How to reach us — update

This post is a sticky — newer posts appear beneath it

Our usual BSSEC email account is temporarily out of order

This means that until further notice all correspondence for BSSEC should be sent to this address.

We are still able to offer a free email circulation service for readers wishing to circulate news, information, events.

We also post items on this blog and these also go to Twitter and to my LinkedIn network.

→ To avoid missing items follow us on Twitter @BSSEC_CIC or join my LinkedIn network.

New BVSC report reveals detailed picture of the impact of the Covid crisis on Birmingham’s VCS — and the sector’s contribution

A new report just published by BVSC reveals a fascinating and detailed picture of the impact of the Covid crisis on Birmingham’s voluntary and community sector.

Birmingham Voluntary Service Council: State of the Sector 2020: Digest of Headlines brings together key findings from a survey redesigned from the ground up to furnish as much data as possible about VCOs in Birmingham as they entered lockdown and as lockdown was lifted.

We all know that the VCSE has been instrumental in the civil response to Covid. 89% of respondents report significantly changing their service delivery in order to meet new and emerging need arising from the pandemic – and doing this often with no additional funding. And while some organisations necessarily had to cut back or curtail some services, over 65% of VCOs actually expanded their services during the lockdown period in order to meet rising demand.

If you want to know more about what being part of the civil response to Covid has actually meant in practice for VCOs in Birmingham, including the likely longer-term trends in income, staffing capacity and volunteering, then you’ll find this report interesting.

(And in the interests of full disclosure, yes I did do some of the work involved.)

Go to the BVSC blog to read a full post from chief executive Brian Carr offering a commentary on key headlines — also, download the full report.


Micro-fund opens to grassroots community groups in Birmingham

BVSC has just announced the following:

The Brum Recovery Micro Fund is set up with funding from Birmingham City Council and is aimed at unconstituted and grassroots community groups in the city. Groups can apply for between £500 and £2,000 to support activity that responds to the needs of their local community, and which have been amplified as a result of COVID-19. The deadline for the first round of applications is 8 December 2020.

This is to support activity taking place over the holidays and into the new year. There will be a second round in January with a deadline of 20 January 2021 and applications will be accepted until March 2021, or until all funds have been awarded, whichever comes sooner.

The fund can provide support for services such as room hire, training and facilitation, and goods such as equipment or items needed to start or maintain activity. For more information about what can and can’t be funded, please refer to the fund criteria and guidance document, and come along to one of the two Q&A online sessions organised to answer any questions you may have.

Online Q&A: Tuesday 1 December 12:30 – 13:30

Round 1 — application closing date is 8th December.
Round 2 — application closing date is 20th January.
Round 3 — applications will be accepted until March 2021, or until all funds have been awarded (whichever comes sooner).

Go to the BVSC website to book for the online Q&A and to see full guidance and application details.

Government sets important new trend in social value

After a period during which things have been very quiet on the social value front, the government has recently (Sept 2020) issued new procurement guidelines which explicitly link social value in public procurement contracts to the Covid recovery effort.

At first glance this may seem a somewhat arcane point, but it is a potentially huge change in the social value world because it establishes a new mandatory model for social value, effectively replacing the previous legislation which merely required social value to be “considered” in public contracts in favour of a model requiring its “explicit evaluation”.

The relevant policy note is covered here in this government press statement and the policy note itself Action Note PPN 06/20.

PPN 06/20 says: “Social value should be explicitly evaluated in all central government procurement, where the requirements are related and proportionate to the subject-matter of the contract, rather than just ‘considered’ as currently required under the Public Services (Social Value) Act 2012.” This new model of social value, it says, “should be applied to all new procurements from 1 January 2021”.

“A minimum weighting of 10% of the total score for social value should be applied in the procurement,” the note says, “to ensure that it carries a heavy enough score to be a differentiating factor in bid evaluation; a higher weighting can be applied if justified.”

An Annex to PPN 06/20 sets out specified THEMES and OUTCOMES that should be used (although commercial teams can exercise discretion in deciding which are most appropriate) and these are in the screen-grabs below:

The guidance neatly sidesteps the thorny issue of how social value in bids should be “measured” by emphasising instead that “evaluation…should be qualitative so all potential suppliers, including SMEs, VCSEs and those new to government business can successfully bid by describing what they will deliver and how they will deliver it (i.e. it is the quality of what is being offered that will count in the evaluation, not the quantity)”.

