Libby Mahoney

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Covid-19 Lockdown Encourages Black Country Residents to be More Active

A new insight report launched today (13th July) by Active Black Country demonstrates how the physical activity habits of Black Country residents have been impacted during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Following a month-long campaign to engage with residents and groups across the Black Country, evidence shows that lockdown has encouraged previously inactive people to start moving more.

The measures imposed by HM Government to promote social distancing have had an unprecedented impact on the lives of Black Country residents.

The restrictions on movement for non-key workers meant that forms of exercise previously considered normal by many, such as going to a leisure centre, gym or group exercise class became impossible and people had to find new means of staying fit and healthy, including online exercise classes on YouTube, group sessions via Zoom and outdoor exercise in the local vicinity.

Some of the key findings from the research include:

• 53.5% of respondents who had previously self-described as Inactive actually increased their levels to Fairly Active during the lockdown. Additionally, a further 23.3% went the extra mile and were Active.
• One factor that positively impacted on activity levels during lockdown was the reduced number of people in the streets during the early stages, with 60.9% of respondents stating this encouraged them to be more active.
• Of all the new habits that people picked up during lockdown, 23.6% of respondents indicated that they’d like to continue walking in one form or another

Michael Salmon, Head of Insight, Health and Wellbeing for Active Black Country said:

We have witnessed new audiences benefiting from an active lifestyle; when the Prime Minister announced the new measures, they included the caveat that people could leave their residence once-a-day for exercise, prompting some residents to become more active than they’d ever been before. It’s important that we continue to engage with local residents as we transition out of this phase and provide all the support we can to help nurture these new habits.”

The report can be found by clicking here.

If you have any queries regarding the Insight Hub, or would like to find out more about this piece of research, please contact

Source: Active Black Country

West Midlands Awarded £3.85 Million to Get the Region Cycling and Walking

Plans for pop-up cycle lanes, wider pavements and many other measures to encourage more cycling and walking across the West Midlands have been given overwhelming backing from Government.

The Department for Transport (DfT) has awarded Transport for West Midlands (TfWM) and its partner councils a £3.85 million grant to implement these fast-track measures over the next two months.

A list of more than 45 projects includes a pop-up cycle lane linking Coventry city centre to the Canal Basin, a Birmingham city centre cycle lane connecting the A38 and A34 blue routes, and road closures to improve pedestrian and cycle safety in Wolverhampton city centre.

The grant from the Emergency Active Travel Fund is £400,000 more than the West Midlands asked for and means that some projects could be accelerated or new schemes added to the list. The extra money is an indication of the strength of the region’s bid.

TfWM, which is part of the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA), and the seven councils are now in discussion over the allocation of the extra funding.

Mayor of the West Midlands Andy Street said:

It is fantastic that the DfT has not just fully endorsed our quick start plans to get more people cycling and walking this summer but offered extra funding. This money will be used to create a range of pop-up cycle lanes and re-allocate road space and widen pavements to make it safer and easier for people to get around on two wheels and two feet. We have seen a significant shift towards cycling and walking during the coronavirus outbreak and as we emerge from lockdown we want to provide safe alternatives to car use so that we can maintain both the health and environmental benefits we have clearly seen.”

The investment in active travel – the collective term for cycling and walking – also meets the WMCA’s aims of improving the region’s health and reducing carbon emissions as set out in the region’s #WM2041 plan to tackle climate change.

Cllr Ian Ward, WMCA portfolio holder for transport and leader of Birmingham City Council, added:

This emergency funding will deliver results for our residents right away. In fact, some schemes have already been implemented to allow people to walk and cycle in greater safety as we emerge from the coronavirus lockdown. But this is just one part of a £40 million investment in cycling and walking we are making across the West Midlands, which will deliver long-term improvements and offer people a safe, healthy and fun alternative to the car while helping us reduce traffic congestion and improve the air we breathe.”

This wider investment includes the £23 million Transforming Cities Fund and a further £14 million Emergency Active Travel Fund grants, which are being used to create permanent cycling and walking infrastructure, including safe cycle routes.

Source: Active Black Country

Black Country Touring Dial-A-Story Launching August

Connecting isolated people with unique performances via a phone call.

Continued social isolation has meant the closure of nearly all of the community venues we work with – libraries, community centres, places of worship… the places that bring people together. Since lockdown began, we’ve been exploring new ways to connect people with the arts, as a way of bringing something special into our ‘at home’ version of normality – through projects such as Zoom Café.

