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Identifying Rough Sleepers

Sandwell Council is asking agencies that encounter rough sleepers to complete a Rough Sleeper Estimate Form.  To make this single figure as robust as possible, the Council  is asking local agencies that encounter people who are sleeping rough to participate. It is important that agencies taking part understand the definition of rough sleeping and do not include people in hostels or shelters, sofa surfers, people in campsites or other sites used for recreational purposes or organised protest, squatters or travellers.

For the purpose of the estimate, rough sleepers are defined as:

People sleeping, about to bed down (sitting on/in or standing next to their bedding) or actually bedded down in the open air (such as on the streets, in tents, doorways, parks, bus shelters or encampments). People in buildings or other places not designed for habitation (such as stairwells, barns, sheds, car parks, cars, derelict boats, stations, or “bashes”).

Agencies should understand that the purpose of the estimate is to assess the numbers of people rough sleeping on the typical night chosen, rather than a larger sample of street activity or people using homelessness services.

This means that, for example:  a person who sometimes sleeps rough but sometimes has accommodation/shelter will not be included in the estimate unless there is evidence that they did sleep rough on that night.

Again this year, Sandwell, Birmingham Wolverhampton, Walsall, Solihul, Coventry and Dudley have selected the 22nd November 2017 to do this year’s estimate.

On that night the Council would like to know all the people you or your organisation encounters either sleeping rough, or claim they slept rough, using the attached guidance and form.

If you would like to discuss this matter or require further information, please contact Pam Mander-Masonde on 0121 569 5224 or email

How Can Charities Ensure They Make the Most of Their Online Presence?

Charities who aim to reach and engage with audiences online can now benefit from a new digital resource, which will actively support the creation of their user-centric and results-driven online presence.

Before proceeding with a detailed strategy that involves allocating time and financial resources to create an effective, customer-centric website design and build; it is necessary to have thorough understanding of a charity’s online users, combined with proper scoping.

User experience and digital agency DotLabel has just launched a free e-book that promises to do just that; empower decision makers with key insider information, previously unavailable, as well as actionable advice and top tips to consider when planning their new website.

Matt Oxley, DotLabel co-Founder and Director commented: “Information on how to get the most out of a website isn’t readily available. Budgeting for a website can often be educated guesswork, so this e-book aims to change that.

“We are very excited to be able to offer this handy resource which decision makers can consult and refer back to, when building or revamping their brand’s online presence. The aim is to use it as a guide, to help them raise key questions and highlight important aspects they need to consider. We have provided as much in-depth analysis as possible, of how each practical tip can lead to holistic online user experience; whilst saving money and time in the process.”

You can download the e-book here.

To read the full Digital Charity News click here.

Four Steps to Driving Social Change Through People

How can charities and social enterprises get the best out of their people to drive the change they’re seeking? Mark Norbury, Chief Executive of UnLtd, the foundation for social entrepreneurs, shares knowledge borne from recent experience.

When I arrived at UnLtd just over a year ago, I found an organisation brimming full of talent. Any given team member was values-driven, emotionally intelligent, smart, productive and thoughtful. That has generally been my experience in the social sector, but the UnLtd team seemed a notch up.

This human factor is critical to the success of any organisation, but for one focused on developing outstanding leaders of social change like UnLtd, it’s an absolute necessity.

Despite this strong foundation, we didn’t seem to be firing on all cylinders collectively. And worse, we were losing our talented folk at a surprising rate.

So with great support from both Board and team, we set about figuring out how we could better unleash the talent in the organisation. We focused on four factors which I think are paramount to organisations seeking to drive long term social change through their people:

1.Make people the top priority
This is of course common sense. But is sometimes undermined by structural factors – in our case cyclical funding driving resourcing decisions, or organisational culture – for us an unwillingness to say no to potential opportunities.
So the first thing we did is listen to our people. We sought everyone’s views about UnLtd as a place to work. With a partner, we ran a comprehensive, anonymised staff survey. We had a fantastic response rate (91%). This gave us a robust mandate to make change happen based on the findings of the survey.