Application of this model will be mandatory in central government.

Now, as far as I can see, this present guidance therefore applies to all Central Government Departments, their Executive Agencies and Non-Departmental Public Bodies — but not to local authorities. I’m no legal specialist so I thought I may be misunderstanding the PPN but at least one law firm has reviewed it and drawn the same conclusion. (If any of our solicitor colleagues know/think differently please comment or email.)

However, we have previously seen changes in the social value legislation retrospectively applied to local authorities and I suspect that that is what will happen here.

And frankly, if it doesn’t, then we should be lobbying wherever we can to ensure that this same level of consistency does apply to local authorities, because social value has been neglected of late and this new guidance offers a way of extracting the kind of social value that matters most as we and our public institutions set about the task of “building back better”. 

The relevant policy note is covered here in this government press statement and the policy note itself Action Note PPN 06/20.

Direct link to PPN 06/20.

Join iSE for a special Social Enterprise Day 2020

Thursday 19th November is Social Enterprise Day, held as part of Global Entrepreneurship Week.

As we near the middle of lockdown #2,  iSE wanted to do something to help keep up the spirits of the sector, while also promoting the work that social enterprises do. So join them for a special Social Enterprise Day Zoom quiz from 4pm on Wednesday 19th November.

Places are limited, but iSE is offering a special Christmas prize with social enterprise goodies for the winner!

If you would like to take part please send mail to Paul Barnes.

UK churches create £12.4bn a year in social value

Exercise classes, support for asylum seekers and refugees, community meals, parent-toddler groups, food banks, employment support and job-hunting, credit unions, benefits advice — there are over 40,000 churches in the UK and together they host over 35,000 community projects.

To anyone familiar with the way that in recent decades churches have increasingly become ‘community hubs’ as well as places of worship, it will perhaps be the scale of activity rather than its nature that is surprising.

A recent item in The Guardian (Churches tally up their value to society – at £12.4bn, 18th October 2020) makes this very clear. The National Churches Trust (NCT) has just published House of Good: The economic and social value of church buildings to the UK which reveals for the first time that the social value created every year by church-based projects and activities is equivalent to £12.4bn a year.

There were two things about this that surprised me.

The first was this. I was quite surprised that an organisation like the NCT would adopt a method for measuring its social value that relies on attributing financial proxies to a range of activities and using underlying formulae to combine these into an overall financial equivalent. But perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised. In many ways a financial proxy measurement of social value is perfectly suited to very large organisations (or perhaps more accurately groups of organisations) where there are a multiplicity of hard-to-compare social value outcomes.

But the second thing surprised me more, and that is that the valuation exercise was undertaken not by Social Value Portal Ltd, which has been promoting its ‘National TOMS’ social value methodology since around 2017, but by State of Life, a new entrant into the social value measurement marketplace, a Community Interest Company only launched on the 4th March 2020 — “with the help of David Knott (Director at the Office for CiviI Society in DCMS) and Lord Gus O’Donnell” [previously head of the Civil Service], its website says. And no, I don’t know what that slightly curious formulation means either. The new CIC is a joint venture between Jump Projects Ltd and Reason Digital.

I’ve no doubt that financial equivalence methods for measuring social value are what will eventually come to dominate because in many ways it is the only method that overcomes the thorny issue of ‘comparability’: how do you compare or combine — or even meaningfully report — social value of different kinds? Financial proxies at least provide a headline figure that makes people sit up and take notice — even if they have no idea how that figure has been arrived at.

Anyway, this is an interesting development in social value — both from the NCT’s particular perspective, and from that of there being new entrants into the measurement marketplace. I would dearly love to know how much the National Churches Trust spent in consultancy support because this really has been a huge undertaking and must put it in the forefront of social value measurement and reporting, up there with major national charities and huge non-departmental public bodies (NDPBs).

And on the subject of NDPBs, one can’t help but wonder whether State of Life  has been set up specifically to corner this particular marketplace.