Black Country Touring quickly realised that while online performances are a great way of connecting with audiences at this time, many people without the internet are unable to use these services in the Black Country. These people are some of the most at risk of feeling isolated and lonely during the current crisis.

In August, we’ll launch Dial-A-Story, a project that will see three locally based artists perform 1-to-1 with people via a phone call. We’re partnering with Sandwell Advocacy and other community and voluntary organisations in Sandwell to reach people who would most benefit from a creative connection with an artist.

This project has been made possible thanks to the generous support of the Heart of England Community Foundation’s ‘Doing Things Differently’ fund, SCVO & Sandwell MBC’s Vision 2030 fund and Creative Black Country. We are really grateful to our funders for enabling us to explore new ways of bringing the arts into the lives of local people at this challenging time.

Inspiring Futures

The Inspiring Futures programme is open for applications from Friday 10th July until 11:30am on Friday 31st July, 2020.

BBC Children in Need and Youth Futures Foundation are partnering to deliver Inspiring Futures, a £6 million programme to fund positive activities which support children and young people to achieve their potential on their journey towards employment.

The COVID-19 pandemic is heightening existing challenges for children and young people looking to access further education, training, and work.

There are concerns that the impact of lockdown and prolonged social distancing post-lockdown will have a particularly detrimental effect on those who are already struggling to gain employment, and it will also reduce the opportunity for others to learn the skills and gain experiences that would help them gain employment when they are older.

Prior to the onset of the COVID-19 crisis, there were over 760,000 young people not in education or employment in the UK.  There are fears that the economic impact of the pandemic will lead to an additional 640,000 unemployed 18 to 24-year-olds this year alone.

More than one in three young people aged 18-24 are earning less than before the outbreak, around a quarter of them have been furloughed and a further 9% have lost their jobs altogether. Young people are already twice as likely to be unemployed than older adults in the labour market and some young people from Black, Asian or minority ethnic backgrounds have higher rates of unemployment than their White counterparts. Meanwhile, disadvantaged children and young people with fewer opportunities are disproportionately likely to be out of work or education.

We are proud to partner with Youth Futures Foundation for this £6 million programme, aligning our work to improve employment prospects of children and young people who face discrimination or disadvantage to achieve our shared ambition to transform young lives by unlocking their potential and addressing the root causes of youth unemployment.

Read the full article by clicking here.

Source: Children in Need

Donorfy Adds Facility to Manage Facebook and Instagram Fundraising

Donorfy, the cloud-based CRM for fundraisers, now has a function that lets a charity take control and make more of Facebook’s giving and fundraising tools.

Donorfy’s Facebook Giving Tools integration provides tools to import fundraising data from Facebook, so that charities can communicate with their Facebook fundraisers and donors.
Facebook’s giving features have raised over $3 billion worldwide since their launch in 2015 and extended them to UK and Ireland charities in September 2017.

Facebook’s fundraising tools enable both charities and individuals to fundraise. They can place ‘donate’ buttons on their page, posts and videos, and in the case of Instagram they can place ‘donate’ stickers.

Birthday Fundraisers are the most popular use. Facebook users can create them to mark their birthday and invite friends and family to mark the occasion by donating to their chosen charity.

All Facebook fundraising donations are passed in full to the charities by Facebook. It does not charge for the tools.

Donorfy’s Facebook giving tools
Donorfy’s co-founded and CEO Robin Fisk says that “the solution takes minutes to set up”.

Its features include:

  • Easily track and manage Facebook donors, donations, buttons and fundraisers in one place
  • Post encouraging messages on fundraisers’ walls, with links to data entry forms where they can provide more contact info and opt into communications
  • Monitor progress against fundraising goals for fundraisers and buttons
  • Assign donations to campaigns, funds and departments according to the fundraiser or donate button used

Read the full article by clicking here.

Source: UK Fundraising

Martin Lewis Fund for Charities Used Algorithm To Skim Applications

The emergency fund set up by Martin Lewis to support charities during lockdown used a machine learning algorithm to skim the high number of applications it received.

On 19 March, Martin Lewis, the founder of comparison website Money Saving Expert, launched a £1m fund to help small charities during the crisis.

The fund closed on 25 March after receiving 7,000 applications in six days, totalling about £74m.

