Category Archives

Can you help ‘Home from Hospital?

If you have a car and a clean licence you could be a great help to older people needing to get to and from hospital.

Age UK Sandwell urgently needs helpers please who can support with transport to appointments and help older people to settle in to their home after a stay in hospital.

Other requirements include:

• Willing to complete an enhanced DBS check

• Willing to undertake any training required

• Available for minimum 3 hours Monday – Friday

• Live within 30 mins drive from either City Hospital, Heartlands or the QE

• Not in at risk groups for COVID 19

Find out more by contacting volunteering@ageukbirmingham.org.uk or call 0121 437 0033

Be Bold For Brass

As businesses throw open their doors again, Black Country Women’s Aid (BCWA) needs a few bold people to step in and say please!

BCWA is an independent charity which has supported survivors of violence and abuse for more than 30 years. It offers a range of community services and refuge for women, children and men who have experienced domestic abuse, sexual violence, stalking, exploitation and modern day slavery. The holistic approach not only deals with immediate trauma but also helps survivors re-build life for them and their families.

The charity seeks outgoing, sociable helpers who have the confidence to approach places such as local hairdressers, pubs and golf clubs and ask them to ‘host’ a collection tin. You would be responsible for finding good homes for the tins, keeping track of them and returning them to BCWA with the cash collected.

As your relationship with the businesses grows there may be opportunities for further fundraising by organising events such as quiz nights.

If you’re interested in being involved in this fun new project, please contact:
Denise Turner, Volunteer Coordinator
Email: Volunteers@blackcountrywomensaid.co.uk
Mobile: 07876 871682
Office: 0121 553 0090

Heartfelt thanks to our ‘Covid Crisis’ responders

At the end of this month our Covid Crisis Volunteer Response comes to an end.

More than 700 people stepped forward to offer help, with around 400 of them deployed to support some 1000 residents. To every single one of them we give our heartfelt thanks.

Volunteers have been shopping and collecting prescriptions for families in isolation; chatting to lonely people on the phone; delivering food parcels to those in need and performing many, many more acts of kindness all over Sandwell.
Some of them are saying it’s been a life-changing experience and they will seek new opportunities to help out in future, Covid or (hopefully!) no Covid.

We will soon be launching a new web site where opportunities to help out can be posted by voluntary and community organisations. Meanwhile search and like Let’s Go Sandwell on Facebook to keep in touch, whether you’re looking for volunteers or have a little time to give.

We think you have proved that Sandwell folk are caring, active and ready to help out whatever challenges are placed in our path. Let’s stay together and keep it that way.

Message of Thanks to Sandwell Volunteers from Council Cabinet Offfice

Hundreds of volunteers who have worked tirelessly to help vulnerable people during the coronavirus (Covid-19) crisis have been highly praised in a special personal message by the borough’s cabinet member for living healthy lives.

The message from Councillor Farut Shaeen was made to pass on the council’s “heartfelt thanks and appreciation” after a mammoth effort across the borough.

Councillor Shaeen said the many volunteers who stepped up to support the vulnerable people in the borough as part of the Good Neighbours Scheme, Sandwell Together befriending service and other projects had done a truly brilliant job.

She said she wanted to make time to say a heartfelt thank you to those who had worked so diligently to help others through this very difficult time for families and vulnerable people.

She said: “We wanted the volunteers to know how much their efforts had been appreciated by residents they had been helping with shopping, errands or providing the chance to just someone to talk to.

“I really want to thank the official volunteer groups, our council staff and councillors too who are volunteering, and also to those who have going out of their way to help out neighbours, friends and relatives.”

Councillor Shaeen said that all volunteers have been given advice on infection control, the need to drop shopping off without going into homes and to wash and sanitise their hands regularly.

Details of some helpful community groups and organisations are available at:
To donate or volunteer to help, go to: www.sandwell.gov.uk/coronaviruscanyouhelp

‘Thank You’ for making a difference in Sandwell

Thank you, thank you, thank you…

This week reminds us to give our heartfelt thanks to the thousands of volunteers giving their time in Sandwell to really make a difference to local people and communities.

Volunteers’ Week (June 1-7) is a long-standing event in the voluntary sector, established in 1984. If it was ‘business as usual’ we would be celebrating, along with hundreds of other organisations, and getting together to hail our champions at events across the borough.

This year, of course, things are slightly different; so we’re going to bring you a few stories over the week that demonstrate the wide range of ways in which people are giving their time to make a difference. (Check back each day to read the next story).

In the last few weeks we have enlisted a small army of local people who have come forward to support their community, many for the first time.

