A Beginners Guide to Universal Credit

Universal Credit (UC) is on its way, with roll-out in Sandwell scheduled for 14th November 2018. Many of us will have heard a lot about it already, in national as well as local news. But what exactly is Universal Credit? What will it mean for those entitled to it and how might local VCS groups and other support agencies and frontline professionals look to support people around the challenges UC might create?

SCVO is organising jointly with the DWP, a session which is taking place on Tuesday 18th September from 11am – 12.00 noon, at its offices – 1st Floor, Landchard House, Victoria Street, West Bromwich, B70 8ER.

This short briefing session is for anyone working within the Voluntary and Community Sector in Sandwell who want to find out more about Universal Credit. The roll-out will bring significant changes for many Sandwell residents.
So whether you work directly with people who will be on UC or just want to find out more, you are welcome to come along, participate and ask questions

To find out more about the session and to book your place please click here

If you need any further information please contact Leona Bird, Strategic Engagement Officer at SCVO on 0121 525 1127 or e-mail

Dental Hygiene advice to carers of people diagnosed with Dementia

Stacey Quinton, Dental Nurse Specialist from Community Dental Services, Birmingham Community Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, will be joining BUDS on Tuesday 21 August 2018, 10.30 am to 12 noon, at South Staff Water Community Hub.

Stacey will provide information and advice on good dental hygiene and how you can help support people diagnosed with Dementia in this important area of healthcare. There will also be guidance on how to access dental services.

The session is open to Carers who support family members diagnosed with Dementia.

South Staffs Water Community Hub is at Unit 17, Union Street, Wednesbury, WS10 7HD. To book your place please telephone 0121 565 3721 or email

Refreshments will be provided.

Sandwell Valley Giant Car boot

There’s a big car boot, funfair and lots more this August Bank Holiday weekend at Sandwell Valley Country Park.

The giant car boot sale is on the Sunday and Monday (26 and 27 August) at the showground.

Pitches are £6 per day for cars, £10 for both days, £15 a day for vans or both days for £25. Set up is between 8am and 10am. For enquiries and bookings call 07960 863513 or  07876 564669.

Plus on Saturday, Sunday and Monday (25, 26 and 27 August) there’s children’s entertainment, funfair, inflatables, a land train, quad bikes and other activities.

The funfair will continue from Saturday 25 August until Saturday 1 September 2018.

Five Priorities for Improving Children’s Mental Health

The mental wealth of the nation is critical to our future – young people’s mental wellbeing should be paramount.

The mental health of the nation is built on foundations laid in the early years of our lives. Yet our mental health system is designed and funded to pay the price of our failure to act on the evidence and invest in the right family support in those childhood years.

We go through many life changes and transitions in our childhood and teenage years. It’s why the age of 18 is the wrong time for child and adolescent mental health services (Camhs) to “hand over” to adult services. A joint report by the health and education select committees has turned the spotlight on the role schools can play.

According to a study [pdf] by Martin Knapp at the London School of Economics, the costs of poor mental health land disproportionately in our schools. Over half of the mean cost of addressing emotional and behavioural problems is incurred in frontline education.

Little more than 6p in every pound the NHS spends on mental health is spent on children and young people. Yet as the health and education select committees acknowledge in their report [pdf] on the role of schools in mental health, “50% of adult mental illness starts before age 15 and 75% has started before age 18”.

The select committees have put down important markers for any incoming government. The critical importance of whole-school working to promote the wellbeing of young people and the value of a joined-up approach to delivering mental health support are key recommendations.

When members of the select committees visited Regent High School in Camden to learn about the schools-based work of the Tavistock and Portman NHS foundation trust (of which I am chair), they heard for themselves the value of a joined-up approach. Equipping teachers with knowledge of mental health and making this part of their professional development is a step in the right direction. But a good grounding in child development should be at the heart of teacher training.

To read the full Guardian Newspaper article click here.

Young People’s Mental Health​

Half of lifelong mental illness starts before the age of 14. What if we could change that? What if we could tackle the causes and reduce the incidence of enduring mental health problems?

Those are the questions Birmingham University’s mental health commission has been grappling with over the past 18 months. Our report and call to action launched this month.

Around one in four children and young people who need help with their mental health get a service. By 2021, that will rise to one in three and the picture is mixed across the country. We must do more to improve access to evidence-based mental health treatment and support. But this is not sufficient.

Simply trying to keep pace with demand for treatment and support is not sustainable, even if it were desirable.

