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Bearwood Gardeners – Gardening Competition

Wow – the entries for 2019 Bearwood’s Front Garden Competition are really coming in thick and fast now, and things are building up to make this their best year ever for their front gardens competition!

The aim of the Competition has always been to encourage and inspire everyone with a front garden, however small, to make that space as green and beautiful as it can be, both for yourself and everyone else walking past. Since the Competition started in 2013, more and more people have been joining in, making walking around Bearwood roads a real pleasure, with so many different and imaginative styles of front garden to admire.

If you haven’t put your entry in yet, please do!

You can enter the competition by emailing, or by dropping your completed entry form off at Thimblemill Library or the Warley Woods shop.

If it’s your first time, don’t forget, they have a special First Timer Award this year, as well as Awards for Most Sustainable and Young Green Fingers (under 16s.)

Entries close on 21 July 2019.

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

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

Five Ways Charities Need to Assess the Ethical Impact of Digital

Data, Digital and Technology (DDT) continues to rapidly transform the ways in which business, government and civil society operate. There is no doubt that it has brought many benefits –  it’s harder to get lost when you have a mobile device with access to Google Maps! But there has been increasing recognition that the consequences of applying DDT without proper review can lead to harm, entrenching or exacerbating existing societal biases.

This has led to an explosion of codes of conducts and principles on how to develop ethical tech products and services. Though this is a good sign that the tech industry has recognised the importance of ethics, this proliferation has created a bewildering landscape for charities wishing to understand the key considerations needed for digital ethics.

So how can you navigate the maze? Here are our five top tips, based on our work with the Association of Medical Research Charities (AMRC) to help their members to discover which ethical principles are relevant to them and how to ask questions of tech partners to ensure they are on board.

1. Understand your environment

So we want to build an ethical digital product or service. How we get there requires us to understand the context in which we operate, so we can tailor our principles to that context. For example, for AMRC members, the context is data and digital health research, by charities and their partners, in the UK. It’s less catchy than just saying ‘digital health’ but it provides a useful frame to explore where other ethical work has been done and what might be different to this particular context. What is the context that you are working in?

2. Don’t reinvent the wheel

AMRC sought to assess what was out there already – rather than simply add to the ever expanding DDT ethics field. In the absence of a perfect fit to the specific context, we aimed to signpost to the most relevant high-level principles. This meant acknowledging what was distinctive, and also common about their context, identifying relevant principles, and connecting them to best practice and existing requirements. Can you use an existing framework?

3. Plan your route

With a clear understanding of our environment, we identified the relevant ethical principles for AMRC members through undertaking a review of literature, speaking with experts working in the field of ethics and AI and speaking with AMRC members who have the deep expertise in the fields they work with and quickly. The field of digital ethics is still evolving and we found people were willing to discuss and share their work. One key finding is that more guidance is needed to help all organisations really embed ethics into practice. Who should you involve?

To read the full Charity Digital News Article click here.

Source: Charity Digital News

Office 365 vs Office Desktop: Which is Really Best for Your Charity?

Software and services of all kinds have been moving to a cloud-based subscription model, and Microsoft have been no exception. But many charities and non-profit organisations are still assessing the benefits and risks of ditching their traditional desktop-based versions of programs like Word, Excel and PowerPoint and embracing Office 365 – Microsoft’s cloud-hosted version. In this article Charity Digital News takes a step back and weigh up some of the pros and cons of Office 365 for charities.

Pro: You can access all the main apps

With Microsoft Office 365 you’ll be able to access all the core productivity apps that belong to Microsoft Office, including Word, Powerpoint, Excel and Outlook, plus some extras. Even the free donated versions of Office 365 (Business Essentials and E1) have access to web-only versions of these apps, along with document storage, sharing and collaboration services like OneDrive, SharePoint and Microsoft Teams. For more on what you get with the different Office 365 Nonprofit versions,  go to the Microsoft website.

Con: You don’t get downloaded apps with the free version

With the free (donated) version of Office 365, all the apps included are browser-only versions, so you may not get access to the full features (plus you will need to have a decent internet connection at all times). You will need to invest in one of the paid subscription Nonprofit plans to be able to download the full version of the apps to your computer.

