Libby Mahoney

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Virtual Events to Help Combat Lockdown Loneliness

A leading charity is reaching out to its community by hosting a packed schedule of weekly virtual activities to combat loneliness and isolation during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Beacon Centre is running more than 15 free sessions every week during the latest lockdown with staff hosting activities via Zoom or telephone conferencing.

From book clubs to social chats, quizzes, yoga and the latest tech news, there is something for everyone. Staff say the sessions have acted as a support network with people sharing how they cope with their health conditions.

The Beacon Centre’s Health and Wellbeing Director Jan Burns MBE said: “From the onset of this pandemic, our dedicated staff have been committed to supporting people with services such as our lifestyle packages, Talking News and welfare calls, to check how people are. Everyone knows how tough lockdown is, and how it can be especially difficult for those with a disability such as sight loss.

“That’s why we’re delighted to be able to offer these activities so that people, from their own home, can meet up ‘virtually’ with others, have fun, learn something new and go some way to alleviate loneliness and isolation.”

The sessions are free and open to people with sight loss and associated conditions.

As well as making the sessions available via telephone conferencing the charity is also working to support those who struggle with accessing the internet with a how to guide for accessing Zoom and a separate digital inclusion project.

To find out more information and for the links to join a session please contact Kim Williams via

Alternatively, you can also call 01902 880111 Monday-Friday.

Joint Warning Issued to Supermarkets in Sandwell

Sandwell Council and West Midlands Police have issued a joint warning to shops and supermarkets in Sandwell.

The letter has been sent to all large shops and supermarkets to urge managers to ensure customers and their staff are kept safe by urging them to ensure face coverings are worn, encourage customers to use hand sanitiser as they enter and limit the number of customers allowed in stores.

The letter also asks shop managers to reduce congestion and contact between customers such as queue management and one-way systems as well as other measures to ensure social distancing is possible for both staff and customers.

The letter is signed by both Lisa McNally, director of public health for Sandwell Council and Ian Green, Chief Superintendent at West Midlands Police.

Lisa McNally, director of public health for Sandwell Council, said: “In recent weeks, we have started to receive more reports from shoppers about breaches of Covid Regulations and Guidance within stores being ignored. This is both concerning and alarming.

“We need supermarkets to work with us to ensure the safety of both customers and staff so have issued this open letter to let managers know we will do all we can to make shopping safer for our residents.

“Sandwell currently has very high rates of coronavirus. Supermarkets are places where we are likely to come into contact with others and therefore present a risk for infection. As customers we need to take care, staying at least 2 metres away from others and wearing face coverings

Ian Green, Chief Superintendent at West Midlands Police, said: “With Sandwell Council staff we will be carrying out observations of supermarkets in the borough to ensure that stores are following the rules and doing everything they can to keep staff and customers safe.

Where we find significant issues of concern, we will have no alternative but to warn the public of our concerns regarding their safety in your store. Where we identify an offence being committed under the Coronavirus Regulations we will engage with that individual and formal enforcement action may be taken, where appropriate.

Councillor Maria Crompton, deputy leader at Sandwell Council added: “At this time our priorities have to be to protect the most vulnerable, protect the NHS and to save lives and we all have a collective responsibility to deliver this.

“Our regulatory services team has been carrying out extensive work with store managers.

“Officers are responding to specific complaints and carrying out proactive visits to stores to check that Covid-19 controls are in operation.

“We’re continuing to investigate any concerns and working with supermarket managers to tackle issues such as occupancy levels and social distancing in stores.

“We’ll also providing advice and guidance on any improvements needed following our visits.

“We urge all supermarkets to ensure that appropriate safety measures are in place.

“And if you don’t feel comfortable or it doesn’t look safe to shop in, don’t go in.”

The letter details the action Sandwell Council and West Midlands Police may take if shops fail to make shopping safer in Sandwell.

Read the open letter sent to supermarkets:

Customers can report their concerns about shops in Sandwell by emailing

Headway Appoints New Chief Officer

Following the retirement of Stephen Phipps after just over 8 years as Headway’s Chief Officer, they are delighted to announce the appointment of Claire Dale to the role.

Claire will be joining them at the beginning of March 2021 following working for a locally based health and wellbeing charity for the last nine years as Director of Operations and Deputy Chief Executive.

With a background in the Health and Social Care sector spanning more than twenty years, Claire has an academic background in Special Needs and Inclusion and professional experience of working in care and social housing as well as in providing both strategic development and operational support across the third sector in both employed and also in voluntary Trustee positions.

