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:


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.


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/

Volunteers’ Award Evening

Every year during Volunteers’ Week, West Lancashire Volunteer Centre (part of West Lancs CVS) partners with West Lancashire Borough Council and West Lancs CCG to host an annual Volunteer Awards Evening.

This event is always a really special night and is a wonderful opportunity to celebrate the amazing work of the volunteers and the organisations that they support.

Sadly, this year we can’t host our usual awards event, however we would like to take this opportunity to award every single volunteer across West Lancashire with this very special certificate and to say THANK YOU for all that you do!!


Volunteers’ Week is the highlight of our voluntary sector year and despite the Coronavirus pandemic, this has felt like one of the best Volunteers’ Weeks ever because there is a lot to celebrate and be positive about. This year it is more important than ever to celebrate and highlight the dedication and hard work that has been demonstrated all over the borough during this time.

Greg Mitten, Chief Officer at West Lancs CVS says:

“Volunteering is at the very heart of our sector and it is the volunteers’ dedication, hard work and care for our community which inspires us all. In this time of crisis, again, it is the volunteering spirit which has led the way in bringing the community together to support and care for each other. To each and every volunteer, past and present, we say THANK YOU.”


The Mayor of West Lancs makes the evening really special and prestigious by presenting the awards.  This year, Mayor of West Lancashire Cllr Gaynar Owen has recorded a special message of thanks instead.  She has been really moved to hear of the many acts of kindness and is proud of the way local services and the voluntary sector has worked together to take care of people.  Have a listen to her message here:  https://vimeo.com/425536715…


Once again THANK YOU to all volunteers across West Lancashire who make West Lancs a wonderful place to be.

Happy Volunteers’ Week 2020 – we can’t wait until we can see you all in person again!




Image credit:   “Thank you Volunteers cake.” by San José Public Library is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Volunteers’ Week 2020

Today marks the start of Volunteers’ Week 2020 and in these difficult times, volunteers all over West Lancs have risen to the challenge to provide help wherever it’s needed. This year more than ever, we feel it’s important to recognise and celebrate the positive impact that volunteers have on our community.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, there have been lots of neighbourhood initiatives set up to support the vulnerable in our communities. These initiatives rely solely on volunteers, and we send a big thank you to every single volunteer who has stepped up during the last few months.

One of these schemes is Westhead Neighbours helping Neighbours. Here’s what some of their volunteers have had to say:

‘It’s been lovely getting to know my neighbours better and helping some of them in a small way through these trying times. They are thankful and am I grateful to be able to make a difference’.

‘Volunteering in Westhead has provided a wonderful opportunity to make new friendships and work in partnership for the good of others. It has also resulted in a deeper connection with where we live and the people who live here. On a broader level our work has contributed to local strategies relating to health, wellbeing and social isolation and freed up the capacity of key workers to manage the COVID outbreak at this time’.

Getting medications out to people has been a challenge which staff from West Lancs Community Leisure have risen to by becoming medication delivery volunteers.

’24 staff from West Lancashire Community Leisure have volunteered to deliver much needed vital medical supplies to residents in West Lancashire whilst the leisure centres have been closed and the staff are on Furlough. A massive thank you to everyone involved’ (Mark – Serco)

Another organisation that has benefited greatly from their volunteers recently is The Sewing Rooms:

‘We can all agree that all of our West Lancs volunteers have been absolute heroes during the last few months. We are so incredibly inspired by the commitment and talents of our volunteers, their contribution to the Sewing Rooms is immeasurable, especially these difficulties we face through covid19’

Finally, Hesketh Bank and Tarleton Helpers are a local, volunteer led scheme set up to respond to the Covid-19 pandemic. Here’s what all of the volunteers mean to them:

‘Grateful thanks to all the volunteers and people of good-will who are helping out in these strange times. It’s so good to know that so many groups like ours are reaching out to those who need assistance. We are in this for the long haul. Stay well, God bless us, everyone.’

New funding round opens for voluntary groups in West Lancashire

West Lancs CVS is pleased to announce a new round of grants for the local voluntary sector, made possible by funding from West Lancs Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG).

The CCG investment of £100,000 into the West Lancs voluntary sector will create a series of grant pots for organisations to apply into for funding. Groups can apply for projects which use behaviour change approaches to improve health and wellbeing across the three Primary Care Networks (PCN) areas of West Lancashire: Skelmersdale and Upholland; Ormskirk and Aughton; and Burscough, Parbold and the Northern Parishes.

This funding round is a repeat of last year’s grants, when CCG investment first enabled the creation of a grant funding pot for the West Lancs voluntary sector. In that 2018-19 funding round, CCG grants were awarded to a wide range of organisations working to improve health and wellbeing across West Lancs. These included a Connected Counselling service, a partnership involving the Birchwood Centre, Yewdale Counselling Service and West Lancs Bereavement Counselling Service which supports people undergoing counselling locally to also tackle life issues such as debt, housing problems, family problems, thereby enhancing the impact of counselling on the individual. Among the small grants awarded was one to Upholland Scouts for a canoeing project to engage hard to reach teenagers, another to a Wellbeing Cafe in Burscough run by Burscough Community hub, and an innovative outreach project by SWICAN offering welfare rights advice to isolated areas of the Borough.

Greg Mitten, West Lancs CVS Chief Officer says,

‘We are delighted that the CCG has committed to invest in the voluntary sector again this year through these grants. I have no doubt that the projects developed by voluntary, community, faith and social enterprise groups will be highly effective in finding new ways of working in partnership with our community to support health improvement. This is about developing partnership working, utilising our local community assets and thinking ‘outside the box’.

The total grant pot is £100,000 and there are three sizes of funding pots available to local charities and voluntary groups:

  • Funding Application A – Partnership proposals – from £10,000 to £20,000.
    Read the guidance for Fund A and download the application form for Fund A.

  • Funding Application B – Individual grant proposals – from £1,000 to £10,000.
    Read the guidance for Fund B and download the application form for Fund B.

  • Funding Application C – Small Funding Pots – up to £1,000.
    Read the guidance for Fund C and download the application form for Fund C.

The closing date for Funding Application C is 5pm on 20 November 2019

The closing date for Funding Applications A and B is 5pm on 4 December 2019


Larger organisations will be encouraged to work in partnership alongside local smaller organisations, as well as making good use of community venues and services.

If you would like to apply please read the summary document.

Please read the guidance for each pot carefully and adhere to the word limit (use it as a guide to how detailed the answers should be).

If you have any questions please contact Vicky Attwood.