March 2014

Monthly Archives

New Members for SCVO

Services - Supporting PeopleSCVO recently welcomed four local voluntary and community organisations into its membership. They now join a growing number of organisations, in excess of 600, who form our strong collective voice on behalf of the local communities we serve.

Further information about these organisations is available from SCVO’s database – click on their name to link to their listing:-


In 1998, the organisation started life as the vision of a small group of older Sandwell residents, now, Agewell is over 10 years old.  It is a strategic voice for older people and is a well-respected organisation which is making a real and lasting impact on the lives of local people.

Black Country Touring

Black Country Touring brings professional theatre and dance to community audiences across the Black Country.

The Shared Reading Company CIC

The Shared Reading Company facilitate “Shared Reading Aloud” groups to aid well-being with different community groups.  They have been delivering weekly shared reading to groups in the community in order to: maintain and improve personal wellbeing and mental health; promote social engagement; extend reading pleasure; enable personal development and growth of literacy and life skills; create pathways to volunteering and employability.

Polish Expats Association

PEA transforms society by empowering Polish community in the UK and equipping Polish people in the skills and knowledge necessary to integrate and at the same time to live their lives fully, with dignity and pride in their identity.   They also work to promote Polish culture and heritage, while supporting community cohesion.

Not already a Member and would like to be?
SCVO invites not-for-profit organisations, community groups and charities currently providing services within Sandwell to join its membership.  As a member, organisations commit to supporting SCVO’s engagement with local partners, sharing information and working together for the benefit of local people.  SCVO in return commit to securing resources to assist in the development of local organisations, and to lobby and work on behalf of the whole Sector.  There are also a range of benefits for members including discounted legal services, energy, telecoms, and insurance deals. For further information visit SCVO website.


BIG Wants You to Join the Conversation

Consultations - OpinionThe Big Lottery Fund (BIG) is holding a UK wide conversation through a dedicated website on how it should spend £4 billion of lottery funding between 2015 and 2021. The “online conversation”, as the Big Lottery Fund (BIG) calls it, will run until July 2014.

BIG is asking for views on how it should shape its vision and plans over the six year period in support of its mission “to bring real improvements to communities and the lives of people most in need”.
Called “Your Voice, Our Vision”, the website focuses on four specific areas that are key to the Big Lottery Fund’s work and asks the questions:

  • Vibrant communities – How can we grow social capital and help communities to make the most of their strengths and talents?
  • Addressing Disadvantage – What can we do to support people living in poverty to achieve a better quality of life? How do we address increasing demand for help in difficult times?
  • Working Together – Tell us how we can best work with others to make a difference. How can we share our information, learning and resources for the benefit of others?
  • Stronger Sector – How can we best support the development of a stronger voluntary, community and social enterprise sector?

It is easy to join the conversation, simply go to the website and register which is quick and easy.  Once registered, visitors can read what others are saying, join in discussions and contribute by adding a blog, film or a tweet. To join the conversation, visit the Big Lottery Fund “Your Voice and Our Vision” website

The People’s Orchestra – 2nd Birthday

post - people's orchestra logoWest Bromwich based, The People’s Orchestra are performing a special concert to mark the second anniversary of their formation. The show entitled the ‘2nd Birthday Concert’ will take place on Sunday 6th April at West Bromwich Town Hall at 7pm.

The orchestra has grown rapidly since their inception in 2012, and have performed many concerts throughout the West Midlands, with the latest being two Valentine’s concerts in Lichfield & Leamington Spa.  The amateur orchestra will perform an array of crowd-pleasing classics, taken from well known and much loved films. This will include the instantly recognisable soundtrack from the ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ film series starring Johnny Depp, as well as the title theme from the 2011 critically acclaimed movie ‘War Horse’.

Arrangements will also be taken from hugely successful franchises like ‘Harry Potter ‘ and ‘The Hobbit’. Not forgetting of course songs from the ever popular stage and screen musical ‘Les Miserables’. West Bromwich Town Hall is able to seat around 400 people, so anyone whose interested in buying tickets can purchase them either online at:, by phone on: 0121 569 2616 or in person at any library in Sandwell.  Tickets are £10 for adults, £7 concessions and £5 for children.

