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Charity Governance Code

The updated version of the Charity Governance Code has been published, setting out higher standards and urging larger charities to carry out external reviews every three years.

Other key recommendations include increasing diversity on boards, a limit of nine years for trustee terms unless a good reason is given, more oversight of subsidiaries and a stronger emphasis on the role of the chair. Full details of the code are available on a new website.

The code is overseen by a steering group of charity umbrella bodies comprised of the Association of Chairs; Acevo; ICSA: The Governance Institute; NCVO; the Small Charities Coalition; and the Wales Council for Voluntary Action, and with an independent chair, Rosie Chapman.

Consultation on changes to the code, which was previously called the Code of Good Governance, began last year and received over 200 responses. Work on the code was funded by the Barrow Cabury Trust and the Clothworkers Foundation.  The Charity Commission has withdrawn its Hallmarks of an Effective Charity guidance in favour of directing people to the new code.

Chapman said: “The code for the first time sets out clear aspirations for a charity board to meet. This code is a great stepping off point to help charities navigate the changes. It will be an essential tool for charities to use and will greatly assist them to develop and grow in their effectiveness.”


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Innovations in Measurement and Evaluation Can Help us Unlock Social Change

Charity think tank NPC has published a new report that highlights eight global trends in measurement and evaluation, which open new opportunities for charity organisations.

These innovations expand the measurement and evaluation toolkit, allowing for increased effectiveness and understanding of social interventions, something that is ever more critical in difficult times.

Global innovations in measurement and evaluation illustrates exciting developments that challenge traditional measurement and evaluation practice, making it easier and more useful for charities and social enterprises.

The report highlights how technology is enabling us to gather different types of data on bigger scales, and how increased data availability and processing power enables us to gain insights in ways not previously possible.  At the same time, organisations are trying harder to listen to and involve users, to assess change at a systemic level and to respond quickly to data.

In the context of decreased funding and increased need, the improved understanding of effectiveness offered by these approaches is critical. The blurring of boundaries between sectors provides both an imperative for the voluntary sector to modernise, and opportunities for the social sector to collaborate with and learn from others.

The research by NPC highlights eight trends that have the greatest potential to improve measurement and evaluation and ultimately programme design and delivery. Drawing on expert opinion and practice from across the world it presents selected examples from the Americas, Africa, Australasia, Asia and Europe.

To read the full Charity Digital News click here.

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

Rise of The Social Seniors Confirmed In New Report

Charities are urged to ensure they’re using the right methods to attract the right audience after an Ofcom report revealed record numbers of older people are embracing smart and social technology.

Over a quarter of over-75s are using tablet computers, and half of online baby boomers have already taken to social media according to Ofcom’s annual Adults’ Media Use and Attitudes report, which reveals how people use, understand and feel about the media and communications they rely upon each day.

This year’s report shows striking growth in older people’s use of technology between 2015 and 2016. Baby boomers aged 65-74 are increasingly connected, with four in ten (39%) using a smartphone, up 11 percentage points in a year.

There has been a sharp rise in over-75s using tablets, from 15% to 27%. And the use of smartphones among this age group has nearly doubled, from 8% to 15%.

Nearly half (48%) of internet users aged 65-74 now have a social media profile. Among over 75s, the proportion with a profile has nearly doubled – from 19% to 41%.

Around nine in ten (87%) social seniors aged over 65 opt for a Facebook account, but a smaller proportion use WhatsApp (6%) and Instagram (1%).

But while 44% of over-75s go online, more than half do not, and most of these (86%) have no plans to do so.

Social savviness

While older internet users are increasingly active online, some older people lack online confidence. A fifth (20%) of people over 65 describe themselves as ‘not confident’ online, much higher than the average (7%).

One reason could be that many older users are new to the internet. Some 21% of internet users over-75 went online for the first time in the last five years – twice the wider average.

For those older internet users lacking confidence, this is particularly pronounced when managing personal data. Almost one in five internet users over 65 say that are ‘not at all confident’ about this.

And 16% of internet users over 55 said they ‘never’ consider the data or privacy implications when posting photos online – the largest proportion to say ‘never’ among all age groups.

Some older internet users were also unsure about sponsored links in search results. A quarter (27%) of search engine users aged over 75 said they were unsure, and less than half (46%) felt able to identify sponsored links.

Similarly, awareness of personalised advertising seems to be lower among some older users – with seven in ten (72%) over 75s, and six in ten (60%) 65-74s saying they were unaware of this type of advertising, compared to the average of 44%.