An algorithm looked at keywords in applications
Jonathan Cook, a fundraising consultant who worked as charity lead for the fund, spoke at the Chartered Institute of Fundraising’s Convention about how the team reviewed the applications in order to distribute the money to charities as soon as possible.

He said: “Martin was absolutely adamant that one week after opening, he wanted the first batch of grants to go out. So we made it quite an automated process involving a very simple application form done online with about five boxes.

“In order to plough through this enormous number of applications, we used some computer algorithms, which picked out key phrases and keywords that people can use in their applications. Phrases like ‘free school meals’ – if we discovered that phrase in an application, it drew attention to the fact that it might be talking about provision for people who are now no longer at school and might have a problem feeding their children.”

“We also looked at the locations [where the applications came from] – whether they were in areas with high incidence of Covid-19, whether they were in areas of high deprivation. That enabled us to focus our attention on a smaller number of grants and we could then have a human eye look through them.”

Unconscious bias
Cook also said the use of a computer algorithm removed potential issues with people’s unconscious bias, at least at that initial stage.

However, Fozia Irfan, CEO of Beds & Luton Community Foundation, who was speaking at the same panel discussion, pointed out that algorithms present their own issues in terms of equality, because they can reflect the unconscious bias of the people who originally wrote them. This is a phenomenon known as “algorithmic bias”.

The fund, which in the end amounted to £3.4m thanks to the support of other donors, had been distributed in its entirety by 26 May to a total of 415 organisations.

It focused on projects providing immediate relief during the crisis, prioritising “the provision and delivery of food, medicine, sanitary products and emergency hardship grants”.

Read the full Civil Society article by clicking here.

Source: Civil Society

Sterling notes and coins

Charities Need Government Cash To Avoid ‘Dire’ Situation

Sterling notes and coinsCharity representatives across the west of England have asked the government for £30m over the next five years to avoid “dire” consequences for local charities.

The group, which includes Bristol mayor Marvin Rees and the leaders of all three local councils, as well as charities and businesses in the region, has written directly to charities minister Baroness Barran, in a campaign coordinated by the Quartet Community Foundation.

The joint letter says that one in five local charities expect to cut services because of income lost due to the coronavirus crisis.

Five-year plan
The £30m would back a recovery plan for the west of England, which includes financial projects to stabilise income for local charities and support for mergers of voluntary organisations where that is in the best interests of beneficiaries.

The letter says: “80% of our local VCSE organisations have kept going through the crisis, using great imagination and energy to keep supporting people in need.

“With recovery on the horizon, 22% of our local charities, voluntary and community groups think they will have to cut services, and a further 20% are uncertain what the future holds.

“With income severely impacted and needs increased, it is a dire situation.”

Sue Turner, chief executive of the Quartet Community Foundation, said: “If charities don’t get financial support now, they won’t be here to help our most disadvantaged people through the tough days ahead.”

ACEVO: No signs of finances improving
The bid for regional support comes as the latest data from ACEVO warns there is no sign of improvements to the sector’s financial situation.

The Charity Health Check, which tracks charities’ financial confidence and is released each month, found that attitudes overall among surveyed organisations had not changed between May and June, although confidence has improved since the first weeks of lockdown in April.

Working with the Centre for Mental Health, ACEVO surveyed 88 charities in England and Wales. ACEVO says that, while the financial decline appears to be stabilising, a third of respondents reported a decrease in donations or new business compared with last month, and a third reported worsening reserves.

One in four reported cash flow was worse.

‘More vulnerable’
Kristiana Wrixon, head of policy at ACEVO, said: “It is positive that the charities we have surveyed are reporting less acute financial health challenges this month.

“However, talking to our members, and looking at data from the previous two months, I am deeply aware that an unchanged picture in June, is still a much poorer, less resilient and more vulnerable outlook than four months ago.”

Read the full Civil Society article by clicking here.

Source: Civil Society

Covid-19 has Pushed Charities to Embrace Digital

Covid-19 has accelerated a digital evolution with the charity sector, according to a report published today.

The 2020 Charity Digital Skills Report provides insights into how UK charities have adapted to Covid-19.

Between March and May, the authors heard from 429 charity professionals about how they are using digital and what this means for trends around skills, governance, leadership and strategy across the sector.

This year’s report finds that the pandemic is the biggest cause of digital disruption in the sector this year. Covid-19 has pushed charities to “embrace digital with the aim of staying relevant, helping more people, developing new ways of working, fundraising and delivering service offerings”.

