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Electronic Signature on Charity Accounts

The Charity Commission have recently updated the accounting and reporting guidance regarding e-signatures.

Unless your governing document has specific requirements on the matter, e-signatures can now be used on both accounts and reports kept by the charity and those filed with us.

To read the full guidance requirements click here.

Data Breach at the National Lottery Community Fund

On the 22nd July 2021, the National Lottery Community Fund published information in respect of a Data Breach that they have identified as having taken place on their UK Portfolio, England funding and Building Better Opportunities customers between September 2013 and December 2019.

Customers through the Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales funding programmes are not affected, nor are any applications outside this date range.

The NLCF defines ‘customers’ as “those who were in the process of applying for a grant as well as existing grant holders supplying information to [the Lottery] at that time.”

You can read the Full Statement here: Important notice of a data breach | The National Lottery Community Fund (tnlcommunityfund.org.uk) – and there is further information as to the steps to take if you think your organisation may be affected.

Charity Reserves One of the Most Often Misunderstood Terms

In the Directory of Social Changes latest post they explain why charity reserves are one of the most misunderstood financial terms in our sector by people from our sector with points to consider.

The issue of reserves is complex and morally ambiguous – to have them is considered both good and bad depending on your perspective. We should not expect such a nuanced issue to have simple answers. Similarly, we should not be so quick to judge.

To read the full post and points to consider click here.

Vision 2030 Grants helping SWEDA to deliver digital training and devices

SWEDA has been awarded an SCVO Sandwell Vision 2030 Grant courtesy of the grant programme which is available to voluntary and community groups in Sandwell. Through the project SWEDA is working hard to bring IT and Digital devices to clients in an easy and accessible way.

In addition to free training by way of an introduction to IT, internet access and mobile devices, the organisation has been able to expand its services with a loan scheme of tablets, laptops and internet dongles for clients to use free from home, which has strengthened skills and confidence.

So far, despite the pandemic, SWEDA has successfully supported over 40 clients as part of the project. In addition to introducing IT and online services, there have been more well-being calls and contact with vulnerable clients who are struggling with isolation and loneliness.

To make a referral or to learn more about the IT Project or the services of SWEDA, please contact the team on 0121 525 2558. All clients will have an assigned Mentor and have access to a variety of opportunities and support.

Council’s iTrust Programme shortlisted for prestigious award

Sandwell Council’s iTrust Programme, which supported families against youth crime, is a finalist in the prestigious MJ Achievement Awards 2021, where the early intervention programme to address knife crime and violence has been shortlisted in the Transforming Lives category.

This acknowledges programmes, initiatives or changes to service delivery that have demonstrably transformed the lives of groups or communities of people.

The judges looked for evidence of why programmes were started; how needs were assessed; what the priorities and success factors were; how innovative programmes were; and how feedback from participants was used to shape the initiative.

ITrust (Supporting Families Against Youth Crime Programme) was developed by Sandwell Council, Sandwell Children’s Trust, Sandwell Council for Voluntary Organisations and West Midlands Police Sandwell Partnership Team to meet the principles of the national Troubled Families Programme which included early identification of those children and families at greatest risk.

The programme worked with children in Years 6 and 7 in the Smethwick and West Bromwich police impact areas and, by taking an approach based on very early intervention, aimed to engage children at this key transition period in school life. This linked to other successful programmes delivered in Sandwell and contributed to Sandwell Council’s Vision 2030 ambitions and the Safer Sandwell Partnership priorities.

The winners will be announced at the MJ Achievement Awards event on Friday, 17 September.

For more information, read the iTrust Sandwell evaluation here.

Sandwell Council providing food vouchers to help parents and children during summer holidays

Sandwell Council is providing food vouchers during the summer holidays to help families whose children would usually be eligible for free school meals during term time.

Schools are contacting parents and carers who will receive a £70 voucher per child to go towards the cost of food for the six-week break which runs from 22 July – 1 September.

Once verified, vouchers are being sent to parents electronically with an alternative being offered to those parents and carers without mobile phones or internet access.

Sandwell Council has budgeted £1.322 million to help around 17,300 children. Eligible families will receive a voucher for £70 for each child.