The commission asked the NHS Benchmarking Network to estimate the staffing and cost implications of a range of scenarios for improving access to mental health services for children and young people. To reach all those who need treatment or support would require an extra 23,800 staff at a cost of £1.77m a year.

Perhaps the money could be found, a long overdue investment in the mental health of the nation. But could the staff? Of course there are productivity gains to be had in the way child and adolescent services are organised, digital channels to be used and new models of care – such as the Tavistock-inspired Thrive model – to be adopted, but this is still trying to catch up with the demand.

Like a lifeguard forever pulling drowning people from the sea, too busy to ask why they got into trouble in the first place.

This is a challenge for the whole of society that needs government leadership – at local and national level – to do something about the causes of the demand. Government must get serious about prevention and early action. There is sufficient evidence of what actions we can take to promote good mental health and reduce the risk factors behind mental illness. Most of these lie beyond the consulting room; the health impacts of adverse childhood experiences, trauma and social and economic inequality are well documented. The consequences can often be lifelong.

Last year, Public Health England launched its Prevention Concordat, which set out the investment cases for adopting eight practices and programmes to promote good mental health and tackle some of the causes. But these “best buys” for prevention require funding before they can start to pay a dividend.

To read the full Guardian Newspaper article click here.

Black Country Sport and Physical Activity Awards

There are thousands of people across the Black Country doing fantastic things to inspire people to lead healthier, fun and active lives, from netball to boccia, football to zumba.

Active Black Country want to recognise those individuals and organisations, whether they are coaching future talent, reaching out to less advantaged people, or achieving sporting success of their own.

This year’s categories are:

• Community Coach
• Community Club
• Community Project
• Power of Sport
• Aspiring Talent
• Unsung Hero

All completed nomination forms can be sent to by the closing date of 5 pm on Friday 31st August.

The winners will be recognised at an awards ceremony on Thursday 4th October at Himley Hall, Dudley.

The criteria and nomination form can be downloaded here.

First Aid Qualification – Places Available

The most important life-saving techniques are often the simplest.

This one-day Emergency First Aid at Work qualification will equip you to deal with emergency situations and administer general first aid treatment.

For those working in low-risk environments, for example an office, it is the minimum requirement and covers all of the basics of First Aid; including CPR, choking, the unconscious casualty, bleeds, burns, and shock.

A broad outline of the day is:

09:15 – Arrival, Registration and Refreshments

09:30 – Prompt commencement of course

12 noon – Lunch (buffet lunch provided)

16:00 – Course conclusion and departure.

(Timings are subject to operational variation on the day).

Successful course participants will secure an Emergency First Aid at Work qualification that is valid for 3 years.

The qualification is delivered by STS Medics – a Sandwell-based organisation that has been delivering in this field since 2005.

**PLEASE NOTE** – as we are securing an external trainer a cancellation policy applies to course bookings – details will be provided at the time of booking.

To book you place, visit the Eventbrite page by clicking HERE.

How the Collaborative Approach is Tackling Digital Exclusion

According to the 2018 Lloyds Bank Consumer Digital Index, just over eleven million people in the UK have limited basic digital skills such as being able to use a search engine, shop or manage their money online.

In 2015, six diverse UK organisations launched the One Digital programme, through support from the Big Lottery Fund, with the aim of putting their heads together to improve digital inclusion. They achieved this by using Digital Champions – trained individuals who can support people to get online and gain confidence in using digital technologies.

In its first ‘test-and-learn’ year the programme surpassed expectations, recruiting and training over 1,100 Digital Champions and supporting over 11,000 people to be more confident online. Five of the organisations continued the partnership (Age UK, Citizens Online, Clarion Futures, Digital Unite and Scotland CVO) and secured Big Lottery funding for another three years from 2017. Their current goal is to recruit and train a further 3,000 Digital Champions and support 37,000 people by 2020.

We spoke with members of the One Digital partnership Stephanie Noyce, Head of Money and Digital at Clarion Futures, and Sally Dyson, Head of Digital Participation at SCVO, about the achievements of the One Digital partnership and its ambitions for the future.

CDN: How did the One Digital partnership come about?

Sally Dyson: The One Digital Programme came about following an invitation from the Big Lottery Fund for organisations to collaborate to support people to get online. All of the organisations that came forward were already using ‘digital champions’ as part of their work in some form.