We have facilitated hundreds of them to ‘do their bit’, from shopping and collecting prescriptions for isolating residents to supporting existing voluntary organisations to change their way of working to cope with the crisis.

But of course there are always people in Sandwell giving their time freely – having fun, building their own confidence, making new friends, boosting their CV and learning new skills alongside making a massive difference to local communities.

To all of you, whether you’ve been helping out for years, or you’ve just joined the party, we thank you most sincerely.

And if you’re still waiting for your invitation then please get in touch and find out more by emailing getinvolved@scvo.info

Helping out can be a joy for life, not just for crisis.


Some of the stories we’ve gathered from our recent work…

Friday (2 stories today) – ‘Bryan at Brushstrokes’ and ‘Gurdeep gives her time’.

A Letter to SCVO from Tipton volunteer Bryan, helping out at Brushstrokes

“Hi Kim,

Just want to say thanks for the kinds words. It was so nice too to receive those pictures and letters from the children of the families I’ve been delivering to.

Thought I’d share with you a couple of little things from myself. Firstly, there’s a family that speak limited English, and the man’s name is Roberto. From the very first week we instantly clicked, not sure how or why (maybe the way they all come to the door with a smile). Every time I go there I instantly shout Roberto at the top of my voice and they all respond – quite funny with my thick Black Country accent! As I leave they all shout ‘ciao’, to me. From about my 3rd delivery up till present I give them a little present from myself, usually sweets, yesterday was a large bag of jelly beans (did want them myself be honest!).

Over the past few weeks any donations I’ve been given from friends and family I try to share out equally but I seem to find myself putting the odd tin of something extra in theirs. I scour the internet for free nappies which I collect if they are local to me, also as of yesterday my local shopkeeper Suky (known him for years), is topping up the parcel. He told me to pop in on a Thursday and just ask for a donation to take with me.

Anyway there you go – who knows how long my furlough from work will be or if I ever return but at the moment my volunteering will carry on in some form with Brushstrokes and with Sandwell Litter Watch and team. I enjoy both volunteer roles and either would be an area I could see myself in.

Regards Bryan.”

Bryan’s ‘Thank You’ picture.

(you can click the picture to see a larger version)

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Gurdeep gives her time

The voluntary sector looms large in Gurdeep’s life, as under normal circumstances she has a rewarding career with a charitable organisation.

When the Covid crisis hit, however, she found herself furloughed from work and realised she could put some of her experience to good use as a volunteer.

“I have a background in safeguarding and signposting and have always considered myself a good listener, so I signed up to SCVO’s volunteer data base and was steered towards the Sandwell Together befriending service.

“Within about a month I had seven people to chat with on a regular basis and they have all turned out to be so lovely.

“Most of them really need someone to just listen, not to talk back at them too much. They have so much to share and it’s a privilege to hear their stories without judgment, and without any obligation to do anything more than listen.

“Of course there are occasions when it’s useful to be able to signpost people to other services that could help them, and Helen from Sandwell Advocacy is great at that kind of training and support for volunteers. But in the main, the people I’m befriending don’t need any specialist intervention. They need little more than to open up to a listening, impartial ear.

“Some of them have absolutely no one else to talk to, and personally I don’t think that’s just because of the current virus situation. I believe there is a need for a service like this all year round.”

If you would like to know more about giving a little time to really help a lot then please email getinvolved@scvo.info


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Thursday – Phil’s Story

Skip hire manager Phil, from Great Barr, never imagined volunteering before the current crisis.

In recovery himself from cancer, when lockdown loomed he decided he needed to step up and ‘do his bit’ for the Sandwell community.

“I was furloughed from work and my partner was working full time from home, so apart from household chores I felt a bit useless,” he said.

“I sent in my expression of interest to SCVO but was a bit hesitant about what I could do because of the cancer recovery.

“Remarkably, they set me up to be a telephone befriender, which was absolutely perfect. I was used to talking to people on the phone, and I had some training from Sandwell Advocacy to deal with stuff I might encounter, which was great.

“That first time I rang someone who needed befriending was very daunting. I was nervous to say the least, even though I talk all day at work. But I soon got into it and it’s been amazing – there’s a different world out there I never knew of before and I’m privileged to be able to make it a bit better place.

“My family and friends are quite surprised I’m doing this but I enjoy it and have no plans to stop volunteering in some way or other even when this is all over.”

Phil is a volunteer for Sandwell Together, created during the pandemic by Sandwell Advocacy and SCVO as a befriending service for isolated residents.

