Local Impact Spotlight

Category Archives

Spotlight on Brushstrokes

Tell us what you do
At Brushstrokes we provide a welcoming centre for newcomers into Sandwell. Over our 15 years existence we have supported refugees, asylum seekers and migrants from 130 different countries. We provide support in three key areas. The first of these is through our practical support for newcomers. Many experience an acute level of poverty. Our response is to give out food, clothes, baby packs and household items on a weekly basis to people facing multiple issues.

The second aspect of our work is offering advice, support, befriending and outreach. This involves visiting individuals and families to offer befriending to overcome isolation and exclusion and offer access to advice surgeries to meet their complex needs.

Our third area of work is offering newcomers the opportunity to learn English (ESOL) through our volunteer teaching programme. We currently have 160 people learning English in the centre.

What is your proudest achievement?
I believe every aspect of our work achieves its goal of enabling people to flourish and become more independent.
Some specific examples include: housing homeless people, helping people into work and gaining qualifications in English. Lastly, we are proud of our recent accreditation through the Mentoring and Befriending Foundation as a quality provider.

What is your experience of support received from SCVO?
We have experienced support from SCVO in a number of ways. Most recently, this was through the managing change programme which enabled us to review our governance status and adopt a local constitution.
Over the years we have benefitted from their fundraising information days as well as their operational business events. I find these events very helpful as they allow organisations to network with each other.
Overall SCVO been very supportive over the years and have helped us with access to a variety of opportunities including the current Creative Black Country programme we are involved in which is supporting our service users in accessing and taking part in a range of creative activities.

What is the most valuable lesson you have learnt about working with people in Sandwell?
Through working with newcomers and people who have been in Sandwell for a long time, I have become inspired by the community spirit and positive aspiration of wanting to become part of Sandwell amongst all its residents.

What are your plans for the future and some of the challenges you face?
Due to the growing need for our work we have outgrown the space in our current building. As a result, we are looking for a way to expand and reconfigure our internal and external space through applying for capital funding.
In terms of other challenges, funding in all sectors is shrinking and growing the organisation is more difficult. Our key goal is to sustain to our core areas of work whilst continuing to respond to the challenges of providing more resources and more services as demand for these services grows.

How can SCVO help to support your organisation in the future?
In the future SCVO could help support Brushstrokes by securing enhanced support for smaller organisations and championing their impact and reach in the public arena.

A key role of SCVO which would help us is to provide capacity building to help smaller organisations to work together collaboratively by developing the networking skills of grassroots workers in local areas.

In addition, assisting organisations like ours with funding bids and promotional activities are also important areas where we hope SCVO will still be bedrock of support in the future.

For more information please contact 0121 565 2234 or visit http://www.brushstrokessandwell.org.uk/


Spotlight on Sandwell Parents for Disabled Children

SPDC logo

Tell us what you do
We are a voluntary organisation that provide sporting, social and recreational activities for children and young people with disabilities and their entire families.

What is your proudest achievement?
Last year we enabled a severely disabled young person and all of his family to complete an outdoor climbing course. It was brilliant to see them as a family do something which they never could have imagined being able to do.

What is your experience of support received from SCVO (if relevant)?
SCVO are currently supporting us with strategic monetary advice, helping us decide which funding opportunities we should pursue. We are also looking for assistance in for developing a code of conduct around fundraising.

What is the most valuable lesson you have learnt about working with people in Sandwell?
Never take anything or anybody for granted. Stay focused on the individual and look at things on a case by case basis.

What are your plans for the future and some of the challenges you face?
In the future we want to continue with the activities that we currently provide and also expand the range of experiences that we can offer. For example in the February half term we are using a big rig set up to put on a silks and trapeze workshop which should be great fun. Developments depends on stable and sustainable funding though, so as with most voluntary organisations our biggest challenge will be securing this.

How can SCVO help to support your organisation in the future?
By providing ad hoc support around policy development and strategic financial support as and when needed. Just literally carry on doing what you do! For more information about Sandwell Parents for Disabled Children, please visit their website at www.sp-dc.org or ring 0121 553 2093


Spotlight on North Smethwick Development Trust

Brasshouse Image

Tell us what you do
We are in charge of managing the Brasshouse Community Centre which we have been running since 2007. In 2013 we signed a 99 year lease so that we gained ownership of the site and following a massive redevelopment project we re-opened in 2014.

We focus on creativity, welfare and debt advice; providing services to the local community. An example of our work is the children’s holiday club which we run for 11 weeks of the year from 9.00am till 4.30pm, and dedicated services for older individuals. We have most recently started our own social enterprise through our cafe which is open from 8am till 2pm from Monday to Friday. This serves the general public and provides training places for individuals in the community who are looking to work in the catering industry.

What is your proudest achievement?
At North Smethwick Development Trust we are extremely proud of the asset transfer for the Brasshouse. This is in addition to the funding we achieved for its redevelopment. This gave us the opportunity to redevelop the site and provide the community with a hub. As a result, we have delivered a building that the community are proud of.

What is your experience of support received from SCVO?
Most recently we have been involved in the managing change programme through SCVO. This helped us to conduct market research for the cafe and fund the consultation process.  We have also previously been involved through their events. This is a nice way of meeting other organisations in the area and finding out what is going on.

What is the most valuable lesson you have learnt about working with people in Sandwell?
I find that the individuals in Sandwell are very open and willing to work with you. This is in addition to the willingness of the Council to work and support third sector organisations. They want to achieve great things in Sandwell and as a result they want to work alongside the third sector in order to shape their approach.

What are your plans for the future and some of the challenges you face?
Funding is a key future ambition of ours, securing funding to expand the work we do and to make sure the cafe is a success. We also previously did some work on fuel poverty which provided insulation to properties and gathered huge savings. From this scheme 68 properties saved a combined £18,000. As a result, we are looking to continue this work into the future.

The support we receive from the local authority is hugely valuable. Currently the partnership continues for another year and we hope that the Council will continue with this support. Another challenge is our recent social enterprise, the cafe. It is important that this is a success and that we can make this more sustainable in the future.

How can SCVO help to support your organisation in the future?
In the future SCVO can support our organisation by providing up to date national policy agenda information across welfare, poverty and the support for the third sector, making sure people are aware of this. Lastly, opportunities for funding are crucial and advertisement for the cafe would also be great.

For more information please call 0121 555 5672 or visit their website


Page 5 of 5First...345