Before Covid-19, 30% felt that a lack of understanding and buy-in for digital from trustees was one of their biggest internal barriers. For those responding post-Covid-19, this had decreased to 15% of respondents.

Post-Covid-19 is defined as 20 March 2020 onwards, as that was when the government announced the closure of schools and shops.

More than half of charities do not have a digital strategy
The report finds that just over half of the charities that responded, 51%, still do not have a digital strategy. However, 39% have an organisational strategy that includes digital, or a digital strategy, and it’s a priority for them.

Half of the charities cited lack of funding as the biggest barrier they face to digital progress, and 48% of respondents said that their charities have not accessed any digital funding over the last year.

Most charities, 66%, rate their board’s digital skills as low or having room for improvement, down 2% from 2019. Only 4% are investing in digital training for trustees, down from 7% last year.

Baroness Barran, minister for civil society, said: “The annual Charity Digital Skills report continues to provide invaluable insights into the sector’s evolving uptake and engagement with the opportunities that digital provides – something that nearly all of us have experienced recently. Coronavirus has fundamentally transformed charities’ daily operations and the need to offer digital alternatives for everything from services to fundraising, which has proven important now, more than ever.

“Over the last few months, charities and wider civil society have worked tirelessly in their efforts to support vulnerable people and communities, and the sector has proven to be one of our greatest strengths. Boosting digital skills and capability will be central in bolstering the resilience of the sector through recovery as civil society continues to play a vital role in helping tackle the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.”

Read the full Civil Society article by clicking here.

Source: Civil Society

Health Lottery Increases Proportion of Ticket Price That Goes to Good Causes

The Health Lottery has increased the amount of its proceeds that go to good causes by five percentage points because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The lottery said it was making the move, which will result in the proportion of its proceeds that go to good causes rising from 20.3 per cent to 25.5 per cent from today, because of the effects of the Covid-19 outbreak on charities and community organisations.

The Health Lottery consists of 12 regional and country lotteries operating under the same brand across Britain.

The money raised for good causes is allocated to one of the regions each month in rotation to tackle health inequalities.

The scheme, which has raised more than £115m for good causes since it was launched in 2011, initially caused controversy in the charity sector because a lower proportion of its proceeds went to good causes than the National Lottery, which passes on about 28 per cent of each ticket sold.

Martin Ellice, managing director of The Health Lottery, said the outbreak had left many charities and projects in a vulnerable position.

“That’s the reason we have taken the decision to increase the level of contribution by over 25 per cent, allowing us to support the health inequality projects that are so important to local communities,” he said.

“Every single one of the charities and projects funded through The Health Lottery carries out wonderful work and it’s of paramount importance that we keep them alive.”

Source: Third Sector

Covid-19 Community-Led Organisations Recovery Scheme – Advanced Notice

For community organisations in England who are facing difficulties caused by Covid-19.

The £9.5 million Covid-19 Community-Led Organisations Recovery Scheme is being delivered by Power to Change, Locality, The Ubele Initiative and Social Investment Business on behalf of the National Lottery Community Fund. Find out about the Lottery’s other schemes.

What is the Covid-19 Community-Led Organisations Recovery Scheme?
Covid-19 Community-Led Organisations Recovery Scheme offers grants up to £100,000 to community organisations in England who are facing financial difficulties caused by Covid-19. The scheme is aimed at organisations delivering services in their local community to support people who are at high risk from Covid-19, with an emphasis on Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME)-led or BAME-supporting businesses.

Is it open for applications?
The recovery scheme will open on Tuesday 28 July for applications from 10am till 1pm. And then for a further two rounds on Tuesday 4 August from 10am till 1pm and Tuesday 11 August from 10am till 1pm.

Who can apply?
Community organisations in England who are facing financial difficulties caused by Covid-19. For more information about whether your community organisation will be eligible, please read the guidance notes.

What can you apply for?
Up to £100,000 grant and business support to:

—help people and communities experiencing disproportionate challenge and difficulty as a result of the COVID-19 crisis
—provide services and support for vulnerable people, for which there will be increased demand as a result of the COVID-19 crisis.

Where can I find out more?
You can find out more by reading the guidance notes and our Frequently Asked Questions.

Join us for a free webinar on Thursday 23 July from 3.30-5pm where you will be able to find out more about the fund and application process and take part in a live Q&A.

Do you have questions about your application?
If you have any questions about your application you can get in touch with our delivery partner Social Investment Business:

Source: Locality

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