RNIB and Shoosmiths offer free sight-loss at work seminars

Do you know what the implications are for you as an employer who has a staff member affected by sight loss? Do you see the legal issues clearly?

RNIB (Royal National Institute of Blind People) and Shoosmiths invites you to a free Sight Loss at Work — Seeing the Issues seminar.

These free seminars have been designed to help employers provide the best environment possible for employees who have or are developing a visual impairment, or are caring for someone affected by sight loss.

There are two events — both start at 9am until 11.30am:

Birmingham — Thursday 23rd March 2017 at Shoosmiths Birmingham

Nottingham — Wednesday 5th April 2017 at Shoosmiths Nottingham

Please feel free to bring a colleague and to pass this invitation on to anyone you think may be interested. Also please note that there is no parking at either venue but see the Shoosmiths website for the nearest parking facilities.

RSVP by 5pm on Friday 10th March (for Birmingham session) or Friday 24th March (Nottingham session) by sending mail to Bernadette Halton at RNIB indicating which event you wish to attend.

If you are unable to attend either event but would like more information do please get in touch and we can arrange a meeting with you.

Birmingham City Council launches Crowdfunding Birmingham

Birmingham City Council is launching Crowdfund Birmingham and wants to hear now from local organisations interested in raising money through crowdfunding.

For a self-reliant, healthy Birmingham — funding available to projects that benefit vulnerable people and help them create stronger, healthier more resilient communities.  — Birmingham City Council

The council is setting aside £470,000 from its Community Innovation Fund to provide match funding to pledge on projects that will benefit the people of Birmingham.

More details

Healthwatch Birmingham seeks new non-executive directors & chair

Healthwatch Birmingham is seeking new Non-Executive Directors and a new Chair.

The primary purpose of the Healthwatch Birmingham Board is to maintain a strategic role in governing Healthwatch Birmingham. The Board has oversight, leadership and accountability in ensuring compliance with the organisation’s values and objects. Meeting quarterly, the Board is critical to Healthwatch Birmingham’s continuing growth.

A number of exciting opportunities now exist to join Healthwatch Birmingham and drive its continued success.

  • Role: Non-Executive Directors: remuneration: Expenses Only (Voluntary Position)
  • Role: Chair: remuneration: £3000 per annum (excluding expenses)


Closing date for applications: Friday 24th February 2017 by 10.00am.


The Pump, premier youth hub in East Birmingham celebrates tenth birthday

With a music studio, performance space, a dance studio, cyber-cafe, a daycare nursery, room hire, and facilities over four floors with full disabled access, The Pump is the hub for youth work and activity in Kitts Green, in the heart of East Birmingham.

And it is celebrating its tenth birthday — and you are invited!

10.00am-8.00pm, 23rd Feb 2017 • Dance • Music • Performances • Fireworks • Careers Fair

The Pump, 286 Kitts Green Rd, Birmingham B33 9SB • 0121 675 8381

Jericho Foundation holds first social enterprise workshop

Inaugural social enterprise workshop at The Jericho Foundation – CEO Richard Beard speaking

Richard Beard, CEO of The Jericho Foundation writes:

On the 26th January 2017 The Jericho Foundation ran its very first Social Enterprise workshop aimed at connecting, equipping and empowering churches and Christian organisations with the basic knowledge and resources to engage in social change through social enterprise.

We have over 20 years’ experience of running social enterprise businesses across Birmingham and at its heart Jericho has a Christian mission  to help break down the barriers of unemployment in the city. We currently employ around 72 core staff and a further 17 apprentices and survivors of human trafficking who are undertaking supported work placements across our social enterprises. Our turnover is approximately £3.2m a year of which 86% comes from social enterprise trading.

We began the day by sharing the Jericho story and the vision, passion and faith that are the foundation of Jericho.

Throughout the day members of the senior management team shared their tips and advice and there were speakers from our print, catering, construction, landscape, cleaning, recycling and re-using businesses. Delegates were also able to explore and develop their own social enterprise business ideas.

