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Development of Greets Green Learning Hub

In partnership with Sandwell Early Years, Veolia Environmental Trust and Enovert Community Trust, the Confederation of Bangladeshi Organisations (CBO) Ltd is developing a new modular building, called the ‘Learning Hub’, which will house the new Green Garden Community Nursery. Construction work will commence in April 2018.

This new project aims to create a one-stop shop and community hub at the heart of Greets Green and West Bromwich.

The project will cost in the region of £150,000. The bulk of the funding is coming through the Landfill Communities Fund. This lets landfill operators distribute a proportion of their landfill tax bill to community and environmental projects in areas where they operate.

The Veolia Environmental Trust have awarded £75,000 through the fund and Enovert Community Trust £40,000. The remaining £35,000 will be funded by Sandwell Early Years – Capital Grant funding.

In 2011 CBO took over the management of Greets Green Resource Centre (GGRC), a former housing office, from Sandwell MBC and transformed the building into modern and vibrant community facilities. Over 6,000 people use the Greets Green Resource Centre each year, benefitting from a wide range of activities including advice (in 2017 the Resource Centre’s advice team secured £1.3m of financial welfare benefit gains for local residents), health and wellbeing activities, sports and recreational activities, and other community development initiatives.

In 2017 CBO completed the development of Greets Green Play area to the rear of Greets Green Resource Centre consisting of; a Multi-use Games Area (MUGA), a children’s play area and a community garden.

Shabud Ullah, Manager said: ‘We are very delighted and grateful to our funders and partners Sandwell MBC, Veolia Environmental Trust and Enovert Community Trust for funding this unique project which will be first of a kind in the area. Greets Green Learning Hub will attract and benefit wider community. We have been planning this project over the last two years and engaged key partners, stakeholders, local residents and grass roots organisations/groups who will be empowered to play pivotal role in overseeing the management and delivery of the project’.

Angela Haymonds, Trust Secretary for Enovert Community Trust, said: ‘The Trustees were delighted to fund this project, which will provide a wide range of activities to assist and support isolated and vulnerable people in the local community.’

Consultation on Sandwell Reducing Reoffending Strategy

Local Voluntary and Community Sector organisations in Sandwell are being invited to share their views on a draft document that will form the basis for a ‘Black Country Reducing Reoffending Strategy 2018-2021’.

Draft Black Country Reducing Reoffending Strategy Consultation

Working in partnership with other agencies from across the Black Country area will allow a coherent joined up response to reducing reoffending, whilst allowing flexibility for each individual area to focus on addressing local issues which contribute to reoffending behaviours.

Strategic priorities have been identified by looking at a range of data, trend analysis and neighbourhood concerns across the Black Country area.

The priorities identified are:
Prevention: Early identification and intervention to prevent offending and re-offending
Reoffending: Strengthening pathways to prevent the cycle of reoffending
High Risk/Volume Crime: Management of high risk offenders and targeting of key cohorts to reduce volume crimes.

You are invited to feed in your views on the anticipated outcomes and plans under each priority. This is your opportunity to influence the response to crime and community safety delivery in your area.

You can complete the survey online, download a survey [613kb] to complete, or you can email

You can respond individually or on behalf of a group that has met to discuss these plans and wishes to put forward a collective view.

The consultation will end on 8th May 2018.

Pub Saved by Locals Serves First Pint After Reopening

Punters chipped in more than £1m to stop Packhorse Inn in Somerset being turned into flats.

A 15th-century pub near Bath that was saved from being turned into flats after residents raised more than £1m has served its first pint after reopening.

Almost 500 residents chipped in to buy the Packhorse Inn in South Stoke, Somerset, from property developers who had bought it six years ago.

Dom Moorhouse, the project lead with the Save the Packhorse team, said it was the biggest community pub buyback project in British history. “I think people got stuck in because they wanted to save a beautiful old building, but also because they did not want to lose a place of social connection,” he said.

