BVSC wants your feedback on what this year’s ‘state of the sector survey’ should include

Graphic: courtesy BVSC

BVSC’s State of the Sector 2020 survey underwent an almost complete redesign last year in order to focus on gathering as much data as possible about the state of the voluntary, community, faith and social enterprise sector as it went into the pandemic and as it began to emerge from two successive lockdowns.

The published findings report (Nov 2020) enabled BVSC to do important work in lobbying for and advocating on behalf of the sector.

The 2021 survey is currently in the planning stages and BVSC wants to hear what you think needs to go into it. Help shape the 2021 survey by telling BVSC what you most want to get out of it — complete the short (three question) scoping survey (the link is at the foot of the page).

 Read the full story over on the BVSC website.

Coventry & Warwickshire CDA is recruiting…

This just in from Coventry & Warwickshire CDA:

Coventry and Warwickshire CDA is a not for profit organisation which aims to support local people to lead economically active and fulfilling lives by providing useful, practical and accessible services that make a positive difference.

The organisation is currently recruiting and requires:

An Outreach Social Enterprise Business Adviser to join its Social Enterprise Team.

The successful applicant will be expected to provide intensive support to new and existing social enterprises in Coventry and Warwickshire. This support will cover a range of issues such as company formation, governance, strategic and business planning, income generation and identifying markets.

» Salary from £32,910 (pro rata) plus 8% pension contribution.
» 24.5 hours per week.
» The Post is for a fixed term and ends 31st September 2022.
» There is a possibility of extension to 31st March 2023.

» Application forms only. No CVs.
» Closing date: 5pm, Wednesday 1st September 2021.
» Interview date: Wednesday 8th September 2021.

This contract is part funded by the European Regional Development Fund.

For full details and to download an application pack visit the website, or send email, or ring 024 7663 3911.

WMCA & BVSC join forces on homelessness prevention toolkit

In the wake of the the metropolitan Mayors of the West Midlands, Greater Manchester, and Liverpool City Region jointly calling on the government to continue funding the Housing First pilot scheme to help vulnerable people off the streets, the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) in conjunction with BVSC have also announced publication of a Commitment to Collaborate (C2C) Toolkit to Prevent and Relieve Homelessness.

Developed by the WMCA Homelessness Taskforce in partnership with BVSC, the toolkit is designed to be used by organisations and partnerships of all kinds — you do not need to be an organisation directly involved in homelessness work to make good use of its resources.

The toolkit is intended to promote collaboration between and across organisations. It offers an overview of homelessness in its widest sense and encourages organisations of all kinds to think about the things they can do and the practices they can change which will help prevent homelessness and its underlying causes. It advocates a roundtable approach — starting conversations about homeless within your own organisation and with partners, stakeholders and others — and includes resources such as PowerPoint slides, guidance on developing frameworks for collaboration, writing organisational pledges,  developing homelessness action plans and how to gain Commitment to Collaborate accreditation.

WMCA says that it will talk organisations through usage of the toolkit. You can email for further advice/information.

 Read more about the Toolkit

→ The Toolkit

BSSEC publishes ninth annual report

The Covid-19 pandemic was still unfolding when we published our previous Annual Report. Since then the full scale of the crisis has become evident – the social, economic and human cost it has exacted, the change and adaptation it has required, and the continuing transformation that will be necessary as part of the recovery.

The pandemic inevitably had an impact on how we worked during 2020/21 to create opportunities for social enterprise and social value — but it did not diminish the importance of this work. Indeed, quite the reverse: the social economy has always been vital to helping create inclusive economic growth and stronger and more diverse local economies. It must now be central in helping to ensure a just, inclusive and equitable recovery from the pandemic. Throughout the earlier stages of the pandemic we worked hard to ensure that wherever possible recovery planning was informed by a social economy perspective. We shall continue to do this confident that the sector will play the fullest role possible in both economic and community recovery.

Again, we gratefully acknowledge funding from The Barrow Cadbury Trust which for some years now has helped support BSSEC’s work. We especially want to record our appreciation of the Trust’s flexible and supportive approach. This has always been characteristic of the Trust but during the Covid-19 pandemic we found it especially helpful and especially reassuring.

Read ninth annual report

See all annual reports

Online public health briefing with Dr Justin Varney to focus on VCFSE — 29th July

Thursday 29th July, 2:00pm-3:00pm: BVSC is hosting an online briefing with Birmingham’s Director of Public Health Dr Justin Varney who will be providing an update on the current Covid-19 situation. The event will have a particular focus on the voluntary, community, faith and social enterprise (VCSFE) sector.