We wanted to collaborate around that digital champion activity, and take that forward to help people to improve their digital skills and get online. To achieve that we work very closely together to develop a programme to meet all the partners’ needs.

To read the full Charity Digital News Article click here.

Justice and Equality Fund’s ‘Now’s the Time’ Small Grants Programme

Grants of up to £25,000 available through the Justice and Equality Fund’s ‘Now’s the Time’ small grants programme.

Now’s the Time is the second programme from the Justice and Equality Fund managed by Rosa. The programme aims to amplify the voices of individuals and groups who are calling for an end to sexual harassment and abuse, in their workplaces and in their communities.

The Justice and Equality Fund aims to bring an end to the culture of harassment, abuse and impunity by resourcing an expert network of advice, support and advocacy organisations and projects.  Inspired by the phenomenal campaigners of #metoo, TIME’s UP, Ni Nunca Mas, the #lifeinleggings movements and others, a group of UK-based women from the entertainment industry have come together to challenge the culture that permits people in positions of power to sexually harass and abuse others.

We want to resource imaginative, collaborative and creative grassroots activism so we are asking organisations to apply by answering the question: What would you do towards ending sexual harassment (in work places and in communities)? We want to fund:

  • Prevention work
  • Awareness raising activities
  • Imaginative and creative grassroots activism
  • Influencing work
  • Work with groups and communities who might face additional barriers to getting their voices heard, or might be at higher risk of sexual harassment and abuse to amplify those voices
  • Work that tries out new ideas
  • Work that replicates tried and tested approaches in new settings
  • Work that others can learn from

We are particularly keen to see cross-sector partnerships where the expertise of specialist voluntary sector organisations at the forefront of this work is shared with others to help drive broader change.

How to apply
It is important that you read our programme guidance and application guidance as both go into further detail about the criteria for applying along with the aims and deadlines for the programme.

We will be hosting a series of ‘How to Apply’ webinars which will introduce you to the Justice and Equality Fund and take you through the fund’s Now’s the Time (small grants) programme, offering guidance on making an application. Please register to attend by clicking on your preferred date:

You must then complete a short online application form and submit a three minute video answering the following questions :

  • What does your organisation do?
  • What does your organisation want to do, where and when?
  • How will this contribute to ending sexual harassment?
  • What difference will it make and why are you the best organisation to make it happen?
  • How will you spend your grant?

Closing date: Friday 28th September at 5pm.

When will you hear the outcome: Early December 2018.

You help decide: We are going to use a process called participatory grantmaking to decide who is awarded funding.  Your video will be shared with other applicants who will rank your application according to the clarity and credibility of your plans. You can therefore expect to hear from us during October-November 2018 asking you and your group to look at some of the other videos we have received and voting for the ideas you like the best.

Still unsure? We’d like to talk to you! Please email us to request a chat and one of our team will get back to you.
Contact us:                                      Web:

Staying Safe From the New Cyber Menace

Ransomware sees cyber criminals unleash malware onto users’ computer systems that can lock anything from a single PC to hundreds or thousands of machines. Ransomware is often propagated by email and can be activated and spread across a network when a single user opens an attachment containing the rogue code.

Once an operating system on a computer is infected the data on that machine is encrypted, and the user will be asked to pay a “ransom” in return for a code that can unlock and decrypt the data on the machine within a limited period of time.

If the organisation does not pay the ransom and does not have security systems in place that can counter the malicious software, they will lose their data, which can of course play havoc with their business operations. The charitable sector unfortunately is not immune to the threat of ransomware.

Widening Threat

The increasing threat from ransomware has been charted by security software companies, putting the number of new ransomware malware families at around 200 in 2016.

Last September, Comic Relief’s internal systems were down for days after suffering a ransomware attack, after one of its server’s was targeted by criminals. As a result, staff at Comic Relief were unable to access the internet or get their email, forcing a number to work at home instead.

And before the Comic Relief attack, in March 2016, the headquarters of Catholic Charities of Santa Clara County in the US were targeted. A receptionist there opened an email attachment which was dressed up as an invoice. Instead, the file she opened connected her computer with a server in Ukraine.

It then downloaded ransomware code which began to rapidly encrypt files on her computer.

Duncan Hughes, systems engineering director for the EMEA region at A10 Networks, says of the threat: “Organisations in the charity sector should share simple safeguarding techniques amongst employees and volunteers and make sure that they are educated around the type of attacks to expect, but ultimately protection systems need to be put in place to keep hackers out.

To read the full Charity Times article click here.

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