Stuart Ashmore

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SCVO is recruiting…

Are you someone who has a real passion for developing business support systems, has a competence and confidence in advanced use of a range of IT packages and who is able to demonstrate experience to that effect?

Are you an effective communicator and able to relate effectively to a wide spectrum of stakeholders?

Are you looking for a satisfying role within a fast-paced and dynamic charity making a real difference within the local community?

Then YOU might be just who we are looking for!

SCVO seeks to appoint a high-calibre individual who will play a key role in supporting the SCVO team by providing a range of business support functions that enable the development and growth of SCVO’s activities. 

The role is a key point of contact for communications; including an effective and welcoming front-of-house function and daily administrative support to the Chief Executive Officer, SCVO senior management team and the Board of Trustees.

SCVO is looking for a self-confident, self-motivated and adaptable individual, who has excellent interpersonal, oral and written communication skills, and can evidence a strong attention to detail. We’re also looking for someone who can take a lead on key business support functions, developing existing and new systems/approaches and supporting colleagues with their implementation.

The successful candidate will be able to work to tight deadlines, and adaptable to changing priorities and circumstances.

Remuneration: a competitive package that includes:

  • Salary: £13,746 – £14,587 per annum(depending upon experience) plus contributory pension scheme to which eligible employees will be auto-enrolled.
  • Working hours: 25 hours per week(5 hrs per day Mon-Fri – within the scope of 9.15am – 2.45pm)
  • Holidays: 28 days per annum, plus bank holidays (pro rata)

If you would like to have an informal discussion about this opportunity, please call Stuart Ashmore (Operations Manager/Deputy CEO) on 07703 823226.

Deadline for applications:      Monday, 10th August 2020 at 12 noon.

Interviews to be arranged during the period w/c 17th August 2020 and beyond.

Click HERE to download the Job Description and Person Specification (pdf format)

Click HERE to download the Application Form (Word doc format)

Click HERE to see SCVO’s 2019 Annual Review

Click HERE to download SCVO’s 2018/19 Annual Report & Accounts

Please email applications to SCVO at:

**Please Note** – we are unable to accept postal applications as our offices are currently closed and the SCVO Team is working remotely. If this is likely to cause difficulties with submission of your application, please contact Stuart Ashmore on 07703 823226.

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SCVO strives to be an equal opportunities employer
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The Ethical Property Foundation’s Charity Property Matters Survey 2020

The Ethical Property Foundation is delighted to be launching its Charity Property Matters Survey 2020.
The last edition attracted the most respondents we ever but this year we want to do even better!
We are asking every voluntary group in the area to spend six minutes filling in the survey so that funders and policy makers will understand the bricks and mortar reality what we are coping with.
This Survey – run every two years since 2012 – is the only research which asks all voluntary organisations in England & Wales specifically about their property assets and issues. The results are published later this year.
This is the ONLY independent survey of its kind and is your chance to make a big difference to the UK’s charity sector in only SIX minutes!
Overheated local property markets; rent rises; asset transfers; falling core funding; hard to find affordable premises…there are major issues facing the sector. The Survey takes less than 6 minutes to complete so fill it in today and help our sector finds its collective voice.

Report Recognises Key Role of Sandwell VCS During Lockdown

A new report published by SCVO has outlined the extent to which Sandwell’s Voluntary and Community Sector (VCS) has had to adapt to the challenges posed by the Covid 19 lockdown, and has highlighted the immense role played by local organisations in supporting residents through the crisis.

The ‘Covid 19 Impact on Sandwell’s Voluntary and Community Sector’ report draws on the views and experiences of a wide range of local VCS leaders during April and May 2020 as organisations found themselves navigating the uncharted territory of the emerging pandemic.  More than three-quarters of organisations contributing to the report were able to keep operating and adapting to new ways of working, providing vital help to their communities.   The report also acknowledges the challenges ahead for communities and those organisations that serve them.

Mark Davis, SCVO’s Chief Executive Officer, commented “This report highlights the crucial part that our local voluntary sector plays in the life of our borough.  VCS leaders, staff and volunteers have once again gone to extraordinary lengths to ensure that those adversely affected by the lockdown have received the practical and emotional support that they need.  Their skill and commitment in a period of real adversity is to be commended, and we should be especially proud of our voluntary sector at this time.”

A copy of the report is available on SCVO’s website here.

Digital Boost Launch

The Covid-19 crisis has presented many challenges for small businesses and charities, particularly in building digital capability. In response, Digital Boost has been created to provide much-needed digital support for small businesses and charities. The platform will host a community of digital experts, who will offer one-to-one digital support to small businesses and charities free of charge to help them improve their digital capability to grow and prosper.

The platform is owned by Founders4Schools and was built in partnership with BCG Digital Ventures, and aims to close the gap between digitally high and low-tech organisations. 