This is a free event, open to all. There will be an opportunity to put questions to Dr Varney via the chat/Q&A (questions must be submitted in advance).

More details & bookings

UPDATE 02/08/21: This briefing has been recorded and can be viewed here

In related news, in May BVSC published Reflections: One Year On, marking the first anniversary of national lockdown. Leaders from fourteen very different organisations explore the vital role played by VCFSE organisations during the pandemic, and consider its impact on on their organisations, staff and volunteers and on the communities they serve.

→ More details & download the report

SEUK reports on impact of Buy Social Corporate Challenge — and it is truly impressive

Five years ago SEUK established an ambitious Buy Social Corporate Challenge. It was launched to considerable fanfare in Downing Street, with seven founding corporate partners committing to open up their supply chains to social enterprises.

The idea of the challenge was to take the proven methods of the Buy Social campaign but to ratchet these up exponentially using the supply-chain opportunities of the major corporates.

SEUK has just published its Year 5 Impact Report looking at the achievements of the Buy Social Corporate Challenge and I have to say they are impressive:

  • 27 large businesses are now signed up to the Buy Social Corporate Challenge, representing almost every major sector of the economy.
  • Almost £165m has been spent with social enterprises by large businesses in the first five years of the Buy Social Corporate Challenge.
  • Despite the challenges of the pandemic, 2020 was the best year yet, with almost £73m spent in a single year with social enterprise suppliers.
  • Approximately 550 social enterprises supplied one or more Buy Social Corporate Challenge partners over the last 12 months.
  • Buy Social Corporate Challenge partners once again reported a strong performance on cost and quality from their social enterprise suppliers – 95% of partners said that they are cost neutral when compared with other suppliers, and 95% of partners said that they deliver comparable or higher quality compared with other suppliers.
  • Corporate contracts in the first five years of the programme have led to the direct or indirect creation of 2,030 jobs at social enterprises. Many of these jobs go to individuals who face barriers to the labour market, showing that social enterprises can make a crucial contribution to tackling the COVID jobs crisis.
  • According to Buy Social Corporate Challenge partners, sourcing from social enterprises brings a wide range of benefits to corporate clients.


To find out more about the Buy Social Corporate Challenge contact SEUK’s business development team.

Read the background story and download the report.

iSE & Witton Lodge offer new work, wellbeing and enterprise programme

iSE and Witton Lodge Community Association are now delivering a new ESF-funded employment and enterprise programme called the WOWED project — which stands for World of Work, Wellbeing and Enterprise Development.

The project offers:

  • Basic skills support
  • Confidence/assertiveness training
  • Finance skills and personal budgeting skills
  • Presentation skills
  • Employability support
  • Volunteering opportunities
  • Enterprise awareness workshops
  • Business start-up support (both private and social enterprise)
  • Business skills


To be eligible for the programme clients must live in the GBSLEP area, be unemployed and have the right to work in the UK. The focus is on disadvantaged groups including those who are long-term unemployed, women, the over-50s, BAME groups.

How to make referrals to the project: Check that the person is unemployed and please send details (full name, phone number and postcode) by email to Kirsty Palmer, Women’s Enterprise & Community Hub manager at iSE.

Marketing materials will be available shortly.

Free online help for the reopening of community buildings

BVSC has just announced that in conjunction with Acivico, the design, facilities management and built environment consultancy, it will be offering two free online workshops in July, aimed specifically at those responsible for the safe reopening of community buildings.

The workshops include one-to-one support (which needs to be pre-booked) and will cover:

» Covid-19 Risk Assessments
» Building Compliance
» Ventilation & Handy Hints
» Signage & Cleaning
» Resources – Fire & First Aid

Workshop dates/times are:

15th July 2:00pm-4:00pm

27th July 2:00pm-4:00pm


It’s great to see this kind of collaboration making additional support and expertise available to the sector.

New project to boost digital literacy and inclusion in Northfield & Edgbaston

Northfield Community Partnership, Age UK and Gateway Family Services are just starting a new project focused on improving digital literacy and inclusion amongst the over-50s in Northfield and Edgbaston.

The project is seeking to recruit 2 x Digital Literacy Project Workers. These are fixed term (1-year) part-time (20-hrs/week) positions and the closing date for applications is 5pm, Friday 23rd July 2021.

