The Annual General Meeting 2016 was held on Wednesday 28th September in the very pleasant surroundings of The Palace St Annes. This was a new venue to many of the attendees, many of us having a vague idea of where it was, but still having to ask where exactly where you got into it.
The formal part of the meeting reviewed the activity and financial reports up to 31st March 2016. Following this I gave a review of what has happened up to the present and what the plans are for the future against a background of financial uncertainty and where nationally the picture is of some 80 CVSs having closed or merged during the last couple of years.
In many ways the situation is not a good one. It is with great regret that the Board had to take the decision to make all the staff redundant. This is never an easy decision to have to make particularly with a group of long serving and loyal people. I would like to pay tribute to the work that they have done over many years and wish them well for the future. I am happy to be able to say that many of them will still be working in the sector and in many cases undertaking work for CVS from time to time.
During the last twelve months the Board has reviewed our objectives and we are quite clear that they are representation, liaison, support and development. We are quite clear that this is the core work of the CVS and that we do not wish to run schemes or projects which are best done by our members. All too often in the past we have been involved with a wide range of activities which has often led to the core objectives being left to one side.
The Board has also reviewed the cost base of the organisation. We have sought to reduce our costs as far as possible. The move of offices has reduced many of the overheads by almost two thirds. We are quite clear that we have to refocus CVS to work on a much reduced cost basis. We have a few irons in the fire some of which will hopefully result in income streams enabling specific pieces of work to be done.
We are now looking to build the reputation of CVS as the local third sector infrastructure and hopefully with the help of members this can be achieved. It is after all about members needs and requirements that we exist. In the current financial climate it is more important than ever that the sector as a whole can come together and speak with a unified voice.
This is an exciting moment for the Revoelution project.
In 2015/16 we spent most of our time on the slow and sometimes difficult process of producing a locally-agreed Revoelution Plan.
To carry out this work we set up five themed subgroups: Crime, Young People, Environment, Health and Business. Each of these groups were chaired by local residents with relevant agency representatives attending to provide support and advice.
The final draft of the Revoelution Plan was launched at a public event at Ibbison Court in November 2015, and officially endorsed by the Local Trust in December.
The Plan details a wide range of projects in the central Revoe area over the next two years, including clean-up days, detached youth workers, a community festival and a small grants pot for Revoe-based organisations.
To oversee the implementation of the Plan we have employed a new Revoelution Project Manager, Andy Walker, and we are currently recruiting a project administrator.
Despite difficult circumstances 2015/16 has been a successful year for Blackpool, Wyre and Fylde CVS.
CVS is difficult to fund at the best of times; charitable trusts will only fund charities that deliver benefit directly to people in need, and many explicitly exclude what are known as ‘second tier’ organisations – helping organisations that deliver direct benefit. Meanwhile the Lottery is showing no interest in directly funding third sector infrastructure. Our usual main sources of income have been from public sector grants and contracts, and in the current economic climate this income is simply non-existent.
Of course this situation doesn’t only apply to CVS – the sector as a whole is finding funding harder and harder to come by – but it is notable that over the past two years at least 70 CVSs across the country have closed.
However, through the hard work of the small CVS team and the support of a committed and respected Board, we have continued to provide the Third Sector on the Fylde Coast with four overlapping elements of support – Representation, Liaison, Development and Support.
In this special E Bulletin we would like to provide you with a review of the current activities of Blackpool, Wyre and Fylde CVS.
Sitting alongside our Wyre and Fylde Community Directory is the long-standing CVS Database. Unlike the Directory, which focuses on community-based activities, the Database lists over 900 organisations on the Fylde Coast. The database includes not only contact details but a summary of activities and searchable keywords based on Health and Wellbeing Board categories, and ranges from small community groups to local branches of large national charities and relevant public sector agencies. This is an essential component of CVS’s effective role as contact point and representative for the sector.
Of course, the usefulness of such a database depends on it being up-to-date. CVS have recently received funding via LACVS to carry out a review of our records of Wyre and Fylde organisations to ensure that they are accurate, and we will be recruiting volunteers to carry out similar work in Blackpool over the next few weeks.
We are currently in the process of researching and evaluating different customer relations management systems (CRMs) which will enable more effective use of all activities and engagements the CVS carries out.
Watch this space for news of the shiny refreshed CVS database later this summer!
The NHS nationally are working on ‘New Models of Care’, which include engagement of communities and community-based organisations to improve people’s ability to look after themselves and lead healthier lives.
The Fylde Coast has been given ‘Vanguard’ status, providing extra funding to facilitate the development of these New Models of Care. CVS have commissioned a report from Voluntary Sector North West on the role of the voluntary sector in the Fylde Coast Vanguard programme which will be available on our website shortly. We’ve been working closely with the CCGs not only on our Wyre and Fylde Directory and on consultations via Facebook and the ebulletin, but also on the development of community-based health initiatives like Healthier Fleetwood.
Further details about local New Models of Care proposals can be viewed on the ‘Your Care, Our Priority’ website – www.yourcareourpriority.nhs.uk
Providing one-to-one advice on how to set up and sustain a small charity is an essential function of any CVS. This is particularly true in Blackpool, which has a large number of small community-based organisations. These are groups of committed people putting in their own time and hard work to improve not only their own circumstances but those of a wide range of people in their communities. These groups include Residents’ Associations, Friends of Parks, Food Banks, Over 60s groups, health-based self-help groups – even social groups like Luncheon Clubs and sports clubs. The list is endless.
People involved in these organisations are often too busy getting things done to spend time on constitutions, recruiting and training trustees or writing funding bids – which is where CVS comes in. Last year we worked with nearly 100 organisations (often providing several advice sessions to the organisation) with support on things like governing documents, Grantfinder searches, bid-writing and trustee training.
This work is funded in Blackpool through a pilot project called Communities Can – aimed at ‘below-the-radar’ groups (with an income of under £10k) – and in Wyre and Fylde through LCC funding. Some organisations do not fall into either category and in these cases CVS support is provided without funding.
Blackpool, Wyre and Fylde CVS has a very small staff team and it’s often hard to find the time to provide these levels of support to community groups. We’re therefore very happy that we have recruited a new member of staff to help us reach out to more groups in Blackpool, Wyre and Fylde.
CVS are delighted to announce that we have been chosen to take part in the Walney Extension Community Fund advisory group.
The Advisory Group’s purpose is to work together to recommend which Wyre project / projects should receive the funds against previously determined criteria.
Each year approximately £600,000 will be available split equally over two funding rounds.
The application deadlines are detailed on GrantScape’s website. Late applications cannot be considered until the next funding round, usually every six months.
There are two levels of grants and groups can apply for both revenue and capital costs in the same application.
For projects involving revenue costs, applicants can apply for funding for up to two years.
a) Small grants between £500 and £5,000
b) Main grants between £5,001 and £75,000
Organisations can only apply for one project per funding round (unless you are a Local Authority or a
Town or Parish Council applying on behalf of another group)
For further information visit the website to see if your project falls within the fund boundary.
Thinking of setting up a charity? Need help with a funding application?
You can get help through Communities Can!
The Communities Can project is specifically aimed at helping very small ‘below the radar’ groups.
It’s a very quick and easy application process, and you can get free help with setting up a group, funding applications, business plans, marketing and communications – anything useful for small community-based groups – from a range of experienced support organisations.
Just go to the Communities Can application page and provide some very brief information about your group. You will then be contacted by Communities Can staff for a short conversation about your needs.
All the advice and support you’ll receive is free to your organisation.