?
People in Sandwell tend to be very friendly.

What are your plans for the future and some of the challenges you face?
We are hoping to resurface all of the courts so that we have a nice smooth playing surface once again. Getting the money to do this is definitely a challenge. We have applied for a grant and are awaiting the results of the application so fingers crossed.

How can SCVO help to support your organisation in the future?
By offering advice on managing certain aspects of our organisation. For example, guidance on applying to grants would always be welcomed.

If you would like more information, please contact John Burke on 01922 401313


Spotlight on Bethel Christian Fellowship

cbkTell us What You Do
Bethel Christian Fellowship is a church based in West Bromwich in the West Midlands. It is a people friendly church that looks to serve its local community and offers a range of services and community projects to support the people living in the area.

Bethel Christian Fellowship is a Christian Church with a bible based message of joy, hope and purpose for the people of West Bromwich; where people can find friendships, support and a sense of involvement in the community as they worship God together.

Bethel Christian Fellowship is a Pentecostal church in fellowship with the Assemblies of God and the Evangelical Alliance.

What is your proudest achievement?
The church has a thriving children’s and youth work running on Friday nights with 30-50 attending each week. Many of the children and young people come from around the church and are able to interact with their friends and peers in a fun and interacting environment.

The church also runs a Luncheon club which helps older people engage, find friends and socialise with others each week with supportive staff around who take time to listen and care where need be, offering friendship and a listening ear to any concerns these people may be encountering in their personal lives.

What is your experience of support received from SCVO (if relevant)?
SCVO is a very supportive organisation that has helped to advertise our services to the wider public and can in the future help our organisation to network better locally with others service providers operating in the Sandwell area.

What is the most valuable lesson you have learnt about working with people in Sandwell?
There are some amazing people and groups within the Sandwell area, who are working very hard to bring about collaboration of thinking and working to support some of the most vulnerable people living in the Sandwell borough.

What are your plans for the future and some of the challenges you face?
Bethel Christian Fellowship is looking to expand its service provision to the local community to help families and the elderly, to find a place of welcome, friendship and care and to meet the prevailing needs and aspiration of the local community. It is important at this time to raise the profile of the organistion and to make more people awareness of the services that the church provides and how they can access these.

How can SCVO help to support your organisation in the future?
The church is looking to expand and develop its community outreach to the local community, and SCVO will be able to help support in the areas of networking and sign posting to small grants.

Bethel Christian Fellowship, Gads Lane, West Bromwich, West Midlands, B70 8QL
Telephone: 0121 525 8434  Email: mailto:bcfgadslane@gmail.com     Web: www.bcfwestbrom.org.uk


Spotlight on Cares Sandwell

CaresTell us what you do
CARES offers information, advice, help and support to unpaid family carers and the people they look after within the borough of Sandwell. We strive to improve the quality of life of the carers with whom we work and seek to enable carers to continue to care.

The Charity provides the following services for carers – an Advice, Information and Outreach Service, a Home Visiting Service, Carer Support Drop in Sessions, Carer Cafes & Outings, an Adult Guidance & Lifelong Learning Service and a Carer Consultation Network.

What is your proudest achievement?
Our proudest achievement is the significant impact we have made to the lives of unpaid family carers and the people they care for, for the past 30 years and of our reputation both locally and nationally as an organisation which delivers high quality services for local carers.

What is your experience of support received from SCVO (if relevant)
We have received a range of support services from SCVO since its inception. They have provided infrastructure support, information about local and national initiatives, fundraising support and access to organisations and individuals that CARES, on its own, would not have been able to achieve.

What is the most valuable lesson you have learnt about working with people in Sandwell?
The most valuable lesson we have learnt from working with local carers is they are willing to go above and beyond for the people they care for; to ensure they have a good quality of life and they receive good quality services.

What are your plans for the future and some of the challenges you face?
CARES plans for the future are to continue to operate as the main ‘Carers Hub’ in Sandwell and continue to be a sustainable organisation delivering high quality services for local carers and the people they support. The challenges we face are balancing the ever decreasing funding with potentially higher targets, dealing with potential loss of staff – meaning we will have to reduce the level of service but still manage the quality we deliver.

Also, because of our status as a user led organisation, we have identified the charity has too much reliance on specific individuals and funding sources and we need to expand on both. We also need to possibly re-shape and re-badge what we offer to ensure funders want to procure our services.

