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Headway Appoints New Chief Officer

Following the retirement of Stephen Phipps after just over 8 years as Headway’s Chief Officer, they are delighted to announce the appointment of Claire Dale to the role.

Claire will be joining them at the beginning of March 2021 following working for a locally based health and wellbeing charity for the last nine years as Director of Operations and Deputy Chief Executive.

With a background in the Health and Social Care sector spanning more than twenty years, Claire has an academic background in Special Needs and Inclusion and professional experience of working in care and social housing as well as in providing both strategic development and operational support across the third sector in both employed and also in voluntary Trustee positions.

Claire is also a Mental Health First Aid Instructor and volunteers for a Crisis Text Messaging Service as well as nearing the end of her studies to qualify as a PersonCentred Therapist. Claire has a passion for people, seeking to develop services in conjunction with others which help people to thrive.

Claire is incredibly excited to be joining the Headway Black Country Team and is looking forward to working together to continue promoting all aspects of brain injury, providing information, support and services to people with a brain injury, their families and carers across the region.

Susan Hatton, Chair of the Board of Trustees said “Our thanks go to our retiring Chief Officer, Steve for taking Headway Black Country to the strong position we are now. It is with confidence and great pleasure that I and fellow Trustees welcome Claire to lead our dedicated team forward into a successful future“.

Claire can be contacted on:

Volunteer Expenses Made ‘App-y’!

Digital start-up vHelp has launched a new app-based service that makes it quicker and cheaper to reimburse volunteers’ expenses.

vHelp Expenses allows volunteers to submit their expense claims through their mobile phones, and once approved by the charity, they receive payment directly to their bank accounts in around 24 hours.

As part of an introductory offer, vHelp is making the app available to charities for free for two months.

The app also allows volunteers to donate unwanted expenses payments back to the charity, allowing it to claim up to 25% extra in Gift Aid.

vHelp claims it costs charities as much as £18 in administration costs to process a single £6 expense claim. Using vHelp Expenses, the cost falls to less than £1.

Organisations sign up to the service and then invite their volunteers to download the vHelp app to their mobile phones.

The vHelp app can also be used to reimburse volunteers shopping on behalf of vulnerable residents during lockdown.

To find out more, please contact:
Patricia Salume on 07981141530 or
Randa Bennett on 07833 368369 or

Charities Expect Innovation and Digital Growth to Outlast the Pandemic

Civil Society News in their latest article discuss the findings from their Charity Charity Tracker research which was produced in partnership with Charity Finance Group and the Chartered Institute of Fundraising. Charities that participated in the survey said they plan to build on the innovation borne from the Covid-19 crisis.

The research also highlights the challenges facing the sector as a whole, with income under pressure and demand rising, with sector leaders emphasising that the ability to be innovative was underpinned by financial sustainability, which continues to be under threat for many charities.

To read their full article click here.

Source: Civil Society News

Dorothy Parkes Centre Secures £17,704 Funding from Postcode Local Trust for Community Allotment Plot

Families, community groups, and volunteers across Smethwick and neighbouring areas will benefit from a Community Allotment Plot project which is continuing thanks to funding from the Postcode Local Trust, a grant-giving trust supported entirely by player of People’s Postcode Lottery. The project, which is led by the Dorothy Parkes Centre in Smethwick, has been running for two years and this grant will see the project continue for a further 12 months.

The plot, which is based at Bearwood Road Allotment, has been transformed in the last two years, from an overgrown, underused, vacant plot, into an accessible and safe haven with a Community Classroom, Polytunnel, Greenhouse, Performance Area, and variety of growing beds. The funding will be used to maintain the plot and prepare two specialised areas within the plot for specific use – the creation of a sheltered seating area and a disabled access growing area with appropriate wheelchair ramp.

Karen Palmer, Community Allotment Plot Project Coordinator said:

“This funding will allow us to increase the potential of an already successful project. We will be able to extend the offer of use of our facilities to a wider and more diverse section of our local community. Less able people will be able to genuinely join in and feel a part of the project. Further, people who may just need to sit and enjoy a calm outdoor space, especially because of the COVID-19 pandemic, will have the facilities necessary to socially interact in a gentle way.”

The Dorothy Parkes Centre, on Church Road in Smethwick, is a community centre which helps to address local challenges around health inequality, obesity, lack of empowerment of local people, elderly isolation, low educational attainment, and significant unemployment by providing, or hosting, a wide range of activities.

Robert Bruce, Chief Executive Officer at Dorothy Parkes Centre said:

“Our Community Allotment Plot project is a real jewel in our crown and provides us with an opportunity to support our local community with an outdoor space and the opportunity to either enjoy a calm and tranquil environment or help with some digging and planting which results in some lovely produce. It has also proven to be good for mental health during the lockdowns and restrictions and we would encourage anybody who is interested in learning more about allotments and gardening to get in touch with us.”

The project is supported by a small team of volunteers, but they are always on the lookout for more and they would welcome and encourage some community groups, particularly around art and culture to get in touch about using the space, which is on offer free of charge.

For further details, please contact the Centre on 0121 558 2998 or email

If you’d like to be an SCVO good news story please contact Mazeline Hemmings via email at  or to find out how to book your FREE place on SCVO’s next Meet The Funder: People’s Postcode Lottery Fund click here.