Our aim was to spread the social enterprise message and equip delegates with the basic, practical know-how to start developing their own enterprises in the local communities they serve. The positive feedback from delegates suggests that we went a long way towards achieving this and we shall certainly be continuing with these workshops in the future.

For information on future workshops please send mail to Patricia White

Social enterprise…in the cathedral — Jericho Foundation secures contract to clean interior of Birmingham Cathedral.

#birmingham #charity #socialenterprise #news #development #workshop

Tech Wednesday — meet-up for women in the ‘tech for good’ sector

Tech Wednesday is the monthly meet-up for the technology and entrepreneur community in Birmingham.

The next meeting is at at 5.30pm at Innovation Birmingham on Wednesday 15th February 2017. All welcome.

5.30-6.00pm – Registration and networking

6.00-7.00pm – Talks

7.00-8.00pm – Networking with pizza and beer


Pauline Roche, Managing Director at RnR Organisation, was awarded the West Midlands Women of the Year award for Outstanding Contribution to Technology.

Sally Tomlinson was a Mathematician. Having worked in pensions, banking and book distribution she is now trying tech! Worktaster is her latest venture — an online digital platform for schools and colleges, managing and supporting work experience placements for students aged 14-19.

More information & bookings

Charity law & governance — Anthony Collins Solicitors announce one-day conference

Anthony Collins Solicitors has just announced the following:

On the 29th March 2017 Anthony Collins Solicitors LLP is running a one-day conference in London on Charity Law & Governance.

This is a unique opportunity for you to learn about the latest developments in charity-related law, from experts in the sector and alongside your peers.

We have designed this conference to be as useful for trustees and senior leadership as it is for accountants and finance teams and in-house charity lawyers — whether you’ve been in the role for five minutes or fifty years.

We have priced the event as keenly as we possibly can to ensure that everyone who can benefit from it has a chance of attending. The cost is only £95 (plus VAT) for a full day with catering. 

We are looking forward to an excellent mix of delegates from across all of the charitable sectors and models and helping to promote vital discussion and debate about key legal and governance issues for the sector.

David Alcock, Partner, for Anthony Collins Solicitors LLP

Bookings & programme

Save Our Support plans second lobby against cuts to services for most vulnerable

Birmingham Changing Futures Together is one of the organisations co-ordinating opposition to the cuts currently planned for the city’s various Supporting people services (see earlier post).

It has just issued the following statement:

I am writing to you asking for your support for the Save Our Support lobby on 14th February 2017, 3pm – 4:30pm which is a public response to the grave concerns we have regarding the proposed Birmingham City Council budget cuts to Supporting People.

Supporting People is an equalities programme that has and does support some of the most vulnerable people in our City with mental health problems, who live with physical or learning difficulties and those facing homelessness. It is an evidence-based programme that has proven to be life-changing for 1000s of its beneficiaries.

The Homelessness Reduction Bill passed its 3rd Reading in the House of Commons last week and now moves to the House of Lords where it is one step closer to becoming an Act of law. This will place statutory duties on local authorities, particularly around prevention, and is another reason why these proposed cuts to Supporting People make no sense socially, financially or environmentally. The bottom line is that the inequalities gap will widen and the most vulnerable placed at severe risk if these cuts are implemented. Cuts to Supporting People will equate to cuts to vital services as there is no more room for efficiency savings, it really will impact the frontline.

Please can I ask for your support on the day but also to share this event to your networks. We are counting on the compassion and concern of Birmingham people to make a stand and support the most vulnerable people in our City.

BCFT on Twitter.

Save Our Support — sign the petition.

Save Our Support on Twitter.

Birmingham now has futuristic buildings — but is worse off than in the 1930s: Road to Wigan Pier 2017. It is 81 years to the day that George Orwell travelled from London to Birmingham via Coventry on the first leg of a journey that awoke the country to the poverty faced by families in the North. Daily Mirror 29/01/17.