Edgbaston and Northfield Neighbourhood Network Scheme (NNS) has been leading various initiatives to support older people and community organisations during the Covid crisis and has identified digital literacy and inclusion as being especially important in helping improve health and wellbeing and reduce the impact of social isolation and loneliness.

Read the advert

Read the Job Description

 Send mail to Pauline Roche at Northfield Community Partnership for further details and application pack

Welcome Change CIC opens community hub in Lea Village

Cllr Brindle opens Welcome Change CIC’s new community hub in Lea Village

Councillor Marje Bridle has officially opened a new Community Hub in Lea Village in east Birmingham. The hub is run by BSSEC member, Welcome Change CIC. It has been supported by a grant of £500k from the National Lottery Community Fund, securing its future for the next five years. The new initiative will play a vital part in helping to tackle health inequalities and reduce isolation in one of the most deprived areas in the city.

Speaking at the opening event, Councillor Bridle said: “What a fantastic organisation we’ve got here in Welcome Change. It has made an impact in virtually every part of the area I represent as a local Councillor. What’s so special is that it’s full of ideas for helping the local community – and it gets things done. Now, in addition to its Community Centre in Shard End, Community Hub at Glebe Farm Library and Community Garden in Tile Cross, there is this Community Hub, which is already buzzing. It’s just what’s needed, offering help for people who want to get a job or need advice on a range of issues, a food pantry service, a place for people to get together and loads more. Thank you to the fantastic team.”

Sally Edwards, Welcome Change CIC’s chief executive, says: “We are extremely fortunate in having such engaged and supportive local Councillors in our area and look forward to making the most of the opportunities provided by this being designated a Pioneer Ward. We are also delighted to have received funding from the National Lottery Community Fund, which will enable us to support the local community in the long-term. We hope to make a real impact, building on the work of Birmingham Settlement before us.”

In addition to attending clubs, classes and events, local people are welcome to drop in for information and assistance with things like benefits claims, budgeting, responding to official letters or using a computer to access information and services. The Hub also currently hosts a twice weekly food club and an after-school club.

A timetable for activities at the Lea Village Community Hub can be found on its Facebook page

Roots HR CIC announces free HR toolkits

If you’ve been planning to build up up your in-house resources on HR and recruitment, now is a very good time to do so. Social sector HR specialist Roots HR CIC has just announced that as part of delivering on its social mission it will be releasing a free HR toolkit every month for the next year. The first is a Recruitment Toolkit worth £399.

Packed with useful guidance, templates, tools and a training webinar, the toolkit is aimed particularly at smaller social sector organisations that need to know more about:

  • Meeting minimum legislative requirements in recruiting employees.
  • Applying good practice while maintaining a level of flexibility in approaches to recruitment.
  • Responding to internal and external change — effectively, strategically and operationally.
  • Attracting and appointing the best possible candidates.
  • Treating applicants fairly in line with equality of opportunity and with transparency and accountability.
  • Maintaining the minimum possible cost and administrative burden balanced against the direct and indirect financial costs of getting the recruitment process wrong.


Also included is a voucher offering one hour’s free help in implementing the toolkit.

Find out more and order your toolkit.

UPDATE 02/09/21: Roots HR has just announced that its FREE second toolkit is now available. This one is on SELECTION. You can request it HERE and sign-up to receive notification of each subsequent toolkit.

iSE is recruiting

This just in from iSE…

Exciting new job opportunities in the social enterprise sector

iSE CIC has two exciting vacancies based at our Women’s Enterprise & Community Hub in Sparkbrook, working for project lifespan on our new WOWED project.

The two posts are:

Business Advisor: Working on a fixed term contract for the life of the WOWED project. The project is an ESF funded programme, supporting people into to employment or business start up. This role has a particular emphasis on business start up and social enterprise. You will be expected to delivery group sessions, as well as 1:1 support and mentoring.

Outreach, Marketing and Volunteer Officer: Working on a fixed term contract for the life of the WOWED project. The project is an ESF funded programme, engaging with the community to identify and support those that need assistance into to employment or business start-up.

Full details, job descriptions and how to apply

Citizen Coaching is recruiting

Citizen Coaching is a social enterprise that enables adults and young people to lead better lives through access to timely, affordable and jargon free counselling, anger management and personal development coaching delivered by a friendly professional team.

It currently has two full-time vacancies:

Marketing Manager

A unique opportunity to join a friendly hard working, team based in Digbeth Birmingham, that supports adults and young people access free Counselling and well-being services.