Dave Bradshaw, project co-ordinator at Sandwell Advocacy, said: “The Covid-19 crisis has seen our community pull together in ways never seen before.  People have come forward in their hundreds to step up to the challenge and volunteer to do something positive in a time of adversity.  From supporting the work of health and social care services, to providing practical support to people unable to do their shopping or collect medication, through to those providing emotional support and social contact via telephone befriending the response has been overwhelming.  At a time when the work of volunteers is especially recognised during Volunteers’ Week this army of volunteers has demonstrated what a huge difference volunteering can make”.

SCVO set up the Sandwell ‘crisis’ volunteer response service and currently has close to 400 volunteers out and about supporting residents – shopping, collecting prescriptions and even walking dogs!

If you would like to join them contact getinvolved@scvo.info

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Wednesday – Lisa designs new ways to work

Jigsaw is a local charity working with adults with learning disabilities and due to the pandemic had to stop all social activities for members – no craft group, no bingo, no trips 🙁

For most members, Jigsaw activities were the only things they did outside of their home; where they met friends, had fun and enjoyed shared, new experiences, so naturally they were devastated.

Jigsaw staff and volunteers quickly developed an action plan to keep their members happy, including phoning members every week to check in on them, and setting up two WhatsApp groups where members, volunteers and workers could chat and have online fun. Even bingo was re-imagined via WhatsApp!

The skill set they were missing was graphic design, making activities visually appealing to their client group, and that’s where volunteer Lisa Barrett stepped in.

Lisa, a freelance graphic designer from Bearwood, had signed up to the SCVO ‘crisis’ database, expecting to be called for something like shopping or prescription-collection. But she had mentioned design in her volunteer application, which a quick search identified.

With Lisa’s help, Jigsaw has been able to produce a weekly pack of fun activities for members and a growing number of other people with a learning disability in Sandwell. They make the activities available to other people with a learning disability via free downloads on their website homepage. The activities include colouring for adults, dot-to-dot, spot the difference, a range of quizzes and other puzzles, and word searches.

Lisa said: “I registered my availability to volunteer locally via SVCO’s website back in March after seeing a call for volunteers on Twitter. Most of my work had been put on hold due to the pandemic, and I was keen to help people with my new-found time. It was fantastic to receive the introduction to Liz at Jigsaw, and I’m really enjoying being able to help in a small way as they keep their fantastic work going through this time.

Although I’ve worked with many charities in the past, I’ve not worked with adults with learning disabilities, and it’s been so rewarding learning about how Jigsaw truly helps its community of members, and is helping bring enjoyment and connection at this difficult time.

I hope to continue to help Jigsaw going forward through Coronavirus and beyond, and look forward to the day when I can meet some of the members in person, and join them for tea and cake at our beautiful Lightwoods House.”

Liz from Jigsaw said: “Our members love their weekly packs and Lisa’s contribution has enabled us to present activities in an accessible and engaging way. She has designed a number of resources including a healthy food quiz, which in addition to being fun also helps our members to eat healthy under the lockdown. We are really grateful to have a volunteer with Lisa’s skills working with us at this time.”

Find out more about Jigsaw: https://www.jigsawevents.org

Find out more about Lisa Barrett: http://www.lisa-barrett.com

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Tuesday – Doreen says “thank you” …

Hundreds of people signed up during the pandemic to support people in need in their local community. One of them was Andy (pictured right) …

“Sending volunteer Andy to us has been like some kind of miracle. My husband and I have no family close at hand, and all of our friends are in the same boat, stuck inside unable to go shopping. Andy calls us to see what we need and he’s so warm and friendly. When he turns up with fresh veg and fruit it feels like your birthday and we’re so glad to see him, even if it has to be from a distance.

Last week when he dropped off the shopping I wasn’t feeling very well and even from the end of the path he noticed. He asked me what was the matter and insisted on going back to the shops to get me Paracetamol in case I had a fever. He made sure I had numbers to call and knew what to do if I got any worse, which thankfully I didn’t, and then he rang every day to see how I was.

I can’t thank Andy enough, and SCVO too for organising such a fantastic service.”

Doreen, Smethwick.


NCVO’s Volunteering round-up: April 2020

The volunteer response to the coronavirus crisis has been incredible. Despite the UK being under lockdown, we know millions of people across the country are continuing to give their time to help those in need during the pandemic. This includes people signed up to NHS Volunteer Responders, those volunteering for charities and others getting involved with local mutual aid groups.

Safe to say, it has been a rather busy few weeks in the volunteering world since the last round-up. Below I recap everything you need to know about the covid-19 volunteering response. There’s also some important updates on other events and goings-on in the volunteering world.