Choose the POLICY ISSUES drop-down menu on our home-page and select PUBLIC SERVICES & SOCIAL VALUE for wealth of material on social value. 

WiSE Wednesday Webinar #9 — Social investment: hear from the entrepreneurs

iSE welcomes you to the last of its WiSE Wednesday webinars for 2020 — a  social investment panel conversation with Melanie Mills, Senior Director, Social Sector Engagement at Big Society Capital and social entrepreneurs who have taken social investment.
Hear expert insights from the world of social investment from Melanie Mills of Big Society Capital. Melanie will chair this session exploring participants’ stories of how social investment has benefitted their organisations, and what they wish they’d known in their investment journey.
The conversation will cover:
  • Taking on debt during a pandemic Some call it brave, some call it some terrifying and taking on debt during a global health pandemic is certainly not for everyone. Yet taking risks can often yield great rewards.
  • Flexible finance?  Covid-19 has shaken up almost every aspect of our lives but what has it been like for someone whose taken on repayable finance. Exactly how flexible is social investment?
  • For better or for worse  Social investors genuinely care about their investees but how has the strain of the pandemic impacted on those treasured relationships and how have they changed?
Ask your social investment questions to the panel in the open Q&A:
Date: Wednesday 14th October 2020
Time: 2.00pm start

Could you be the new operator of a friendly vegan/veggie wholefood shop at The Warehouse, Birmingham Friends of the Earth?

This, just in from The Warehouse/Birmingham FoE:

Could you be the new operator of a friendly vegan/veggie wholefood shop at The Warehouse, Birmingham Friends of the Earth’s community building in Allison St, Digbeth? Or perhaps you have a different ethical retail business idea — books, crafts, hairdressing, or something else entirely?

If so, Birmingham FoE would love to hear from you.

Our friends at Well Rooted Wholefoods have decided to call it a day and the search is on for some new shop-keepers at The Warehouse. 

There has been a wholefood shop operating at Birmingham FoE since the One Earth Shop first opened its doors back in the 1980s. The shop currently trades next to The Warehouse Cafe with a connecting door, but we could also offer spaces fronting Shaw’s Passage or Allison Street.

Monthly rent, including heat, light and business rates, ranges from £300-£600 pcm and the spaces we can offer are 150-450 sq ft.

If you’re interested, or would like more information, please email Birmingham FoE or ring 0121 632 6909.

iSE is recruiting…

iSE is looking for an exceptional and ‘social enterprise passionate’ individual to fill the role of Hub Manager and continue the success of its Sparkbrook Women’s Enterprise and Community Hub (WECH).

Following a massive refurbishment, the HUB offers inspiring office units, co-working space, a place to meet, support for the development of women-led businesses and community support for women on their journey. iSE is keen to continue to develop the HUB as a local facility for women-led businesses and offers high quality spaces for organisations that provide services to local people.

iSE is looking for someone who is able to lead on growth and expansion, ensuring that the HUB thrives and continues to have a positive impact and provide value for local women.

You will be a proven team leader, business planner, project manager, social entrepreneur and have experience in community development and you will need to build relationships with stakeholders across a wide range of fields.  You will also have responsibility for our overall financial success, business development, marketing and brand development and social impact.

It is a fantastic opportunity to make a real difference by creating a positive environment to support women in enterprise.

APPLICATIONS CLOSE on Friday 16th October 2020

Good Luck!


‘Levelling Up Our Communities’ — new report by Danny Kruger MP published

Further to this post, Danny Kruger MP has completed his report on civil society and communities that Boris Johnson tasked him with producing and it has just been published…

I started to read Kruger’s report, Levelling Up Our Communities: Proposals for a New Social Covenant, but then decided I would first read DSC’s policy director Jay Kennedy’s analysis because on other occasions I have found him incisive and accurate. His commentary on Kruger’s report is no exception.

I have to say, I don’t envy Kruger the task that the PM set him — not ever, and certainly not in the current circumstances. But what a largely missed opportunity it seems to be. Frustratingly, it is well written and well argued. And its analysis of why and how successive policy formulations meant to harness the power of civil society have failed, and of the impact of a decade of austerity on communities and the organisations that serve them, is extremely strong — in fact, more acutely and critically argued than anything that Labour has had to say on the subject over the past couple of years.

