Local Impact Spotlight

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Spotlight on Dorothy Parkes Community Centre

1. Tell us what you do.
The Dorothy Parkes Centre is a community centre based on Church Road in Smethwick. The centre is multi-purpose with a large hall which can be split into two, there are two meeting rooms, and an industrial kitchen (we’re fully accessible and is open seven days a week).

We offer a number of community activities and services benefitting the local and wider community to access which include Sew Together, Art, Yoga, Youth Club and Baby Ballet, Agewell and much much more.

You can also hire our rooms for private functions on Saturdays and Sundays from 1pm.

2. What is your proudest achievement?
It is a cliché but simply existing to serve the local community is something we are extremely proud of. We see many different people each day from all walks of life and whether they are here for an art group or for a dance class they leave the centre smiling.

3. What is your experience of support received from SCVO
In the past six months we have received great support from SCVO in regards to raising the profile of the centre. SCVO now hold their Community Surgeries at the centre and some of our staff have benefitted from attending workshops focussing on GDPR, Social Value, and Funding.

SCVO have been very supportive and have offered to assist with funding applications and consultation. They have also enabled us to network locally at breakfast meetings etc.

4. What is the most valuable lesson you have learnt about working with people in Sandwell?
We have learnt that the people in Sandwell have a lot to give. We are blessed with a great community spirit and it appears that people will do anything they can to help each other.

5. What are your plans for the future and some of the challenges you face?
We plan to continue to raise our profile via a new website and external signage around the centre. We will continue with our maintenance plan which has recently included the installation of a new hall floor and some decorating.

We would like to see more new faces within the centre and will endeavour to ensure that we are meeting the requirements of our local community. We also want to fully utilise our kitchen possibly via a community café. The challenge we face is obviously related to funding and ensuring that the centre is sustainable.

6. How can SCVO help to support your organisation in the future?
SCVO can help by continuing to offer the informative workshops, network meetings and support with funding applications and consultation. They would be more than welcome to be a part of our steering group.

For more information on what the Dorothy Parkes Community Centre does please either them on email admin@dorothypakes.org  or call 0121 558 2998


Spotlight on Black Country Housing Group Click Start

1. Tell us what you do.
Black Country Housing Groups is delivering the Black Country Click Start project, a free service for people aged 18 – 64 who are unemployed or ‘economically inactive’ e.g. Not in paid employment, self-employment and are not available for or not seeking work. The aim is to help people to develop their personal financial and digital skills to enable them to make the most of the internet, manage their money and find training, volunteering or employment opportunities online.

Black Country Click Start is funded by the European Social Fund and the BIG Lottery and any Sandwell resident currently in receipt of Income Support, Jobseekers Allowance, Employment and Support Allowance, Working Tax Credit, Child Tax Credit and Housing Benefit will be moved over to Universal Credit by July 2018 can apply to participate in the project.

2. What is your proudest achievement?
Our proudest achievement is that we support individuals (complete beginners or those who’ve not used the internet at all) with the skills they need to enable them to use a computer, show them how to get onto the internet and even in some cases show them how to set up an email address.

3. What is the most valuable lesson you have learnt about working with people in Sandwell?
What we’ve learnt from working with people in Sandwell are that you can’t assume that people are comfortable or familiar with technology.

4. What are your plans for the future and some of the challenges you face?
We’d like to obtain more funding to continue offering this valuable services to those that need it.

For further information, contact Kevin at Black Country Click Start BCHG on 0121 561 7935 or email BBO-Clickstart@bchg.co.uk


Spotlight on Black Country Women’s Aid

1. Tell us what you do.
Black Country Women’s Aid  [BCWA ] was formed 30 years ago by a group of local ladies from West Bromwich who opened a small refuge to help women and children escape from violence and sexual abuse.

Today our charity has 6 refuges providing a safe place to stay, helping to re build and save lives.

Last year we supported over 8,000 women and children to overcome trauma and plan for their future. Our Refuge is more than just a bed, we help families to feel safe, re locate and get back on their feet through specialist support.

Our Domestic Abuse Team support victims in the community and at court.

We provide practical advocacy and specialist counselling to help victims of rape, sexual violence and childhood sexual abuse.

Our Young People’s Team support children and young people who have suffered domestic abuse, rape and sexual exploitation

We also offer safe refuge and community support to people trafficked to the UK for forced labour and prostitution through our Modern day Slavery Team.

2. What is your proudest achievement?
Making sure that whenever a victim of domestic violence or sexual abuse presents across our borough needing help they can always reach us for support.

3. What is your experience of support received from SCVO
We have received great support with sign posts to funding, other partners, networking and advice.

4. What is the most valuable lession you learnt about working with people in Sandwell?
To Listen.

5. What are your plans for the future and some of the challenges you face?
Our plans are to raise our profile across The Black Country Area in order to raise funds for our vital work.