Families, communities and local organisations across Sandwell are also working together to provide eligible children and young people between the ages of 5-15 with fun activities as part of the ‘Holiday Activities and Food Programme #HAF2021’.

Parents and carers can check if they are eligible for the holiday activities scheme and register at www.sandwell.gov.uk/holidayactivitiesandfood



Do you Know a Carer?

Life is often tough for people caring for a family member or friend. But COVID 19 has led to even deeper impact on carers who provide support in their own homes or elsewhere.

Healthwatch Sandwell (HWS) would like to understand more about carers’ experiences during the pandemic and gain a picture of what health, care and support services carers may need as society and services start to restore to a “new normal”.

HWS would appreciate your support signposting carers to  https://engagingcommunities.researchfeedback.net/s.asp?k=162608622954

Healthwatch Sandwell will gain deeper insight into the experiences and needs of carers through personal interviews and focus groups to be conducted over the summer months. If you are carer and would like to be involved please get in touch. If your organisation is able to help support ensuring good representation, and Sandwell carers’ voices being heard, we would appreciate you making contact to look at working together.

Contact sophie.shuttlewood@healthwatchsandwell.co.uk

Key Changes to the Charity Bill

On 11 May 2021 as part of the Queen’s Speech, it was announced that The Charities Bill proposes to make several technical, but important, changes to charity law.

The key proposals include:

  • charities and trustees will be able to amend their governing documents more easily – remaining subject to the Charity Commission for approval in certain circumstances;
  • charities will have access to a much wider pool of professional advisors on land disposal, and to more straightforward rules on what advice they must receive, which could save them time and money when selling land;
  • charities will have more flexibility to make use of a ‘permanent endowment’;
  • trustees will be able to be paid for goods provided to a charity in certain circumstances, even if not expressly stated in the charity’s governing document (currently trustees can only be paid for supply of services).
  • charities will be able to take advantage of simpler and more proportionate rules on failed appeals.

Find out more about these changes by clicking here.

Warning! Charity Commission Winding Down Policy Letting Charities Delay Accounts

Charity Commission is in the process of winding down their policy of letting charities delay their account submission. They have announced that charities who have been granted an extension to filing their financial update have until 30 September 2021 to submit their documents. 

Find out more by clicking here.


Latest Pop-Up Vaccination Clinics

Hundreds of people in Sandwell have ‘grabbed a jab’,  as more pop-up clinics appear around the borough as part of the on-going vaccination drive. Sandwell Council is working in partnership with NHS colleagues and local community organisations to roll out the programme of pop-up vaccination clinics. Anyone over the age of 18 or over can go along to get vaccinated over the coming weeks.

Details of the latest batch of clinics is as follows:

• Tuesday 13 July at Smethwick Library, High Street, Smethwick, from 10 am-4 pm. (Pfizer only).
• Wednesday 14 July at Rounds Green Library, Martley Road, Oldbury, from 10 am-4 pm. (Pfizer only).
• Thursday 15 July at Friar Park Millennium Centre, Friar Park Road, Wednesbury, from 10 am-4 pm. (Pfizer only).
• Friday 16 July at Jamia Masjid, Windmill Lane, Smethwick, from 3 pm-6 pm. (Pfizer only).
• Monday 19 July at Cradley Heath Community Centre, Reddal Hill Road, Cradley Heath, from 10 am-4 pm. (Pfizer only).
• Tuesday 20 July and Thursday 22 July at Victoria Park Skill Centre, Corbett Street,
• Smethwick, from 1.30 pm-3.30 pm. (Pfizer only).

Details of clinics are also available online at www.healthysandwell.co.uk/clinics.

Anyone aged 40 or over who needs their second dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine, can also go to Tipton Sports Academy, Wednesbury Oak Road, Tipton, Monday to Sunday from 8 am-6 pm. (First and second dose Pfizer and AstraZeneca available).

Please make sure it’s at least eight weeks since your first dose.

No appointment is necessary.
No NHS number is needed.
No need to be registered with a GP.
No residential address is needed.
To bring your vaccine card, if you’ve had your first vaccination.

With Covid-19 cases rising in Sandwell and across the West Midlands region, being fully vaccinated Is the best way of protecting yourself and others from becoming seriously ill.


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