Digital Boost aims to support the six million British small businesses and charities impacted by COVID-19, on their digitalisation journey by providing a community of digital expert volunteers to support charities and small businesses through 1:1 “Boost Calls”, interactive “Boost Workshops” and “Boost Skills” resources.

DCMS is supporting Digital Boost as part of our ongoing work to support small businesses and charities during this challenging time. For more information on how to gain access to this support or to volunteer as a digital expert, please click here.

West Midlands Police – Supporting the LGBTQ+ Community

A message from Chief Superintendent Mat Shaer, Force Lead for Hate Crime:

“Dear All,

You will all, no doubt, be aware that due to the current Covid-19 situation, this season’s Pride events will be held entirely online.  I am aware through contact with the LGBTQ+ community; both within West Midlands Police and wider, and national policing of a planned campaign of homophobic abuse. It is suggested certain individuals are planning to attack websites and social media accounts that have posted support for the LGBTQ+ community.

This kind of harassment is clearly unacceptable. I would like to reassure anybody who is concerned that this is being taken seriously. There are robust plans locally and nationally to deal with any incidents as well as to support those who may be affected.

I would encourage anyone affected to make contact with West Midlands Police (Hate Crime App, Live Chat, 101) or True Vision or third party reporting centres and/or their community support networks.”

Opening up your charity post Covid lockdown – free webinar recording

Delivered by the Cranfield Trust, the recent webinar – a practical guide to re-opening your charity after Covid lockdown – was extremely popular and is clearly a hot topic with charities.

The webinar covered some of the more important things to consider, including:

  • Staff availability and team rotations
  • Transportation to and from work
  •  Visitors Temperature and other screening
  •  Workspaces and common areas
  • Cleaning protocols and PPE
  • IT provision, accessories and furniture
  • Awareness and education
  • Handling unwell staff and reinfection responses
If you missed it, don’t worry, we have added a live recording of the webinar to our website, along with the notes and checklist for you to download.
View the webinar recording HERE.

‘Thank You’ for making a difference in Sandwell

Thank you, thank you, thank you…

This week reminds us to give our heartfelt thanks to the thousands of volunteers giving their time in Sandwell to really make a difference to local people and communities.

Volunteers’ Week (June 1-7) is a long-standing event in the voluntary sector, established in 1984. If it was ‘business as usual’ we would be celebrating, along with hundreds of other organisations, and getting together to hail our champions at events across the borough.

This year, of course, things are slightly different; so we’re going to bring you a few stories over the week that demonstrate the wide range of ways in which people are giving their time to make a difference. (Check back each day to read the next story).

In the last few weeks we have enlisted a small army of local people who have come forward to support their community, many for the first time.

We have facilitated hundreds of them to ‘do their bit’, from shopping and collecting prescriptions for isolating residents to supporting existing voluntary organisations to change their way of working to cope with the crisis.

But of course there are always people in Sandwell giving their time freely – having fun, building their own confidence, making new friends, boosting their CV and learning new skills alongside making a massive difference to local communities.

To all of you, whether you’ve been helping out for years, or you’ve just joined the party, we thank you most sincerely.

And if you’re still waiting for your invitation then please get in touch and find out more by emailing

Helping out can be a joy for life, not just for crisis.


Some of the stories we’ve gathered from our recent work…

Friday (2 stories today) – ‘Bryan at Brushstrokes’ and ‘Gurdeep gives her time’.

A Letter to SCVO from Tipton volunteer Bryan, helping out at Brushstrokes

“Hi Kim,

Just want to say thanks for the kinds words. It was so nice too to receive those pictures and letters from the children of the families I’ve been delivering to.

Thought I’d share with you a couple of little things from myself. Firstly, there’s a family that speak limited English, and the man’s name is Roberto. From the very first week we instantly clicked, not sure how or why (maybe the way they all come to the door with a smile). Every time I go there I instantly shout Roberto at the top of my voice and they all respond – quite funny with my thick Black Country accent! As I leave they all shout ‘ciao’, to me. From about my 3rd delivery up till present I give them a little present from myself, usually sweets, yesterday was a large bag of jelly beans (did want them myself be honest!).

Over the past few weeks any donations I’ve been given from friends and family I try to share out equally but I seem to find myself putting the odd tin of something extra in theirs. I scour the internet for free nappies which I collect if they are local to me, also as of yesterday my local shopkeeper Suky (known him for years), is topping up the parcel. He told me to pop in on a Thursday and just ask for a donation to take with me.

Anyway there you go – who knows how long my furlough from work will be or if I ever return but at the moment my volunteering will carry on in some form with Brushstrokes and with Sandwell Litter Watch and team. I enjoy both volunteer roles and either would be an area I could see myself in.

