July 2016

Monthly Archives

Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service Nominations Sought

Queens Award for Voluntary ServiceThis prestigious UK National Honour has an equivalent status to the MBE and recognises the exceptional contributions made to local communities by groups voluntarily devoting their time for the benefit of others.

Volunteering groups make a huge contribution to people’s lives, often without praise for the incredible work they do.  A prestigious National Honour such as the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service can prove invaluable in so many ways to their on-going success.

You can find information on how to nominate at https://www.gov.uk/queens-award-for-voluntary-service/overview or you can go directly to the online nomination form at https://qavs.direct.gov.uk

Nominators will be required to sign up to complete and submit a nomination form.
Read the guidance notes before completing the online nomination form as there is no facility to save partially completed forms.

Nominations can be made at any time during the year, but for those wishing to be considered for the 2017 award, on-line nominations must be received by the national awards office by Friday 16th September 21016.

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/

Summer Holidays in Sandwell Libraries

Summer Holidays in Sandwell LibrariesFrom magic shows and mask making to mini-beasts and Roald Dahl-inspired activities, Sandwell’s libraries will be full of fun for children over the summer holidays. Most activities are free and open to all ages. Check details of specific events with your library. As well as arts and craft sessions, there will also be activities promoting healthy eating.

Councillor Richard Marshall, Sandwell Council’s cabinet member for leisure, said: “The school holidays are now under way – and it’s a great time to visit your local library to see what activities are on offer. “Our library service is putting on a fun-filled programme to help keep young minds occupied and entertained during the summer break.”

Most activities start at 11 am, so there are also plenty of quiet times for everyone to choose books and catch up with the newspapers, or take advantage of the free internet access and free Wi-Fi. Click here to check out events.

Sandwell libraries are also offering their annual Summer Reading Challenge. It is open to primary school aged children and is designed for all reading abilities. Libraries work closely with local schools to give out information to encourage children to take part, and stress to parents the importance of reading and literacy.

For more information on Sandwell’s 19 libraries, go to www.sandwell.gov.uk/libraries, ‘like’ ‘Sandwell Libraries’ on Facebook and follow @sandwelllibs on Twitter. For further information please contact Sandwell Council Communications Unit on
0121 569 3031. Out of hours/emergency: 07920 027 723.


Giant Bees Create A Buzz Around Sandwell

Create a Buzz around SandwellSandwell Arts Festival is set to become a hive of activity during the 13  & 14 August, as a swarm of Bees fly in to the Arts Cafe at Sandwell Central Sixth to buzz out an unusual symphony in ‘Bee’ minor across West Bromwich.

Artist Jon Williams of Eastnor Pottery, Malvern, has been commissioned by Creative Black Country to make 24 giant ceramic bees to accompany a stunning ceramic garden. With the help of Ann Scrimshaw at the Fab Lab, the ceramic Bees have been given digital capacitive touch technology – the same process used on a mobile phone touch screen – so that they can buzz with their own unique sound.

The Bees will be one of the highlights of this year’s Sandwell Arts Festival which has been produced by Creative Black Country on behalf of Sandwell Council and its partners. The hive will rest within the meadow of 1,200 colourful ceramic flowers, which have been produced over the past six months, in partnership with Creative Arts and 500 people from across the Black Country.

Sandwell Arts Festival will include free performance, puppetry, an urban beach, film, photography and music throughout the weekend from 11.30 am-3.30 pm on 13 & 14 August. Full listings can be found at Creative Black Country.

Look out for the very special Imagine That! story and colouring book starring the Bees, which is free and available to pick up across Sandwell Libraries and at all of the Imagine That! events throughout the summer. Written by storyteller Ian Billings, with the help of young people from The Lyng Media Club (West Bromwich), and illustrated by recent graduate Jody Lundy, the story follows two adventurous explorers as they discover the fun they can have in the Black Country.

With workshops to join, plenty of things to make and do, performances to see and storytelling to hear, you’ll be ready to chill out and relax in West Bromwich’s own Urban Beach. Let the fun come to you with an extraordinary Summer in Sandwell.

