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New Chair for Active Black Country

Following recent recruitment, Active Black Country are delighted to welcome Amanda Tomlinson as the new Chair of the Active Black Country Partnership Board.

Amanda is the current Chief Executive Officer of Black Country Housing Group and brings a wealth of experience to the role alongside an in depth knowledge of the Black Country, its communities and needs of stakeholder organisations.

Serving on the Active Black Country Board since 2017, Amanda is an advocate for the role physical activity and sport can play in improving people’s lives, possessing a strong vision for the enabling role the partnership has to perform in contributing to desired health, social and economic outcomes across the Black Country.

On her appointment, Amanda said:

I am really excited to lead the Board and Partnership over the next few years, it is a very exciting time with the Commonwealth Games in 2022 presenting a huge opportunity for the Black Country. Active Black Country has some fantastic local partners that we work with and I am looking forward to developing new partnerships in due course. I want to ensure the Partnership’s actions impact positively upon local communities and we play our role in enabling transformational change in activity levels across the region.”

Find out more here.


Citizens Advice Sandwell Help to Claim Service

The doors of Citizens Advice may be closed, but they are still here to help! Citizens Advice Sandwell’s Help to Claim team are currently supporting clients with their Universal Credit claims and enquiries via web chat and advice line.
During these difficult times, people need help more than ever and that’s why Citizens Advice have advisers working from home to assist with the increased demand. To contact the Help to Claim team, please call on 0800 144 8444 or use Help to Claim web chat by clicking on this link.
Generalist advisers are also on hand to answer other queries, including debt.  You can contact them on 0300 330 9017. They are available on web chat by going to https://citizensadvicesandwell.org.uk/ and selecting ‘chat online to an adviser’.

Sport England Emergency Funding

Sport England are making up to £195 million of funding available to help the sport and physical activity sector through the ongoing coronavirus (Covid-19) crisis.

The package, which is a combination of National Lottery and government funding, is made up of the following:

  • A £20 million Community Emergency Fund, which will be opened immediately for clubs and community organisations to bid into. Grants between £300 and £10,000 are available.
  • A £5 million pot for existing partners to bid into if they’re facing specific financial difficulty.
  • An additional £55 million to support our sector during an ongoing period of restrictions, to fund new and innovative ways to keep people active and, when the period of restrictions is over, to help organisations get back to business and adjust to a different environment.
  • A £115 million rollover of current funding into 2021/22 to give long term certainty to over 100 well established partners who play a vital role in the delivery of sport and physical activity in England.

Alongside this, given cashflow concerns in the sector, we’ve also agreed to consider requests to release six months of the coming year’s funding (50% of awards) to our partners, meaning additional funding will be available sooner.

The package follows our recent decision to offer major flexibilities to those who currently receive funding – including the ability to change timings, key performance indicators, targets and conditions, and redirect money to new activity in response to coronavirus.

For more information click here.


Brook: Update on Services available to Children and Professionals in Sandwell

Brook have produced an update in relation to the services it is providing in light of the current situation we are facing.

To access the update please view – https://www.scvo.info/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/Sandwell-bulletin-Q4.pdf


Government Considering Package to Support Voluntary Sector

The Prime Minister has said the government is considering a “package of measures” to support the voluntary sector as it faces potentially catastrophic falls in income because of the coronavirus outbreak.

Major voluntary sector bodies have been increasing the pressure on the government in recent days to provide urgent financial aid to the sector in the face of an estimated £4.3bn shortfall in income over the next three months.

Caron Bradshaw, chief executive of the Charity Finance Group, warned yesterday that the sector could be “decimated” if aid was not immediately provided by the government.

During Prime Minister’s Questions in the House of Commons today, Tracy Brabin, the Labour MP for Batley and Spen, said charities were in “absolutely dire straits” and referenced a letter, signed by more than 150 cross-party parliamentarians and sent over the weekend, calling for urgent aid.

“Furloughing staff who are providing services to the vulnerable is just not an option,” she said.

“When is the Prime Minister going to come forward with an urgent package of measures so that they can continue their life-saving work?”

Johnson responded by saying that Brabin was “absolutely right to pay tribute to the voluntary sector”.

He said charities were crucial to the national response to the coronavirus crisis and said Oliver Dowden, the culture secretary, and Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, were “looking at a package of measures to support charities as well”.

To read the full Third Sector News story click here.

Source: Third Sector


Gift Aid – The Half Billion-Pound Fund for Charities

Let’s fast forward to the new Chancellor’s first Budget speech. Amongst the inevitable headline-intended spending increases, below the radar tax rises and jokes about his or her favourite tipple, there is a surprise announcement for the charity sector… a half a billion-pound HMRC funding pot!

