BLF announces ‘Help Through Crisis’ fund of £30m

Document1_pdf__1_page_The Big Lottery Fund has just announced a new ‘Help Through Crisis‘ programme worth £30m aimed at “projects that draw on the strengths and personal experiences of people facing hardship so that they can overcome immediate difficulties and be ready for opportunities and challenges ahead.”

“We are looking,” the funder says, “for projects that provide tailored support, advice and advocacy to enable people to address difficulties and be in a better position to improve circumstances and plan for their future.”

BLF will only fund projects that meet all four of the following outcomes:

  • People who have experienced hardship crisis are better able to improve their circumstances.
  • People who are at high risk of experiencing hardship crisis are better able to plan for the future.
  • Organisations are better able to support people to effectively tackle hardship through sharing learning and evidence.
  • Those experiencing, or who are at high risk of experiencing, hardship crisis, have a stronger, more collective, voice, to better shape a response to their issues.


Grants are expected to be between £300,000 and £500,000 and the deadline for applications is 12:00 on the 26th August 2015.

More on the BLF website.

More on Third Sector Online.

Women’s Enterprise Hub Sparkbrook to open soon

Women___Enterprise_-_Helping_Women_in_Business 2

Further to this post, the Women’s Enterprise Hub Sparkbrook will open soon, offering 3,260 sq ft of newly refurbished office space for women only.

Located in a self-contained part of the Southside Business Centre in Ladypool Road, the Hub has 10 small business units that will accommodate 2-5 people, two ‘hot desk’ areas, a large training room and a meeting room that will accommodate 16 or more people, as well as three ‘showcase’ units which include display space.

Five of the units have glass ‘shop window’ frontages that can be accessed from the street. The Hub will provide not only space, but also the opportunity for networking, peer support and access to business support, with the aim of giving women the boost in confidence they need to succeed in business to the same level as men.

Now is the time to express an interest and get your name down for one of the units or take out a membership to give you access to the hot desk space. The premises have been designed to a high contemporary spec and are suitable for use by existing businesses as well as start ups.

To register or find out more call 0121 663 1711, send mail,  or go to the website

The Women & Enterprise programme offers free business support to Birmingham-based women who want to start their own businesses.

You can find out about forthcoming events here.

Women's Enterprise Hub, Sparkbrook: exterior Illustration

Women’s Enterprise Hub, Sparkbrook: exterior Illustration

Out of this world with The People’s Orchestra

Join The People’s Orchestra at West Bromwich Town Hall on Sunday 18th October for “Out of This World”, a captivating evening of Sci-Fi themed musical entertainment.

Kicking off at 7pm, “Out of This World” will showcase a stunning variety of themes from everyone’s favourite Sci-Fi and Fantasy films. ET, Star Wars, Star Trek, Back to the Future, Harry Potter, and How to Train your Dragon will all feature on the line-up. Tickets are only £5-£10.

Click to go to tickets & information

The People’s Orchestra will also be presenting the first ever performance of “Beyond the Skies”, an original score written exclusively for The People’s Orchestra by award winning composer John Koutselinis, who has previously created music for film directors such as Michael Redwood (Katherine of Alexandria), Danny Wilson (Nephilim), Mel Smith (Director: High Heels and Low Lifes, Radioland Murders-Story by George Lucas), Richard Bazley (Disney, Warner Bros) and Gary Kurtz (Producer: Star Wars IV& V).

You can watch The People’s Orchestra performing John Koutselinis’s “Flight of the Pegasus” at Trinity Mirror Pride of Birmingham Awards last year here.

The concert is on 18th October 2015 and will start at 19:00.


New social housing/enterprise initiative in Digbeth seeks partners

The Adam & Eve pub, Digbeth, acquired for social housing/enterprise development

A new social enterprise initiative designed to redevelop derelict/disused public houses to provide social housing and create enterprise initiatives that offer training, work experience and employment opportunities in the local area is looking for a partner.

The project is working with a Birmingham-based charitable housing association and has acquired The Adam and Eve on Bradford Street in Digbeth.

The aim is for the property to provide accommodation for 15 individuals on the upper floors with a 1500 sq ft commercial area on the ground floor offering enterprise opportunities such as a canteen and bar and retail.

The project is looking for a partner to operate the commercial section as it requires expertise and experience in this area.

