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Call to Promote Take-up of Covid-19 Vaccinations

Work is now underway to deliver Covid-19 vaccinations across the country in what is being called the biggest immunisation programme in history. Staff and volunteers from the NHS, local authority and voluntary sector are all involved in a combined effort to bring closer the end of the current pandemic through protecting our population from the virus. A call is now going out across Sandwell to ensure that every person in our borough has the opportunity to benefit from this vaccination.

We know from experience that take up of seasonal flu vaccinations in Sandwell is often lower than other areas and that several challenges get in the way of residents accessing vaccinations. We also know that our local Voluntary and Community Sector (VCS) is excellently placed to help with the vaccination effort – in fact, the involvement of VCS organisations will be absolutely essential to ensuring that everyone in Sandwell understands the opportunity that vaccination presents and can take up the offer.

SCVO, Sandwell Council and Sandwell Public Health would like to support your VCS organisation to get involved. We know many community groups and voluntary organisations are already doing what they can to encourage, inform and support residents accessing vaccinations and others are making plans to do so. We are particularly looking to engage our faith and community leaders, who are able to reach those in our communities who are more vulnerable to Covid-19.

Activities vary widely, but can include:-
• Proactive calling or writing to service users or local community members encouraging take-up of the vaccine, or doing this in the course of current activities
• Culturally appropriate messaging or sharing information about vaccinations in different languages
• Practical help to support people accessing the vaccination programme
• Focus groups and consultation with the communities to ensure that issues and fears about the vaccine or Covid-19 can be fed back.

To ensure no residents are missed out, we are looking to form an accurate picture of what VCS organisations across Sandwell are doing, or are planning to do, to support vaccination take-up. Consequently, SCVO would appreciate hearing from you about your activities – specifically what you are doing/ have done, how many people will be/ have been reached, and who your target audience is. Please email us your information at

To support this, a new strand of the current Vision 2030 grants programme has been created which will enable applications to be made for small grants which can meet expenses (which are not already being met by existing funding) for future planned activities. For further information, please send a brief outline of your plans and expenses requests to Liz Webster at

Sandwell Public Health team remain on hand as ever also to support with information, guidance and resources for your organisation, staff and volunteers. Please contact Katie Deeley at for further information.


Go Play Sandwell – New Year, New Go Play Sessions

From the 18th January to the 12th February, join us online for your FREE term time Go Play Activity Session via Zoom!  These sessions are suitable for families aged 5 – 12 years (up to 16 years with SEND)

Take part Every Monday – Friday from 1.00pm to 2.00pm – we have LIMITED spaces available, so its important to book online no later than 24 hours prior to the session.  All Zoom sessions are password protected and are facilitated by 2 staff members.

You can find more information from our website – 

Our themes play videos activities are suitable for children aged 5+.  Look out for the daily videos on our social media at 5pm @GoPlaySandwell.  For more information e-mail or TEXT (Only) “Call Back” to 07984388558.

Kaleidoscope’s Complimentary Wellbeing Taster Workshops

In order to support businesses and their employees during this difficult time in lockdown, Kaleidoscope are currently offering on-line Complimentary Wellbeing Taster Workshops.

The workshops consists of Mental Health and Wellbeing Training, including Mental Health First Aid; Mental Health for Managers; Menopause Awareness and Mindfulness, along with a wide range of other options which can be tailored to suit your needs and requirements. The Trainers are happy to discuss your options in more detail and are now able to book spaces up to December 2021.

The following on-line workshops are being offered in January:

• Staying well while working from home. Tuesday 26th January, 10 am -12 pm
• Mindfulness – An Introduction. Tuesday 26th January, 6 pm – 8 pm
• Staying well during a lockdown. Thursday 28th January, 1 pm – 3 pm
• Supporting family and friends with mental ill health during a lockdown. Thursday 28th January, 6 pm – 8 pm.

If you would like to know more about the training packages, please email or call 0121 565 5605.


On-line Workshop to Prevent Radicalisation available to Community Groups

Sandwell Council are pleased to be able to offer community groups the opportunity to receive a free workshop from provider Nicola Benyahia. Nicola is an accredited counsellor who lost her son to radicalisation in 2015 as he fought for ISIS in Syria and sadly died whilst in the process of being de-radicalised.

Nicola set up her organisation, Families for Life, as a result of this experience, and she now runs workshops about online safety, boundary setting, communication, healthy relationships and mental health – all of which are of huge importance during this current lockdown.

The workshops aim to provide empowerment and resilience-building and Nicola can tailor her sessions to match the needs. of your group.  The session can be delivered either to the members of your group, or as training for your staff.

Given the current situation, sessions will take place online, so you must be able to access online video platforms such as MS Teams, Skype or Zoom. Sessions typically last an hour and are free for community group to access. However, places are limited so it will be first come first served.

For further information, or to book a session, please contact Lauren Bond on 0121 569 2894 / 07739489241 or email

Community Buildings and Lockdown 2020 Experiences – Report

“How many of us had “pandemic” in our risk register?” is the question posed (and answered) in a new report compiled by Community Matters (providing support to the voluntary and community sector across Yorkshire).

‘Community spaces (buildings)’ meet a wide range of needs – from learning opportunities to gardening programmes, from hosting birthday parties to voting in local elections … and everything in between. They are an integral part of our society.

The first lockdown in 2020 hit everyone extremely hard – we were confined to our homes and such ‘community spaces’ were only allowed to open to provide essential support – foodbanks, pre-schooling for the children of emergency workers etc. It is, therefore, no surprise that such ‘spaces’ have felt the significant impact of the lockdown, still are doing and will do for some time to come.

