Trustees’ Week – Nov 2nd-6th

As Trustee Week begins, voluntary groups and charities in West Lancashire are looking for special volunteers to help lead their organisations.

Trustees Week (2-6 November 2020) is an annual event to highlight the great work that trustees do and encourage people from all walks of life to get involved and make a difference.

There are different roles in running a charity including the Treasurer who has financial and fundraising skills, the Secretary who provides organisational and administration skills and Chairperson who manages meetings and provides leadership. Between them and the Board of Trustees they make important decisions about running the charity.

West Lancashire Council for Voluntary Service (CVS) currently has 12 opportunities to become a trustee for a diverse range of local charities. It also has over 200 other volunteering opportunities available.

To find out about these roles, or to volunteer as a trustee, contact the Volunteer Centre at CVS on 01695 733737 or email: vc@wlcvs.org

Greg Mitten, CVS Chief Officer says:

“A special thanks to all our West Lancashire CVS trustees past and present and to all charity trustees in West Lancs, Lancashire, the North West and beyond.  Your voluntary roles have always been essential and never more so than in the pandemic.”

Find out more about Trustees’ Week 2020 here: http://trusteesweek.org/

Congratulations to West Lancs Queens Birthday Honours Award recipients

West Lancs CVS would like to join with our voluntary sector colleagues in offering our congratulations to Margaret Highton from Evermoor Community Hub and Stella Connell from The Birchwood Centre for the well-earned and great honour they have received in the latest Queens Birthday Honours Awards.

Margaret Highton was given a British Empire Medal for her work as director of Evermoor Hub, helping people in Skelmersdale.

Chief Executive of the Birchwood Centre, Stella Connell, OBE has been recognised for services to homeless and vulnerable people (based in Skelmersdale, Lancashire).

Celebrating West Lancs CVS Social Prescribing Service

Today is #NationalLinkWorkerDay which showcases and celebrates the impact of Social Prescribing Link Workers and West Lancs CVS would like to offer a huge thank you to its Social Prescribing Service team.

The service which initially began in August 2018 as a small-scale pilot for the Skelmersdale area, has now expanded and covers the whole of West Lancs.

The service has proved invaluable during the pandemic, offering vital support for the most vulnerable people in West Lancashire. The team has focused on delivering support to those who are shielding or are considered ‘extremely clinically vulnerable’ during lockdown. Even though face to face contact has proven a challenge, the team have risen to this and continue to take referrals from GPs.

Recognising that people’s health is determined primarily by a range of social, economic and environmental factors, social prescribing seeks to address people’s needs in a holistic way. It also aims to support individuals to take greater control of their own health (King’s Fund 2020).

West Lancs Social Prescribing aims to connect people back into their community.​

Greg Mitten, Chief Officer of West Lancs CVS said: “Thank you to all our West Lancs Social Prescribing Team, it’s been a privilege to witness how hard everyone has worked from the start of the pilot in Skelmersdale, through to the extension of the service across West Lancashire and most recently in their work during the pandemic alongside NHS , local authority and voluntary sector colleagues to support the ‘shielded’ members of our community. The voluntary sector, CCG Commissioners, GP practices, NHS and Local Authorities are working in partnership to maximise the positive benefits Social Prescribing supports. Social prescribing supports these benefits because it recognises the gifts, skills and capacities of individuals and the power of connected communities”.

To find out more about the service, check out our Social Prescribing page or contact the Development & Strategic Lead, Jacqui Sutton on jacqui@wlcvs.org

Volunteers step up for medicine delivery

When national lockdown started in March, one of the immediate challenges in West Lancs was to get essential medications out to people who were shielding or vulnerable.  It was a challenge taken on by staff from West Lancs Community Leisure who, having been furloughed from their leisure centre jobs, stepped up to become medication delivery volunteers.

Mark from Serco says ’24 staff from West Lancashire Community Leisure volunteered to deliver much needed vital medical supplies to residents in West Lancashire whilst the leisure centres were closed and the staff are on furlough. A massive thank you to everyone involved’.

Later in the Spring, as lockdown began to ease and it was apparent that the Serco staff would need to return to their work at local leisure centres, West Lancs CVS took on this vital role and stepped in to recruit more volunteers to take their place.

In anticipation of the switchover and to ensure a smooth transition, CVS recruited a total of 36 volunteers during May, from which 18 were trained up online by the CCG and then DBS checked by CVS.  Initially they started working alongside the Serco staff in June so they were fully ready to take over when Serco staff had to return to their jobs in July.

Jill Bradley, Operations Manager at CVS says,

‘the Volunteer Medicine Delivery work is a shining example of what can be achieved when voluntary, public and private sectors work together in conjunction with the wonderful volunteers of West Lancashire.  We are proud to have taken on this essential role and to continue Serco’s work of coordinating and managing the volunteer team throughout July and August’.