SEUK celebrates success of the CIC legal structure and calls on Treasury to increase funding for the regulator

The Community Interest Company legal form, introduced in 2005, has been one of the unsung successes of the social enterprise sector.

Adoption of the form by new-starts as well as conversion to it by existing enterprises has exceeded all expectation. The structure has also proven popular with new spin-outs, especially in health and social care. There are now over 16,000 CICs on the register.

In fact, over 220 new CICs were registered in December 2016 alone.

This is an extraordinary vote of confidence in the relatively new legal form.

And yet, the CIC Regulator receives only around £300,000 from government to meet its operating costs. By comparison, the Charity Commission receives around £20m, which equates to about £119 per charity on the register. The CIC regulator receives about £25 for each CIC on the register.

SEUK has been campaigning hard to get this disparity addressed and in a submission to the Treasury has called for the CIC Regulator to receive modest additional funding so that it can be the “enabling and effective regulator of this growing and inclusive form of business” that the sector wants and needs.

SEUK is also calling for government to create a new strategic plan for supporting the social enterprise sector. It has been over ten years since a national strategy for the sector existed.

Put more money into CIC regulator, argues SEUK — in Third Sector Online.

Analysis: The rise and rise of community interest companies — interesting piece from June 2015 in Third Sector Online.

The CIC Association — free membership association for the CIC sector.

USE IT! social entrepreneurs programme launched

Just launched, the USE IT! social entrepreneurs programme is an exciting and innovative three-year scheme to create a new ‘place-based’ community of social entrepreneurs and like-minded individuals who want to help tackle poverty and social isolation in their local neighbourhoods across West Birmingham and Sandwell.

The programme has been specifically developed to support participating entrepreneurs and enterprises to solve local social and economic issues, enable skills development and open up new markets for the ethically-based goods and services they deliver. As an outcome of the capacity-building and knowledge sharing delivered through the programme, USE IT! participants will create employment opportunities and improve social and health outcomes for individuals.

There is a key focus on social enterprises, community-rooted entrepreneurs and social producers trading in areas such as education, food and catering, health, technology and tourism.

The programme is delivered by iSEBirmingham Chamber of Commerce, University of Birmingham, Health Exchange CIC, Co-op Futures, Localise WM, Citizen Coaching CIC and Smethwick Can, and has been facilitated by Birmingham City Council.

If you are an existing or new-start social enterprise with plans to help tackle disadvantage in West Birmingham and Sandwell, USE IT! wants to hear from you.

Details, applications, expressions of interest.

Big Issue Invest launches Impact Loans England

Big Issue Invest, the social investment arm of The Big Issue Group, has launched a new investment programme called Impact Loans England. This programme is designed to help social enterprises and charities which might  previously have struggled to access small to medium-sized loans.

Impact Loans England is a new £5 million lending scheme aimed at enabling social enterprises and charities to access loan funding of between £20,000 and £150,000. The programme is funded by Access – The Foundation for Social Investment, with finance provided by Big Lottery Fund and Big Society Capital.

View brochure.

Impact Loans England is looking to support social enterprises and charities that want to raise social investment of between £20,000 and £150,000. The organisations looking for this kind of investment are typically early stage and smaller social enterprises. The fund tends not to support start-ups and particularly targets organisations with a trading history of at least one year. Impact Loans England is only available in England.

The fund plans to deliver a deal a week for the first six months after launch and applications are now open.

A Twitter Q&A with @BigIssueInvest will be held in February, using the tag #ADealAWeek. You can apply online or email questions and expressions of interest to the loans team — send mail.


Social enterprise…in the cathedral

L-to-R: Stephen Brooker, Cathedral Facilities Manager; David Ebanks, Jericho Cleaner; Chris Baxter, Cathedral Verger; Nigel Lawrence, Jericho Cleaning Business Manager

Birmingham Cathedral, one of the oldest buildings in the city, now contracts its cleaning services from a Jericho Foundation social enterprise.