Urgent Message from Brushstrokes

We are aware that a high number of residents have not applied for either Pre Settled or Settled status or having secured Pre-Settled Status have not applied for Settled Status. Current rules that will come into force on 1st January 2021 mean that residents with Pre Settled Status will no longer be entitled to Universal Credit, Child Benefit, Income Support and a number of other benefits.

We would like you to go through your client records to identify people who may be EU nationals and contact them by phone to encourage them to submit their applications as soon as possible (and ideally before 31st December 2020).

Could you please ask them the following:

“We recently helped you with some advice and wanted to make sure that you do not miss out on an opportunity to safeguard your immigration status and possible entitlement to benefits
• Are you an EU National?
• How long have you been in the UK?
• Have you applied for Pre Settled Status
• Have you applied for Settled Status?

31st December 2020 is an important date because after that your right to claim certain benefits will be affected.

If you are happy to complete the application form on-line we can send you the link
If you need help to apply we will send your details to Brushstrokes

How the UK Leaving the EU Will Affect Data Protection

NCVO in their latest article explain how leaving the EU at 11pm on 31st December 2020 will end the transition period of the UK leaving the EU and at this point the UK GDPR will replace EU GDPR. In their  knowhow pages they have updated this information to reflect what the differences are and how this will impact organisations in the UK.

It is important to remember data protection legislation covers everyone about whom you keep personal data on. This includes employees, volunteers, service users, members, supporters and donors.

To read NCVO’s knowhowpages click here.

Source: NCVO

Harvesting Success – Invitation to Black Country Women’s Aid’s AGM

Black Country Women’s Aid would like to invite you to our AGM.  The AGM is taking place on Wednesday 9th December 2020 from 11.00am – 12pm via Zoom. where we’ll be sharing insights and talking about harvesting success.

Guest speakers include:

Robin Brierley, CEO of West Midlands Anti Slavery Network.

Louise Brown, Engagement and Partnerships Manager at Black Country Women’s Aid who will be talking about modern slavery.

To book a place please view – 

16 Days of Action – help is available for victims of domestic abuse during Covid-19

Sandwell Council and the Sandwell Domestic Abuse Strategic Partnership are taking part in the United Nations 16 Days of Activism campaign (25 November – 10 December) to tackle gender-based violence.

The campaign starts today (Wednesday 25 November) on International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.

Sandwell’s local 16 Days of Action campaign highlights a specific issue each day including domestic abuse, sexual violence, forced marriage, so-called ‘honour’-based abuse, female genital mutilation, stalking and harassment.

Whilst women and girls are overwhelmingly the victims of these crimes, men can be victims too. It is important to know that help and support is available for all victims.

Anyone at risk of domestic abuse or sexual violence during the current coronavirus restrictions is being reassured that help is at hand. It’s important to know that victims can still leave their homes to get help and support without breaking the current restrictions.

Domestic abuse and sexual violence support services continue to operate, providing safety advice and emotional support to those at risk.

Domestic abuse isn’t always physical. Coercive control is an act or a pattern of acts of assault, threats, humiliation and intimidation or other abuse that is used to harm, punish, or frighten a victim.

The partnership is sharing Tina’s Story at to help other families. Tina was murdered by her partner in 2017. Her partner had subjected her to years of abuse and controlling behaviour. He was jailed for life for a minimum of 24 years for her murder.

How do you know if this is happening to you?
Some common examples of coercive behaviour by perpetrators:
• Isolating you from friends and family
• Depriving you of basic needs, such as food
• Monitoring your time
• Monitoring you via online communication tools or spyware
• Taking control over aspects of your everyday life, such as where you can go, who you can see, what you can wear and when you can sleep
• Depriving you access to support services, such as medical services
• Repeatedly putting you down, such as saying you’re worthless
• Humiliating, degrading or dehumanising you
• Controlling your finances
• Making threats or intimidating you.

Useful contacts
Black Country Women’s Aid can provide support to victims of domestic abuse and sexual violence.
• Call the 24-hour helpline on 0121 552 6448
• Text or WhatsApp on 07384 466 181 (9am-9pm, Monday-Friday)
• Call 999 in an emergency
• If you are worried about your behaviour towards others, call the Respect Helpline on 0808 802 4040
For more information, visit

Championing Digital Inclusion

Charity Digital News explains why charities should be championing digital inclusion to ensure members of their community aren’t being left behind. Often charities are at the forefront of social change and community progress, playing a key role in ensuring beneficiaries aren’t being left behind by the emerging digital divide.

Within their article they discuss the challenges many of our community members face as part of the digital divide, the impact digital exclusion is having and the need for digital champions (who don’t need to be experts) that can take the sting out of going online ultimately making the process simpler and smoother.

To read the article in full click here.

Source: Charity Digital News

Saying Thank You to The Right People

It is important that you remember to say thank you to your supporters, as this is the most common reason why supporters stop making donations to your cause and/or organisation. In UK Fundraising’s article, they discuss the importance of thanking your supporters in a way that makes an impression and encourages future donations.

The article discusses the different approaches used, getting your thank you message across so the supporter realises what you are saying and making sure your thank you hits the mark.

To read the full article and watch the podcast click here.

Source: UK Fundraising

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