The pub’s rescue was partly made possible by the 2011 Localism Act, which allows communities to apply to their local council to have a building listed as an “asset of community value”.

If the owner of a listed asset then wants to sell, a moratorium period is triggered during which it cannot be sold. The period gives community groups time to develop a proposal and raise the necessary funds to bid for the property.

In March 2012, the Packhorse Inn was first put up for sale by Punch Taverns and sold to the highest bidder, who revealed plans to turn it into a residential property.

But the village formed a committee with the aim of buying the pub back, and the act allowed them a period of time to gather funds.

To read the full The Guardian Newspaper news Article click here.

Charities Lose Out After 750 Clothing Banks Disappear

Charities have lost out on hundreds of thousands of pounds after 750 clothing banks were stolen over the past year, according to the Textiles Recycling Association.

The TRA, the infrastructure body for the textiles recycling industry, told BBC programme 5 Live Investigates that there are around 15,000 charity clothing collection banks, each of which raises around £70 a week for charities, and that up to 20 a week are being stolen.

It costs up to £1,500 to replace a bank, and takes six to eight weeks.

The TRA said that in some cases clothing banks are moved to new locations and painted with the logo of another charity.

Its investigators have removed 200 clothing banks, placed in supermarket car parks without permission and repainted with the logo of another charity, Helping our Future, which is under investigation by the Charity Commission.

A spokeswoman for the Charity Commission said: “The Commission is examining the charity Helping Our Future as part of a regulatory compliance case.

“We have serious concerns about its management and activities, and are examining trustees’ oversight of the charity, its relationship with third parties, including commercial fundraising companies, and whether the charity’s management and operations have given rise to inappropriate benefit on the part of private individuals or companies.”

The charity denied any wrongdoing to the BBC. Civil Society News has contacted the charity to ask for comment.

The BBC reported that a company which says it acts for Helping Our Future told the BBC: “We are an associated contractor to HOF Trading Limited which is the logistical partner to Helping our Future Charity.

“We are contracted to abide by a written protocol which prevents us from carrying out any criminal activity and bringing any holistic partner into disrepute.”

Source: Civil Society

Unlicensed Clothing Collections Costing Charities Millions

The majority of charity clothing collections across the UK are unlicensed, according to a complaint to the Fundraising Regulator – something which could be costing the sector tens of millions.

A special feature on clothing collections appears in today’s issue of Fundraising Magazine. As part of that feature Michael Lomotey, director of charity bag collection company Clothes Aid, told Fundraising Magazine “more than 60 per cent” of all charity bag collections undertaken in the UK are being done so by unlicensed “bogus operators”.

Lomotey said his staff had personally witnessed hundreds of unlicensed collections, many involving criminal activity. This suggests that many thousands of unlicensed collections are taking place each year.

The charity sector made tens of millions from the sale of collected clothes last year. If fraudulent collections are at the scale Lomotey suggests, they could be costing the sector more than £100m a year. The British Heart Foundation has previously estimated that its losses alone were as much as £3m a year.

Clothes Aid said “bogus operators” could be costing its 12 charity partners more than £1.1m a year in lost income. Problems include bogus collectors pretending to distribute charity bags, unlicensed partnerships in which collectors take advantage of smaller charities, and outright theft of legitimately distributed bags. The problem is growing worse as the price of recycled clothing, or rag, continues to rise.

But charities have complained for a long time that regulators, councils and the police are failing to enforce the law. There are also concerns that charity clothing collections are being run by organised criminals.

Clothes Aid said its operators witnessed many “criminal incidents” and there are concerns that bogus clothing collections may be using slaves trafficked from Eastern Europe, following an arrest in the North East earlier this year. The Textile Recycling Association has warned that clothing crime “is a national issue” and has called for a register of licensed collectors. But Lomotey said that little has changed with regards to cracking down on unlicensed operators, since Clothes Aid wrote to the Fundraising Regulator in January last year. –

To read the full Civil Society article click here.