The Acting Dean of Birmingham, Revd Canon Nigel Hand, has recognised that using the Jericho Cleaning social enterprise will also secure additional social value as well as keeping the 300-year old cathedral immaculately clean. “We are delighted to be employing a member of the Jericho Cleaning social enterprise,” Revd Canon Hand said. “We are keen to support local social enterprises and want to build our relationship with the Jericho Foundation. We wholeheartedly endorse their mission to help disadvantaged local people back into training, employment and ultimately a valuable place in society.”

One of the key priorities of Jericho Cleaning is to recruit people who are survivors of human trafficking.

Jericho Cleaning is growing rapidly and delivers high levels of social value in Birmingham and the surrounding areas. It provides a full range of contract hygiene services to businesses, schools and voluntary organisations. Jericho Cleaning sets high standards and works with those in real need — staff may suffer from a lack of skills or qualifications, homelessness or alcohol or substance misuse.

Jericho CEO Richard Beard says: “Birmingham Cathedral is one of Birmingham’s landmark buildings. It is a truly beautiful place of Christian worship and has been for hundreds of years. It is an honour to be providing our social enterprise services and we look forward to a long and mutually beneficial working relationship”.

The cathedral is world famous for its late-nineteenth century stained glass windows designed by Sir Edward Burne-Jones, who was born in near-by Bennetts Hill and baptised at the cathedral in 1834.

Rethinking refugee: free conference

On the 13th February 2017 Ashley Community Housing will be hosting a FREE conference in Birmingham called Rethinking Refugee.

Ashley Community Housing says:

The past two years have been tumultuous ones, with unprecedented numbers of refugees entering the region, further austerity measures and the Brexit vote. With further arrivals from Syria expected soon a way ahead is needed.

Ashley Community Housing will be presenting our groundbreaking approach to refugee resettlement and integration at this conference, revealing how to rethink refugees as assets rather than liabilities.

Our Rethinking Refugee programme helps refugees get into employment more quickly, saving money as well as benefiting the economy and individuals. Since 2008 we have successfully resettled over 2000 individuals from refugee backgrounds, and have been working in Birmingham since 2012.

The agenda will include Keynote speakers from Ashley Community Housing and key partner organisations.

Monday 13th February 2017 • 4pm-6pm including networking Birmingham Repertory Theatre Broad Street Birmingham B1 2EP.

More information (PDF)

Bookings (Free)

New centre for ME sufferers opens in Sutton Coldfield

Cllr Carl Rice, Lord Mayor of Birmingham with Salus founder Linda Jones

On the 26th January the Mayor of Birmingham will cut the ribbon on a new specialist centre for people with ME (Myalgic Encephalomyalitis), Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Fibromyalgia and other similar conditions.

The Salus Sanctuary, made possible by a grant of over £300,000 from the Big Lottery Fund and £33,000 from Sutton Coldfield Charitable Trust, was started just seven years ago by Linda Jones, who at the time was struggling to recover from ME. Linda was a successful company director and a mother of two young children when she was struck down by illness.

ME is a debilitating condition causing extreme exhaustion and constant chronic pain.

Linda researched the illness and started her own recovery programme. The experience of her long lonely battle back to health made her determined that other people would not have to face that frightening fight without help.

As well as office space for the organisation the new Salus Sanctuary offers a comfortable, spacious room for people to attend support groups and workshops.

One of the main aims of the charity is educating the public about ME and helping people identify its symptoms sooner. By informing people about the dangers of modern lifestyles with their increasing stress levels and high-sugar processed foods, the charity hopes to prevent some people tipping over the edge into chronic illness.

Read the press release

Birmingham voluntary sector mobilises against cuts to services for the most vulnerable

We wrote in this post about the PUBLIC CONSULTATION currently underway on Birmingham City Council’s proposed cuts  to its Supporting People and Third Sector Grant Programmes. This would see cuts of £5m this year, rising to £10m in 2018/9. These reductions come on top of previous cuts that have already seen the budget for services for vulnerable adults fall from £50m to £26m.

