Stuart Ashmore

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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

National Business Response Network … now open.

A few weeks ago we launched our National Business Response Network (NBRN) – An online platform where offers from business and requests from communities across the country are matched.

We’re absolutely delighted that in such a short time we’ve been able to match more than 400 community requests for help with businesses who can offer support.

Each match helps to change lives and support those who need it through this crisis. We’re so proud to see so many businesses from our network and beyond coming forward to pledge their support, and we are delighted to have two Founding Partners – AXA and the London Stock Exchange Group.

Please log your offer of support or request at:   

For more information contact Kelly Stackhouse 07921 493274 or Palvinder Dulai 07803 746618.

Online Workshop/Webinar: ‘Life after Lockdown’ – changing organisational perspectives.

Laptop and notepadThe COVID-19 pandemic has presented organisations (across all sectors) with an unprecedented set of delivery challenges.

This first session, in a series of workshops/webinars, will provide an overview of how organisations have been impacted by the ‘lockdown’ in the areas of their finances and funding, human resources management, and their ability to market their services in the future.

We’ll be exploring how the experience of ‘lockdown’ will have changed perspectives amongst staff, leaders and, possibly, funders, which could have an impact on future operations.

The workshop/webinar will share examples of just such experiences that SCVO has collected during its support activities.

Subsequent sessions will look in more detail at each of the above areas and how organisations may address some of the issues as they relate to themselves.

To secure your FREE ticket, visit our Eventbrite Page

Free business support for charities

Cranfield Trust has been providing free tailored business support to voluntary organisations for nearly 30 years. During this challenging time, all services can be accessed remotely, so you can still get the expert business support you need, wherever you are.

Here are some of the ways Cranfield Trust can help you – all these services are free for charities to access:

·        1:1 telephone support – from experts on topics including finance, communication, and business contingency planning.

·        HRNet – tailored HR and employment advice for charities. (Due to differences in legislation, HRNet is only available to charities in England and Wales).

·        Management Consultancy – longer term support, to help your charity thrive.

·        Mentoring – personal support for leaders in difficult times. A senior level ‘critical friend’, someone who can share their knowledge and experience, whilst supporting you to consider your leadership decisions and impact.

To find out more and get help for your charity, please email or visit

COVID-19 Support from the Ethical Property Foundation

The Ethical Property Foundation is working hard throughout the COVID-19 Pandemic to support charities, across the UK, manage their property during this extraordinary period. Although, many of us are no longer working in our buildings it is vital, for the health of the sector, that we do not forget about the bricks and mortar. In order to support charities, the Foundation is offering for free:


  • Covid-19 Charity Property Webinar on 23rd of April covering how to manage your building, questions for your landlord and next steps. This webinar is free and will also have a Q&A session with our expert property advisors. Register for your place here.
  • The Foundation has also launched a Covid-19 Charity Property Survey which will help tailor the support we are offering and provide vital actions for Government and funders on how they can aid charities. This survey only takes three minutes to complete, please do so here.
  • The National Programme for Property Education is moving online. We are offering FREE workshops on Premises Management and Negotiating Leases in May and June. These workshops will help you manage your building and will again feature a Q&A session with a Property Advisor. Register for your place here.
  • Our Free Property Advice Service is open as normal for all of your charity building questions. Get in touch with us today.

All this support is available to you for FREE so please do utilise it today.

COVID-19 Financial Support Available to Small Charities

Martin Lewis (of Money Saving Expert fame) has set up a fund where small charities can apply for a grant of between £5-25k to help with specific Corona relief projects; examples could include foodbanks, financial help/advice and community aid projects – see below;

For more information on how to apply, visit:

URGENT – Deadline is  midnight Wednesday, 25th March 2020 to apply but the application form is a simple google form which gets submitted directly to Martin Lewis’ team

Free Workplace Presentations about Ovarian Cancer

Ovacome (the national UK ovarian cancer charity focused on providing support to anyone affected by ovarian cancer, and with a Regional Office based in Dudley) is offering FREE presentations for your staff and volunteers that will give them the information they need to know about ovarian cancer.   

Although cancer affects many people in the workforce either directly as patients or indirectly as carers there is little public understanding of ovarian cancer, what to watch for and how to get help.

Ovarian cancer is uncommon with around 7000 cases each year, but can be devastating because it is usually diagnosed late, when it has spread and when treatment is more difficult.

Ovacome wants to change this and is committed to educating the public about the signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer, which can seem vague and non-specific and are often mistaken for less serious conditions.  This means women delay seeking medical help.

Presentations include an ovarian cancer survivor giving her story and information from Ovacome staff.  The sessions are informal and supportive so people are comfortable to ask questions and chat with us.  Very positive feedback has been received from employers and staff members


‘Thank you for sharing and raising awareness about the symptoms that too often are explained away as ‘oh that is just…’

‘Thanks for sharing this with us all, we often put so many of our aches and pains to old age / menopause etc. without even considering it might be something major serious, really good to have highlighted this.’


Ovacome can tailor the sessions to meet your staff’s needs and fit in with your business and are often asked to be part of health and wellbeing events or occupational health initiatives.

For more information and to book a presentation contact: Lee Priestly T: 020 7299 6651 / E: 


World Autism Awareness Day – 2nd April 2020

Autism is a lifelong developmental disability that affects how people perceive the world and interact with others.

There are around 700,000 people on the Autism spectrum also known as autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in the UK.

Project Aspie will be hosting a Special Event – Celebrating World Autism Awareness Day at Somerset House between 18.00 pm – 20.00 pm.

This event will be focusing on People’s Stories Celebrating Asperger’s and Autism Awareness and Autism Lived Experience and The Positives of Mental Strength and Neurodiversity and Inclusion in the Work Place.

This event will feature Special Guests and Special Guest Speakers who do amazing work within the community.

Details of Special Guest Speakers for this event will be announced very soon.

Somerset House has a relaxed environment and has easy accessibility for people to attend.

Tickets Required on Entry. Please Register via Eventbritehttps://project-aspie-2-april-2020-celebrating-world-autism-awareness-day-tickets-93568669409

Somerset House is situated 5 minutes from Birmingham New Street Train Station and Grand Central.

Address for Somerset House is 37 Somerset House, Temple Street, Birmingham, B2 5DP.

For more information on this Special Event to Celebrate World Autism Awareness Day please feel free to contact Project Aspie on 0121 312 0587 or 07821548904 or e-mail

Project Aspie – Open Space Initiative meetings in March 2020 Copy

Project Aspie is an award winning organisation geared towards raising the profile of people with Asperger’s Syndrome and Autism within the community.

Project Aspie was created and developed to improve and inspire people with Asperger’s Syndrome and Autism to live healthy and independent lives within the community.

Project Aspie also delivers Campaign Events and Community Projects including the Community Initiative The Open Space Initiative, which is geared towards offering Confidence, Motivation and Opportunities for people with Asperger’s Syndrome and Autism.

National Lottery Community Fund kindly funds The Open Space Initiative.

The next TWO Open Space Initiative events are open for bookings:

18th March 2020 – visit – – for more information.

28th March 2020 – visit – – for more information.

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