Regards Bryan.”

Bryan’s ‘Thank You’ picture.

(you can click the picture to see a larger version)

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Gurdeep gives her time

The voluntary sector looms large in Gurdeep’s life, as under normal circumstances she has a rewarding career with a charitable organisation.

When the Covid crisis hit, however, she found herself furloughed from work and realised she could put some of her experience to good use as a volunteer.

“I have a background in safeguarding and signposting and have always considered myself a good listener, so I signed up to SCVO’s volunteer data base and was steered towards the Sandwell Together befriending service.

“Within about a month I had seven people to chat with on a regular basis and they have all turned out to be so lovely.

“Most of them really need someone to just listen, not to talk back at them too much. They have so much to share and it’s a privilege to hear their stories without judgment, and without any obligation to do anything more than listen.

“Of course there are occasions when it’s useful to be able to signpost people to other services that could help them, and Helen from Sandwell Advocacy is great at that kind of training and support for volunteers. But in the main, the people I’m befriending don’t need any specialist intervention. They need little more than to open up to a listening, impartial ear.

“Some of them have absolutely no one else to talk to, and personally I don’t think that’s just because of the current virus situation. I believe there is a need for a service like this all year round.”

If you would like to know more about giving a little time to really help a lot then please email


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Thursday – Phil’s Story

Skip hire manager Phil, from Great Barr, never imagined volunteering before the current crisis.

In recovery himself from cancer, when lockdown loomed he decided he needed to step up and ‘do his bit’ for the Sandwell community.

“I was furloughed from work and my partner was working full time from home, so apart from household chores I felt a bit useless,” he said.

“I sent in my expression of interest to SCVO but was a bit hesitant about what I could do because of the cancer recovery.

“Remarkably, they set me up to be a telephone befriender, which was absolutely perfect. I was used to talking to people on the phone, and I had some training from Sandwell Advocacy to deal with stuff I might encounter, which was great.

“That first time I rang someone who needed befriending was very daunting. I was nervous to say the least, even though I talk all day at work. But I soon got into it and it’s been amazing – there’s a different world out there I never knew of before and I’m privileged to be able to make it a bit better place.

“My family and friends are quite surprised I’m doing this but I enjoy it and have no plans to stop volunteering in some way or other even when this is all over.”

Phil is a volunteer for Sandwell Together, created during the pandemic by Sandwell Advocacy and SCVO as a befriending service for isolated residents.

Dave Bradshaw, project co-ordinator at Sandwell Advocacy, said: “The Covid-19 crisis has seen our community pull together in ways never seen before.  People have come forward in their hundreds to step up to the challenge and volunteer to do something positive in a time of adversity.  From supporting the work of health and social care services, to providing practical support to people unable to do their shopping or collect medication, through to those providing emotional support and social contact via telephone befriending the response has been overwhelming.  At a time when the work of volunteers is especially recognised during Volunteers’ Week this army of volunteers has demonstrated what a huge difference volunteering can make”.

SCVO set up the Sandwell ‘crisis’ volunteer response service and currently has close to 400 volunteers out and about supporting residents – shopping, collecting prescriptions and even walking dogs!

If you would like to join them contact

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Wednesday – Lisa designs new ways to work

Jigsaw is a local charity working with adults with learning disabilities and due to the pandemic had to stop all social activities for members – no craft group, no bingo, no trips 🙁

For most members, Jigsaw activities were the only things they did outside of their home; where they met friends, had fun and enjoyed shared, new experiences, so naturally they were devastated.

Jigsaw staff and volunteers quickly developed an action plan to keep their members happy, including phoning members every week to check in on them, and setting up two WhatsApp groups where members, volunteers and workers could chat and have online fun. Even bingo was re-imagined via WhatsApp!

The skill set they were missing was graphic design, making activities visually appealing to their client group, and that’s where volunteer Lisa Barrett stepped in.

Lisa, a freelance graphic designer from Bearwood, had signed up to the SCVO ‘crisis’ database, expecting to be called for something like shopping or prescription-collection. But she had mentioned design in her volunteer application, which a quick search identified.

With Lisa’s help, Jigsaw has been able to produce a weekly pack of fun activities for members and a growing number of other people with a learning disability in Sandwell. They make the activities available to other people with a learning disability via free downloads on their website homepage. The activities include colouring for adults, dot-to-dot, spot the difference, a range of quizzes and other puzzles, and word searches.

Lisa said: “I registered my availability to volunteer locally via SVCO’s website back in March after seeing a call for volunteers on Twitter. Most of my work had been put on hold due to the pandemic, and I was keen to help people with my new-found time. It was fantastic to receive the introduction to Liz at Jigsaw, and I’m really enjoying being able to help in a small way as they keep their fantastic work going through this time.