It’s the proposed solutions that are the problem. For here, as Jay Kennedy rightly says, there is a profound sense of deja-vu.

On the one hand, half-baked ideas from policy initiatives and strategies now lost in the mists of time get a new outing; on the other, more recent policy initiatives — such as the Social Value Act — are refreshed or reinforced, sometimes in useful and innovative ways. For example, the report suggests that all public sector purchasing should have a ‘social value purpose’ (it already does, of course). There is also a recommendation for a Community Right to Serve law that would give local communities and their organisations a right to be involved in policy formulation and service design, and where appropriate to bid for service delivery contracts. Devolution and localisation plans are beefed-up with a proposal for Community Improvement Districts. There is even a suggestion that a new Civil Society Improvement Agency be established (informed by the Cabinet Office ‘What works’ team — an exercise in contradictions, if ever I heard one).

There is also less welcome stuff on data and the need for new and largely unspecified data and monitoring requirements that organisations in receipt of public funding should adhere to. There’s a nod to payment-by-results (good, he thinks) and Social Impact Bonds (also good, he thinks).

Whether the proposals contained here will ever gain traction within government is probably fairly unlikely — especially in the present circumstances. Which is a shame, because there are good and interesting proposals in here. Overall, however, the report is suggestive of a lack of any firsthand experience of the possible shortcomings of its proposals or of their implementational problems…

Although Third Sector Online says that the sector is cautiously welcoming of the report and its proposals, I couldn’t help thinking that in terms of the sector’s needs at the moment and of the historic role it must play in supporting community recovery in the wake of the coronavirus crisis, Levelling Up Our Communities is not enough.

Levelling Up Our Communities — full report

→ Analysis and comment — Jay Kennedy, DCS

Gateway Family Services is recruiting…

It’s good to see positive news at the present time — Gateway Family Services CIC is recruiting to the following positions:

Link Worker Vacancy – BirminghamSocial Prescribing Link Worker

A rewarding opportunity for a Social Prescribing Link Worker to focus on ‘what matters to me’ and taking a holistic approach to people’s health and wellbeing. If you feel you could connect to people, community groups and statutory services for practical and emotional support, GFS would love to hear from you!

Position: Social Prescribing Link Worker
Location: Birmingham
Hours: Full time (37 hours)
Salary: £19,000 – £19,986
Contract: Fixed term to the end of September 2021

All details, how to apply, application form

Senior Link Worker Job VacancySenior Social Prescribing Link Worker

A rewarding opportunity for a Senior Social Prescribing Link Worker to focus on ‘what matters to me’ and taking a holistic approach to people’s health and wellbeing. If you feel you could connect to people, community groups and statutory services for practical and emotional support, GFS would love to hear from you!

Position: Senior Social Prescribing Link Worker
Location: Birmingham
Hours: 37 hours per week
Salary: £23,400 per annum
Contract: Fixed term to the end of September 2021

All details, how to apply, application form

Community Connector – Job Vacancies

GFS is currently seeing to employ a number of Community Connector’ roles to map voluntary and community organisations within the Edgbaston Locality and to share information about organisations across a range of services.

Position: Community Connector
Location: Birmingham (Edgbaston locality)
Hours: Full time (37 hours)
Salary: £18,393 to £19,986 dependant on experience
Contract: Fixed term for 6 months (with possibility of extended funding beyond this point)

All details, how to apply, application form

Closing date for all three posts: Tuesday 13th October 2020 (midnight).

Gateway Family Services CIC tackles the root cause of health inequalities by providing community-based support, helping people to sustain behaviour change and build resilience.

Since it was established in 2006, Gateway has provided a range of preventative health and wellbeing services across Birmingham and the wider West Midlands. A non-profit organisation, Gateway uses any surplus to invest in the education, employment, health and wellbeing of the communities we work with.

Jericho wins prestigious Centre for Social Justice award

Staff and volunteers outside JERICHO’s ReUsers social enterprise in Sutton Coldfield

We would like to congratulate everyone at Jericho on this news, just in…

Leading Birmingham-based social enterprise Jericho has been awarded the coveted Work and Welfare award by the highly regarded Think Tank, the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ). The award took place as part of this year’s CSJ Digital Awards 2020.