How to Measure Your Impact Effectively

Julia Grant, chief Executive of Pro Bono Economics, looks at the importance of impact evaluations and why it should become integral to the entire philanthropic model.

“What is impact evaluation for and what’s the benefit for the people I want to help?” Charity leaders often ask me those two big questions. They are right to consider their priorities: resources these days are tightly stretched and impact questions continue to generate headlines.

“I think there needs to be a national conversation around the complexity [of calculating impact],” said Lee Middleton in Civil Society last year. Managing director of the National Youth Agency and a former local government commissioner, he pointed out that charities are reluctant to commit to demanding bespoke assessments. Meanwhile, Amy Cross, a Blackpool Councillor, explained how local charities that lack a full impact rationale are losing contracts to organisations which are larger and better resourced, but also far less expert at handling local problems.

As public funds get further squeezed, the winners will be the charities that can show they make a difference. But smaller charities, in particular, find it hard to prove how they generate value with each pound they receive and spend. This reflects the discussions that Pro Bono Economics has with charity leaders. The vast majority of them – 86 per cent, in fact – admit to struggling with demonstrating impact. They accept its importance, but their immediate focus is on helping clients, raising money and paying salaries. When it comes to impact evaluation, they often do not know how best to start.

Fortunately, over its nine years of existence, Pro Bono Economics (PBE) has learned a few things that might prove useful. As our name suggests, we harness the potential of economics to help charities understand impact. Our project teams are built around professional economists working on a voluntary basis, and the emphasis is on efficient allocation of charities’ resources.
Economists often draw the analogy of cutting up a cake, so if you’re looking to get your fair share of the funding cake, what are the basic ingredients for impact evaluation? And how will you put them together to produce a successful case for support?

Nail your objectives
Impact evaluation is a business activity and, before you invest in it, you need to be clear on your objectives. It plays a role in delivering strategy and thus needs to be seen in terms of management rather than merely measurement and reporting to funders. Successful charities develop and refine their services continually, so impact evaluation must further your efforts to achieve the best results for the people you serve. It is vital to align your impact objectives with your charity’s declared mission; they will guide you in selecting data to calculate the value of your desired outcomes.

To read the full Civil Society article click here.

New Culture Secretary Pledges to Put Charities ‘Centre Stage’

Matt Hancock, the new Culture Secretary, has pledged that he would “fight to protect and promote” the sector.

Hancock, whose department oversees charities, was speaking at the Charity Commission’s annual public meeting in London.
He was given the top ministerial job at the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport in the recent reshuffle.

“I’m absolutely thrilled to be leading DCMS,” he said. “The department does many things but basically it’s the Department for the Things That Make Life Worth Living.

“This means the arts, culture, sport, and also the ties that bind us in our communities; the charities, faith groups and neighbourhood projects that hold our society together.”

He praised charities “working to fix problems and responding to need, usually on a small, local scale” and those “playing a role in preventing social problems”.

He stressed that he valued the sector and would fight for it within government.

“I pledge today that I will always fight to protect and promote you,” he said. “But I also want to see charities playing a strategic role in our social policy and practice.”

‘We will put charities centre stage’

Hancock said that the new civil society strategy, which is shortly to be formally announced by Tracey Crouch, minister for civil society, would help put the sector “centre stage”.

“We both see this as a major opportunity to set a new direction for UK civil society and to put charities centre stage in local communities and public services,” he said.

“I’m looking forward to working with all of you to help our nation’s incredible charities to strengthen and grow. I pledge that I will be by your side all the way.”

Technology is changing society

Hancock, who has been a longstanding advocate of emerging technology, urged charities to think about the opportunities.
“It’s changing how communities work and opening up new opportunities for our civil society to become yet more effective,” he said.

He also said that social finance and devolution presented opportunities for charities.

To read the full Civil Society article click here.

