May 2017

Monthly Archives

Spotlight on Friends of Thimblemill Library

1.       Tell us what you do.
We are a group of volunteers who help to plan and stage events and activities at Thimblemill Library.  Friends help in lots of different ways; leading singing or craft classes for children and families; hosting and organising film nights, putting out chairs at events, serving and selling refresh-ments, raising funds for the library and in many other ways, all to help make the library a warm and welcoming place for our local community.

2.       What is your proudest achievement?
The library was recently awarded recognition as a Library of Sanctuary, the first library in the coun-try to do so, and an immense honour. This was due to the hard work of library staff and particular groups’ supporting refugees.  We are proud of their work and of the part we play as Friends in making people from the many diverse communities we serve welcome at the Library.
We are very proud of our library staff and in particular our Librarian Julie McKirdy who is so central to all that the library offers, both in her working role, and as a much-loved member of the commu-nity.  We were very proud to successfully nominate her for an award of the British Empire Medal (BEM).

3.       What is your experience of support received from SCVO
SCVO is currently helping us to develop some of our activities and make links with other voluntary groups. They are also helping us to seek funding so that we can plan events and activities on a longer-term basis.

4.       What is the most valuable lesson you have learnt about working with people in Sandwell?
‘They are lovely!’ was the response from one of the Friends.
We have a very diverse community with wide ranging languages and cultures. We are very fortutnate in that many people value the library as a centre of the community and want to give their time to bringing different members of the community together.

5.       What are your plans for the future and some of the challenges you face?
We want to continue to offer a wide range of events and activities, increasing learning opportunities for local people and keeping the library at the heart of the community.

We have a particular project we are focussing on.  We have a number of film groups at the library – for children,  adults, a French film group, and others.  These are very popular and we would like to secure advice and funding to improve both the equipment to show films and for blackout blinds so that films can be shown throughout the year.

6.       How can SCVO help to support your organisation in the future?
SCVO can help us by helping us to secure funding, introducing us to other voluntary and statutory organisations can work with and learn from; and sharing good practice from other organisations with us on 0121 429 2039 or by email at

Find us on Facebook: Friends of Thimblemill Library

Spotlight on Beanstalk

1. Tell us what you do.
Beanstalk is a literacy charity working with Schools to offer a service of trained ‘Reading Helpers’, who on average work with three children, to provide constant support on a weekly basis, for a whole school year.

We recruit, train and support volunteers to provide consistent, one-to-one literacy support to primary school children who may have fallen behind with their reading, lack confidence, or struggle with their fluency, comprehension or vocabulary.

Our aim is to develop their love of reading and improve their confidence levels.

Why not visit our website at to find out more about us.

2. What is the most valuable lesson you have learnt about working with people in Sandwell?
The most valuable lesson we have learnt is that connecting our volunteers with the children is a great way to inspire confidence.

Jack Ogalbe, a Reading Helper said, “The joy on their faces when they discover a new word is hugely rewarding”.

Being a part of Beanstalk is a great way to make a difference to a child’s life and is a satisfying volunteering experience.

3. What are your plans for the future and some of the challenges you face?
Our future plans are to break into Nursery Schools with a view of supporting children aged 3 upwards. Our challenge to turn this dream into reality is for us to recruit new Reading Helpers to support our growth into Nursery Schools.

4. How can SCVO help to support your organisation in the future?
In the future, we’d like SCVO’s support to help us to promote our activities and attract new volunteers’. This would enable us to continue to provide the simple yet highly effective service.

For more information or to become a volunteer with Beanstalk please contact us on 0121 7712922 or by email at

Spotlight on Cradley Heath Creative

1. Tell us what you do.
Cradley Heath Creative highlights the arts and artists in the Cradley Heath area – artists means anyone who creative activity, whether it’s visual, performance, film, crafts. Most of our members are people who have trained in the arts to some level or who are a bit fanatical about what they do as amateur artists. We join in on local festivals and events where possible and we run a free annual arts festival in April/May. This year it expanded to three venues.

2.What is your proudest achievement?
We are gradually converting a horse trailer into a mobile community venue, called Oss Box. So far we have had grants from Sandwell, the Arts Council, ASDA and Creative Black Country. We’ve used it for shadow puppetry; it’s been a pinhole camera – the images are part of Reclaimed Photography Festival at the Black Country Museum; it makes an unusual arts workshop and a stage for small plays.

Oss Box is available for use by other community organisations – we ask for expenses to cover transport and wear and tear.

3.What is your experience of support received from SCVO
SCVO membership gives us a good deal for our group public liability insurance and we look at updates for funding streams. We are really aware of the support available from SCVO staff for small groups, but we are not able to take part in the networking breakfasts at the moment.

4.What is the most valuable lesson you have learnt about working with people in Sandwell?
People have a strong affinity with the area they live in. This makes Sandwell a patchwork of communities that look to their own identity and many perceive a West Bromwich bias in Sandwell. We have found, however, a willingness, despite cutbacks, by Sandwell Council staff to work with people who want things to happen in the community – support for getting events promoted from the Communications Team, facilitating public events in parks, guidance on Sandwell funding applications etc.

5.What are your plans for the future and some of the challenges you face?
We want to continue to highlight the arts skills of members of Cradley Heath Creative to people who live locally. There is a lot of imagination within the group for community activity. We’d love to see the stable block at Haden Hill House converted to a community and arts resource, which would mean getting together with a lot of other local organisations who could benefit.

6.How can SCVO help to support your organisation in the future?
Keep prompting us! It’s good to have the kind of professional advice you can offer at the points when we need it.

For more information on Creadley Heath Creative please email Fran Wilde at

Contact Us

Tel: 0121 525 1127

1st Floor, Landchard House
Victoria Street, West Bromwich
B70 8ER