The news was announced by Bear Grylls on the CSJ’s website and social media feeds on Monday 14th September, during CSJ’s first ever digital awards week. You can watch the announcement here.

The CSJ Awards — in partnership with The Telegraph — are an annual, high profile award ceremony that honours the best grassroots, poverty-fighting charities and social enterprises across the UK. The Work and Welfare award is designed for organisations who help people get back onto their feet and into work. 

Jericho CEO, Richard Beard said, “We couldn’t be more thrilled to win the Centre for Social Justice’s Work and Welfare award. Our burgeoning relationship with the CSJ will support our mission to ensure the issues that affect people with barriers to employment and social inclusion are heard and represented at the highest level. This will ultimately mean that we can make an even greater impact above and beyond the individual lives of the people Jericho was established to support”.

Founded in 1993, Jericho actively supports people who are marginalised by society and face barriers to employment, to finding work and to achieving the personal fulfilment they deserve. Jericho believes in a just society where everyone has a chance to prosper. It operates a number of not-for-personal-profit social enterprises which offer great products and services, but with the added benefit that each time a customer buys from Jericho, they are supporting life-changing job opportunities for people who need them most.

The more money people spend with JERICHO, the more it can do to improve the lives of vulnerable people. “It’s that simple,” says Jericho, “and we are not stopping until we realise our vision of a world free from injustice and a future where people from all backgrounds can reach their full potential in work and in life.”

Jericho: breaking barriers, changing lives.


Welcome Change CIC is recruiting — again…

Further to this earlier post

Following a successful bid to the Government’s Coronavirus Community Support Fund (distributed by The National Lottery Community Fund), Welcome Change CIC has a further vacancy at its Kitts Green Community Hub and is seeking a Project Support Worker.

This will be an enthusiastic and proactive individual who will work on the development and delivery of activities at the Community Hub.

The job will involve helping to engage with the local community, grow our existing food pantry, and introduce a range of new activities that meet the needs of the local community.

It is initially a 22.50 hour a week, six-month fixed term post. Welcome Change CIC hopes to secure additional funding to allow the role to continue beyond six months.

Full details, contacts and application pack.


New social investment support programme for social enterprises & third sector

Through its Social Investment Catalyst Programme the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) is offering six free online masterclasses between 10th September and 19th November. The sessions will include a variety of expert keynote speakers from the VCSE sector across the Midlands and each session is supported by Carole Donnelly, a local social entrepreneur.

The sessions are:

Masterclass 1: Thursday 10th September 12:30–2pm: Introduction to public health and social investment. Kiran Kenth, Director of National Regional Programmes for RSPH; Matt Smith CEO Key Fund; Carole Donnelly

Masterclass 2: Thursday 24th September 12:30–2pm: Partnership and Collaboration. Brian Carr, CEO BVSC; Claire Spencer WMCA; Carole Donnelly

Masterclass 3: Thursday 8th October 12:30–2pm: Confidence, capability and continued success. Afzal Hussain COO Witton Lodge Community Association; Carole Donnelly

Masterclass 4: Thursday 22nd October 12:30–2pm: Storytelling for impact. Sallie Ryan, marketing specialist; Steve Sharma communications officer WLCA; Power to Change marketing team

Masterclass 5: Thursday 5th November 12:30–2pm: Cash Flow forecasting made simple and demonstrating social value. Heidi Fisher MBE, social value specialist and former accountant

Masterclass 6: Thursday 19th November 12:30–2pm: How to be a Flourishing Organisation. Carole Donnelly

There will also be a Social Investment West Midlands digital conference 2020 on the 29th October 2020 at 10am – 2pm #SIWM2020.

This will bring together a network of voluntary and community sector organisations, social enterprises and social investors to provide an insight into current thinking and latest developments in the social investment field from a variety of perspectives including policy, practice and prevention.