2. Distinguish between people development and HR
The second thing we did was to create a new Head of People and Organisational Development role reporting to me as Chief Exec. This new role was exclusively focused on culture, values, learning and development, and progression.

Together we developed a strategy to address the key issues emerging out of our survey. We presented it at our annual team gathering and got good buy-in.

It’s not just staff who need to commit to this – but our trustees too. Our Chair and Board were really supportive throughout. This included defining that there would be a Board Committee with responsibility for people matters (the Nominations, Remuneration and Governance Committee for us).

3. Establish a common purpose
Obvious as it may sound, having 70 purpose-driven people is not the same as having 70 people driven by a shared purpose.
For us, this meant translating our mission and broad strategic direction into a concrete business plan and a meaningful performance framework.

Perhaps the most important thing to clarify for us was what we were not going to do. I remember our managers showing me a list of 17 funding programmes and an activity map which must have had over 60 priorities. We focused down to three areas of focus and three streams of delivery. We agreed how we would consolidate, exit or handover activities that we were no longer pursuing.
Even so, since then we have had to constantly push ourselves to be clear on what is ‘in’, what is ‘out’ and why. It’s not always easy, and we do find ourselves tempted to add exciting opportunities, or broaden definitions. Sometimes that will be fine, and sometimes we’ll still say ‘no’. But now we have a way of having more robust discussions, making judgement calls and sticking to them.

To read the full Charity Digital News article click here.

Charities Need Help to Get to Grips with Data Protection Changes

A worrying number of UK charities are yet to take any steps to prepare for the new UK law on data protection.

Our survey of more than 300 UK charities shows that most are taking action to prepare for the new general data protection regulation (GDPR), which comes into effect in May 2018, with major new requirements for how organisations process personal data. Steps already taken include training and recruiting staff; discussing data protection with their board; reviewing and updating privacy policies; and undertaking audits. This all shows that charities are taking seriously the need to reach the right standards for data protection.

However, and not surprisingly, some organisations are finding it a challenge to get ready for these new legal changes. A fifth of respondents – 22% – said they had not yet taken any steps to get ready for GDPR. The vast majority of those organisations are smaller charities, with a turnover of under £1m. But compliance and GDPR is not optional – so we need to ensure that everyone in the charity sector is ready.

The biggest challenge reported in our survey, cited by 72% of respondents, is a lack of clear guidance. The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has not yet published its final guidance on consent, but the law is written and final and the commissioner has put out a range of resources for all organisations to think about the new law. There is also guidance from a range of organisations including ourselves, the Fundraising Regulator, and others.

At the same time, we also believe there is a need for government action. That’s why we’ve written to the digital minister, Matt Hancock, asking him to work with charities, regulators and sector bodies on a new strategic intervention to help the sector prepare for these changes.

As part of this, and based on the responses to our survey, we would like to see a targeted grant scheme set up to support charities who need to update their databases. We also want to see a coordinated campaign to raise awareness across the sector about the changes and guidance on offer. While the government already provides limited but very welcome support in building fundraising skills and capacity through the provision of subsidised training programmes, this should be complemented with an additional programme on data protection, and a hotline for charities with advice and information.

To read the full Guardian Voluntary Sector News article click here.

Charities Urged to Be Alert to Phishing Attacks

The Charity Commission has issued an alert encouraging charities to be alert to potential phishing attacks.

The alert follows increasing reports of phishing scams, when fraudsters attempt to hoax users and get hold of sensitive information such as usernames, passwords and credit card details.

Action Fraud, the commission says, is receiving around 8,000 reports of phishing attacks on charities each month, which shows the scale of these scams.

To protect against the harm caused by phishing attacks, the commission is suggesting charities read detailed advice from government on improving cyber security. You can also find out how to become accredited under the Cyber Essentials Scheme.

If you think your charity has been affected by a phishing scam, whether it was prevented or not, report it to Action Fraud through their website or call them on 0300 123 2040.

If your charity has fallen victim to a phishing scam and lost sensitive data or valuable funds, you need to report it to us as a serious incident.