Local Charity chosen to be UK ambassador for European Project

West Smethwick Enterprise, which runs four pre-schools in the Smethwick area, has been chosen to be the UK ambassador to develop guidance for European governments on the subjects of child poverty, migration and integration, to help inform government policies after 2020, when the UK will no longer be part of the European Union.

This two-year project will see staff from West Smethwick Enterprise working on projects with counterparts from similar organisations based in Germany, Italy, Lithuania and Romania and has been funded by the charity, Caritas.

The Enterprise was chosen from a huge number of possible UK representatives and was selected based on the diversity and inclusiveness of its approach and excellent standards of care and learning.

“This is a real privilege for West Smethwick Enterprise.” said Mrs Sue Raisin Jones, CEO, “social and economic disadvantages for children do not have borders – so it’s absolutely right to come together to provide consistent and evidence-based recommendations to governments across Europe. We are very proud to be the British voice in this project.”

West Smethwick Enterprise’s pre-schools are at St Paul’s Road, Smethwick; Cape Hill Children’s Centre; St John’s, Price Street, Smethwick and Uplands Manor school.

Questions and answers about the European Project

People’s Postcode Lottery Calls On Government To Raise Society Lottery Limits

The People’s Postcode Lottery is calling on the Government to raise the limits placed on society lotteries under UK Gambling Law.

The call comes ahead of Tuesday 12 December parliamentary debate on society lotteries in Westminster Hall.

Fundraising by each society lottery is capped under the Gambling Act – with a £10 million limit on ticket sales each year and a £4 million limit on the value of tickets in a single draw. People Postcode Lottery, which manages 37 society lotteries for a range of causes, is calling on Culture Secretary Karen Bradley MP to change the law by raising the annual sales limit to £100 million and the draw limit to £10 million.

It states that not only do the current limits cap charity fundraising at a time when charitable need is growing, but that they also result in some funds being diverted to additional administration costs instead of to charity. The organisation is also concerned that the current limits are now also reducing the amount each of the individual society lotteries they manage can raise because as the number of ticket sales grow, the number of draws which can take place before breaching the £10 million limit reduces.

Jo Bucci, People’s Postcode Lottery Managing Director, said:
“The policy changes we are requesting will raise more for charity at no cost to the taxpayer or the Government. Society lotteries raise funds for thousands of charities and they could raise much more if these changes are brought in.”

Current legislation is now also having the negative effect of reducing the amount of funds each individual charity lottery that People’s Postcode Lottery manage can raise. That surely was never the intention when the legislation was drafted. This will result in each of these lotteries losing hundreds of thousands of pounds over the next two years – impacting directly on the charities those lotteries support.

“The simple changes we suggest will reduce administration costs, allow each society lottery to raise more for good causes and will simplify this charity fundraising model. That is why we are now calling on Ministers to raise the limits on society lotteries to boost charity funding.”


Source: UK Fundraising

Charities and Councils Being at Loggerheads Won’t Help Local People


Across the country, relationships between the councils and charities seem strained or even, in places, broken beyond repair.

Some commentators attribute this depressing picture to the impact of austerity, as well as the spread of neoliberal politics and a fixation with competitive tendering.

Sadly, there are indeed many instances of misunderstanding and a breakdown in trust between councils and many local voluntary bodies. Some charities feel that councils have disproportionately cut their funding or treat them more harshly when placing contracts, than they would if dealing with local businesses.

The relationship between voluntary bodies and councils has always varied from one place to another. It has often been confused and even contradictory, even though many councillors are themselves trustees of local charities, working with them at council and community/ward levels, and referring residents to them for support and advice.

Some councillors and council officers take offence when local voluntary organisations speak up for their members and beneficiaries. Some councils don’t like being challenged, left out of policy development, or react adversely when a voluntary organisation declines to take on services. Many are wary of recognising local voluntary groups as a legitimate voice of a local community or neighbourhood.

That said, some sound examples of partnership working do exist. Insightful local government leaders know the voluntary sector can complement and contribute to their mission to shape the surrounding community.

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


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