Claire is also a Mental Health First Aid Instructor and volunteers for a Crisis Text Messaging Service as well as nearing the end of her studies to qualify as a PersonCentred Therapist. Claire has a passion for people, seeking to develop services in conjunction with others which help people to thrive.

Claire is incredibly excited to be joining the Headway Black Country Team and is looking forward to working together to continue promoting all aspects of brain injury, providing information, support and services to people with a brain injury, their families and carers across the region.

Susan Hatton, Chair of the Board of Trustees said “Our thanks go to our retiring Chief Officer, Steve for taking Headway Black Country to the strong position we are now. It is with confidence and great pleasure that I and fellow Trustees welcome Claire to lead our dedicated team forward into a successful future“.

Claire can be contacted on:

Volunteer Expenses Made ‘App-y’!

Digital start-up vHelp has launched a new app-based service that makes it quicker and cheaper to reimburse volunteers’ expenses.

vHelp Expenses allows volunteers to submit their expense claims through their mobile phones, and once approved by the charity, they receive payment directly to their bank accounts in around 24 hours.

As part of an introductory offer, vHelp is making the app available to charities for free for two months.

The app also allows volunteers to donate unwanted expenses payments back to the charity, allowing it to claim up to 25% extra in Gift Aid.

vHelp claims it costs charities as much as £18 in administration costs to process a single £6 expense claim. Using vHelp Expenses, the cost falls to less than £1.

Organisations sign up to the service and then invite their volunteers to download the vHelp app to their mobile phones.

The vHelp app can also be used to reimburse volunteers shopping on behalf of vulnerable residents during lockdown.

To find out more, please contact:
Patricia Salume on 07981141530 or
Randa Bennett on 07833 368369 or

Proposed Polling Places Changes for May 2021 Elections

Several venues where residents can vote are due to change for this year’s May elections.

Sandwell Council has been informed that the venues listed below are unavailable, and has made recommendations for alternative venues.

The venues changing are:

  • Blackheath Central Methodist Church, High Street, Blackheath; proposed new venues Blackheath Library, High Street or Temple Meadows Primary School, Wrights Lane, Cradley Heath, depending on voter’s postcode.
  • Smethwick Fire Station; proposed new venue Holy Trinity Church in Church Hill Street, Smethwick.
  • Akrill Memorial Methodist Church, The Uplands, Smethwick; proposed new venue Dance Studio at Harry Mitchell Leisure Centre, Broomfield, Smethwick.
  • Brandhall Golf Course (Coffee shop) Heron Road, Oldbury; proposed new venue temporary hut on land at the corner of Heron Road and Brook Road, Oldbury.
  •  Temporary hut on the car park of Ron Davis Family Education and Training Centre, Ballot Street, Smethwick; proposed new venue Community Action Project in Windmill Lane, Smethwick.
  • Committee Room A, West Bromwich Town Hall; proposed new venue Ground floor of 1, Providence place, West Bromwich.

Accessibility has been considered at all new venues.

If anyone would like to make any comments on the proposals, please e-mail no later than Wednesday 3rd February 2021.

Is Your New Year’s Goal To Join The Volunteer Movement?

Are you planning on getting more involved with your community this year as a volunteer? Did you know according to a survey published today, by the National Lottery, that 1 in 10 people say that as a result of the pandemic they plan to be more involved in their local community this year.

The research goes on to explain that seven in ten people in the UK, 69%, feel like they are part of their local community, while over a third say that Covid-19 has made them feel even more so. To read the full article by Civil Society click here.

Do you want to join the emerging volunteer movement and help to make a difference?

Then why not get in touch with our Growing Participation and Volunteering Mentor, Kim Fuller either by giving her a call on her mobile: 07519 120711 or emailing: or

Or why not get your volunteer opportunity up on our Let’s Go website – and connect with potential new volunteers.

Source: Civil Society News

Diversification Is this the Key to Sustainability that Needs Unlocking?

As organisations start to think about how they can ‘bounce back’ from COVID-19 pandemic challenges and the effects it has had on their organisation. The question that rolls round everyone’s head is how can we diversify our income, to reduce the reliance on one source of income generation?

SCVO has seen over the years, good organisations falter as they fail to diversify their income streams and rely too heavily on one source, which when withdrawn has had a detrimental effect on that organisation. Now more than ever the need to diversify income streams has never been more important, as already oversubscribed grant programmes, competing demands on public donation and less philanthropic giving, is becoming even more competitive with finite funds available. A singular or limited income generation is no longer a viable option for sustainability as we all bounce back.