An entrepreneur/enterprise/organisation is sought that can contribute on rental, business rates, insurance and utilities for the commercial area as well as invest funds in the ground floor refurbishment.

The project has £10,000 to contribute/help with redevelopment work on the enterprise section.

For more information send mail to Richard Leighton at We Create.

iSE hosts event to help health & social care enterprises become more sustainable

The proposed changes to the funding of third sector delivery of health and social care prevention services in Birmingham and the shift from grant funding to competitive tendering of contracts will require organisations to consider either tendering independently, joining an existing consortium,  or forming a new consortium.

As part of preparing for these major changes, iSE is hosting the following event:

Consortium & Other Opportunities: An Event For Sustaining Health & Social Care Organisations

On: Thursday, 23rd July 2015, 3-6pm
Venue: Muath Centre: Stratford Road, Birmingham, B11 1AR

This event is for you if you are:

» A third sector organisation seeking to join a consortium or start one to access contracts in health and social care.

» A third sector organisation  wanting to provide prevention services supporting adults in Birmingham — serving people with Learning Disabilities, Mental Health, Physical Disabilities and Older People.

Twelve existing consortia have agreed to meet with participants to discuss their membership requirements and provide information concerning how they operate.

It’s your chance to make connections, join existing consortiums and prepare your organisation for new and emerging opportunities.

For more information ring Gary Rogers 0121 771 1411 or send him mail.

 Book here.

GBSLEP chooses new social enterprise champion

Back in April we announced that Greater Birmingham & Solihull LEP was seeking nominations for a new post of social enterprise champion.

The selection process has now been completed and we’re delighted that Melanie Mills, previously chief exec of Social Enterprise West Midlands, and currently director of social sector engagement at Big Society Capital, has been chosen.

The social enterprise champion position was created by the LEP following recognition of the sector’s economic and social contribution in the LEP area and its potential to grow further. Melanie’s selection as the GBSLEP’s first ever social enterprise champion is a fitting way to mark this recognition of the sector’s importance. Congratulations, Melanie!

It was an exceptionally strong field of candidates and so a word of thanks should also be said to everyone who stood.  It’s great to see the sector able to operate impressively at this level.

Read the coverage of this story on the GBSLEP website.


NAO says PbR schemes are ill-co-ordinated, lack an evidence-base and have unrecognised risks

sw1I am indebted to my old friend Tony Clabby for spotting this…

The National Audit Office has just published Outcome-based payment schemes: government’s use of payment by results (June 2015).

Press release NAO website          Summary       Full report

The report considers six central government departments known to be using payment by results (PbR), and identifies 52 schemes worth a total of at least £15b in which some element of PbR features.

The report concludes that PbR schemes are poorly co-ordinated, lack an appropriate evidence-base which would enable the effectiveness of the model to be assessed, have heavy unrecognised risks, and in some cases are being used inappropriately by commissioners.

There’s a very thoughtful post considering the report on Russell Webster’s blog, an independent consultant specialising in the fields of substance misuse and crime.

It is interesting to note that we are now seeing contract specifications combining both PbR and social value. Now, they are not the same thing, and shouldn’t be confused, but nonetheless there is a salutary lesson here.

The great advantage of the social value legislation is that it has the potential to help services deliver additional and better outcomes — but that doing this entails no extra cost to the commissioner in terms of incentive payments or contract management and compliance, and it doesn’t need the huge legal, financial and contractual architecture required to make PbR work. In that sense, social value seems to be a commissioning policy tailor-made for our times; PbR, increasingly, doesn’t…

…PbR contracts are hard to get right, which makes them risky and costly for commissioners. If PbR can deliver the benefits its supporters claim – such as innovative solutions to intractable problems – then the increased cost and risk may be justified, but this requires credible evidence. Without such evidence, commissioners may be using PbR in circumstances to which it is ill-suited, with a consequent negative impact on value for money. — Amyas Morse, head of the NAO

Office for Civil Society announces £20m local sustainability fund

What_s_it_all_about____VCSE_DiagnosticNCVO chief exec Stuart Etherington has just circulated an email stating:

I’ve just been chairing the Minister for Civil Society’s first keynote speech since the election. The major announcement was the launch of a £20m local sustainability fund… The fund will provide targeted support for organisations with a strong track record of delivering services which are experiencing current challenges, but which, with targeted support, could secure a strong future.