Action to take now:
• make sure charity software has up-to-date virus protection (though it will not always prevent you from becoming infected)
• don’t click on links or open any attachments you receive in unsolicited emails or SMS messages. Fraudsters can. ‘spoof’ an email address to make it look like it’s from a trusted source. If you’re unsure, check the email header to identify the true source of communication. Information on how to find email headers is available on the MX Toolbox website.
• always install software updates as soon as they become available, they will often include fixes for critical security vulnerabilities
• if your current software does not offer an ‘anti-spyware’ function, consider installing software which does, it can detect key loggers
• make regular backups of your important files to an external hard drive, memory stick or online storage provider. But, it’s important that the device you back up to is not left connected to your computer, as a malware infection could spread to that too
• if you suspect your bank details have been accessed, you should contact your bank immediately.

Source: Charity Digital News


West Bromwich Community Awards 2017

Welcome to West Bromwich Community Awards 2017.

This award scheme is being run by Sandwell Community Hubs working in partnership with the Sandwell Council and is open to community sector organisations and individuals able to demonstrate that they have improved community wellbeing within the past 12 months.

To enter, organisations and individuals must be based in West Bromwich and all projects must take place in the Town.

An individual or an organisation can submit entries in more than one category.

The Award Categories are:

  • Outstanding Volunteer Award
  • Outstanding Young Person Award
  • Outstanding good neighbour award
  • Outstanding community project award
  • Outstanding partnership working award
  • Community special award

To find out more and make your nominations click here. 

GDPR: An Explanation of Data Retention And Why It Is Important for Charities

After outlining what GDPR means for charities in the first of a series of posts, Andrew Cross, Data and Insights Lead at Lightful, delves specifically into data retention and subject access requests, how rules around these will alter under GDPR, and how best to prepare for it.

Data Retention is defined by the ICO as: “Data kept in a form which permits identification of data subjects for no longer than is necessary for the purposes for which the personal data are processed; personal data may be stored for longer periods insofar as the personal data will be processed solely for archiving purposes in the public interest, scientific or historical research purposes or statistical purposes subject to implementation of the appropriate technical and organisational measures required by the GDPR in order to safeguard the rights and freedoms of individuals”.

In plain English, data retention means that if data is no longer in use or required to be kept for a specific purpose then you should either delete it altogether, or anonymise all parts of the information that would give away the identity of the individual. By dealing with data in this way you are adhering to the organisational and technical safeguards stipulated by the GDPR.

What does this mean for my charity?
Non-profits are usually in possession of personal data that they gained when they were founded (which could be many years ago) and most of this pertains to historical donations or engagements with the organisation. However, if the supporter has not interacted with the charity within a reasonable time frame, then we can assume their information is probably not needed for analysis purposes and it should therefore be discarded or altered as explained above.

Unfortunately, most organisations lack clear retention polices and their CRM systems often do not have the functionality to perform these deletions or anonymisations adequately through the front end or administrative areas. Technical workarounds are an option but that either requires having the skilled staff in-house or hiring expensive consultants.

To read the full Charity Digital News article click here.

‘Facebook of Charities’ Launches World’s First Social Network to Create Global Social Change

A not-for-profit tech startup is launching the world’s first social network to create global social change.

The NGO, We Make Change, wants to harness the power of young people to drive positive change around the world.

To make this happen, a group of young people from 12 countries have joined together to launch what the organisation is calling a ‘digital revolution’.

“We are part of the most connected generation ever, yet, on the news we see so many problems being faced across the world that we feel helpless to do anything about,” said Co-Founder and CEO, James Sancto.

“We believe that by harnessing the power of technology we can address these challenges by enabling anyone, anywhere, to contribute what they can to help solve them.

“As the first generation that can end extreme poverty and the last that can address climate change, now is our moment to make this happen. That is why we believe We Make Change can play an important role in enabling our generation to create the greatest positive change the world has ever seen.”

The online platform will enable individuals to connect with and support the charities fighting for causes they care about, by donating their time, money or things.

Charity Backing
Charities and NGOs such as the World Youth Organization, National Youth Agency, and Humanitarian Aid Relief Trust are already backing the platform.