Plus, the free versions of Office 365 don’t include Access and Publisher. If you need those for your charity, PC users will be able to use Access and Publisher via a paid Office 365 subscription, or you can purchase Access separately through the tt-exchange catalogue.

To read the full Charity Digital News Article click here.

Source: Charity Digital News


Charity Commission Issues Cybercrime Alert for Trustees

The Charity Commission has published an alert for charity trustees with information on how to report cybercrime.

The regulator said the alert comes “amid ongoing prevalent threats, particularly around phishing emails”.

Its alert says that “all charities should be vigilant to the threat of cybercrime and make sure appropriate defences are in place, including raising awareness with their staff and volunteers”.

It adds trustees of charities which have fallen victim to cybercrime, or any other type of fraud, should report it to Action Fraud by calling 0300 123 2040, or by visiting the organisation’s website.

The Commission recommends that charities should also report fraud to them as a serious incident.

“We require prompt, full and frank disclosure of incidents. Serious incident reporting helps us to assess the volume and impact of incidents within charities, and to understand the risks facing the sector as a whole,” it says.

“Where appropriate, we can also provide timely advice and guidance, either to assist individual charities and get them back on track, or to warn the wider sector about prevalent threats.”

The alert directs charities to other sets of guidance already published for charities to help prevent cybercrime.

It says the cost of a cyber breach to a charity can range from £300 to £100,000.

Last month, the government published its Cyber Security Breaches Survey 2019, which revealed that one fifth of charities had experiences a cyber breach last year.

Source: Civil Society

Rebalancing the Relationships Between Large and Small Voluntary Organisations

NCVO are embarking on a new piece of work in partnership with ACEVO and Lloyds Bank Foundation to explore how the relationship between large and small voluntary organisations can be rebalanced, in order to deliver better services, strengthen communities and ensure equity of opportunity across the voluntary sector.

Although the project will consider the wider commissioning environment, it will focus on organisations themselves taking action and ownership over what they themselves can do.

Many providers and experts in public service design have called into question the effectiveness of competitive tendering processes and cost driven outsourcing. The National Audit Office has repeatedly raised concerns about the lack of evidence and risk management in decision making, the impact of cost-cutting contracts on patient safety, and the appropriateness of payment by results. Furthermore, public trust in outsourcing has been seriously damaged by high-profile failures of large providers – most recently including Carillion.

The commissioning environment presents challenges for voluntary organisations of all sizes, but evidence suggests that smaller organisations have a particularly tough time. Due to commissioning and bidding practices, as well as the move towards fewer larger contracts, larger voluntary organisations are more likely to receive government funding.

To read the full NCVO article click here.

Source: FSI and NCVO

Consultation: How The Government Should Take Account of Social Value

At the Social Value Summit the Cabinet Office and DCMS launched a consultation on how the Government should take account of social value in the award of central government contracts.

They welcome your engagement, and engagement with the organisations you represent, with the consultation process. Any responses should be sent to The consultation will close at 11:45pm on 10 June 2019.

Check out their short animation.

Source: FSI

Voluntary National Review: Sustainable Development Goals

As part of Agenda 2030, the UK is reviewing its progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals. This website will share information about the Voluntary National Review and invite people and organisations to share information about their projects that contribute to the UK’s delivery of the Sustainable Development Goals.

Be sure to complete their survey so you can log your own case study.

What’s Happening

The UK is reviewing how it is progressing towards the 17 Sustainable Development Goals in the UK and around the world.

As part of our engagement on the Voluntary National Review we are inviting businesses, civil society groups, academic institutions and many others to participate in a series of events aimed at different sectors throughout March. These events will focus on the themes of our Emerging Findings and Further Engagement document. This is the latest opportunity for interested parties to engage with the UK’s Voluntary National Review.

For more information on how to engage with this process, please follow the link to the Emerging Findings and Further Engagement document by clicking here.

Source: FSI and Gov.UK

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