Jan Howard, Volunteering Officer at the CVS’s Volunteer Centre says:

‘We were delighted to be able to help and to see the fantastic commitment and skills of West Lancs volunteers put to such good use.  They rose to the challenge magnificently – as they always do!’

Sport England Tackling Inequalities Funding

From Active Lancashire:

The recent lockdown measures have led to some challenges for some people to be physically active and there is evidence of increasing inequalities in participation relating to certain groups of people. Sport England is keen to tackle these emerging inequalities and as such have made some funding available for community organisations to help keep people physically active. West Lancashire Community Leisure Trust has kindly agreed to match this Sport England funding to provide additional support to help get the communities of West Lancashire active. As a result of this, Active Lancashire is seeking applications from community organisations that can help get or keep people from the following groups physically active:

  • BAME (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic)
  • People with a disability or long term health condition
  • People with low levels of income

In partnership with Sport England, West Lancashire Community Leisure Trust, West Lancashire Borough Council and West Lancashire CVS, Active Lancashire are looking to distribute £14,250 in grants to community groups that can engage the target groups in physical activity.

The funding is a ‘here and now’ fund to keep people in any of the groups above physically active or help get people that aren’t currently doing any activity active. Organisations applying for funding should therefore be in a position to start project delivery within a week or two of a funding decision. The funding is designed to recognise the challenges that some organisations might be currently facing and as such is not just about funding new activities. Organisations that are currently delivering physical activity, who are facing financial challenges due to the current circumstances can apply for funding to support and maintain existing activity.

Applications for funding should be needs led and clearly demonstrate the requirement for the funding and how it will benefit one of the specified target groups.

Funding can be used for a range of things including staff costs, training costs, rent/facility hire, utility costs, IT costs and Insurance.

In order to apply organisations must have a recognised constitution in place and be not for profit. Private or for profit organisations and sole traders are not eligible to apply for this funding.

Organisations can apply for funding from a minimum of £50 up to a maximum of £10,000. We would however encourage organisations not to apply for more than £3,000, so that we can fund a range of projects across the area and provide a variety of support to the communities of West Lancashire.

The deadline for applications is Monday 20 July 2020 and we hope to inform successful applicants by Monday 3 August 2020.

If you would like to make an application to this fund, please complete the application form which can be found by following this link:

https://www.activelancashire.org.uk/tackling-inequalities…

Please direct any questions regarding this funding opportunity to Paul Blythin at Active Lancashire – pblythin@activelancashire.org.uk

Black Lives Matter

At West Lancs CVS, we support an equal society for all. We know that more needs to be done to create a diverse and inclusive society and that’s why we will continue to work with colleagues from across all sectors and with people living in our communities to stand up for what we believe in. Our thoughts are with the family of George Floyd and with every person and community impacted by prejudice. We stand against racism, now and forever.

As part of our work around equality and diversity, we link with the Lancashire Association of CVSs, which includes the Lancs BME Network and we will be joining with members to think about how we take this work forward.

West Lancs CVS team

 

 

Photo credit: “Black Lives Matter” by seikoesquepayne is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Mary Walker – a lifetime of work and volunteering for the voluntary sector

We are very sad to join with The Birchwood Centre today to announce that Mary Walker passed away peacefully at home over the weekend.

Mary had been a long-term trustee of West Lancs CVS, The Birchwood Centre, Disability Advice West Lancs and many other West Lancs charities over many years. Mary’s contribution to our sector as a volunteer and trustee followed on from her career working to support communities in different parts of the world before taking up roles with the CVS and other projects in West Lancs.

Anita Abram, former West Lancs CVS Trustee colleague of Mary recalled,

“I never knew anyone more committed to the voluntary sector, to the communities she worked with around the world and to volunteering in her retirement. I don’t recall a time when Mary wasn’t around doing her bit for West Lancashire and for Skelmersdale, never afraid to stand up for what she believed to be right. She will be very much missed and talked about for years to come!”

In remembering Mary, Stella Connell of the Birchwood Centre said,

“Mary will be sadly and dearly missed by all her friends and colleagues at Birchwood, she was an inspiration to all she came into contact with and to me personally. We will remember Mary with fondness and for her tireless energy and lifelong commitment in her endeavour to make the world a better place”

At this point no details are known about the funeral arrangements for Mary. The COVID-19 crisis may limit the number who can attend, however, Greg Mitten, Chief Officer of West Lancs CVS, and Stella Connell, Chief Executive of The Birchwood Centre, would like to invite people to a future event to be planned for less restrictive times as ‘a celebration of Mary’s work’ alongside that of the other VCFS staff and volunteers we have lost in recent times.

beacon

West Lancs Together: Helping vulnerable people

When the Covid-19 pandemic caused the country to grind to a halt, West Lancs CVS joined with West Lancashire Borough Council, and all other local health and community partners to launch a new local support system called West Lancs Together to offer support to those most vulnerable within the borough.