So, how are such ‘spaces’ able to play their part in the post-COVID recovery when they have seen their trading incomes decimated but local needs hugely increased?

The report sets out to look at these issues and you can request your copy by following this link: Community Buildings Report

Citizens Advice Budgeting Buddies Project

Citizens Advice Sandwell & Walsall have received a financial grant from the British Gas Energy Trust to fund a Budgeting Buddies Project. The initiative aims to help residents of Sandwell and Walsall gain control of household finances and assist them in avoiding energy debt. The project will not only help clients financially and practically but improve mental health and wellbeing.

Support Workers, known as Financial Capability Advisers, will work with clients to give practical advice and deliver hands-on support. They will help them to have confidence in financial decision making, managing money and give invaluable support to people impacted by fuel poverty and energy debt, as a result of the pandemic.

Many families were struggling prior to the pandemic and now face even further hardship. Financial Capability Advisers will work with families to react to their immediate issues and change in circumstance and, equally important, they will stay with families to help them remain financially in control for the future.

Budgeting Buddies will be able to help with:
• Making savings with everyday bills
• Benefit checks
• Energy saving tips and grants available
• Budgeting
• Debt – signposting into our debt team
• Understanding bills
• Form Filling & Digital Literacy

Budgeting Buddies Referral Form

To find out more please email

Windrush Compensation Scheme Helpline

The Windrush Compensation Scheme came about as Commonwealth citizens, despite living and working the UK for decades, were told that they were in the UK illegally, because of lack of official paperwork.

Do you know anyone entitled to claim but finding it difficult to navigate through the process? The Windrush Help Team and Claimant Assistance Helpline can help.

The Helpline is open, 9 am to 5 pm, Monday to Friday. Call 0800 678 1925.  The Team is able to:

• Help people to apply for documentation to confirm status. Applications are free of charge.
• Provide trusted help and advice, via the Vulnerable Persons Team, where safeguarding and vulnerability issues are identified.
• Refer individuals who require assistance to complete their compensation claim to a Claimant Assistance Provider.
• Information is treated in the strictest confidence.

Find out more about how the Team can help Claimants.

You can have send an initial email to Shanice at

Go Play Sandwell

Go Play Sandwell have been providing virtual support to families around Sandwell throughout the pandemic. There current virtual offer provides a variety of activities, games and much more!

Included in the virtual offer is daily content posted onto the Go Play Sandwell social media pages. This consists of themed play video activities such as ‘Munch Mondays’ and ‘Travel Tuesdays’ and are suitable for children aged five plus to follow. The videos are  posted daily at 5 pm on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter (@goplaysandwell).

Additionally, play resources are posted on social media at 1 pm. The play resources include crafts, quizzes and games for families to have a go at in their own time. These can also be found on the Go Play Sandwell website, where you can also book onto the free Zoom Go Play sessions via this link.

The Zoom activity calls are fun, engaging and provide a range of crafts and activities for children to take part, whilst in a safe environment with Go Play staff.

The sessions take place from Monday to Friday 4 pm – 4.45 pm &  5 pm – 5.45 pm, as well as two sessions on Saturday mornings 11 am – 11. 45 am & 12 pm – 12.45 pm.

As well as this, the Go Play team are delivering exciting Winter Wonderland Zoom sessions from 21st to 23rd December. These sessions are going to be Christmas/winter themed and consist of a variety of activities.

There are limited spaces available so it’s important to book online no later than 24 hours prior to the sessions.

For more information please email

YMCA Open Door Christmas Appeal

It is a really daunting experience for any 16 or 17 year old who has experienced family breakdown and is potentially at risk of homelessness. During this Christmas, whilst we are still in the midst of a Pandemic, the YMCA are asking that you take a moment to consider the needs of young people in a crisis situation.

The YMCA believes that all young people deserve a safe place and a homely environment in which they can thrive.  That is the aim of the Open Door programme.

There are over 80 Host families across the Black Country, who have received training from the YMCA and provide a warm and welcoming environment for young people. During the 11 years the scheme has been operating, YMCA have helped hundreds of people progress into independence and employment. They have also seen dozens of young people progress on to university.

In this challenging time, the organisation is appealing to the goodwill of people to consider providing a safe place for a vulnerable young person.

Hosts receive over £100 per week for providing Supported Lodgings: a longer term arrangement which can last years or a short-term Emergency Night stop, which usually last a few days or at most, a few weeks.

Please get in touch with the YMCA if you can help. Speak to Jonathan, Host Coordinator, on 0121 524 3255, or e-mail



Sandwell Outreach Recovery Team: There to Help

Working in the charity sector, Kaleidoscope know that it is not only at Christmas that people experience hard times. Organisations are supporting families who are struggling. Struggling to put food on the table or heat their own homes.

The Kaleidoscope Plus Group would like to remind you their SORT Team are there to help you and your clients. The SORT team are looking for fresh referrals over Christmas to help people work towards a Happy New Year.

The Sandwell Outreach Recovery Team supports people with poor mental health who have ongoing housing issues. The Team work closely with partners such as statutory mental health services, housing associations and Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council housing team, to improve the quality of life for clients. Support includes assessing whether clients are receiving the correct welfare and benefits and helping them to budget and manage income and outgoings effectively. Long term support can be provided for up to two years.

Not sure if your client would be eligible? Please contact Kaleidoscope on 0121 565 5605 for a chat. Depending on a client’s individual need, you will be sent a referral form for SORT or signposted to another service.

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