Source: Charity Digital News


#100Masters – Express and Star Collaboration

Creative Black Country in collaboration with The Express and Star have printed their second article showcasing local talent within the Black Country as part of the 100 Masters Project; an arts campaign to identify contemporary skilled people from the Black Country  and help inspire future talent.

The Black Country was forged at the hands of men and women from all walks of life who had honed their skills to the highest levels. It was through their craftsmanship and diligence that the region became renowned as the industrial heartland of the UK. 100 Masters aims to inspire and offer local people a fresh perspective about the strengths, skills, talent and expertise surfacing from their own locality and community.

The feature concentrates on four of Creative Black Country nominated masters; award-winning cactus breeder Stan Griffin, master of typography John Neave, the UK’s first Breakdancing B-girl Hanifa McQueen Hudson and amazing animator Drew Roper.

To use, simply download the ‘Layar’ app on your smart device; open the app and let it access the camera on your phone; hold the phone 15-20cm above the anvil image on the front of the postcard and then tap the screen to scan. You won’t believe your eyes as video’s and images dance across the page.

“This is what the future of media looks like and, as ever, the Black Country are leading the way in revolutionising the way we make, see and do things.”

The 100 Masters project is now closed for nominations however, the Masters nominated are currently being shortlisted with official announcements to following towards the end of July 2017.


Beat It Percussion CIC: PRIME Cymru Growth Business Award

Social enterprise, Beat It Percussion CIC is delighted to have been shortlisted for PRIME Cymru’s Growth Business Award. Their mission is ‘to improve people’s lives through the medium of group music activities. Through our workshops people experience physical and cognitive skills, gain confidence and experience social inclusion.

Based in Herefordshire Beat It is establishing a presence in the West Midlands and is currently delivering taster sessions across Sandwell. Beat It Percussion runs Dementia-friendly sessions for older adults at community settings and exciting new projects are in the pipeline. Over the last year, Beat It Percussion has grown significantly in turnover and scope and has recently recruited and trained a team of local volunteers and a new music practitioner. The organisation also works across the border in Wales hence the connection with PRIME Cymru.

PRIME Cymru (the Prince’s Initiative for Mature Enterprise in Wales) is the Prince of Wales’s charity that supports people over the age of 50 to start their own business or find employment.

‘’PRIME Cymru supports such a wide range of fantastic businesses and the Awards give us the opportunity to celebrate them and to thank them and our mentors for all the hard work they do,” said David Pugh, Chief Executive, PRIME Cymru. The Awards categories for 2017 are:  New Business, Growth Business, Green Business and Mentor of the Year. The results will be announced on 11th July.

Lynn Kay, Beat It’s CEO says ‘’Being shortlisted for this award is significant because it recognises not only my work but also the great effort put in by Beat It’s Directors, volunteers and practitioners who have all been instrumental in our success over the last year. Older people often face loneliness and isolation. Drumming Together gives people the chance to come together to play drums, chat and enjoy mental and physical exercises which are really good for retaining skills and flexibility. This programme is becoming recognised as a significant development in supporting people who are at the early stages of dementia.’’

To find out more please contact Lynn at Beat It Percussion on 07875 090946 or via email at

Charities must put those we help on the board of trustees

Joel Rose, CEO of Cardiomyopathy UK writes The night before my first trustee meeting as chief executive of Cardiomyopathy UK, the chair gave me a call: “one of the trustees can’t make it – they’ve had a cardiac arrest”.

They were fine once their internal defibrillator kicked in, but it was possibly the most convincing excuse I have heard for missing a meeting.

It made me think about the advantages of having a board of trustees who are service users. I know that the idea of service user trustees sounds daunting for some, but these are the people who know first-hand the importance of the charity’s mission. It’s easy to see service user involvement as just another box to tick. But I have been lucky enough to have worked with two service user-led boards in the past 10 years and they have been the most insightful, representative, passionate and sincere – in short, the best – I have seen.

Having a room full of trustees that reflect your service users and supporters is the best way to stop yourself from getting too far off track. If I’m at a trustee meeting getting carried away with big ideas and complex strategies, I can always look around the room. Any blank faces and I need to rethink. If something does not feel right or does not make sense to them, it’s either not going to work or I need to communicate it more effectively. Having trustees who can filter out ideas has certainly stopped me from making some big mistakes.

Being a trustee is an important and prestigious position. Service user trustees can act as powerful role models, especially in charities where service users often face misconceptions about the impact of their illness or disability. I saw this all the time when I ran a mental health charity. Service users were inspired by trustees who had come to terms with their own problems and make it onto the board. Now, when my chair of trustees stands up in front of a room full of people with cardiomyopathy at our national conference, I know that a good proportion of the audience are thinking “if they can do that then perhaps I can get on top of my condition”.