The fund, which is aimed at voluntary, community and social enterprise organisations, is financed by OCS and operated by the Big Lottery Fund; it is accessed through the new VCSE Sustainability website.

Applicants must complete an eligibility checker and a VCSE Diagnostic in order to apply.

Full details here.

Update: Interestingly, Third Sector Online notes today that this fund is a year late in its implementation and half the amount originally projected (£40m) by former civil society minister Nick Hurd.

The People’s Orchestra — an evening with John Altman and friends

The People’s Orchestra presents…

Internationally renowned composer and saxophonist John Altman will be performing at The Ruddock Performing Arts Centre on Saturday 1st August. Mr Altman, who is famed for working with international artists such as Amy Winehouse and Mark Ronson will be performing with his own big band for a unique intimate concert. Swing to the sounds of this incredible evening with one of the world’s most prolific saxophonists.

The concert is on 1st August 2015 and will start at 19:00.



Birmingham Changing Futures Together launches with call for more partners

Councillor John Cotton and Brian Carr at launch of Birmingham Changing Futures Together

The official launch of the £10m Birmingham Changing Futures Together project on Friday 19th June was an inspiring event.  The eight year project, led by BVSC, has just reached the end of its first year and is aiming to find new and better ways to support people with multiple and complex needs related to mental health, substance misuse, homelessness and offending behaviour.

Listening to the presentations, three things struck me in particular:

1.  The powerful and positive impact that being involved in shaping future services is having on service users, who have been recruited as ‘experts by experience’ and ‘peer mentors’.

2.  The beneficial approach of a commissioner or funder, in this case The Big Lottery Fund, working in partnership with those to whom funding is given to ensure that money is being spent in the best possible way.

3.  The desire to involve as many organisations and individuals as possible in driving system change – and the willingness to overcome the inherent difficulties that involves, because the benefits of success far outweigh any perceived negatives.

The message which came across strongly is that EVERYONE with an interest in ‘SOS’ – improved Systems, Outcomes and Services – for individuals with multiple and complex needs is invited to get involved.  The more views that are represented the better.  It’s not too late to join in if you are not involved already.  Contact Alana Gooden at BVSC on 0121 643 4343.

Learning and evaluation are key elements of this project, so the opportunity was taken to gather the views of the 120 or so guests at the event who responded to the question: What system changes would help make a greater difference to people facing multiple needs?

But undoubtedly the highlight of the event was the film about the ‘experts by experience’ made by Colonel Duck.  It moved some to tears and a moment of silence at the end of it was followed by loud applause.  Watch it for yourself [tip: it’s in HD — click the full-screen toggle for the full experience].

There is more information about both the launch event and the project on BVSC’s website – see BVSC News and BVSC Birmingham Changing Futures Together – with photographs courtesy of Ian Cuthbert.

Phoenix Singers present summer charity concert

The Phoenix Singers, Birmingham, present a summer charity concert in aid of The Alzheimer’s Society. Performances of Faure’s Requiem and songs from the shows.


Social investment — made understandable, relevant and available

Social_Investment_Workshop_–_Understandable__Relevant_and_Available_Tickets__Birmingham___EventbriteWhat do social investors look for in organisations? What’s it like for a social enterprise to go through the process of securing investment?

Big Issue Invest (BII) and Charity Bank have put together a social investment workshop to answer these questions.

Peter Hughes (Charity Bank) and Kevin Lloyd-Evans (BII) have been working with social enterprises and charities for the past 15 years. They will share their insights and experiences alongside Bromsgrove based charity NewStarts, which recently secured a £400,000 joint investment from BII and Charity Bank (more in this post).

The workshop takes place from 2.00pm-4pm at Unit G2, The Arch, Floodgate Street, Birmingham B5 5SL on Thursday 30th July 2015.

It will be informal, open to all and of particular interest to charities and social enterprises seeking to borrow to:

» purchase a property
» purchase a piece of equipment
» boost working capital to scale up existing operations

You can book here.

JQ festival 2015 — Jewellery Qtr readies itself for first major event since Golden Sq completion

17th-19th July sees the Jewellery Quarter host its very first festival — a weekend of events celebrating the diversity and creativity of the Quarter. There will be something for everyone to enjoy including live music, performances and open studios.