The statistics in the Black Country area are shocking for Domestic Violence and sexual abuse. We need local businesses and the community to help by making donations of food, toiletries, clothes, toys and money so we can educate our next generation and look after the people in our care.

Our challenge is to let everyone know how we are helping vulnerable people and children and gain local support. We also need volunteers to help us spread the message.

6. How can SCVO help you to support your organisation in the future?
SCVO has helped BCWA with many things we look forward to receiving your weekly updates and advice on new opportunities and information on other members so we can work in collaboration.

To find out more information on Black Country Women’s Aid please call 0121 553 0090 or visit their website by clicking here.


Spotlight on Friends of Tividale Park

1. Tell us what you do.
Established in 2015, the Friends of Tividale Park are a resident’s community group who work to improve the park in various ways, including fundraising for new equipment, volunteering, and supporting events. Our website www.friendsoftividaelpark.org.uk states our monthly meeting dates and location. Tividale Park celebrates the 90th anniversary of its opening during this year.

2. What is your proudest achievement?
To date, we have held we have three held annual Family Fun Day events in the park, working with Sandwell Council and K9 Search UK. We are bringing back an historic tradition of park community events lost over recent years.

Friends of Tividale Park have helped with a park clear ups and held a Christmas event. The event featured a blow-up grotto and a visit from Santa. The event coincided with unseasonably strong winds ever meaning the grotto had to be held down at times. Lots of fun was had regardless of the gales!

The group were award postcode lottery funding which was spent on nature/environment projects such as bird boxes, bat boxes, hedgehog homes, bug boxes, and planting hedge saplings. We also donated money to a neighbouring group to buy Beehives. We have our biggest plans and projects lined up for fruition in 2018.

3. What is your experience of support received from SCVO
This will be the first time the group has worked with SCVO, although read the bulletin for example we have now established links with Art Yard thanks to an advert regarding one of their events.

4. What is the most valuable lesson you have learnt about working with people in Sandwell?
The Lesson we have learnt is how many volunteers and charities there are out there. Sandwell people are hardworking and when they commit to a project see it through to the end.

5 . What are your plans and some of the challenges you face?
We are commissioning a sun sundial as a centre piece for the park, as well as bespoke benches, wild meadow planting, and our Black Country Festival Event with a Tividale’s Got Talent theme. Local schools and the general public will be able to audience to appear on our stage at our biggest event to date; organisation is well underway.

Challenges including having the right number of volunteers and do-ers types to make our grow and provide the insight or experience that a smaller group may not readily have. It is also establishing links with other groups to learn from experience.

6. How can SCVO help to support your organisation in the future?
Help us to raise our profile in the community, offer advice or input into group projects such as review lottery applications. Help us establish links with other local groups with mutual benefits.

For more information on the Friends of Tividale Park or to become a volunteer please email our Secretary at secretary@friendsoftividalepark.org.uk


‘Extra Help’ Services for South Staffs Water Customers

Tell us what you do
South Staffs Water has a range of extra help services available for our customers; one example is the Assure tariff, a new easy way for eligible customers to reduce their water charges by up to 80%.

Assure can help customers on low incomes, or struggling to pay their water charges by making bills more affordable.  Customers with an annual household income of less than £16,105 (excluding income from Disability Living Allowance, Personal Independence Payments and Attendance Allowance) may qualify for a discount of 20%, 40%, 60% or 80% on their water bill.  We’ll also arrange for the discount to be applied to sewerage charges.

Application forms are available on our website www.south-staffs-water.co.uk or call 0800 0930570, and we’ll arrange to send one in the post.  If customers have difficulties filling in the form, we can arrange for a Home Visit Officer to visit and help fill in the form.

South Staffs Water works with a variety of organisations in order to raise awareness of Assure in the communities.

What is your proudest achievement?
Assure is a new scheme and it’s helped over 6200 people obtain a discount on their water charges since it started, and over 13000 customers are receiving extra help services.

We’re really proud of our Home Visit Service designed to help customers who may have difficulty filling in forms.  We’ve also been able to help customers in other areas, one example being whilst the application for Assure was being completed the Home Visit Officer noticed that the customer was still paying for a TV licence despite being of an age not to.  The Home Visit Officer helped the customer contact TV Licensing and received a backdated refund amounting to over £700.

What is your experience of support received from SCVO?
South Staffs Water has attended a breakfast meeting, and this was a great way to meet local organisations and share experiences.

What is the most valuable lesson you have learnt about working with people in Sandwell?
Sandwell is a very proud and diverse community, sharing a wide range of languages, cultures and ideas; but with a passion and motivation to help others.

What are your plans for the future and some of the challenges you face?
South Staffs Water want to continue working with communities to find those people who would benefit from their extra services and to keep re-evaluating what ‘s working and what can be improved.