The good news is it’s open to all charities regardless of size and purpose, immediately available and, at lower levels of funding, requires only minimal paperwork. The only requirement is that the charity receives donations from individuals. Great!

Ok, so before you get too excited, the above announcement is highly unlikely (sorry). But that is in effect what HMRC are offering with £560m of Gift Aid going unclaimed each year. So, what exactly is Gift Aid and how, if you’re not already, can your charity go about claiming it?

What is Gift Aid and how does it work?
Gift Aid is a government-operated scheme that allows registered charities or community amateur sports clubs (CASCs) to claim back 25p for every £1 donation made to that charity. The charity does this by reclaiming from HMRC the basic rate of income tax the individual has paid on the donation. Let’s imagine your donor earns £125 gross pay, at a basic rate of 20% she receives £100 and £25 is paid to HMRC. She then donates that £100 to you (a charity) who can reclaim the £25 tax she paid.

Key to this process is that the donor must have paid an equivalent amount of income tax or capital gains tax and provide the charity with a Gift Aid declaration. Gift Aid declarations require the donor’s name and address, identification of the charity, identification of the gift(s) to which the declaration should apply, a tax to cover statement and an HMRC model declaration.

To read the full Charity Today news story click here.

Source: Charity Today


Sandwell Big Bike Revival 2020 Spring Networking Event

Spring is in the air! Let`s think positively the weather can only get better.

If you are a community group, individual, company or organisation, and you are interested in adding a NEW activity to your programme, developing your current activity or just want to come along to be tantalised by ideas that improve health, the environment and create or sustain local social meeting points, then this is the event for you.

You are invited to the Sandwell Big Bike Revival 2020 Spring Networking Event.
Location: Malthouse Activity Centre, Hurst Lane, Tipton, DY4 9AB
Thursday 26th March 2020
11am – 1.30pm
(Lunch included 1 – 1.30pm)

Cycling is at the heart of what we want to offer. Do you want to see a Learn To Ride Experience for adults & children in your area, `Get back into Cycling` after not being on a bike for years or a DR Bike where you can get your communities bikes out of their sheds and have them tweaked for FREE.

If the answer is YES then this is the event for you.

So please join us if you:
• Have delivered Big Bike Revival before and want to again.
• Are new to the programme and interested in applying for the first time in 2020.
• Would like to find out more.
• Would like to find out how to sustain your activity by joining our Community Cycle Clubs network.

To Register:
Book your place: Email Lesley.easter@cyclinguk.org or ring Lesley :07867 175716
Please let me know if you need a parking space or need bike storage.
Please let me also know if you need any cognitive or physical support with accessibility or participation.
Lunch is provided, so please let me also know if you have any dietary requirements at the time of acceptance.


Residents and Landlords Urged to Have Their Say

Residents in West Bromwich are being urged to give their views on proposals to introduce two new licensing schemes for private landlords who rent properties in and around the High Street and town centre areas.

The consultation – which runs until Sunday 5 April – gives residents and landlords the chance to give their views on the two schemes to improve housing conditions and reduce crime and anti-social behaviour problems.

The one scheme – selective licensing – would see landlords of all privately rented properties in the specified area applying for a licence from the council.  They would also need to meet minimum management and property standards, helping to protect landlords, tenants and residents.

The second scheme – additional licensing – would mean that landlords of any house in multiple occupation or HMO also applying for a licence from the council, unless they already hold a mandatory HMO licence.

In areas where additional and selective licensing applies, landlords must apply for a one-off licence for each house they let, and meet various licensing conditions.

The views of local residents – including tenants, landlords, managing agents, businesses and other members of the local community – are being sought on plans to bring in the scheme which would affect around 3,000 private-rented properties.

Residents in the area are being urged to complete either an online questionnaire or a postal questionnaire they would have received.

A number of drop-in sessions are also being held for the public and landlords during the ten-week consultation.
Designated streets in and around West Bromwich High Street and the town centre have been identified as areas that would see significant benefits – such as improved housing conditions, less crime and anti-social behaviour, as well as improving the image and perception of the area – if licensing was introduced.

Councils can introduce licensing under the Housing Act 2004, to tackle issues such as low housing demand, significant anti-social behaviour, poor property conditions, migration, high levels of deprivation or high levels of crime.

The consultation which runs until Sunday 5 April is available on online at www.sandwell.gov.uk/salconsultation
The results will be reported back to the council’s Cabinet later in the year.

