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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 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 If you need more information about Sandwell Revenues and Benefits, please contact their Stakeholder Relations Officer – Oliver Wright at

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.


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

Source: Charity Digital News

Homeschool Social Enterprise – English and Maths Tuition

Are you looking for an English or Maths Tutor for a young person or are you an adult looking to refresh your skills?

Great news…Homeschool Social Enterprise, an Independent Christian Primary School registered with the Department for Education (DfE ), currently have a fantastic offer available for English and Maths tuition for children in years 1 – 9.

For just £14 per group session you will receive 2 hours’ worth of tuition time, to support learners to realise their potential and academic progress.

This offer is recommended for:

• exam success,
• understanding of the curriculum,
• confidence boosting,
• academic discipline and focus.

Contact them for more details of individual rates for one-to-one sessions, alternative subjects or adult tuition also available.

Spaces are limited so book now to reserve a place: Call 0121 649 1599 or email at

To find out more on what services or activities are available from Homeschool Social Enterprise visit their website at


Free Advice Line For Small Charities Opens

The FSI has launched a free service offering advice to small charities on a range of organisational issues.

A pilot of the Advice Hub opened to FSI members with an annual turnover of under £100,000 this week and will run until the end of 2017.

From January next year, the scheme will expand to be open to all FSI members, all of which are charities with a turnover of under £1.5m.

To deliver the programme, the FSI is recruiting for volunteer advisors who would be willing to work a minimum of one hour a month.

The FSI is looking for volunteers with charity sector experience in a range of areas such as financial resource management, impact reporting and measurement, governance, HR and others including:
• building organisational strength;
• strategy and business planning;
• fundraising and income generation;
• marketing and communications;
• campaigning and public affairs.

Pauline Broomhead, founding chief executive of the FSI, said the hub was being introduced to address an 81 per cent increase in demand for her organisation’s members’ services since June 2013. She said: “The Advice Hub pilot phase is being launched during Small Charity Week to expand on the free monthly advice clinics currently delivered by the FSI on the first Monday of every month. “The increase in demand for services has meant that many of our members are struggling to find the funds and time to attend training so by expanding this programme we will be supporting small and local charities and community groups to address their particular skills gaps in a more flexible way. “We are looking for skilled and talented volunteer advisors to join us in this pilot to support the sustainability and effectiveness of the small charity sector during the increasingly difficult climate in which they operate”.

Further information on the Advice Hub and how to sign up are available from the FSI website.

From: Civil Society News

How to Develop a Social Media Strategy

Whether developing a social media strategy for the first time, or refreshing an existing plan, charities should consider a number of questions in order to achieve the best results.

1. What are my objectives?
This is the most obvious one, right? You’d be surprised how many social media strategies contain woolly objectives like “raising awareness for our cause” – we’ll take it as a given that you want people to know about your charity.

Instead, start with your organisational objectives, your team objectives and the objectives you’ve been set within your role, and use these as the basis for your social media strategy. For example:
• Create engaging storytelling content to show the difference your team makes to service users’ lives
• Dispel myths and misconceptions about the people you support
• Increase fundraising revenue, volunteer recruitment and event signups by x%

Whatever the strategy, you need to measure whether what you’re doing is working and adapt what you do accordingly. Focus less on likes, shares and reach and more on measuring actual results.
The clearer your goals, the easier it is to see whether you are actually achieving them.

2. Which channel is best for reaching my primary audience(s)?
If your target audience is men aged 65, there’s a pretty good chance Snapchat isn’t going to be the channel for you. The video below looks at some of the latest research on social media usage within the UK.

Understand the demographics of each channel and speak to your service users, supporters and volunteers to find out which channels they use most frequently.

Rather than obsessing about filling Twitter, Facebook and Instagram feeds every day, spend time engaging with your users and supporters in the places they frequent online.

If you’re a housing officer, for example, can you connect with tenants in your community’s local Facebook Group? If you provide health advice, how can you add value to a forum for people with a specific condition? If you need to connect with teachers, where do they go online? The opportunities are endless.

3. What content will my users find interesting and useful?
To get to the heart of what your users, supporters and key stakeholders need from you online, take some time as a team to develop marketing personas.

Personas are generalised representations of your ideal customers. What do they normally talk about? What are their challenges? What do they need from you? What are they searching for online? What sort of content will they find most appealing?

Every time you create a Facebook post, plan a new video or write a blog, think about these personas and question whether you’re meeting their needs.

To read the full article click here

Source: Zurich Municipal


Bright Futures

Are you looking for training, jobs or apprenticeships?

From 3 July through to 25 September 2017, Connexions Sandwell will continue to offer a One Stop Shop at Oldbury Council House, where every Monday and Wednesday, 11 am – 1 pm, different providers will be available to chat with young people aged 16 – 18 about their Bright Future.

For more information please contact Connexions Sandwell on 0121 569 2955. Facebook and twitter address, Sandwell_connexions.