How can SCVO help to support your organisation in the future?
By signposting organisations and individuals to the extra help services including Assure.

For more information about Assure, for leaflets or presentation to your organisation please contact Amanda at South Staffs Water amandabruce@south-staffs-water.co.uk


Spotlight on My Time Active

1. Tell us what you do.
Mytime Active a are a social enterprise commissioned by Sandwell Public Health to deliver a 24week Healthy Lifestyle and Weight Management programme for Adults and Families who want to learn about healthy eating, physical activity and weight management. We offer a variety of support pathways for individuals, including access to our weight management packages (free for the first 12 weeks), discounts to local gyms and leisure centres and 12 weeks of free weight watchers vouchers (subject to eligibility). Alongside this, we offer all individuals tailored 1:1 support.

2. What is your proudest achievement?
Every day we help people to make long-term positive changes to their, supporting individuals to lose weight and keep it off for good.

3. What is your experience of support received from SCVO
We have found SCVO to be invaluable in supporting the growth of our programmes, through attending both network events and using their various platforms to advertise our service.

4. What is the most valuable lesson you have learnt about working with people in Sandwell?
Everyone person, town and community in Sandwell is unique. We have dedicated town teams who work within the local area, in local GP practices, community centres and libraries to support individuals to access the service locally.

5. What are your plans for the future and some of the challenges you face?
We want to continue to grow our groups and provision, ensuring we have a vast presence across the whole of Sandwell. It is a challenge; however our team are committed to improving the health of Sandwell residents.

6. How can SCVO help to support your organisation in the future?
With continued promotion and networking opportunities!

For further information please contact Louise Pickard the Senior Healthy Lifestyle Specialist on 0121 366 0966 or view their website to see what other services are available at www.mytimeactive.co.uk 


Spotlight on Midland Film and Art

1. Tell us what you do.
Midland Film and Art (MFAA) was established 2014 with the aim of advancing the education, understanding and appreciation of all aspects of art, film, craft and allied techniques.

In August 2017 MFAA took on The Art Yard in Reddal Hill Road, Cradley Heath; with a view of improving public access to art and creating three distinct multi-purpose art and craft galleries.

Our first monthly exhibitions commenced in September 2017 showcasing the work of local artists and others. MFAA’s exhibitors demonstrated a wide range of skills, abilities and experiences all adding to the eclectic mix we are keen to encourage.

MFAA relies on volunteers to run the galleries during normal weekly shopping hours and plans are underway to introduce Life Drawing and painting classes led by former college tutors and experienced professional artists.

2. What is your proudest achievement?
Our proudest achievement to date is that by using funds donated by Cradley Heath Film, MFAA members and sponsors, together with volunteer time, the demise of The Art Yard was prevented and the premises refurbished, access to art increased and the first pubic exhibition was opened within one month of MFAA taking over the premises.

The anecdotal evidence from visitors and exhibitors alike is that The Art Yard is a welcome facility that is providing new life within the surrounding community and a much required outlet for artists to publicly showcase their work.

3. What is your experience of support received from SCVO?
The Art Yard is new to SCVO and what it however, SCVO have been extremely interested in what The Art Yard can offer within the community and have agreed where possible to help MFAA going forward.

4. What is the most valuable lesson you have learnt about working with people in Sandwell?
The most valuable lessons MFAA has learned is that Sandwell is made up of one of the most diverse blends of communities in the West Midlands which taps into and maintains links with a wide range of arts and crafts that emanate from such a diverse range of people from all walks of life.

5. What are your plans for the future and some of the challenges you face?
Moving forward, MFAA intends to ensure that The Art Yard remains financially independent of its patrons’ support.

6. How can SCVO help to support your organisation in the future?
MFAA (at The Art Yard) would welcome any support SCVO can provide to help move the project forward; help obtain resources; assist in promoting The Art Yard to the wider public and help to establish the organisation within Sandwell’s communities.

If you are interested in exhibiting in the Art Yard  please refer to our e-bulletin post entitled ‘The Art Yard – Call for Artists’ or would like further information on how you can get involved at the Art Yard please email Warren at infoartyard@gmail.com


Spotlight on Health for Living

1. Tell us what you do
The Confidence & Wellbeing Team runs a range of free psycho-educational programmes across the 6 towns of Sandwell. These programmes are designed to teach easy self help techniques to manage common life issues such as; stress, anxiety, low mood, sleep issues and how to cope with change. The team consists of 4 workers who deliver the group programmes in a friendly and approachable manner.

2. What is your proudest achievement?
The Confidence & Wellbeing Team has been active in Sandwell for almost 10 years and during that time we have helped hundreds of local residents to better manage their mental health, build emotional resilience and lead more positive and fulfilling lives.