Organised by the Jewellery Quarter Business Improvement District (JQBID), the festival marks the official opening of the JQ’s new public space, The Golden Square.

 Find out more: Visit Birmingham website and the JQ website.

 Facebook and Twitter @JQBID.

The festival also coincides with Birmingham Jazz’s Jazz Legends festival, curated by British trumpet legend, Henry Lowther. There will be thirteen gigs over the weekend of 17th-19th July at venues across the city, but primarily in the JQ’s Red LionBirmingham Jazz is entirely volunteer-run and receives no public funding.

Read more — Birmingham Jazz and Urban Coffee Sunday Set gigs (Church St).

Jazz trumpeter, Henry Lowther

Jazz trumpeter, Henry Lowther


Paul Hamlyn Foundation announces new £2m fund to tackle social issues


Third Sector Online has just announced that the Paul Hamlyn Foundation is to launch a new £2m fund aimed at enabling people with “big ideas” to develop activities and ideas that can help tackle major social issues.

The Ideas and Pioneers Fund will support “people who have an idea with unusual promise to improve the life chances and opportunities of individuals and communities in the UK”.

The foundation is looking for ideas which relate closely to its own charitable mission – helping people overcome disadvantage and lack of opportunity, so that they can realise their potential and enjoy fulfilling and creative lives.

The new fund is expected to go live in August 2015, offering grants of up to £30,000 to around 30 individuals or organisations in 2015 and again in 2016.

Read more — Third Sector.

Read more — Paul Hamlyn Foundation.

“The Ideas and Pioneers Fund will seek to identify individuals with innovative ideas to tackle major social issues but who lack the capacity or space to develop them. The foundation is explicitly looking to embrace risk and identify new grantees with ‘big ideas’.” — Paul Hamlyn Foundation

John Taylor Hospice breathlessness programme shortlisted for award

Birmingham’s John Taylor Hospice, the only UK hospice operating as a social enterprise, has just been shortlisted for a prestigious Nursing Times Award for its specialist breathing clinic, which has already helped more than 200 local people.

JTH logoThe team behind the pioneering Fatigue, Anxiety and Breathlessness (FAB) programme — the hospice’s physiotherapist Louise Tipson and occupational therapist Faye Collins [pictured below] — has been shortlisted by the medical journal in its Respiratory Nursing category.

Respiratory problems such as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) lead to low self-esteem, social isolation and a poor quality of life which in turn places a high burden on the NHS. FAB takes a holistic, patient-centred, multi-professional approach to to help patients gain the confidence and understanding to manage these conditions.

“Being able to restore a normal breathing pattern when you get into difficulties takes knowledge and skill,” says Ms Tipson. “Using cognitive behavioural and physical therapies, Tai Chi-based exercises and relaxation techniques, we help people to manage their symptoms and regain control.”

JTH breathlessness clinic in action

JTH breathlessness clinic in action

The FAB team will present their entry to a Nursing Times judging panel in September in the next stage of the awards and the winners will be announced in November.

The hospice exists to ease the personal and social cost of illness and untimely death through practical help, alleviating pain and rekindling possibility. Its services are free at the point of delivery. The hospice receives more than 200 referrals to its services every month and supports over 600 families across Birmingham. Its in-patient Unit has 23 beds and space for family to stay. It costs around £14,000 every day to provide these services — £585 every hour.

For more information call Faye Collins or Louise Tipson on 0121 465 2000. Read the full press release.

Vacancies at JTH.

Volunteer with JTH.

Fundraise for JTH.

Faye Collins (left) and Louise Tipson

Faye Collins (left) and Louise Tipson

Birmingham City Council — consultation on commissioning of prevention services

An important consultation is underway that will be relevant to many social enterprises and third sector organisations in the city.

Birmingham City Council is seeking views on the Integrated Commissioning of Prevention services, to be commissioned from 2016. This includes:

  • Supporting People — Disabilities housing support services;
  • Local Authority Third Sector commissioning —Universal and prevention services; and
  • Elements of the Public Health lifestyles services.


You can read the consultation document and respond to the two consultation surveys over on the BVSC website.

The consultations run until the 3rd August 2015.

Did you know that Birmingham has a new range of services to help women start businesses?

Women___Enterprise_-_Helping_Women_in_Business 2

In the current climate of austerity and public spending cuts it is something of an achievement to offer a new — and expanding — range of services aimed at helping women start their own businesses.

