Local Impact Spotlight

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Thimblemill Socialise Book Club

A friend of mine and I had the idea of starting up the Book Club around three years ago as there was nothing in the area like it and he already was a storyteller for children, so we thought why not do the same but for adults. Since we’ve started our Book Club has gone from strength to strength and continues to develop as our membership numbers increase.

We are a volunteer led Book Club based in Thimblemill Library that is open to anyone who struggles accessing literature for whatever reason such as a visual impairment. The feedback I get from members and our lovely volunteer readers alike is always promising and positive. Since featuring in the talking newspaper we’ve attracted some new member but there’s always room for more.

We meet on Tuesday afternoons from 2.15pm at Thimblemill Library, Thimblemill Road, Smethwick, B67 5RJ. We provide refreshments and there is always a large bowl of water and a biscuits for the dogs.

Our Book Club brings like-minded individuals together in a warm and friendly space to chat with our readers and socialise with others, as new friendships are made in a nurturing and supportive environment.

So why not pop in to see us and have a chat to see what we are all about. Starting your journey of discovery into the world of books and all the different reading genres just waiting for you to explore and share your insights with other members.

For more information about our club please contact via email Dan Letchford at dj.letchford@gmail.com or have a look at our Facebook page at @ThimblemillSocialisebookclub

React Martial Arts

Who are React Martial Arts?

React Martial Arts was set up in August 2014 as a kickboxing organisation designed to make kickboxing and martial arts more accessible to all.

For more information on the organisation visit their website at www.reactmartialarts.co.uk

1) Tell us what you do.

We run Kickboxing classes for ages 5+ at St Michael’s School, Rowley Regis on Tuesday evenings between 19:00-20:00. Classes are taught in a controlled and fun environment to encourage everyone to develop at their own pace, with regular grading’s to allow students to show what they have learnt.

We also take a small group of fighters to compete locally, nationally and internationally. And lastly we sometimes do work in schools such as special martial arts taster days.

2) What is your proudest achievement?

Our proudest achieve is having two England squad members who recently won a gold medal each at the ICO World Championships. In total taking 6 medals from 6 categories.

3) What is the most valuable lesson you have learnt about working with people in Sandwell?

The most valuable lesson we have learnt about working with people in Sandwell is that people need to take things at their own pace and it’s important to listen to what they want and where they are on their individual journey.

4) What are your plans for the future and some of the challenges you face?

Our plans for the future are to continue to make Kickboxing accessible to all and to educate our community that despite common misconceptions that martial arts promote violence and fighting, martial arts is about teaching control, discipline and can help to tackle mental health concern.

5) How can SCVO help to support your organisation in the future?

SCVO can help through reiterating the above point that Kickboxing is not just about fighting but about teaching respect, discipline, and control whenever possible and supporting is to share our accomplishments and success to a wider audience enabling us to demonstrate to others where kickboxing as a sport can take them.

If you’d like to find out more about these services and Tuesday evenings session at St Michael’s school please contact Arron Walker on 07539 383 299 or via email at reactmartialarts@outlook.com

Summary of West Bromwich Unemployed Young People’s Social Action Project

The aim of the Project was for a group of unemployed your people supported by Sandwell HUB, Talent Match, West Bromwich JCP and Barnardo’s On Track Project, to create and complete an identified community social action, by organising and donating a number of shoeboxes containing needy toiletries and dry food products for young adults with visual disabilities.

The Project enabled the young people to gain and evidence their involvement in a community voluntary activity, which will improve their employability status with employers who view this type of activity as a recommendable staff recruitment objective. The young people will highlight their involvement in the project on their individual CVs.

The full report can be viewed here.

Further engagement and employability support will continue to be offered to young people and if anyone is interested in this they can contact Paul Powell, Progression Coach, Barnardo’s On-Track Project – paul.powell@barnardos.org.uk or telephone 0121 550 5271.

Spotlight on George Road Community Church

1)  Tell us what you do.
We are a Community Church based at George Road, Oldbury who run community activities and several groups that encourage members of our local community to be more active and meeting new people.

We currently offer ‘Extend’ (fitness classes for over 50’s Tuesday/Friday), ‘Thrive’ youth club (for 9-13’s Thursday evening), Knit and chatter (all welcome Thursday morning), ‘Come Together’ (a social group for the over 50’s on a Monday afternoon), Garden group (all welcome Wednesday morning). We also run a coffee morning on Wednesdays 10.00am for all comers.

We also have a number of rooms and Hope House, which are available for hire by other community groups and organisations.

2)  What is your proudest achievement?
We are really proud of the way our community feels they can be part of what we do here at George Road and get involved with us via our volunteer opportunities. It’s great to know that people feel welcome and able to participate in our activities.

3)  What is your experience of support received from SCVO?
It has been good to work with the SCVO team. They are a really useful resource and help us stay connected with life in Sandwell. Libby has been brilliant with helping our church try to improve the work we do. We have attended several courses that SCVO has organised and have come away with lots of advice and new contacts from attending these courses.

