Last night I delivered a presentation to Basildon Borough Council detailing how vital the voluntary sector has been in responding to the challenges and required support which have surfaced since the advent of the Covid-19 pandemic. It is increasingly important that other bodies acknowledge the extremely valuable work we all do in supporting and developing our communities and how we are able to connect and implement positive changes so swiftly. It was a great opportunity to represent our sector and also draw attention to come of the challenges we face in the future. It’s extremely important to be represented and hopefully you can see that at BBW CVS we are doing so in a motivational and proactive way.
I hope you recognise that our service is adapting rapidly and all voluntary organisations, charities and CICs are at the centre of those changes.
Signpost Tendring is currently continuing to support our local unemployed people throughout the Covid-19 crisis, by working remotely with them through our Building Better Opportunities Projects. We are currently enrolling participants onto our HeadsUp project (which supports people with anxiety and depression) and also our Community Connections Essex Project. Both projects will give people a variety of employability skills which will include: CV writing, cover letters, support with applying with jobs on-line and other job seeking skills, along with general support and advice. There is also the opportunity of gaining employability skills in-house certificates.
Our advisors are working from Tuesday to Thursday each week and can be contacted on the following number: 01255 688683 and you can also use the following e-mails:
Beacon, a nonprofit database provider, have created a free eBook to help small charities choose a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system.
Due to the source of the content we expect there to be some bias, but there are some useful tips for any organisation looking to procure a new database system:
1) What kind of data do you need to store?
Think about all the different kinds of data that you need to store and write down a list of them. You’re going to want a system that can handle all the things you need to store. For example:
Key Point: Know what you need from a charity CRM and choose one that’s flexible enough to handle everything
2) How are you taking donations?
Your charity CRM and your donation flow should work beautifully together. There’s no need to pay twice for a donation processor and a CRM – make sure your CRM comes with great-looking donation processing built in. And remember these things to look out for from an online donation processing system:
It should look good and modern
It should come with automated gift aid processing
It should support all the modern payment systems like Apple pay
It should be mobile friendly
Key Point: Make sure your charity CRM comes with a modern donation processing system
3) Who’s going to run the show?
If you choose a very complicated system you’re going to need experts to run it – or you’re going to have to pay for expensive consultants! Choose something that’s really easy to use – and ideally something that’s been built specifically for charities.
Key Point: Your charity CRM should be flexible and easy to use
4) How much can you afford?
It’s worth figuring out exactly what you can afford. There’s a balance between cheap (you get what you pay for, right?) and being charged a fortune by a big corporation. Look for a public pricing page and really clear pricing. Most modern CRMs just charge per user so it’s really easy to calculate.
Key Point: Get pricing information up front and know your budget
5) Try out a bunch of charity CRMs
Make sure you try the systems out yourself – don’t just get a demo! There’s a lot of old, clunky software around that’s been around for ages and it’s slow and hard to use. Modern software should look and feel smooth, easy, and intuitive!
Following easing of Govt local down rules as organisations are starting to consider how to return safely to using their premises Public Health England and the HSE have warned of the risk of Legionella growth in stagnant unused water systems in buildings which have been left unoccupied for weeks or months. Legionnaires’ disease is a potentially fatal form of pneumonia and everyone is susceptible to infection. Don’t assume that because the water system on your premises was previously low risk, it will remain so after a period of disuse.
Employees are being encouraged to help those who may be at risk of domestic abuse by learning the tell-tale signs that show their colleagues could be experiencing it at home.
One in four women and one in six men are expected to be affected by domestic abuse during their adult lifetime and one third of all violent crime in Essex is domestic related.
In response, Alpha Vesta launched a six-month pilot project in January offering bespoke training to businesses and organisations recognising the need to invest in this area for a healthier, happier, safer and more productive workplace and create a culture of understanding.
The organisation has developed a CPD accredited training workshop for workplaces, businesses and organisations to equip them with the skills to understand, recognise and respond to those showing signs that they may be experiencing domestic abuse or using abusive behaviours.
The Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner for Essex (PFCC) contributed £19,980 to the Bridging the Gap project from the 2019/2020 Community Safety Development Fund. As a result, the training is being offered free of charge.
Lucy Whittaker founded Alpha Vesta in February 2019 with an ethos that more preventative work needs to be done before victims and perpetrators of abuse enter the criminal justice system or health and social care sectors.
She said: “It is so fantastic to have the PFCC on board as it gives a massive platform to spread the word about this work. They are dealing with the response to domestic abuse every day; so much resource is being put into it. I have been working on this for such a long time and want people to hear about it.
“I passionately believe in this.”
With the Coronavirus pandemic meaning more people are working from home, the training has been adapted to be delivered online.
Lucy Whittaker said: “I have adapted what is usually a full day’s training into several shorter online sessions.
“The training has been adapted to consider that Coronavirus could be used as a trigger as it threatens the perpetrator’s control. We discuss it as a weapon and how it acts as a barrier to the victim.