Community Midwifery Review Listening Exercise

Sandwell & West Birmingham CCGSandwell and West Birmingham CCG are carrying out a review with mothers and families to improve the community midwifery care in your local area.

While giving mothers and families the chance to welcome their new born in an environment that meets their needs and requirements, we would appreciate hearing your thoughts on the community midwifery services.  Your experiences and suggestions will help us shape services for the future.

The survey is open until Monday 5 September 2016 for you to share your views.

If you would like any further information, then please get in touch with our Engagement Team on 0121 612 1447 or email: swbccg.engagement@nhs.net

Digital Amnesia: How Your Tablet Is Damaging Your Memory

TabletAlmost half of business people admit to missing out on valuable information when attempting to record notes on a digital advice, according to a study by Kaspersky Lab

Have you ever written a letter and conversed with a colleague at the same time? Or replied to an email while simultaneously thinking about the next item on your to-do list?

For most managers, the answer is yes. And with the advent of new technologies that let us juggle screens and multitask to the max, the temptation to try and do more than one task at a time is appealing.

The process of recording information – from taking minutes, taking down key points from conversations and noting down ideas – through mobile technology has been simplified for workers, with an array of multi-faceted notetaking, voice recording and typing apps currently on the market.

Unfortunately, multitasking makes it more difficult for individuals to organise thoughts and filter out irrelevant information, and it reduces the efficiency and quality of our work.

A University Of London study showed that subjects who multitasked while performing cognitive tasks experienced significant IQ drops, comparable to the decline experienced by individuals who skip a night of sleep or who smoke marijuana.

While people may believe that they can type and listen properly at the same time, scientific evidence shows they can’t. In fact, our brains actually slow down because the stress hormone cortisol is released each time our brain shifts attention with each task we carry out.

Earl Miller, a neuroscientist at MIT and an expert on divided attention, said: “Our brains are not wired to multitask well… When people think they’re multitasking, they’re actually just switching from one task to another very rapidly.
“And every time they do, there’s a cognitive cost in doing so.”

Read the full article at: http://managers.org.uk/insights/news/2016/july/digital-amnesia-how-your-tablet-is-damaging-your-memory

From: Chartered Management Institute – Jermaine Haughton

Big Lottery Fund Awards Down By More than £400m, Accounts Show

Big Lottery FundThe Big Lottery Fund awarded more than £400m less to social projects in 2015/16 than in the previous year, its annual report and accounts show.

The accounts for the year to the end of March 2016, released on Tuesday, show grant awards were worth £583m against a budget of £698m, compared with awards of £1bn in the previous year.

The accounts say that the large reduction was “due to the timing of grant decisions and does not represent an ongoing change in our capacity to make grant awards”.

They also say the 2014/15 grant awards were unusually high in part because of the £149m given to set up the grant-making foundation the Power to Change Trust.

Delays to the BLF’s European match funding programme also resulted in a lower than anticipated total of grants in 2015/16.
Total expenditure was £715m in 2015/16, down from £1bn in the previous year, with the fall in grant expenditure accounting for much of the reduction.

Income fell slightly from £846m to £820m, mainly due to a reduction in proceeds from the National Lottery (from £783m to £769m) and a fall in dormant account money income (from almost £50m to £37m).

The largest single award made in 2015/16 was £33m to the Royal Society of Wildlife Trusts. Overall, 11,779 awards were made in the course of the year, with 89 per cent of those worth less than £10,000.

The Big Lottery Fund had a surplus of £105m in 2015/16, after a deficit of £169m in 2014/15, according to the accounts. The BLF’s cumulative deficit at 31 March 2016 was £769m, down from £874m.

The BLF’s accounting policy means it treats awards as expenditure as soon as they are approved, the accounts say, and the fund manages its long-term cash flow based on grant cash commitments and projected incomes rather than an annual surplus or deficit.