4)  What is the most valuable lesson you have learnt about working with people in Sandwell?
We are constantly amazed and pleased with the way in which the local people of Sandwell remain friendly, open to new ideas and, are willing to help with the things we do.

We held a Summer Fun Day last year and several local people volunteered to help us on the day and the run up to the day which really helped to make the Fun Day a great success.

5)  What are your plans for the future and some of the challenges you face?
Part of our future plans include trying to increase the use of Hope House, which is a property we own within the church grounds. It has several small meeting rooms for hire that we are keen to work in partnership with others to increase their use for the benefit of our community. We would love to see more groups within Sandwell using this great facility.

6)  How can SCVO help to support your organisation in the future?
SCVO has been a great help to us and we hope to continue working with SCVO staff moving forward to help us to develop new partnerships, projects and supporting us to build our local contacts.

If you’d like to find out more about how you can get involved with George Road Community Church or for more information on their current activities please call Karen Palmer on 0121 423 3822.

Spotlight on Sandwell Advocacy

1) Tell us what you do
We are an independent charity offering advocacy, established in 1993, to ensure people are listened to and have a voice, that peoples rights are taken into account and that prejudice and discrimination are challenged. We work to safeguard and protect people’s rights.

Advocacy for Young Carers- we have advocates to bridge short and long-term support needs of young people who take on a caring role. We look to support them and their families in any number of ways. We ensure that the young people are at the heart of the decision making process and that their voices are heard and their needs are taken into account.

2) What is your proudest achievement?
We have been operating in Sandwell for over 24 years. I am sure you will agree this is quite an achievement for a small charity.
I’m proud to be part of an organisation like Sandwell Advocacy, working towards making a difference. All of our staff have worked in Sandwell for many years and have a wealth of knowledge and experience across the voluntary and public sector.

3) What is your experience of support received from SCVO?
We are proud to be SCVO members and we’ve got value for money for our membership.

In recent months we have secured small pots of money which have enabled us to add value to the service we provide by offering services to the people we support. We were made aware of these through SCVO emails and meetings.

More generally, SCVO is there pulling people together so we’re stronger.

4) What is the most valuable lesson you have learnt about working with people in Sandwell?
Our staff and volunteer workforce and advocacy partners work well together. Despite what we are told in the national media we have found that Sandwell residents are willing to pull together and support each other. People are proud of their culture and history and have a strong sense of belonging within the six towns.

5) What are your plans for the future and some of the challenges you face?
We continue to look at offering advocacy in new areas using the models that we know work well. Additionally we are interested in creative and innovative ways of having voices heard. Our latest HLF project, Living Memory will be exploring and sharing unique photography collections and life stories from the diverse communities across the Black Country. We believe that heritage and arts projects are an ideal platform to advocate for the wider community.

6) How can SCVO help to support your organisation in the future?
Continue what you do best – keeping us up to date with relevant legislation, information, funding, training and networking.

For more information:
Contact: 0121 520 8070
Email: sandwelladvocacy@btconnect.com

Spotlight on Aspire4U CIC

1. Tell us what you do.
Aspire4U CIC supports people, developing future-proof skills and the capacity to identify and meet their own needs. We deliver activities and share resources with all members of the community, especially those experiencing social, psychological, emotional and economic disadvantage.

2. What is your proudest achievement?
Supporting 20,000 people to come together have an amazing time at the free community festival – Simmer Down Festival, who we helped to secure sponsorship, grow a communications strategy through social media and even managed their Best of Brum stage for local artists to develop.

3. What is the most valuable lesson you have learnt about working with people in Sandwell?
The most valuable lesson we’ve learnt as a team is that people from Sandwell have a great community spirit which is infectious.

4. What are your plans for the future and some of the challenges you face?
Our long term plans are to continue to work with more organisations that care about helping people to develop themselves and those organisations that care about the journey and long term planning.

5. How can SCVO help to support your organisation in the future?
We’d like SCVO to look to promote or provide more opportunities for groups and organisations to meet up to share best practice and support the exchange of information.

For more information on Aspire4U CIC visit their website at: www.aspire4u.co.uk email: hello@aspire4u.co.uk or call on 0121 6223603.

Spotlight on Camphill Village Trust Shared Lives

1 Tell us what you do.
We are developing a new and innovative service for the national charity, called Camphill Village Trust Shared Lives. Shared Lives is sometimes described as a bit like ‘foster care for adults’…but it’s so much more than that, as we enable the people we support to be in control and make their own choices in life.

People are carefully matched to stay with specially trained Shared Lives Carers on either a long-term, respite or day support basis, who provide tailored-support to maximise independence, build self-esteem and encourage new social skills, so the person can lead the same ordinary life just like you and me.

2 What is your proudest achievement?
Throughout 2017, we were busy establishing the new scheme, which to date we have already approved three households, with another four currently being assessed.

We are particularly proud of the fact that we have recruited several local Afro-Caribbean and Asian families to become Shared Lives Carers, as we are very keen that our scheme reflects the communities in which we all live.