Click to go to BCC consultation pages

A dozen of the most prominently involved charities  have today written an OPEN LETTER to Prime Minister Theresa May, asking for an urgent meeting to consider Birmingham’s grave situation. The services concerned, they say, are precisely those that help address the ‘everyday injustices’ Mrs May pledged her government would take action on in a speech at the Charity Commission on the 9th January.

Their letter  highlights the tragedy of rough sleeper Chiriac Inout who died outside a car park in John Bright Street in the city centre on the 30th November last, the coldest night of 2016.

The charities concerned  fear that around £144m a year that  they lever in to support these services will also be lost. About half of current providers say that within two years they may close down.  Their letter refers to a “sea change” in the provision of services for the most vulnerable.

In an accompanying PRESS RELEASE, Brian Carr, chief executive of Birmingham Voluntary Service Council says: “Birmingham City Council is faced with an almost impossible task, trying to balance the budget in the face of massive central government cuts and sharply rising social need. But our job is to support and speak out for the most vulnerable in society, and these cuts will hit them hardest. We’re not exaggerating when we say lives are at risk.”

Third Sector magazine covers this story.

 Update: See coverage of the Midland Mencap lobby at the Council House 16/01/17 — Charity Today, Midland Mencap (with video), Birmingham Mail.

Midland Mencap mass lobby against disability cuts

The further cuts proposed in Birmingham City Council’s 2017 budget — including cuts across all Supporting People services — will hit the most vulnerable groups in the city hard.

St Basils has said, “We absolutely understand the extremely difficult decisions that have to be made,” but the level of cuts proposed will have “a devastating and disproportionate impact on the most vulnerable, including people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness, those experiencing domestic violence, people with mental health issues, people with learning disabilities, people with physical and sensory disabilities and vulnerable young people.”

Sign St Basils’ petition against the cuts

You can read the full details of  Birmingham City Council’s proposed  budget for 2017 and take part in the public consultation here. The consultation closes on the 18th January.

You can also send comments to Brian Carr, chief executive BVSC, for inclusion in BVSC’s sector response.

Meanwhile Midland Mencap is organising a mass public lobby against the cuts on Monday 16th January from 10.30am outside the Council House. DETAILS.

The bigger picture

It is perhaps not surprising that opposition to austerity and public spending cuts has fragmented into a myriad campaigns, each passionately defending particular services, localities or client groups. But in an excellent — and free — article called The Strange Death of Municipal England in the London  Review of Books, Tom Crewe argues that this fragmented view obscures the bigger picture. He says:

“What we really mean when we say that austerity has slashed the state…is that it has wrecked the ability of elected local authorities to provide and administer many of the features and functions of the state as we understand them.”

Essential reading.

 Update: See coverage of the Midland Mencap lobby at the Council House 16/01/17 — Charity Today, Midland Mencap (with video), Birmingham Mail.

Birmingham news flash — Barrow Cadbury Trust

The Barrow Cadbury Trust has just announced the following free events in Birmingham:

Find out how to share video content more effectively on YouTube

Net Squared Midlands is hosting a free event on Monday 16 January 6.30-8.30 pm on effective sharing of video content using YouTube at the Impact Hub, Walker Building, 58 Oxford Street, Birmingham, B5 5NR. Find out more and register.

Free workshop on financial education for young people

CHASM (the Centre on Household Assets and Savings Management) is running a free one day event on 2 February 10-4.30 at University of Birmingham to look at what works in financial education for young people. Send mail to Helen Harris to find out more and book a place.

Have your say on diversity

BRAP is inviting people to participate in an event with a difference in February. “Too scared to ask?” will give people the chance to be honest about how they feel about the diversity agenda. BRAP believes that many people feel they have little choice but to agree with positive claims about diversity, while privately having many unanswered concerns or questions. The event on Wednesday, 15 February 5:30-7:30pm at the Impact Hub, Birmingham, B5 5NR will give people an open space for all views to be heard and considered. Find out more and register.