Covid-19 volunteering response

Advice for volunteers and volunteer-involving organisations and groups

You can find out more about how you can help out during the outbreak and read Shaun Delaney’s blog to understand the rules on volunteering during the lockdown.

We have updated our online ‘Involving Volunteers’ guidance: this outlines several key areas for volunteer-involving organisations and groups to consider when involving volunteers in their work during the pandemic.

We’ll be running a webinar on 5 May giving some top tips on involving and supporting volunteers during the pandemic and an overview of the practical guidance and support available. The session is free to join and will be presented by Shaun Delaney, volunteering development manager at NCVO. Find out more and sign up for the webinar.

There will also be a webinar on 14 May focusing on key safeguarding principles and wellbeing tips for volunteers. It will be presented by Jarina Choudhury, volunteering development consultant at NCVO. You can find out more and sign up for this free webinar.

Volunteering and furloughing

The government has introduced the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and many organisations are now taking the difficult decision to furlough staff. Shaun Delaney has written about what this scheme means for furloughed workers who may wish to volunteer and for organisations hoping to take on new volunteers. Two important points to bear in mind are that:
furloughed staff are not allowed to volunteer for their own organisation while they are on furlough leave
furloughed staff do have the option to volunteer for a different organisation while they are on furlough leave.

To read the full article click here.

Source: NCVO

Solving the Top 5 Challenges of Onboarding and Motivating the Volunteer Workforce

Volunteers are the lifeblood of many UK charities and not-for-profits. According to the Community Life Survey, volunteers donate over 2 billion hours of their time each year – equivalent to 1.25 full-time employees.

However, research suggests that volunteer engagement is harder to build, and loyalty harder to retain. That presents both a challenge and an opportunity. The challenge is to find new and better ways to onboard and engage your volunteers – the opportunity is to break down the barriers that are getting in the way so your whole organisation can be more effective.

1. Paperwork

For most not-for-profits, taking on volunteers has more than its fair share of associated – and often essential – paperwork. It’s critical that this doesn’t bog down either yourselves or your volunteers. Everyone hates being asked to provide the same information in triplicate, or wasting hours chasing down missing forms – or turning up on the first day to be told you can’t actually do anything because an essential check has not been completed.

Mapping out your new joiner process can help minimise the risk. What information do you need to collect for each volunteer, how do you get it and who needs to be involved? Once you’ve got to grips with the process, finding onboarding tools that can help you streamline the collection of the relevant documents and data are worth their weight in gold.

To read the full Charity Today news story click here.

Source: Charity Today

Key Members Sought

Dealing with isolation, depression and the effects of bullying is what brings together members of the Sandwell Asian Mental Health Support Group.

They get together informally on a Wednesday afternoon at Oldbury Library for a cuppa and a chat, and rely on each other’s support to bring positivity and companionship into their lives.

They are now considering constituting as a charity, and are looking to recruit a Treasurer and Secretary.

Leader Bally said: “We would like to expand and support more people but do that need to have a more formal constitution. A couple of people to take on committee roles would help us a great deal.”

If you’re interested to know more, call 0121 569 4955 and leave a message for Bally, or go to twitter @samhsg18

Let’s Talk Autism

Getting together for a chat, socialising and creating memories is something we all cherish. But some people need a bit of support to do that. Autism West Midlands is looking for someone to help facilitate group discussions between adults who need that support.

The volunteer opportunity is for someone with understanding and patience but also the confidence to steer a group discussion and facilitate everyone’s needs.

The discussion group runs once a month on a Tuesday afternoon near West Bromwich town centre.

All volunteers receive training in autism awareness, safeguarding, equality and health and safety, and have their DBS check paid for by the organisation. Many volunteers find the transferable skills really useful when they’re looking for either paid work or other volunteering opportunities.

For more information or to express an interest email aspire@autismwestmidlands.org.uk with the reference ‘Sandwell Group Volunteer’.

Free Financial Capability Training for Volunteers

Managing your money is crucial whatever your income. And not managing your money can have devastating effects.

Skills Rich is offering free training to volunteers already doing good work in the community, to help them further support people who are struggling to manage financially.

Workshops are designed to help volunteers be more aware of how they may be able to help customers who are in debt or are struggling financially, so are at risk of getting into more debt and potentially left with the choice of visiting a food bank or going without food.

They cover the obvious things like budgeting and priority bills but also discuss areas where customers can save money like on shopping and services. For example, if a customer is in receipt of less than £16,108 per year, they could qualify for up to 60% reduction on their water bill.

Training can either be in-house or at group sessions taking place on April 23, 2020.

For further information please contact Chris Cole on 07969 559098 or 0121 561 7935 or by email christina.cole@bchg.co.uk.

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