West Lancs Together provides a free helpline from West Lancashire Borough Council to support anyone feeling vulnerable or isolated at this time.  This helps to connect people to the right support whether they need help with daily tasks, such as getting food, collecting prescriptions or a friendly voice over the phone.

Since being set up in April, West Lancs Together volunteers have stepped up to assist with food and medication delivery, providing support and advice or simply being a friendly listening ear over the phone.

Greg Mitten, Chief Officer of West Lancs CVS says:

“West Lancs Together reflects the incredible way the public, private, voluntary, community, faith and social enterprise agencies can come together quickly to work alongside our community in order to provide support to those most vulnerable during the pandemic. West Lancs CVS has been privileged to witness, be part of and support this great wave of voluntary endeavour which has come together during the COVID-19 crisis and demonstrated once again the key role volunteers play in our community”.

Here’s what Meg Pugh from West Lancs CCG said about the wonderful community spirit of West Lancashire:

“The pandemic has brought about collaborative working like never before and the West Lancs spirit has shone through across the community. Despite the extremely challenging time we find ourselves in, we have been blessed with many volunteers who have given up their time away from their own homes and families to give back to neighbours and strangers with life’s essentials such as food and medicine. While we remain in a state of emergency and recognise this hard work continues, we would like to express our thanks and gratitude to volunteers and to anyone who has expressed kindness to others as this time”.

The West Lancs Together support line number is 0800 616 667. Opening hours: Monday – Sunday 7am-7pm.

(This offer of help and support is for those people who have been identified by the NHS as being at risk of severe illness if they contract COVID-19 and have been asked to isolate themselves (referred to nationally as ‘shielding’) for a period of at least 12 weeks as well as any other vulnerable person in the borough).

Benefits of volunteering

In this year’s Volunteers’ Week, we would also like to focus on some of our amazing organisations across West Lancashire, who rely upon volunteers to continue the vital work they do for the community – not just in these unprecedented times but year after year.

Each year we hold an annual volunteer awards evening in partnership with West Lancs Borough Council and this event provides a great opportunity for organisations to thank their volunteers. As this is currently not possible, we would like to share some quotes from some of our member organisations about the massive impact that volunteers have on their day to day work.

Our first organisation is Home-Start – a local community network of trained volunteers and expert support helping families with young children through their challenging times.   Homestart says:

‘Volunteers provide friendship, mentoring, solutions and support to families and are often there when no one else is.  They are the backbone of our family support service and a lifeline for families.’

Tanhouse Morris Dancers has been running in Skelmersdale for 50 years, a major achievement in itself!.  Angela Eadie says

‘Volunteers are our lifeblood – we would not run without them as a non-profit group.  Thank you to them all!  Most of our volunteers are dancers, ex dancers or relatives.  As a volunteer myself, seeing the dancers thrive is a huge reward’.

West Lancs Ark offers a free advice and advocacy service to members of the community who maybe homeless, unemployed,ex-offenders or substance misusers.  West Lancs Ark says:

‘It’s hard to find the words to explain how much we value our volunteers.  They work hard, give their time, energy and skills to support both us as an organisation and our service users.  Thank you in not enough!’

 

Not only do volunteers provide massive help to the organisations they volunteer with, they also get a lot out of the experience personally.  Debbie is one of our CVS volunteers working with the Social Prescribing Service.  She says:

‘Volunteering has brought a new dimension to my life.  After leaving my paid job, I felt detached and a bit useless as I like to be involved and interact with people.  Volunteering here has brought purpose back to my life.  I feel I can make a small contribution and that’s all we can do – one phone call may seem like a drop in the ocean but the ocean is made up of many drops of water….’

Finally, a volunteer at local advice organisation SWILCAN echoes Debbie’s thoughts about volunteering:

‘Volunteering for an organisation like SWLICAN allows me to ensure anyone in a similar situation to myself never has to go through the isolation, fear and hopelessness you feel when trying to navigate the welfare system we are faced with.

This has morphed somewhat over the years to being an integral part of who I am. The small contribution I make has allowed me to grow as a human, to feel better about myself and to know I am making a difference – something I would never have achieved if I had not taken the plunge and made volunteering a large part of my life’

 

To all volunteers past, present and future – we THANK YOU from the bottom of our hearts!

And don’t forget that if you are a volunteer involving organisation and you would like some support with actively recruiting new volunteers, we have a fully accredited Volunteer Centre that can support you.

Please email vc@wlcvs.org for more information or see our website:  http://www.wlcvs.org/homepage/services/volunteering/