Welcome to the WVSC Blog!
We intend to use this platform as a place to highlight the inspiring work that our local voluntary sector organisations, community groups, and individual volunteers carry out across Wolverhampton and the Black Country.
If you would like to be our ‘guest blogger’ and discuss the services your organisation/group provides, or if you have an inspiring volunteer you would like to showcase, please submit an article of no more than 500 words to our Communications Officer at: VJoseph@wolverhamptonvsc.org.uk
Welcome to #OurPlace
Today, we held our first #OurPlace event, and I have to say I found it really inspirational. I never need reminding of this, but if I did, today was a reminder of the wonderful people in Wolverhampton that are doing amazing things that help people to feel valued, included and part of something special in our city.
Not to mention the outcomes they are achieving; such as improved mental and physical health and wellbeing, community cohesion, safer spaces, and so much more.
The event was about connecting, co-producing and collaboration in Wolverhampton. We have a long history of active citizenship in our city, and of working together to make it a more vibrant and inclusive place to be.
#OurPlace brought together some of the people who are at the forefront of building and nurturing community activism for social good. Sam Axtell from The City of Wolverhampton’s Economic Inclusion Team, @economicinclusion, shared information about Make:Shift @makeshiftevent ideas festival, and Maria Billington from Gatis Community @gatiscommunity introduced the latest idea from the Eden Project: Share Fairs.
Sajida Carr and Rosalind Highet from Creative Black Country @CreativeBCuk shared information on how to become a Groundwork Group and the exciting opportunity to work with the arts for up to 12 months.
We were also pleased to welcome a recipient of the Creative Black Country Open Access funding, Arun Bector, exhibiting the work of his mental health group. Sharon Nanan-Sen from WVSC @WolvesVSC shared some suitable funding opportunities available for grassroots projects and offered top tips on successful applications.
We also shared our new Activate Pack, which builds on the work of Lorna Prescott from Dudley CVS @dosticen and @TessyBritton’s Participatory City www.participatorycity.org.
Please follow-up some of these exciting opportunities by following the Twitter accounts and web addresses shared here.
If you want to see all the Tweets from the day, they are here on Storify.
So, enough of what has already happened, what next? I hear you ask. The answer is there is much to get involved with.
We will be bringing further #OurPlace events to a venue near you over the coming weeks and months. These events are an opportunity for people of all ages to come along to find out more, be inspired by imaginative projects from around the world, and importantly connect with people who share their passion, or want to dedicate their time and energies to helping others. Together, we hope that we will all learn, share and build creative solutions to issues that affect us in our neighbourhoods across Wolverhampton.
People who want to start projects will be supported to build their teams, design their project and test their ideas, and where appropriate, to access funding and/or support to take their project forward.
Although not all projects require funding, West Midlands Police and WVSC are working in partnership to run these events to encourage people to get actively involved in projects in their local neighbourhoods, encouraging them to make a positive difference to their communities. WVSC will work with people to develop their projects and apply to the Active Citizens Fund, along with other funding opportunities that may be available to them.
We look forward to meeting with you, and working together on an array of exciting new collaborative projects.
Follow our social media accounts and sign up to our website for information about further #OurPlace events.
Saffi Price, Deputy Chief Executive – Operations.
This article is available for download here: saffi-ourplace-blog
Responding to tough times – Innovation? Flexibility? Impact? Let us know about it
The goal of Wolverhampton’s City strategy is ‘Prosperity for all’, which, the strategy outlines, will be achieved by increasing the number of jobs, the number of local people taking those jobs; by reducing poverty and through people living longer and healthier lives.
We can only achieve that by public, voluntary, community, and private sectors working together, including making best use of all the funding available and combining our collective effort. Business growth is an important part of the solution, but only if local people benefit through being able to live healthy, poverty free, prosperous lives.
Against this aspiration our City Council saw the money it has available reduce between 2010/11 and 2015/16 from £265 Million to £224 Million – a reduction of some 15.5%.
This has been, and continues to be difficult to manage and more cuts may be on the way. Over the same period the largest pot of public funds made available to our sector via the Council has been cut from £2.996 Million, to £1.199 Million – a reduction of some 60%.
The current funding climate has led to some organisations having to close and others operating at a much lower capacity. This is happening at a time when demand for support among local people is rising, not least as government policies in areas such as benefits leads to greater hardship for our most vulnerable citizens. In addition, the unsustainable pressure on our health service will be relieved only with there is an increase in the scale of prevention and early intervention activity, an area where our sector operates so well.
As it has done before our sector is working hard against this background of reduced resources and growing demand and continues to deliver crucial support in flexible and innovative ways, to access alternative funding and to engage effectively with new models and opportunities. In short, despite the austere conditions, our sector continues to be a significant part of the solution to the challenges our City faces
We want you to tell us about the great work that you do and its impact on our communities. Through our website and newsletter we will circulate those stories across the city, including to key decision makers. We will continue to challenge what we see as poor, unfair practices among those with direct access to public funds but at the same time we want to increase the awareness of the great work our local VCS carry out in working towards a city where ‘prosperity for all’ is a reality.
In the spirit of leading by example, I want to share a good and positive model of partnership working that WVSC is involved in:
A consortia of primarily VCOs secured £10.2 Million of funding from the lottery to support young people facing significant barriers to employment on their journeys nearer and into work
WVSC is a non-delivery lead partner, and some £9 Million is being spent with those organisations across the Black Country that provide the support.
Our brilliant consortium has supported almost 700 young people in the last 22 months – 150 have secured employment, and importantly, many hundreds are now more confident, skilled, and healthy.
The Big lottery frequently refer to our partnership as one of the best in the country. Young people are at its heart.
We agreed with the BIG lottery that £8 Million of the Talent Match funding could be used to ‘match’ European funds. This has led to £16 Million being secured for a broader partnership including all those organisation involved in Talent Match, as well as the 4 Black Country Local Authorities.
The Talent Match partnership are using £4 Million of this new money to work intensively with an additional 600 young people. The remaining £12 Million is available for the Black Country Councils to ensure that young people with less complex needs also receive support to move nearer and into employment.
Talent Match is an innovative model, it is a strong collaboration that places young people at the heart of decision making and means that all young people have the chance of a full and prosperous life.
That innovation has been extended to embrace an equal partnership between the Black Country voluntary and public sectors working together for the good of local young people.
We think this is good example of the great work that our sector can carry out.
We want to hear about your examples of the difference that your organisation makes, so that as well as highlighting the negative impact of austerity on our sector and the people we serve, we can share positive stories about our sector’s response!