Although I’ve worked with many charities in the past, I’ve not worked with adults with learning disabilities, and it’s been so rewarding learning about how Jigsaw truly helps its community of members, and is helping bring enjoyment and connection at this difficult time.

I hope to continue to help Jigsaw going forward through Coronavirus and beyond, and look forward to the day when I can meet some of the members in person, and join them for tea and cake at our beautiful Lightwoods House.”

Liz from Jigsaw said: “Our members love their weekly packs and Lisa’s contribution has enabled us to present activities in an accessible and engaging way. She has designed a number of resources including a healthy food quiz, which in addition to being fun also helps our members to eat healthy under the lockdown. We are really grateful to have a volunteer with Lisa’s skills working with us at this time.”

Find out more about Jigsaw:

Find out more about Lisa Barrett:

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Tuesday – Doreen says “thank you” …

Hundreds of people signed up during the pandemic to support people in need in their local community. One of them was Andy (pictured right) …

“Sending volunteer Andy to us has been like some kind of miracle. My husband and I have no family close at hand, and all of our friends are in the same boat, stuck inside unable to go shopping. Andy calls us to see what we need and he’s so warm and friendly. When he turns up with fresh veg and fruit it feels like your birthday and we’re so glad to see him, even if it has to be from a distance.

Last week when he dropped off the shopping I wasn’t feeling very well and even from the end of the path he noticed. He asked me what was the matter and insisted on going back to the shops to get me Paracetamol in case I had a fever. He made sure I had numbers to call and knew what to do if I got any worse, which thankfully I didn’t, and then he rang every day to see how I was.

I can’t thank Andy enough, and SCVO too for organising such a fantastic service.”

Doreen, Smethwick.


Active Black Country would like your help…

Active Black Country have launched a survey with the aim of better understanding the changes in activity habits of Black Country residents of all ages over the course of the last 3 months, with a view to developing insight across 5 main areas;

  1. To understand how, if at all, habits have changed, for the better or worse in relation to activity
  2. To understand the extent to changes to levels of physical and mental health
  3. To understand the extent of any behaviour change
  4. To understand, in relation to ‘already actives’, how did they maintain activity levels and what had to change
  5. How will people build any new habits into a post-Covid lifestyle, such as active travel

Following analysis, a Black Country wide report will be developed that collates all the main findings. In addition, if response rates allow, Local Authority-level summary papers will also be produced.

The survey takes around 15-20 minutes to complete and one respondent will be selected at random to receive £200 in vouchers towards physical activity equipment.

You can access the survey by following the link below.

Holding a virtual AGM during COVID-19 lockdown.

Whether you are a registered charity, limited company, CIC or other type of constituted group, many of you would (under normal circumstances) be thinking about holding an AGM at some point between now and the end of September.

Given the current Government guidance in respect of ‘social distancing’ this makes the traditional AGM gathering something of a ‘non-starter’.

So what else might you be able to do?

How about holding your AGM via Zoom for example? (Other digital communication tools are available…simply make the choice that works for you). BUT (and it’s a big BUT…) you need to check whether your governing document allows for this to take place.

Many groups might find that their governing document doesn’t expressly allow for this option (quite probably the majority) because it’s only really become an option in the last few years.

However, both the Charity Commission and Companies House have issued guidance as follows:

If you are a registered charity (or even an un-registered one for that matter) then the Charity Commission has issued this COVID-19-related guidance – Coronavirus (COVID-19) guidance for the charity sector

If you are a company then the landscape is a little different (but with similar principles). The Corporate Insolvency and Governance Bill 2019 is currently working its way through Parliament with a view to becoming Law in early June. It has, within its raft of proposals, a similar contingency (as above) for company AGMs … here’s some guidance from Solicitors Eversheds Sutherland: … but please keep checking for updates as to the final legislative content, just in case things should change.

Apart from some of the voting technicalities, the mantra seems to be ‘evidence, evidence and evidence’ … if your Board of Trustees/Directors chooses to make such arrangements then it needs to be documented and retained as evidence in the normal course of governance proceedings.


Emergency Government Grants Scheme Now Open

Government emergency support funding for charities, distributed via the National Lottery Community Fund (NLCF), is now open to applications.

Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis.

NLCF will fund activities supporting  people and  communities affected by COVID-19.  They will also help organisations overcome any acute financial difficulties  they face as a result of the pandemic.

There are three kinds of grants available:

The application process is designed to be fast and simple. You can fill in an online form, you can email answers or submit a video instead.

They are prioritising:

  • Organisations supporting people and communities who experience disproportionate challenge and difficulty as a result of the covid-19 crisis
  • Organisations providing services and support for vulnerable people, for which there will be increased demand as a result of the covid-19 crisis
  • Organisations which connect communities and support communities to work together to respond to covid-19

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