Read the full article

CVT’s Shared Lives Open Event: A Great Success

Despite the sweltering heat, over 20 people attended the Shared Lives Open Information Event hosted by CVT (Camphill Village Trust) at the newly built Berith Hall in Stourbridge on Wednesday, 21 June 2017.

Recently recruited Kate Morgan, Registered Manager, who has over 10 years’ experience of working in the Shared Lives sector, said “The evening was very positive, as not only did it celebrate National Shared Lives Week, it was a great opportunity for the public to come and find out what Shared Lives is all about. We explored the process of how to become a Shared Lives Carer and support a person with learning disabilities, mental ill health or even early-on-set-dementia from within an ordinary family home on a long-term or respite basis.”

The model is a financially viable alternative to hospital or complex residential care, where care packages can cost upwards of £300 per night.  People are known to lead longer, healthier and happier lives when matched to live with a Shared Lives Carer in the community.

Shared Lives are already recruiting Shared Lives Carers in Sandwell and there were people from Walsall wanting to work with CVT on this new initiative. The gathering heard from a new carer, who gave account of the assessment process.

CVT are confident it will exceed our target of six sets of shared lives carers by the Autumn, even though the assessment and training process can take up to 3 months before a carer is approved. You can be paid up to £600 a week with tax relief, depending on the level of support provided to the person who comes to stay.

If anyone is interested in finding out more about becoming a Shared Lives Carer for CVT, they should visit the website  then call Dean Barnshaw on 07984 896010, who will arrange to visit.


How Small Charities Can Access Free Legal Help

Alison McKenna highlights some of the free legal resources available to small charities through LawWorks. 

“As the Principal Judge at the Charity Tribunal, I am always keen to see that charities receive as much support as possible, and am pleased when I see lawyers doing their part to help out. It is my pleasure to highlight the free legal advice and support available to small charities through LawWorks’ Not-For-Profits Programme.

As we all know, charities and not-for profits provide a valuable and significant service to communities and timely legal advice can be vital to ensuring they are operating efficiently and able to focus on delivery of vital services to their beneficiaries. Charities may need legal advice on a range of issues but with nearly one in five charities ‘struggling to survive’ due to decreasing incomes and increasing demand for services (as reported in the CAF Social Landscape Report) there may be a number of barriers to accessing legal advice.

LawWorks is a charity committed to enabling access to justice through free legal advice and the LawWorks Not-For-Profit Programme brokers legal advice to small not-for-profit organisations, to support the continuation and expansion of their services to people in need. Around 80 law firms and in house legal teams participated in the Programme in 2016 and 162 cases for not-for-profit organisations were placed with volunteer lawyers.”

Read the full article by clicking here.


HR Update – Discriminatory Reference

Simon Bond, Partner (Employment), Higgs and Sons writes about a recent decision where the Employment Tribunal has held that in providing an unfavourable reference, the employer had victimised an employee and discriminated against the employee on the basis of disability.

In P Mefful v Citizens Advice Merton and Lambeth Ltd, the employee had worked for the Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) from 2004 until being made redundant in 2012. During the course of his employment, the employee had two extensive periods of absence, one of which was due to a disability. The employee brought claims of unfair dismissal and disability discrimination against the employer. Although CAB conceded on unfair dismissal, the litigation in respect of disability discrimination continues.

During 2015, the employee applied for a role with another employer. The new employer requested a reference from CAB. The individual from CAB who provided the reference was involved with the litigation and developed the view that the employee was dishonest. In the reference request, CAB answered no to the question of would they employ the employee again. The employee however had a good performance review record and had received no warnings in relation to this sickness.

The ET commented that CAB “knowingly conveyed the impression…that [it] would not re-employ the Claimant due to his sickness absence”. CAB failed to complete the performance review section of the reference and this was to the detriment of the employee as no positive information was given. This was done on the basis that the employee had brought a claim to the ET which was deemed to be a protected act.

The reference was not honest, fair or accurate. CAB were held to have overstated the sickness absence whilst providing no favourable information regarding the employee’s performance.

Employer Considerations  
The Tribunal’s decision acts as an important reminder of the need to provide true, accurate and fair references. Where an employee has brought a claim against an employer, the employer must ensure that any reference provided remains true, accurate and fair. Any unfair or inaccurate reference is likely to be deemed to be connected to the employee’s claim which itself will be deemed to be a protected act.

For more SCVO news articles click here.

From: Higgs and Sons, Solicitors

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