Get A Job Programme – The Way Wolverhampton Youth Zone

The ‘Get A Job’ Programme is an interactive employability, enterprise & interpersonal skills course for 16-24 year olds who are Not in Education, Employment or Training. It aims to help young people develop the self-awareness, confidence and skills to be able to move into a job, a traineeship, an apprenticeship or a college course.

The course will be delivered at The Way Wolverhampton Youth Zone (Wolverhampton city centre) four times a year, with the first group inducting on 21st July and starting fully on 25th July. There are 81 guided learning hours scheduled over 6 weeks, 3 days a week, 10-2 each day, followed by a two week work placement and ongoing weekly drop-in employability support.

The course is part-funded by Accenture and partly by The Way (not ESF). Anyone who meets the age and NEET criteria is eligible, regardless of where they live. Each cohort will have approximately 12 young people.

Key course content:

• Teamwork & communication skills
• Adventure challenge away days including high ropes and team challenges
• An accredited Level 1 or 2 in Employability, Enterprise & Interpersonal Skills
• Advice from business people on succeeding at work
• Business & Enterprise Project – designing, creating & selling a product
• CV writing, job applications and practice interviews
• Behind the scenes tours & workshops at local businesses
• Support with identifying and securing next steps

For more information or to refer a young person please email mailto:leonie.hudson@thewayyouthzone.orgor call 01902 328290


Free 1-2-1 Employability Workshops

North Smethwick Development Trust are delivering a free one day employability workshops for adults where they can access 1-2-1 support on the day.

The workshops will be three workshops being held covering:

Workshop 1: 9.30am till 3.30pm in CV writing, covering letters and interview skills.
Workshop 2: 9.30am till 12 noon in Money Management
Workshop 3: 1pm till 3pm in Money Management

The one day workshops are being held on:

Tuesday 27th July 2017 at  Brasshouse Community Centre, Brasshouse Lane, Smethwick, B66 1BA.

It is essential that you book your place in advance by calling us on 0121 5555672 or via email at

For parents on a low income we may be able to offer free childcare at our Ofsted registered Breakaway Holiday Club to enable you to attend the training workshops.

Invitation to The Sandwell Community Learning Offer 2017-18 Event

Sandwell Adult and Family Learning Service (SAFL) is a direct contract holder with the Skills Funding Agency for the provision of Community Learning. SAFL work in collaboration and partnership with other learning and training providers delivering learning opportunities and supporting adult learners annually in Sandwell.

In delivering a balanced offer for 2017-2018, they are seeking to sub-contract some of their provision to partners who can help them widen participation by delivering teaching and learning to those who engage for personal development and well-being or to develop stronger communities and families.

New and/or current local learning providers including Voluntary and Community sector groups, other private and third sector and non-profit organisations who are interested in becoming an Approved Sub-Contractor for 2017-2018 are invited to attend the Community Learning Offer briefing session to obtain further information. Being held on:

Thursday 22nd June 2.00pm – 4.00pm at Hateley Heath Further Education & Training Centre, Huntingdon Road, West Bromwich, B71 2RP

To confirm your attendance or for more information about this opportunity please contact Linda Matthews on 0121 556 7426 or via email at

Building Resilience in Arts & Cultural Organisations

Working with Arts Council England, the School for Social Entrepreneurs, will deliver a free 10-month learning programme based around the theme of Diversity & Entrepreneurism. The aim of the programme is to support 25 arts and cultural organisations to develop their expertise and capacity to think long term about creative resilience.

The programme will be delivered from October 2017 to July 2018 and include 4 days of consultancy, followed by six months of self-facilitated action learning. The sessions will take place in London and travel costs and accommodation will be covered.

Eligibility criteria – to apply you must…
• Be based in England
• Be the CEO, Director or senior manager
• Have a turnover of between £75,000 -£1M
• Been operational for a minimum of 3 years
• Have at least 2 full time employees

Find out more…
If you would like to find out more about the programme we are running group conference calls on the following dates:
• Wednesday 14th June at 10.00 am-11.00 am
• Thursday 22nd June at 1.00 pm-2.00 pm
If you would like to participate in one of these calls please email and he will send you the joining details.

The Building Resilience Programme Overview
There are 4 distinct strands to this programme
• ’Diversity & Entrepreneurism’ delivered by us at SSE in London
• ’Change Creation’ delivered by People Make It Work
• ‘Survival Skills for the New Normal’ delivered by City University London
• ‘Fundraising & Revenue Diversification’ delivered by Arts Manager International
You can only apply to one of these so choose the one best suited to your organisation’s needs.
The Programme Overview gives a brief summary of what each of these programmes will cover and links to their website to find out more.


The deadline to apply is 5.00 pm on Friday 14th July 2017

Please note, you can only apply to one of the 4 programme strands

Please submit completed applications to

There will be no interviews: the School for Entrepreneurs aim to let applicants know the outcome by the end of July.

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