The Women & Enterprise programme offers free business support to Birmingham-based women who want to start their own businesses.

Currently, the programme is being delivered by iSE, a long time champion of women and enterprise.

iSE has a one-year contract from Birmingham City Council to refurbish and develop an exclusive space for women entrepreneurs within an existing enterprise centre (Southside Business Centre in Sparkbrook), which is owned by the council.

The Women’s Enterprise Hub will open later this year but in the meantime a varied programme of support is being offered by the programme and its partners, including workshops, masterclasses, events and one-to-one sessions for start-up or growth of existing women-led businesses.

You can find out about forthcoming events here.

You can contact the Women & Enterprise team on 0121 663 1711 or send mail.

“Giving women the freedom to work can transform a family’s living standards and for many women enterprise is a great way forward. But a lack of start-up spaces, skills and childcare can hold them back.” — Sir Albert Bore, Leader of Birmingham City Council


The Choir with No Name Birmingham is recruiting

Dropbox_-_Choir_Manager_Birmingham_Job_Description_2015_pdfThe Choir with No Name’s mission is to enable homeless and marginalised people to make friends, build their confidence and skills and find their place in society.

It does that through running pop music choirs, and currently has four going — two in London, one in Birmingham and one in Liverpool, with another launching this year in Sheffield.

The Birmingham choir launched in October 2011 and is directed by community musician Pete Churchill. The Choir with No Name Birmingham is currently recruiting for a choir manager to take care of the administrative and pastoral side of the choir.

The closing date for applications is Tuesday 7th July at 9am.

You can find out more, including how to apply here:

 Job specification

 Application form

The School for Social Entrepreneurs Midlands is recruiting…

The_School_for_Social_EntrepreneursTo meet the continuing high demand for its programmes SSE Midlands has now secured funding enabling it to double the size of its team and the number of learning programmes it is able to offer.

Consequently, it is inviting applications for two new roles:

Learning Facilitator(s):  You will be in the front line of delivering our highly successful and unique learning programmes to social entrepreneurs across the region. You will be a critical member of the SSE Midlands team and part of a global network of schools. You will have a passion for personal development, learning and social enterprise. The priority is finding the best person for this role and therefore flexibility regarding how this happens. If working in a freelance capacity, you can expect between £25 and £35 per hour depending on skills and experience. We may engage more than one person in this capacity. As a part-time employee, salary will be between £25k and £28k (pro rata) per annum.

Project Co-ordinator/Administrator: You will provide the support and control that ensures that our Learning Facilitators and CEO are able to deliver the best possible experience for students and for SSE Midlands’ sustainability. You will have excellent administration, communication, project management, book-keeping and IT skills. This is a part-time role of 2 to 3 days per week with a salary range of between £15k and £18k per annum. Again the priority is on finding the best person for the job so some flexibility on working hours.

The deadline for applications for both roles is 12:00 noon on 10th July.

Interviews for the Learning Facilitator role will be week commencing 20th July.

Interviews for the Project Co-ordinator/Administrator role will be week commencing 27th July.

Find out more and get an application pack.

NewStarts Bromsgrove secure future — with help from Charity Bank and Big Issue Invest


“People often turn to NewStarts at the point when they have exhausted all other avenues. For us, the reasons they find themselves in a difficult situation isn’t relevant; we will help them if we can.”   — CEO Marion Kenyon, NewStarts

Bromsgrove charity NewStarts, which provides practical support to homeless people and those in financial crisis, has secured its long term future — thanks to a combined loan from Charity Bank and Big Issue Invest which has enabled the organisation to buy its premises.

It’s great to see ethical funders working together in a way that maximises both their impact and what they are able to do for the organisations that most need their finance.

Established in 2005 as a result of a partnership between a local resident and NewSong Community Church in Bromsgrove, Worcestershire, NewStarts provides a range of services for those most in need — including training and work experience, debt counselling, a food bank, and a furniture and household goods recycling service.

With its premises now secure, NewStarts will be able to continue to provide these essential services. In 2014/15 it directly supported 1,044 people in the following ways:

  • 430 households received free household items.
  • 332 households were provided with emergency food.
  • 105 volunteers were given work experience.
  • 41 people had training across a variety of courses (woodwork, basic IT and arts and crafts).
  • 136 people received financial management training and debt advice.