NCVO Overhauls Digital Maturity Benchmarking Tool

The NCVO charity digital maturity benchmarking tool has undergone a major overhaul to increase the focus on user-centred approaches, leadership and strategy.

The tool has already been used by over 800 charities to help them set goals in different areas of digital strategy and track their progress against them.

The interactive checklist is designed to help identify gaps in their capabilities and processes, prioritise areas for development, benchmark themselves against other organisations and help report to senior managers and trustees.

A revised version has been launched which includes new sections on security and data protection strategies and on using user research to design better content and services. It has also had an overhaul to ensure it is more inclusive of organisations at all levels, and allows charities to add their own notes.

The new version follows consultation with a group of around 60 charity technical and content experts over the last six months. It was originally created by the digital team at Breast Cancer Care in 2016.

To read the full Charity Digital News article click here.

Source:Charity Digital News article

Charity Commission Reform Vital for Civil Society Strategy to Work

The Government has just closed consultation on its plan to help create a stronger civil society in the UK. It’s an opportunity for the social and charitable sector to make demands of legislators while looking at itself and being honest about what it can do better for the causes, people and places it serves.

New Philanthropy Capital have made 21 recommendations on the civil society strategy across a wide range of topics, but there are a couple of key things the government could do to make a massive, positive impact on the sector.

First, reform the Charity Commission. It is an organisation full of dedicated people, but is straining under the weight of limited resources and an increasingly conflicted remit. It should be the regulator the sector needs, not its cheerleader. The sector should investigate whether the support it offers charities should be spun out into a new, independent organisation dedicated to sector-led improvement.

They also think what the commission regulates should change. It is too focused on financial stability and organisational survival at the expense of whether charities are having an impact for beneficiaries. They want to see a toughening up of annual impact reporting as part of the commission’s processes. Many charities already do this, but many don’t – if we can get them seriously thinking about their impact, the people they serve stand to benefit.

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

Source: Guardian Voluntary Sector Network

Near Neighbours Small Grants Now Open

Near Neighbours’ Small Grants is an easy-to-access funding scheme supporting local projects that bring people together from different communities and promote social action and transformation.

In the last round of funding, in March 2019, the Small Grants have supported 72 new projects and given additional funding to 61 existing projects, mainly focusing on the three priority areas: empower marginalised women, support new migrants and refugees, and promote meaningful social mixing

Near Neighbours scheme awards small grants between £250 and £5,000 to projects that enable people of different faiths (or none) to work together to the benefit of the community.

For further information email

Near Neighbours Small Grant application form, criteria and guidance notes can be found on the website.

Holiday Grants for Disadvantaged and Disabled Children

Schools, youth groups, not for profit organisations and charities have until the 2nd July 2019 to apply for grants of £500 to £2,500 to support recreational trips or holidays within the UK between the 1st July and 31st August 2019, for groups of children experiencing disadvantage or who have disabilities. Children need to be aged 13 or under to qualify.

Although the deadline is the 2nd July 2019, decisions are made on a first come-first served basis until all the funds have been allocated. Applications must be made at least six weeks before the trip or holiday is due to take place.

Priority will be given to applications coming from the 20% most deprived areas in the UK. Funded by the Henry Smith Charity, grants can cover up to two-thirds of the cost of a holiday or trip lasting one to seven days. In this round, trips must be taken before the end of August 2019. For more details and to apply, complete the eligibility quiz on the website and submit the application form online at least 6 weeks before the trip is due to take place.

Previous visits supported include:

All Saints Catholic Primary School which received a grant of £1,500 towards a two-night trip to Wales for a group of disadvantaged children from Merseyside;

Bridgewater School which received a grant of £1,900 towards an overnight trip to London for a group of disadvantaged children from Newcastle; and

The Sixth St Helens (Parr) Scout Group received a grant of £1,100 towards a two-night trip to an activity centre in Lancashire for a group of children from a disadvantaged area of Merseyside.

Details on website

Free English Courses and Free Teacher Training through Talk English

Talk English is a community based volunteer led project which delivers free beginner English classes to local communities. Classes are 12 – 15 weeks long and can be delivered in one and a half to two and half hour sessions per week.  Certificates are issued to learners once their course has been completed.

Fircroft College is currently looking to expand provision into Sandwell from September 2019 onwards and is looking for:

* Partner organisations who are working with beneficiaries who can host a course.

* Volunteer teachers can attend a free two-day teacher training course available at Fircroft College during May and June 2019. Please visit for more information.

You can read more about the Talk English Project at

Please feel free to contact Neena Chauhan (Project Manager) at or on 07719 257 319.

Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust – Rights and Justice

The next round of the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust’s Rights and Justice Programme is now open and will close on the 2nd September 2019.

he Funding priorities for this scheme are the protection and promotion of human rights and their enforcement in the UK; promoting rights and justice for minorities who face the most severe forms of racism; and the promotion of rights and justice for refugees and other migrants by identifying and tackling structures and systems that may deny them their rights.

The Trust makes grants to a range of organisations including registered, excepted or exempt charities across the UK.

More information

Volunteers and Community Cycle Clubs Needed!