Drop-in sessions for the public are:
• Tuesday 10 March at West Bromwich Leisure Centre, Moor Street, West Bromwich from 7pm-8.30pm
• Wednesday 11 March at Central Library West Bromwich, 316 High Street, West Bromwich from 12noon-2pm
• Tuesday 17 March at West Bromwich Leisure Centre, Moor Street, West Bromwich from 7pm-8.30pm
• Friday 20 March at Wood Lane Community Centre, 157 Wood Lane, West Bromwich from 4pm-5pm
• Monday 23 March at West Bromwich Job Centre, High Street, West Bromwich from 10am-12noon
• Monday 30 March at Court House – ground floor reception – 3345-337 High Street, West Bromwich 10am-12noon and 4pm-5pm

Meetings for landlords:
• Friday 20 March at Wood Lane Community Centre, 157 Wood Lane, West Bromwich 6pm-8pm


Literature Festival set to launch at Sandwell Libraries

Sandwell Libraries’ Literature Festival gets under way on 14 March, with a range of daytime and evening events across the six towns over the two-week festival.

With a mix of author talks, history fayres, live music and theatre, the festival runs from the 14 to 28 March.

This year, Sandwell Libraries are thrilled to announce Roger Ellory, Mike Gayle and Joanna Toye among the line-up of authors attending. They will be discussing their work and writing experiences and on hand to answer questions and sign books at libraries across the borough.

The festival will open on Saturday 14 March with Confessions of a Cockney Temple Dancer at Thimblemill Library, a funny and visually stunning one-man performance which includes a bedazzling mixture of theatre, dance and film.

Actor Neil Gore will be bringing the novel The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists to life in his one-man magic lantern show at Central Library West Bromwich on Saturday 28 March to close the festival. The well-received theatre production by Townsend Productions brings the 1914 novel, set in the building trades of Edwardian England, to life.
The Whiskey Poets, featuring bestselling author Roger Ellory and Martin Smith (formerly of ELO), will be showcasing their country-blues music at Blackheath Library on Saturday 21 March in a show not to be missed.

During the festival fortnight, there will be two local history fairs which will have guest speakers, stallholders and book signings showcasing the Black Country. Wednesbury Library will be hosting their fair on Tuesday 17 March between 10am-3pm and Smethwick Library on Tuesday 24 March 10am-3pm. There will be different speakers each day so pop into Smethwick Library and Wednesbury Library for a programme of the available talks.

Author Grace Caroline Holte will be appearing at Wednesbury Library and Oldbury Library on Tuesday 17 March as part of the local history talks programme during the festival.

Details of all the events are available in all Sandwell Libraries, on www.sandwell.gov.uk/librariesonline and on the council’s www.discoversandwell.co.uk site.


Half-Term fun at Sandwell Park Farm

There’s lots happening at Sandwell Park Farm in West Bromwich this February half-term.

Take the kids along to meet our animals – including the alpacas, goats, chicks and lambs. Plus we have craft activities on every day during the holidays (Saturday 15 February to Sunday 23 February).

Every day, visitors will be able to:

• 10.30am – Meet the alpaca
• 11am – Chick handling
• 12pm – Feed the lambs (limited spaces)
• 2pm – Meet the farmer
• 2.30pm – Chick handling
• 3.30pm Feed the lambs (limited spaces)

Plus there will be craft activities for children to enjoy and every child will receive a free carton of apple or orange juice.

Visitors can also check out the tearooms for breakfast, lunch, snacks and drinks.

You’ll find Sandwell Park Farm in the heart of Sandwell Valley, West Bromwich – the address is Salters Lane, West Bromwich, B71 4BG.

Admission charges for Sandwell Park Farm during school holidays:
• Adults – £3.50
• Children and concessions (over 60s and visitors with disabilities) – £3
• Family ticket for two adults and up to three children – £14
• Family ticket for one adult and up to three children – £11
Sandwell Park Farm is open almost every day of the year from 10am until 4.30pm. Last admissions are at 4pm.

If you visit regularly, you may benefit from one of our annual passes. We have cut the price of our 12 month passes – giving you 12 months access for the price of six.
• 12 month adult individual pass – £37
• 12 month adult individual concession pass – £27
• 12 month joint pass for two adults – £53.05
• 12 month pass for two adults (concessions) – £42.44
• 12 month family pass (two adults and up to three children) – £68.96

Find out more about Sandwell Park Farm on our website – www.sandwell.gov.uk/sandwellparkfarm


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