Whilst the future funding challenges and anxieties are slightly unclear with increasing demand and reducing financial resources. Organisations need to start to think about how they can diversify their income streams moving forward, as public donations, grants and corporate sponsorship and other more localised funding opportunities start to dry up. Real consideration needs to be given to online funding platforms such as easyfundraising ( or LocalGiving Campaigns and other fundraising mechanisms to start to plug the longer-term funding gaps and to remove reliance to ensure sustainability moving forward.

Community Organisations are having to think more on their feet, become bolder, more innovative and increasingly savvier in order to survive, as they look to compete for a smaller pool of funds from funders amidst the COVID-19 outbreak and beyond. Diversifying income streams, especially by ramping up the search for grant-giving by other means could ensure the long-term future of those organisations reliant on the public donations and funding bodies. Can only be a step in the right direction for longer term sustainability and short term survival.

Want to find out more?

Then why not book a place on our Virtual Diversifying Your Income Webinar being held on 11th March 2021, 10am via a Zoom Conference Call. To find out more or to book your place go to


Government Provides Tips For Charities on How to Win Public Contracts

The Civil Society in their article discuss the areas charities should be emphasizing when bidding for public contracts. According to the government guidance charities should be emphasising their ability to bring value for money, quality and social value to the process. 

They point out that charities are best placed deliver services as their expertise and are often ideally placed to help create compassionate, responsive and efficient public services.

They also point out that Central government has committed to diversify its supply chains and are committed to ensuring contracts are awarded on the basis of more than just price, but a supplier’s social impact too, giving VCSE organisations much deserved recognition for their positive actions in society.

To read the full guidance and article click here.

Source: Civil Society

FREE Funding for Your Organisation!

SCVO is now working with fundraising website easyfundraising to provide voluntary organisations in the region with a source of free funding. While traditional face to face fundraising is on hold, we think this offers a good online alternative and it’s free too.

As part of our aim to provide funding support to voluntary groups and charities in these difficult times, SCVO are now working in collaboration with fundraising website easyfundraising to help your organisation generate additional income. Click here for frequently asked questions.

How easyfundraising can help your organisation

easyfundraising turns the everyday online shopping of your staff, members, volunteers and supporters into funds for your organisation. When they use the easyfundraising website or app to shop with leading retailers, the retailer sends your organisation a free donation at no additional cost.

It’s free to register and use. With many more people shopping online these days and traditional face to face fundraising methods on hold, this is an easy way for your volunteers and supporters to raise money for your organisation safely from home through their normal online shopping.

There are over 4300 retailers involved including Amazon, eBay, Argos, John Lewis, Trainline,, Currys, Aviva, M&S, Viking, Waitrose and Direct Line. It means that no matter what your supporters are buying online, they can earn free donations. They can even raise money for you when they buy their Friday night takeaway from Just Eat.

easyfundraising has enabled good causes to raise £34m to date, including £4m in 2020 alone. Your organisation does not need to be a registered charity to use easyfundraising and it is open to voluntary organisations of all shape and size.

Getting started

All you need to do is create an easyfundraising page for your organisation. It’s free and quick to set up and requires very little ongoing management.

Once you’ve set it up, you’ll get support from easyfundraising to help you get the message out to your supporters, and you can also book a free advice call with one of the Fundraising Coaches.

What do other organisations think?

“Having such a simple and effective way of fundraising has been a big boost to our Centennial project; to place a defibrillator in each of Stoke’s six towns.” Bill, Stoke on Trent Lions.

“I cannot help but recommend it to all charitable organisations. It is such an easy way to raise funds. We have raised over £800. Register and start benefitting.” Derek, Treasurer, RPSB, Macclesfield Local Group.

“We would highly recommend it. It’s fantastic that supporters can help make a significant difference to people’s lives simply by doing online shopping.” Just Caring Midlands

About easyfundraising

A member of the Institute of Fundraising, easyfundraising has helped UK good causes raise over £34m to date. Founded in 2007 by Walsall based businessman Ian Woodroffe, easyfundraising is still proudly Midlands based, with offices in Lichfield.

Click here to get started!

Save the date!

SCVO in partnership with easyfundraising will be running a Virtual Meet the Funder Webinar on Tuesday 13th April 2021, 10am-11.30am via a Zoom Conference Call. Sign up to our e-bulletin at to ensure you don’t miss out when the booking goes live.

Mistakes to Avoid with Digital Fundraising

Are you making errors with your digital fundraising? Mistakes happen however there are a number of mistakes that charities tend to make, and opportunities they commonly miss, when approaching their digital fundraising  that could be avoided.

You may need to rethink your digital fundraising strategy and in Charity Digital News article they discuss common mistakes, what you should be considering and solutions to them. You can read the full article by clicking here.

Source: Charity Digital News

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