Do you want to set up a community cycle club or would you like to volunteer for a community cycle club in the Black Country?

Cycling UK can help you on your journey!

If you are a community group that already provides activities and want to add cycling to your programme then Cycling UK can help. Cycling UK can support you with  funding, training and admin support until you feel happy to go it alone.

We need you! – If you are an individual who has cycled for a long time and would like to help others learn to ride or get back into cycling, we need you! Cycling UK can provide volunteers with the relevant training that makes a volunteer confident to help others ride.

Cycling improves health and wellbeing, helps people develop new skills and it`s FUN!

Mental health support, older people’s groups, health organisations, youth groups, workplaces, refugee charities and veteran groups are just some of the settings in which Cycling UK has delivered community cycle clubs.

We would love to hear from you.

For more information please email

Spring Housing Association seeks Arabic Speaking Coordinator

Spring Housing Association has an ideal opportunity for a refugee/asylum seeker support worker, or similar, with some experience and wishing to develop competency in training, partnership work and project coordination. Spring is committed to supporting the post holder to develop and succeed through consultancy inputs, mentoring and training.

Role: Lifehacks Coordinator (Arabic Speaking)
Salary: Up to £26,000 per annum
Hours per week: 37.5 (job share and secondment considered)

You will take ownership of the pilot Life Hacks learning programme and drive it forward. You will co-ordinate the programme day to day and personally deliver training across one site in Birmingham and one other site to be agreed (West Midlands). We expect up to 20 learners to participate during the pilot. Most will be Arabic speakers and so an ability to speak and understand basic Arabic is essential. The programme will run initially for one year and we are offering a 12 month contract. Continuation will be conditional on performance and funding.

The Life Hacks (Foundation Life Skills) programme is focused on mental and physical wellbeing, beliefs and values, rights and responsibilities, personal safety and risk (drugs and alcohol, e-safety, anti-social behaviour, consent, hate crime, knife crime, CSE, county lines), Asylum and status.

The Life Hacks (Practical Life Skills) programme is focused on various practical areas of personal safety, wellbeing, tenancy and work readiness: housing and tenancy; nutrition and food; healthy life styles; sexual health and relationships; money management; household skills; making a home; security and safety; community; preparation for work; phone calls & appointments.

Development of the Life Hacks training resources themselves is being commissioned separately, but you will have opportunity to input into content, approach, testing and revision and particularly as the programme rolls out and may require changes.

As part of the commitment to make Spring a great place to work, a comprehensive reward and benefits package is offered.

Spring Housing Association takes safeguarding of vulnerable people seriously. Applicants will be subject to Safer Recruitment Checks.

Please read carefully through the comprehensive application pack and contact Spring on 0121 663 1443 if you have further questions.

Application pack available at

Closing date: 9:00 am on Wednesday, 29th May 2019

Be part of the legacy conversation for Sandwell Aquatics Centre

In April this year Sandwell Council received planning permission to build a new state-of-the-art leisure centre in Smethwick.  The Sandwell Aquatics Centre will host the diving and swimming events for the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games.

This is great news and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to bring unprecedented tourism and visitors to Sandwell.

Over the next few months, Sandwell Council will be running events which will give you an opportunity to share your views on the lasting impact of the Commonwealth Games and the Sandwell Aquatics Centre and how they will benefit the community for years to come.

Your contribution at these events will be collated to create a legacy plan, enabling a greater understanding of how we can generate the greatest benefits for our communities once the Sandwell Aquatics Centre is built. The legacy plan will ensure we are making the most of the opportunities the new leisure centre will provide.

If you would like to be involved in an opportunity to help shape the benefits and outcomes of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games and Sandwell Aquatics Centre, please contact

The Church on the Rock

1. Tell us what you do.

The Church on the Rock (in Oldbury) is a church, but also a warm and welcoming place for the local community to get together and support each other in many different ways – bringing together people from often quite diverse backgrounds, but in an environment that is safe, warm and welcoming. For example, a “mums and toddlers” group helps to create stronger family bonds; youth groups on Tuesday evenings include activities such as football and crafts, which help young people to be more involved and active in the local community; coffee mornings , on the second Saturday of every month, help to bring local people together on a social basis, and regular Alpha courses explore the basics of the Christian faith.

2. What are your plans for the future and some of the challenges you face?

Going forward, the Church on the Rock would like to develop further, both as a church and in terms of how it can support children and young people in the local area. The hope is to promote a ‘can do’ attitude in the community. There is also the desire to provide English Language classes given the significant migrant population arriving in Sandwell from countries where English is not the first language. These classes would be invaluable for community cohesion as language is often a barrier in populations from diverse cultural and geographical backgrounds . Furthermore, almost 30% of Sandwell’s population have no qualifications so providing these easy access, free course would be invaluable to the community and their future job prospects.

3. How can SCVO help to support your organisation in the future?

A number of SCVO’s services are very beneficial – the Funding Digest in particular – and networking opportunities are always helpful. These help the Church to gain more funding and ‘spread the word’ about the services on offer. As a result, the Church on the Rock will be able to help more people in the local area to grow and develop, helping to create a sustainable community.

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