“We Make Change is a social network which could bring transformational benefits for the charity sector. Having been involved with charitable organisations for many years, I am thrilled to see this initiative which could have a big impact,” said Baroness Caroline Cox, the founder of Humanitarian Aid Relief Trust (HART).

“A platform such as this can enable people to donate online and to volunteer for charities in ways which will help all involved, including our own charity, HART, as we support our partners who are bringing hope and healing to their communities living in very challenging conditions.

“I am delighted to endorse this initiative and to encourage other people and charities to do the same.”

To read the full Charity Digital News Artcile click here.

Charity Sector Entering ‘Wild West as UK Hits Peak GDPR Frenzy’

Charitable organisations and the not for profit sector must take greater care when choosing General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) compliance partners by ensuring that the right balance of legal and technical delivery skillsets are in place. This is according to ST2 Technology who suggests that a failure to do so will inevitably lead to significant compliance failures after the new regulations take hold.

GDPR means significant changes that will affect this sector, despite organisations’ funding constraints and relatively small size. However, as charities hold some of the most sensitive and personal data in the UK, this will not go unnoticed by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).

Re-prioritise spend
Richard Hannah, Head of Consulting at ST2 Technology, suggests that charities and Not for Profit organisations will now need to re-prioritise their spend. Although these companies may be tempted to believe that their charitable status means they will not be liable for fines, despite all their good work, they will be expected to maintain the integrity of their data.

He explains: “Radical changes to how charitable and Not for Profit organisations manage their information will be required if they are to be compliant when GDPR comes into force. This is creating a sense of urgency as organisations try to get to grips with their data, how it is handled, where it is stored and who has access to it. However, as a result there has been a rush from consultancies to fill the market void, leading to untested and potentially incorrect approaches to ensuring compliance. We can expect a lot of teething problems and some significant compliance failures coming to light over 2018/19.”

Richard continues: “Unfortunately, there has been a sharp rise in assessment kits and non-specialist consultants offering advice to organisations on how they can ready themselves, despite not necessarily having the relevant and appropriate experience. With GDPR offering citizens compensation when a breach occurs, the regulation could spawn ‘PPI’ type agencies to pursue claims against local authorities.

“For many consultancies, customers looking for partners to help them become compliant with GDPR is the equivalent of a new gold rush – however, less speed and more haste should be the mantra as we all work with the new data landscape now coming into view.

“GDPR is not just about company records, data and processes, it is also about the law as it affects an organisation’s funding arrangements, membership management, manual and computer record keeping and its ability to transform the way it works, to both deliver its mandate and maintain compliance – doing nothing really is not an option and many of this sector’s issues are systemic.”

Source: Charity Digital News

If Charities Know They Need a Cybersecurity Plan, Why Do So Few Have One?

Eve Josephs, UK Responsibility Manager at Microsoft, has written an interesting guest post asking why, if charities know they need a cybersecurity plan, so few have one?

Writing for the Digital Leaders website to coincide with Cyber Resilience Week (11-15 September), Eve asks whether, despite that fact that there are more digital threats today than ever, more needs to be done to help the wider charity workforce understand the need to invest in it and if charities really understand the help that’s available?

“Although it can take significant time for an organisation to improve its capacity to respond to cybersecurity challenges, existing resources can help – for example the Government’s Cyber Essentials Scheme,” she says. “There is no charity-specific standard for cybersecurity; charities are expected to use the same, well-established, risk-based approach to cybersecurity management that other organisations use.”

The post goes on to look at common vulnerability trends – two of which are ransomware and data breaches, and then looks at ways to tackle organisational awareness.
“One of the most significant challenges that data protection law poses to charities is around broader organisational awareness of how data is managed,” Eve says. “For instance, how many databases do you have containing donors’ personal information? Where is this stored? Do your volunteers or employees share sensitive data on USB sticks?”

A few basic steps charities can take to protect themselves from cybercrime are then detailed, before more is mentioned about the resources available, including Microsoft’s Non-profit Guidelines for Cybersecurity and Privacy white paper.

Source: Charity Digital News

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