View the PDF flyer

Sign up to attend

iSE’s WiSE Wednesday webinars return on 16th September

On Wednesday 16th September 2020 iSE’s WiSE Wednesday webinar series returns following an August summer break. 
The discussion topic, including open Q&A, will be Digital Transformation — in a low tech environment with Pauline Roche, CIO of award-winning social enterprise RnR Organisation.
Pauline, who was also winner of the West Midlands Women of the Year 2016 award: Outstanding Contribution to Technology, will explain the importance of data, digital agility and digital competence in sustainable, successful social enterprises, particularly those that are seeking to diversify, consolidate or transform delivery for new and existing markets. Pauline will discuss:
  • It doesn’t happen overnight – start small, don’t lose the personal touch.
  • Who are your people, internal and external.
  • Building on the data.
RnR Organisation leads from the front by chairing the West Midlands Funders Network and West Midlands Open Data Forum, along with being listed in the Inspiring Fifty: Europe 2017 and the co-organisers of meet up Net Squared Midlands.
Register here: Digital Transformation in a Low Tech Environment: 16th September, 2pm start.  

BECo — the social enterprise that wants employers to steal its staff

Divine chocolate. Belu water. The Big Issue. A comparatively small number of social enterprises are operating at the scale of national manufacturers.

And note that I do call them manufacturers and not ‘brands’ — I mean companies that make things, not brands that pursue maximum profit by outsourcing production to wherever conditions are worst and costs cheapest.

It takes a long time and a lot of marketing resources to reach the scale and capacity required to achieve national recognition. It takes even greater effort and resolve to do this ethically — by which I mean trading for social purpose rather than in whatever way will most enrich shareholders.

I was prompted to think about this this morning by a discussion about ethical, cruelty-free toiletries and I realised that I had come across a name that was new to me: BECo soaps.

In fact, BECo — it stands for Better Considered — is the new trading name for the soaps and toiletries produced by the disability charity and social firm, Clarity & Co, which traces its roots back to 1854. I was familiar with it under its old trading name of The Soap Company, but last year saw a major ‘rebranding’ (there’s no way round the term, I suppose) and BECo now has plans to be the new household name in ethical, cruelty-free toiletries.

80% of BECo’s staff have physical, sensory or other disabilities that disadvantage them in the conventional labour market. There are a million more people with disabilities that the company would like to employ — but unless it sells an immensely greater volume of soap, it can’t. And this is why its website encourages readers to ‘steal our staff‘. That’s right: if you’re an employer and you see someone on the BECo website you’d like to employ, you can email the company with a job offer and they’ll pass it on to the staff member concerned.

All BECo products — organic soap and shampoo bars, liquid hand-wash and other products to come — are made in the UK and create employment for people with disabilities. They are stocked by Boots, the Co-op, Waitrose, Sainsbury’s and the online Ethical Superstore.

And moreover they are sensibly priced. (I do get sick of seeing products — and social enterprises are not always exempt from this — that are so expensive that their manufacturers appear oblivious both to their own privilege and to real-world financial hardship.) 

The dog-eat-dog scramble of social media ‘influencers’ to ‘work with brands’ is frankly disgusting but here is an aim truly worthy of a bit of ‘influencing’: if BECo products were in every bathroom in the UK, another 45,000 employment opportunities for people with disabilities would be created.

With scrupulous hygiene a key defence against the transmission of Covid-19, surely this is a moment of opportunity.

BVSC state of the sector survey has never been more important

Active Wellbeing Society workers and volunteers distributing food and other essentials during the coronavirus crisis (Photo: AWS/BVSC)

UPDATE 09/09/20: BVSC’s state of the sector ends on Friday 11th September

Further to this post, this is a reminder to say that BVSC’s ‘state of the sector’ survey has never been more important.

This year the survey has been completely redesigned to help gauge the impact of coronavirus on Birmingham’s voluntary, community and social enterprise sector (VCSE) and the communities it serves.

If you can make fifteen minutes to participate, please do. The information the survey provides will play a critical role in helping plan for VCSE and community recovery.

Read more and survey link

John Taylor Hospice — can you help reunite a family with gallantry medals that may have been donated by accident?

John Taylor Hospice, the UK’s first social enterprise hospice, has been covered extensively on this blog, but today’s story is rather different to the sort of thing we normally cover.