Rathbone Sandwell

CYP3Rathbone Sandwell is a national youth support charity which provides a range of employability training to young people supporting their progression to further education, training and work.

Rathbone Sandwell’s centre, based at Newey Business Park in Tipton, offers learning programmes ranging from military preparation and construction to business administration and beauty therapy.

“Our aim is to support 16-24 year olds facing tough challenges in their lives to progress their education or find the right path into training and work” said Carrie Spittle, Centre Manager for Rathbone Sandwell.

Last year Rathbone supported just under 11,000 young people across it’s 47 centres in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

For details of the youth employability training provided by Rathbone please call 0121 522 6990 or email

More information on Rathbone is available online at


The Spring Budget

EconEnvHousing7Did you follow the budget last week?   Most people probably just wanted to know whether it would affect their day to day work, SCVO included.  And unless you’re part of a Scout or Guide group, or run an air ambulance, the answer is: probably not that much.

Andrew O’Brien from NCVO (National Council for Voluntary Organisations) has summarised the key points from the budget that are relevant to the voluntary sector.  He writes about the welcome news of a social investment tax relief, though do not expect it to be a game changer overnight.  The government has responded to the voluntary sector’s request for more support for small charities, by setting up a team to help small organisations claim gift aid, including collecting tin donations.  Claiming collecting tin gift aid is far too complicated at the moment (as you probably know) but it’s a tax relief that could be worth a fair bit.

NCVO have also published a summary of the feedback that the voluntary sector has given them of their priorities for the 2015 election.  NCVO will use this to shape the manifesto ideas that they will present to political parties later this year.  They are very grateful to the hundreds of people who submitted ideas.

Read more about what members told them



Commission uses Charities Act 2011 to remove a charity due to inadequate Governance

post - consultation - group meetingFollowing allegations that vulnerable service users felt threatened and intimidated by a charity, including being pressurised to pay ‘voluntary fees’, the Charity Commission investigated its processes for safeguarding vulnerable beneficiaries. The charity’s objects were to address mental health issues by providing advocacy and outreach service for people with mental health problems.

Trustees were asked to provide a range of documents and information, including safeguarding policies and accounts. They were unable to do this and it became clear that the trustees’ supervision and management of the charity was wholly inadequate.

The Charity Commission investigation revealed serious concerns about the governance of the charity. No written safeguarding policies or procedures were evident; the treasurer showed little knowledge of accounting procedures and there did not appear to be any financial controls in place.

Having concluded that the trustees were failing in their duty to safeguard vulnerable beneficiaries by not ensuring that robust governance controls and procedures were in place, the Commission gave them two options, either recognise their responsibility for the governance of the charity and its activities by putting in place proper policies and procedures or dissolve the charity in line with the provisions of its constitution.

The trustees decided that dissolution was the best solution but was unable to account for its income and expenditure.  The Commission decided to use its powers under the Charities Act 2011 to remove the charity from the register but as the assets were minimal, further action against the trustees would be disproportionate.

All trustees (this means members of the board or committee) have legal duties and responsibilities under the Charities Act.  SCVO is here to support Trustees of Voluntary and Community groups to ensure good governance.  For further advice and support please contact: or telephone 0121 525 1127

Strengthening the Voice of the Sector

SCVO recently facilitated two of its Strategic Forums for the Voluntary and Community Sector (VCS) in Sandwell, the VCS Health and Social Care Forum and the VCS Children and Young People Forum.  Both Forums were well attended with lively debate.  Below is a brief up date in terms of the discussions that took place.

VCS Health and Social Care Forum
David Stevens, Director of Adult Social Care from Sandwell Council gave a brief overview of some of the current challenges facing the Council.  Adult Social Care had restructured to lose much of the management structure to make savings in the budget.  This had been done to avoid cutting funding from front line services.  £22m of funding from Sandwell and West Birmingham Clinical Commissioning Group is being transferred to a pooled budget with the Council.