3. What is your experience of support received from SCVO?
We are looking forward to working with SCVO to promote our services and reach out to even more people in Sandwell.

4. What is the most valuable lesson you have learnt about working with people in Sandwell?
Everyone has challenges in life and through coming together at our groups, sharing stories and learning new strategies to cope, we all have the ability to fulfil our potential. People are innately resourceful and sometimes all it takes is a helping hand during a challenging time to get back on track.

5. What are your plans for the future and some of the challenges you face?
Our plans for the future are to continue running our group courses throughout Sandwell and attract even more people to take part! We also encourage people once they have completed one of our courses to become co-facilitators and run future groups with us. This is a fantastic way to keep building self confidence, maintain all the strategies they have learnt and share their experience to help others. Our challenge is to keep a visible profile within the borough so people know we are here!

6. How can SCVO help to support your organisation in the future?
By supporting us with continued promotion through the website and by word of mouth!

For further information please call our office on 0121 558 8815 or to refer yourself call the HUB on 03030339903


Spotlight on FareShare

1. Tell us what you do.
FareShare is a food redistribution charity. We save good food destined for waste and send it to charities and community groups who transform it into nutritious meals for vulnerable people. We work across 21 regional centres in the UK where we sort and redistribute surplus food, which we give to local charities and voluntary organisations with the help of our own fantastic volunteers.

We also facilitate connections between local groups and nearby supermarket stores, in order for them to receive the surplus food from the store on a regular basis. In the West Midlands, we are currently focusing on Tesco Express stores in Black Country, with the aim of getting as many organisations as possible connected to their nearby store in order to make use of the surplus food on offer.

We work with a range of organisations, including lunch clubs, youth groups, breakfast clubs, foodbanks and various support groups to provide them with high quality surplus food on a regular basis. Across the West Midlands, there are 151 charities signed up to receive food from our Regional Centre in Nechells, and 420 collecting food from their nearby supermarkets. We never give food past its use by date and work with charities to ensure high standards of food hygiene are maintained.

2. What is your proudest achievement?
In March 2017 FareShare in the West Midlands celebrated its 10th birthday. In 10 years we have provided 10 million meals to voluntary organisations across the West Midlands. It is a fantastic achievement and demonstrates the real difference surplus food can make to the community.

3. What is your experience of support received from SCVO
We have attended breakfast meetings, which has been a fantastic way to meet other local organisations.

4. What is the most valuable lesson you have learnt about working with people in Sandwell?
To never underestimate the dedication of those in the voluntary sector. We continue to find amazing charities and organisations who are committed to doing great work in the area.

5. What are your plans for the future and some of the challenges you face?
We hope to continue to expand our work – reaching more community groups, feeding more people, and tapping into more unsold, surplus food and putting it to good use!

6. How can SCVO help to support your organisation in the future?
Networking is so important to us. We are constantly looking for new organisations who could benefit from surplus food, and we always need more volunteers to help us with our work. Any opportunity to get the word out there and meet local groups is invaluable.

For more information on FareShare click here or call Hannah Feld on 0121 328 6640 or email hannah.feld@fareshare.org.uk if your interested in getting involved.

 


7to97 – The Westminster School

1. Tell us what you do.
Currently only 7% of young people in the UK with a learning difficulty get paid employment after leaving education and training. We aim to equip our young people with employability skills and giving them the opportunity to work on all aspects product design and development, marketing and retailing.

The Westminster School is determined to address this issue through the curriculum and opportunities we offer our young people. In September 2016, we established our Social Enterprise initiative, 7to97, which complemented our work experience and vocational further education courses that we already had in place at school.

One of our key aims is to raise awareness in the local business community of the talents and skills of our students (e.g. creativity, work ethic, passion) and how they would be an invaluable asset to any business. All of our young people aspire to work when they leave education, with many saying they want to be able support their families in the future through paid employment.

2. What is your proudest achievement?
Our proudest achievement is that all students involved in the 7to97 project have had the opportunity to sell to the public through street markets. They have shown confidence when serving customers, and this was particularly evident at Digbeth Arts Market. Students gave up their Saturday to help set up and run the stall. We are extremely proud of all the young people who have taken part in the project.

3. What are your plans for the future and some of the challenges you face?
Our plans moving forward are to diversify and expand our range of products and increase our links with local business. We have been very fortunate to be supported by a local steel company who regularly donate items to us and we are currently in discussions with a wedding company in Birmingham in order to support them with wedding favours. We have also been approached by Digbeth Dining Club and the Arts Market to run more stalls at future events.

4. How can SCVO help to support your organisation in the future?
We would like SCVO to support us by signposting us to people who could give business advice and guidance to our students, and provide general support to our 7to97 initiative to help ensure that we give our students the best possible chance of getting the skills they need for paid employment.


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