3 What is your experience of support received from SCVO?
Mazeline has been so supportive of the new scheme from the start, by regularly publishing our articles, helping us spread the word and recruit Carers from across Sandwell.

4 What is the most valuable lesson you have learnt about working with people in Sandwell?
The people we know and work with in Sandwell, are hard-working, happy to help-out and always have a smile on their faces, regardless of how stressful life might be at times. They are straight-talking and say it how it is.

5 What are your plans for the future and some of the challenges you face?
We plan to carry on recruiting and training prospective carers, so that we can provide a choice of high-quality Shared Lives Arrangements across the region. However, the challenge is, in finding those special households who want to welcome someone into their home.

You don’t need any qualifications or previous experience, just the right values, commitment and of course a spare room. You are paid according to the level of support you provide and with self-employed status, qualify for tax relief.

6 How can SCVO help to support your organisation in the future?
It’s really important to us that SCVO carry on being supportive and getting our message out across Sandwell, as research suggests that people who use Shared Lives, are known to live longer, healthier and happier lives.

If anyone is interested in finding out more about what we do, then they can go to: www.cvt.org.uk/sharedlives or follow us on twitter: @CVTSharedLives or call us on 01384 597264.

Spotlight on KeyRing

1 Tell us what you do
KeyRing offers low level tenancy support for vulnerable people in their own homes across Sandwell.

Our vision is for vulnerable people to be at the heart of their community, sharing their skills and talents for everyone’s benefit.

2 What is your proudest achievement?
KeyRing’s proudest achievement is being able to provide extra levels of support for people in the Sandwell area. We believe that communities and informal support are very important and work hard to encourage people to be good neighbours, to each other and to share their skills.

3 What is your experience of support received from SCVO
Our experience of support received from SCVO is great, they are there to support voluntary organisations within the Sandwell area.

4 What is the most valuable lesson you have learnt about working with people in Sandwell?
Our most valuable lesson we’ve learnt about working with people in Sandwell is that there are so many organisations out there that do wonderful things for Sandwell residents.

5 What are your plans for the future and some of the challenges you face?
Our contract is coming up to tender so our current plans are to stay in the Sandwell area by securing a new tender and to develop more KeyRing networks that benefit more Sandwell residents.

6 How can SCVO help to support your organisation in the future?
SCVO can help KeyRing moving forward by assisting in the promotion of the support KeyRing provides here in Sandwell and by continuing to hold their breakfast meetings which support interaction with other local organisations to promote and raise awareness of our services and others in attendance.

If you would like to know more about KeyRing and what we have to offer please contact Lucy Haddon on 07534350167 or via email at lucy.haddon@keyring.org

Spotlight on Centre Spot

1. Tell us what you do
Centre Spot was established in 2008 as a community project which builds young people’s capacity, especially focusing on disadvantaged and socially excluded groups in Sandwell. We use the power of sport to engage young people, and as a catalyst to re-ignite their passions, whether that’s for learning, gaining new skills, volunteering, building confidence and resilience, or simply getting young people active, and physically active.
2. What is your proudest achievement?
As we approach our 10 year anniversary in 2018, we can look back at surviving through a difficult period for third sector organisations as our proudest achievement. In the early years we concentrated our energies on building a strong foundation, underwritten by quality of service and delivery, which we closely linked to our brand identity. Centre Spot has  benefited from word-of-mouth referrals, which has been a major contributing factor to our sustainability. In terms of quality, we have ensured we are able to obtain trust from both our funders and our beneficiaries.
3. What is your experience of support received from SCVO
SCVO have been invaluable in supporting the growth of our project over the years, SCVO were there to “hold our hands” in the early years , including supporting us through a PQASSO Level 3. We have continued to gain support from SCVO through attending various network events, as well as receiving monthly funding news.
4. What is the most valuable lesson you have learnt about working with people in Sandwell?
The needs of people in Sandwell in terms of sports and physical activity is varied, and provides different challenges. These challenges have meant that over the years we have learnt to diversify our services to meet the needs of our beneficiaries. This has required us to achieve an internal capacity to convert our service standard into a beneficiary-driven model. To this end, we expended resources in training our staff members, besides taking every opportunity to shout about our high quality work. None of these displaces the sheer hard work and belief in our vision, and our readiness to learn from our mistakes, and this remains our consuming passion. We have perfected perseverance and resilience, and strive to always get it right.
5. What are the plans for the future and some of the challenges you face?
We are looking forward to continued growth, and being recognised as community focused organisation. We have grown from being very reliant on grant funding when we started to being more self sufficient through delivering contracts and commissioning. We aim to let more people know about the Centre Spot brand and what it represents, as well as being a stronger, and trusted name in the community.
6. How can SCVO help to support your organisation in the future?
We feel that beyond the valuable support we already receive from SCVO, we could do with support around measuring and demonstrating impact, and high quality project monitoring.
For more information on Centre Spot call them on 0121 569 2411 or visit their website at www.centrespot.org

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

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