As part of this funding there are some developments – a one year project known as “The Community Offer” will see a total £600,000 being invested into 6 localised projects to help achieve various outcomes for adult social care, the Acute Trust and Public Heath.  The Voluntary and Community Sector is seen as being key to the success of these projects and an engagement meeting was held on the 5th March at West Bromwich Community Centre.  It has been confirmed that the funding will be in the form of a grant.  Further information about progress with this project will be circulated once it is known.

VCS Children and Young People Forum
Sharon Nanan-Sen, Strategic Lead for Services for Young People gave an overview of proposed restructure of the Youth Service.  It is proposed that Youth Clubs be cut from 27 to 7 along with proposed changes to Youth Centres.  Please view for a copy of the presentation given by Sharon.  Ongoing discussions between the Sector and the Council will take place around minimising the impact on provision and also looking at the future role of the Sector.

Denise Williams, Family Support Manager, Sandwell Council gave an overview of changes in relation to the Early Help Offer for children, young people and families.  Please view Denise’s presentation and also view here should you have concerns over a child.

VCS Representation
The formal announcement of Voluntary and Community Sector Representatives on each of the 6 Community Operating Groups, together with a VCS Strategic Lead for Children, Young People and Families was made at the Forum meeting.  Please view for details of the successful appointment.

Sandwell Safeguarding Children Board Update

CYP2Dr Jenny Harding, Independent Chair,  Sandwell Safeguarding Children’s Board reports. “A major task this year has been to review the redesign the Sandwell Safeguarding Children Board (SSCB) Multi-Agency Threshold Document.   This was needed because two very exciting things have been happening in Sandwell; a focus on Early Help and establishment of the MASH (Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub)”.

 Multi Agency Document:

  1. Developed with the help of front line professional expertise from all agencies represented on SSCB (police, probation, health and children’s social care, voluntary sector, etc)
  2. For EVERYONE to use, irrespective of agency or professional background;
  3. Approved by SSCB in February 2014.

Threshold Document:

  1. Keeping children and young people safe and well works best if families receive the most appropriate and proportionate support when they need it;
  2. Four Levels of  Intervention and Need – no fixed ‘threshold’ between each Level but a blurring so that families can simply move up or down as their support needs increase or decrease.
  3. Starts with the basics we all expect such as access to schools and education, GPs and health services, police to ensure we are safe, a place to live etc – access to Universal Services (most of our children).

The Multi Agency Threshold document, an updated Multi Agency Referral Form (MARF) and MARF guidance can be found here 

It is the responsibility of ALL partners to speak to children and families about their concerns and work with families to improve outcomes.

Friar Park Community First Funding

Funding2The Friar Park Community First panel is now inviting applications from voluntary organisations and groups operating in the ward for the financial year April 2014 – March 2015.

The total allocation by the Community Development Foundation for Friar Park Ward Community First Panel for the final year is £11309.  If you are interested in applying for support from the fund please read the guidance notes and submit an application form either on-line or by post to the contact address.   These can be obtained online

If you feel you need further information or additional support please contact John Rennie on 0121 502 5345.  The panel intends to meet regularly to consider all applications, however these will be considered by a first come first serve basis.

All applications for this final allocation should be submitted no later than 21 March 2014.

The People’s Millions 2014 Invite UK Entries

Funding2The competition opens today for entries from voluntary and community groups, local authorities, schools, statutory health bodies and branches of organisations or partnerships.

Running since 2005, the People’s Millions is an annual TV competition run by the Big Lottery Fund and ITV News which awards Lottery funding to community projects that improve the lives of local people.

Anything from youth and environmental projects to schemes that improve employment prospects or help people in need have a chance to win, provided that entrants can convince their community through a broadcast on ITV regional news in November that their idea is worthy of the prize.

In 2014, there are four awards of up to £50,000 on offer in each of the 19 ITV regional news areas across the UK. Applications can be made for any amount from £20,000 to £50,000 as long as it is at least half of the total cost of the proposed project which must cost between £20,000 and £100,000 including any VAT that cannot be recovered.  Full details can be found on the People’s Millions website The deadline for applications is 16 May 2014 (12 noon).

Page 1 of 212