The hospice is asking for help in an unusual cause. A recent donation to its Castle Bromwich shop included a number of Second World War gallantry medals and the hospice wants to make sure that this was intentional. Rachael, the shop manager, says: “We’re hoping someone can help us make sure that these medals were an intended donation. We would love to hear from the gentleman who brought in the donation or another close family member so we can check and either return the medals or thank them.”

The medals were amongst items taken into the JTH shop in Timberley Lane on Saturday 8th August by a man who made no mention of the donation including medals.

Read the full story on the JTH blog and if by any chance this rings bells with you and you think you may know the donor of these items you can contact the shop manager Rachael on 0121 728 6763 (Mon-Fri 10am-4pm) or speak to the hospice media team on 07551 125358.

UPDATE 24th August 2020: The widespread coverage of this story on websites, blogs such as ours and other social media platforms led to local TV and radio news features and family members have now come forward and John Taylor Hospice is in the process of reuniting the family with the medals. Read more here.  Further update 19th October 2020: the medals, originally awarded to Mr Jim Hoverd have now been reunited with the family — read the full story here.

The medals found in a donation made to the John Taylor Hospice shop in Castle Bromwich on the 8th August

Welcome Change CIC is recruiting

Following a successful bid to the Coronavirus Community Support Fund, Welcome Change CIC is seeking a Project Co-ordinator for its Community Hub in Kitts Green.

Welcome Change CIC is seeking an enthusiastic and pro active individual to work on the development and delivery of activities at its Community Hub in Kitts Green.

The job will involve growing an existing food pantry, liaising with local residents and building partnerships with other public and private sector organisations operating in the area to introduce new activities and ensure a co-ordinated approach to meeting the needs of the local community.

This is initially a 30 hour a week, six-month fixed term post, funded through the Government’s Coronavirus Community Support Fund, distributed by The National Lottery Community Fund. Welcome Change CIC aims to secure additional funding to allow the role to continue beyond six months.

Full details, contacts and application pack.


Women’s Enterprise Hub — evolving to meet new needs

Since 2015 iSE has been delivering specialist enterprise support for women from its Women’s Enterprise Hub on Ladypool Rd, Sparkbrook. This was a partnership between iSE and Birmingham City Council.

Things have moved on significantly. In March 2020 iSE secured a fifteen year lease on the building under a community asset transfer arrangement with the council. The audit carried out as part of this process revealed that the Women’s Enterprise Hub creates the equivalent of £4m of social value in the local community every year.

This amply demonstrates the valuable role the Hub has been playing and continues to play — but even this hasn’t remained static. The coronavirus pandemic has created a level of local community need that is beyond anything previously seen in the locality.

The Women’s Enterprise Hub has now been repurposed as the Women’s Enterprise & Community Hub (WECH), reflecting the need to take a much broader and integrated approach that can meet complex local needs of debt, poverty, marginalisation in the conventional labour market and Covid-19-related hardship.

This shift in focus has enabled the WECH to raise additional resources, create two more specialist support roles, and extend its range of services. For example, during the worst of the pandemic, a newly-established food bank swiftly came to support fifty local families.

You can read the story of the evolution of the Women’s Enterprise & Community Hub on the iSE blog.

Bright Enterprise — BE more enterprising, BE more you: helping women entrepreneurs towards their first £1,000 of turnover

iSE has just announced a new women’s enterprise support programme, operating from its Women’s Enterprise & Community Hub (WECH) in Sparkbrook. The announcement reads:

The Women’s Enterprise and Community Hub (WECH), based in Sparkbrook, announces a new enterprise start up programme for Birmingham women, Bright Enterprise.

WECH, part of iSE CIC, is delighted to offer women in Birmingham the opportunity to build confidence, develop skills and start a business with our NatWest funded start up programme.

A dedicated 6 month start up support programme designed to help women bring their business ideas to life, develop a business plan, a marketing plan and target their first £1,000 of turnover!

To join the Bright Enterprise blended learning programme starting in September 2020, simply click to apply here.

Application deadline is Wednesday 19th August 2020, 12:00 noon.

The Bright Enterprise programme start date will be Wednesday 16th September 2020.

More information here.