Come and discuss Birmingham devolution

DevoConnect in partnership with City-REDI are hosting an evening of debate and discussion in Birmingham on Thursday 2 March 5.30-7.30pm at Birmingham University to address some of the issues British cities are facing through the devolution process. The free event is open to everyone. Find out more and register.

Koestler West Midlands art exhibition

Beyond the Door is a Koestler West Midlands exhibition 13 January – 26 March at Arena Gallery, Birmingham of artwork, writing and music from prisons, secure hospitals and those on community sentences in the West Midlands. Displayed work has been chosen by Walsall Youth Justice Service from entries to the 2016 Koestler Awards. Admission is free.

Tendering opportunity to delivery a health and wellbeing programme in Sandwell

The Accord Group is offering the following Tendering opportunity for delivery of a health and wellbeing programme (Lunch Clubs) in Sandwell.


Following the successful delivery of the National Charity Partnership Lunch Club programme in Sandwell last year, the Accord Group is pleased to be calling once again for organisations to submit Expressions of Interest to deliver 10-15 Lunch Club programmes this year in Sandwell. We are looking for one organisation to deliver the contract for all 10-15 programmes.

The focus of Lunch Clubs is health promotion aimed at motivating and incentivising participants to improve their health behaviours in relation to physical activity and food consumption. This is achieved by encouraging participants to attend the 8 individual clubs that make up a Lunch Club course. The programme is targeted at women between 25-40yrs old, with their children and families being secondary beneficiaries.

Please be aware that this programme has been redesigned and now runs throughout the year and not just in school holidays. We would welcome EoI from previous applicants if they have the capacity to deliver this revised contract. Details of the programme and Expression of Interest are attached.

Note the closing date for all Expressions of Interest is 25th January.

For more information about the programme please see: @SandwellLunch or

Please note that the contact for this particular opportunity is: Dr Caroline Wolhuter, Head of Social Inclusion, Ashram Moseley Housing Association (contact details — p.5 of the PDF).

View Tendering brief as PDF

Download Tendering brief and EOI document in MS Word

Acorns Children’s Hospice — 2017 events & fundraisers

Acorns Children’s Hospice provides babies, children and young people aged 0-18 years who have life limiting or life threatening conditions and associated complex needs with a network of specialist palliative nursing care and support.

Acorns fundraises throughout the year to help support this work and its 2017 calendar of events has just been announced.

Whether you’re runner, a skydiver, a cyclist, a walker, a bungee jumper or indeed anything else, there are ways that you can help raise funds to for Acorns.

See calendar PDF.

All events (Acorns website)

brap is recruiting…

Equality and human rights charity, brap, is recruiting…

Living Apart Together — Outreach and Development Officer
£24,000per annum — (37 hours per week) Job share considered
18-month fixed term contract

Living Apart Together is a new 18-month project which has been developed to understand more about the issues that concern and affect communities and can prevent people from getting on well together.

The Outreach and Development Officer will work primarily on this project, helping to identify organisations and individuals to participate in the work and to test out a new method of dialogue called ‘process work’. 

You will also be a key member of the brap team, one of the most progressive equality and human rights charities in the UK, and will be based in Birmingham.

This is an opportunity to be at the forefront of an innovative project which is really trying to get to grips with what people on the ground think, want and need from cohesion strategies in Birmingham.

This post is funded by the Big Lottery and brap.

Closing date for applications: Friday 3rd February 2017.

Shortlisted applicants will be notified by: Thursday 9th February 2017.

Interviews: Tuesday 14th February 2017.

For informal inquires about the role please contact brap and ask to speak to Asif or Joy on 0121 272 8450.

For an application form and job description please contact Rahela on 0121 272 8451 or send mail