How can SCVO help to support your organisation in the future?
We don’t require SCVO to do anything different from their current activities. Continued information and support will be beneficial to CARES – should SCVO be able to obtain additional resource then fundraising help and governance support would be our priorities in the future.

For further information, please contact – 0121 558 7003 http://cares-sandwell.org.uk/


Spotlight on Sandwell Financial Services Hub

SFSH Team Photo with LogosTell us what you do
Sandwell Financial Services Hub officers support to Sandwell based tenants– these can be any tenants whether private or social housing to manage their finances better.  The aim of the Programme is to help tenants improve their overall financial confidence and to manage their money better.

What is your proudest achievement?
We have many – since we started in January 2013 over£ 80,000 of charitable funds have been raised to help support tenants with matters such as furniture, writing off energy debts.  We have engaged with over 1,800 tenants since we started although we have had more referrals than that.  We have been able to deliver over 1,200 financial health checks for tenants and also helping over 1,400 people to develop an individual plan to help their budgeting.

What is your experience of support received from SCVO? 
We receive information through the weekly e-bulletin which helps us know about what is happening locally.  We have also attended including one around the developing West Midlands Combined Authority.   We receive the funding digest and this helps our understanding of what funding is out there.  Knowing what options are available for us and helping us to help our tenants.

What is the most valuable lesson learnt about working with people?
Not to take anything for granted.  When it comes to engaging people, trying to get people to take up a service – even though it is free is a challenge.  The key is that most people will ask what is in it for them.   We need to demonstrate the service is going to help them.  One size doesn’t fit all – everyone has different needs.

What are your plans for the future and some of the challenges you face?
Future funding will be an issue.  Although we are Lottery funded and we are fortunate we have a couple of years of funding left – we need to be clear on what will happen next.  When the project was set up – there was an intention that social housing landlords would incorporate the service. Since the start of the Programme, social landlords have shrunk their service. We need to work on sustaining the service and to be reflective of the needs of our service users.

The tenants themselves will face challenges around the roll out of Universal Credit.

How can SCVO help to support your organisation in the future?
SCVO can help support us around keeping us informed of funding –and also what is happening in the wider Black Country – What key partnerships are available out there that SCVO has links with.  In the future we will need to get closer to SCVO to understand the environment and the impact they could have for us in the future and the needs of our future clients.

For further information please telephone – 0121 289 3933


Spotlight on George Road Community Church

249Tell us what you do
We serve the community by delivering activities and projects that support local people – this includes ‘Come Together’ for older people including flower arranging, card making and helping to keep people from becoming socially isolated.  A gentle exercise class for older people, a coffee morning including a full breakfast.  A knit and chat group for people and a club for younger people.

What is your proudest achievement?
We have a really good community feel to our building and we are able to reach out to people.  When people come through the door they always comment on how welcome they feel.  Another achievement is getting the church community hall refurbished and having to be more accessible as a community space.  It took a great deal of time and a lot of fundraising for this to happen.

What is your experience of support received from SCVO (if relevant)
SCVO have been fantastic – I can’t praise them enough for all the support they have given to me.  I have undertaken training which enabled the successful bid writing to help us get the resources to do the refurbishments mentioned above.  At the start of our journey, the staff sat down with us to help with the completion of the applications and were with us throughout the journey offering support.

What is the most valuable lesson you have learnt about working with people in Sandwell?
The providers of other services are always supportive, so that if we can’t offer help, we know who else to turn to.  We have built up really good relationships with people.  People have all been really supportive of what we are achieving and trying to achieve.  We rely heavily on volunteers who are all local people and without whom we wouldn’t be able to operate.

What are your plans for the future and some of the challenges you face?
We are working on converting a disused house which is on the church site – ‘Hope House’ will be completely refurbished to become an extension of the community space we have on offer and to be able to deliver in a cosy and homely space.  We are looking to develop dementia support, bereavement support services, ESOL, a breakfast club and after school club for young people.  There is a lot of scope for new developments and we are always listening to what the local needs are.

How can SCVO help to support your organisation in the future?
Support is a big word to us and we know that we can pick up the telephone and ring SCVO and ask a question.  If they can’t help us then they are able to sign post up on.  I regularly attended the breakfast meetings which are a great way to meet other community groups and to network and promote what we do.  We would not hesitate to recommend SCVO to others.

For further information, please contact George Road Community on 0121 423 3822
June Whitehouse, Projects Co-ordinator – 142 George Road, Oldbury, B68 9LN


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