“We talk about how important it is now to stay in touch with colleagues regularly, being very conscious of the language you use and being aware a perpetrator could be just out of view of your video call. Being conscious that people may be drinking more at home and struggling with children at home all day are issues to consider. We encourage people to watch the eye contact; are they conscious of time or having to come off the call or out of camera view? I have spoken with one person who was on a video call and noticed slight marks around the other person’s neck. How to approach situations such as this in a safe way are incredibly important things to consider.
“We are not training people to be frontline practitioners. This is about opening our eyes and ears and being savvy enough to notice things, but also to be aware of the risks and knowing not to challenge someone who you suspect may be a victim. Do not look at a situation and assume; what you think you see might not be happening.
“But, simply understand a bit better. Then, if that person does reach out to you, you are in the best position to handle it and understand how to get them the support they need. When people go back to work or school, there are going to be some who are traumatised as they have not been able to reach out. By engaging with this training now, it puts you in a much better position to spot the signs, to know how to talk to them and know very quickly and clearly how to signpost them to help.
“Now is a big time to be learning.”
Jane Gardner, Deputy Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner for Essex, said: “Breaking the cycle of domestic abuse is one of the priorities in our Police and Crime Plan. Working together with partners across the county including businesses and employers, our objective is to help those who suffer in silence and reduce the impact on children and families. This training helps people recognise the signs and indicators of domestic abuse and gives victims confidence that they will get the help and support they need. It really is a great initiative and one that we are proud to support.”
Celebrate Small Charity Week with a Virtual Volunteering Event. In small groups via Zoom, get free expert 1-to-1 advice with media and communications volunteers who can help you with the communications challenge you are facing.
Free webinar with Google Digital Garage providing training on Writing for Social Media. Learn how to create compelling content and develop the right tone of voice. Discover writing techniques to tackle character limits online and how to interact with your audiences.
Time to Change is a growing social movement changing how we all think and act about mental health.
“9 out 10 people have faced stigma in their lifetime due to mental illness”
Too many people are made to feel ashamed or isolated because they have a mental health problem and, for some people, the stigma and discrimination are said to be worse than the mental illness itself.
What Is Being Done?
Essex is home to two Time to Change Hubs – one in the East of the county, and one in the West. Collectively and independently, the Hubs initiate and run regular local activities to challenge mental health prejudice, coming together to maximise impact.
The Hubs also work with employers and schools to help end the negative attitudes and behaviours towards people experiencing mental health problems.
Where Do the Hubs Work?
The East Essex Hub covers all areas located in East Essex including Tendring, Colchester, Braintree, Chelmsford, Maldon, Castle Point, Rochford, Brentwood, Southend and Basildon.
The West Essex Hub works across Epping Forest, Harlow, and Uttlesford.
Time to Change Champions
Time to Change Champions are at the heart of our campaign; our work is Champion led.
Champions use their own experience of mental health problems and talk about mental health whenever they can, including:
Having conversations about mental health with family, friends, or even the postman – and talking about their own lived experiences
Running a Time to Change activity within the community, such as in a café, train station or their workplace
Telling their story online or in the media
Champions can dedicate as much or as little time as they want to the role, there is no time commitment. The Time to Change Hub Co-ordinator is there to help and support Champions with their anti-stigma campaigning.
Full training is provided, and Champions learn skills on how to reduce the stigma around mental health.
Champions can also apply to the Time to Change Champions Fund for a grant of up to £500 to run an anti-stigma event.
If you’d like to find out more about becoming a Time to Change Champion, please contact your local Time to Change Hub.
We are proud to release our evaluation report of a digital inclusion partnership pilot in West Essex, funded by DCMS, involving Citizens online, the Digital Boomers Group, delivered by CVSU, VAEF, Rainbow Services, supported by Your Alcove Ltd, and Acticheck Ltd.
This pilot lasted one year exploring the merits of the Living Smart Homes concept and the Digital Buddies and Learners model, focusing upon the elderly, and those of any age living with a disability, We are extremely proud of the outcomes and learning acquired about the digitally excluded within our communities and how we can reduce the barriers to the lack of inclusion within these cohorts.
I think it strongly proves that digital has a vitally important and relevant part to play within the lives of many of our marginalised and excluded members of our society. Also it shows how it can improve their lives in the sense of being able to connect with the outside world and function easier within your home when coping with other life challenges.
Essex Councils for Voluntary Services (ECVS) are co-ordinating the offer of a small team of Employee Volunteers from Essex County Council with bid-writing experience. These volunteers can help complete funding applications for VCSE organisations in Essex which have been adversely affected by the impact of Covid-19 on their activities and income and are at risk.
If you would like to be considered for this support please complete this Expression of Interest and an ECVS member will be in touch with you to discuss further. This is at present a time limited activity, so we ask that you put your details forward as soon as possible to enable us to assess your requirements against the time, skills and experience of the team providing the support and schedule in as many requests as possible.