From: Third Sector

Cyber Crime – No Longer Just the Teenage Hacker Working From Their Bedroom

Cyber CrimeI’m sure if you hear the phrase ‘Cyber Crime’ it immediately conjures up an image of a lonely adolescent in their bedroom, glued to a computer screen and trying to break into the USA’s defence systems (does anyone remember the 1983 movie ‘War Games’?).

Well, I’m sorry to say that things have moved on since then massively.

In 21st century Britain the most widely used definition of ‘Cyber Crime’ is – ’an offence committed or facilitated using a communications device that connects to the internet’, which further breaks down into two distinct types of Cyber Crime:

• Cyber-enabled crimes – traditional crime types, for example fraud or some forms of threats or harassment, that have now become possible to perform over the internet – so the existence of the internet has ‘enabled’ the facilitation of crime; and
• Cyber-dependent crimes or Pure Cyber Crime – offences covered by the Computer Misuse Act 1990…crimes being committed using a computer or other form of ICT to attack computer or network resources e.g. hacking, spyware, ransomware etc.

So, should I avoid going online altogether? Well, no, because the internet is a huge and valuable resource but there are some keys steps that you can take to lessen the potential risks (most of which are common sense):

Over the ‘phone:
Have you received calls claiming to be from your bank, or the police, saying that your account has been targeted by fraudsters? They might ask you to give them your PIN or hand over your bank card via a courier. STOP! A genuine bank / police officer would NEVER ask you to do that. NEVER reveal your personal details, PIN or online/telephone banking log-in detail. With any suspicious or unexpected call, ALWAYS check by calling back using a ‘phone number you’ve found yourself (e.g. search online) and use a different ‘phone line (where possible, or wait five minutes/call a friend first to check the line is ‘clear’). This is because the fraudster can keep the line open at their end.

Have you received any suspicious emails? Maybe you’ve won first prize in the Zimbabwe State Lottery or your long lost fourth cousin twice removed on your mother’s side has died whilst overseas and has left you (their only surviving relative) a small fortune but you need to pay a ‘release’ fee to get things moving.

Delete any suspicious emails – never open or reply to them and never send any money or pay a fee to claim a prize (or inheritance). And never send money unless you are absolutely certain as to the authenticity of the person sending the correspondence.

There’s plenty of genuine information and support that you can access online. As a starting point why not try: Cyber Streetwise: www.cyberstreetwise.com – clear and simple advice (for small businesses and consumers) on how to stay safe online.
But above all the old maxim holds true – if it looks / sounds too good to be true then it probably is.

tay Safe.

Stuart Ashmore: Operations Manager at SCVO

Creative Media Camp Coming to Birmingham this Summer

Creative Media CampCreative Media Camp is a week-long event for young people aged 14-19 and is absolutely free to attend. The week focuses on building up their creative skillset to prepare them for the working world in the creative industries.

Energy giant Eon is providing attendees with an advertising brief that – in teams – they’ll need to help solve. Through the week they’ll be mentored by top London creatives in order to create the best campaign they can. Then at the end of the week they’ll get the chance to pitch their ideas and one will even win, allowing their idea to be used by Eon!

When is it happening? From 15th – 19th August / 9:30 – 16:00 every day
Where? Think Tank at Birmingham Science Museum
What does it cost? Free to attend
Who’s it for? Anyone aged 14-19

To apply to attend, visit https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/EONCMC2016

by 27th July 2016

Inside Outcomes – Three Free Quality Marks

Quality MarkInside Outcomes is offering three social enterprises in the West Midlands the opportunity to take part in our Quality Mark for Evidence at no cost. We’re keen to engage with organisations that we’ve not spoken to before and we think this is an excellent opportunity for us to share what we do.

The Quality Mark involves a basic self-assessment, analysis of current organisational reporting and interviews with key staff. We will provide a detailed compliance report and action plan that the organisation can choose to implement.

This process usually costs £1500 but we would like to find three organisations that we can work with at no cost to them.

Further information is available on our site – http://www.insideoutcomes.co.uk/2016/07/21/three-free-quality-marks/



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