Reporting directly to the Operations Director this role is suitable for a marketing graduate or somebody with at least two years experience of working in a client focused marketing role.

Details and application

Operations Manager

A unique opportunity to join a friendly hard working, team based in Digbeth Birmingham. We support adults and young people access free Counselling and well-being services as our Operations Manager.

Reporting directly to the Operations Director. This role is suitable for a graduate or somebody with at least two years experience of working in a client focused role.

Details and application


Creative Active Lives CIC hosts online Variety Show — magic, music, mind reading & more

Creative Active Lives CIC creates exciting, engaging, inclusive workshops and events for all ages and abilities.

Its next event is a very special online Variety Show for the over 65s on Thursday 8th July from 6.30pm-8.00pm.

Director Rachel Conlisk says:

This time around the theme is ‘Music & Magic’, with special guests, Tom Noddy, ‘The Bubble Man’, who performs worldwide with his legendary Bubble Magic Act, our regular live band the Miss Jones Trio, and the Impossible Mr Goodwin, mind reader and magician.

I first saw Tom Noddy’s mesmerising Bubble Magic act on the Paul Daniels show in the 1980s. It blew me away and I have never forgotten it, so we are delighted to bring him online for our social club to perform his act close up, tell us stories from his incredible life and career performing around the world, and answer any questions from the audience.

We would like to invite you and extend the invitation to anyone you work with or your service users who would enjoy this evening social via Zoom. We encourage people to chat using zoom chat function, or the group telephone call kindly provided by Age UK Sandwell, and we love to get the acts to say any Happy Birthdays or give a shout out to anyone watching — so do let us know who you would like a shout out to.

Ww hope you can join us, and if you can help spread the word we would be most grateful.

Find out more about Creative Active Lives CIC social events and activities.

→ Browse Creative Active Lives CIC’s free activity resources for downloading and home use.

Magic & Music Variety Show — booking via Eventbrite (tickets £3.28 to £27.54).

Help & support for co-operatives, mutuals and community-led enterprises

If you already are or are planning to set up a co-operative, mutual or other type of community-led enterprise, you may want to know more about specialist support provider, Co-operative Futures.
The company works nationally but has a strong West Midlands focus. Some of its services may be available free of charge; in other instances it may be able to signpost you to sources of grant-support that will help meet the cost.
Co-operative Futures is a business development consultancy specialising in support and advice for co-operatives, mutuals and community-led enterprises. Typically, its clients meet three basic criteria: 1) they have some sort of trading activity; 2) they have a social purpose; and 3) they have some form of collective ownership.
Whether you are just starting out with an idea, or are an established co-op enterprise looking to grow and develop your business, Co-operative Futures can help you. It provides practical, hands-on advice and support at every stage of an organisation’s development and has experience of supporting co-ops and community businesses in retail, leisure, community asset transfer, renewable energy, producer groups, social care and many other sectors.
The organisation specialises in the following areas:
  • Pre-start – support to explore your ideas, who should be involved, and what your next steps need to be.
  • Starting up – looking at your business model, the viability of the business and what you need to get going.
  • Governance – how to make sure your legal structure is the right one and making sure you are doing the right things for your members.
  • Finance – looking at how much it costs to run your business, what you should charge to make the right amount of profit and how to understand your accounts.
  • Marketing – identifying who your customers are, what they want to buy, how much they will pay and how to tell them about yourselves.
  • Business plans – that cover all the important areas, whether primarily for internal use, or as a tool to help raise finance.
Co-operative Futures is also a Community Shares practitioner and can offer bespoke support in writing share offer documents that will enable you to raise capital investment from your community or members.
Community Shares schemes are being used increasingly to help finance and grow all kinds of community-led enterprises — local shops and pubs, renewable energy schemes, community facilities, local food growing, football clubs, heritage buildings.
For more information send mail to Co-operative Futures.

iSE welcomes new chief executive

Cathy Brown, iSE’s new CEO (photo: ISE)

Further to this post, the Chair of iSE’s board of directors, Dr Steve Harding, has issued a statement welcoming iSE’s new chief executive, Cathy Brown.

Cathy will replace Sarah Crawley, iSE’s founder and only CEO since the company’s formation, on the 1st July. They are working together throughout June as iSE makes this important transition.

Cathy has over thirty years’ experience of working in the public, private and third sectors, including delivering strategic transformation programmes for a FTSE100 company and providing practical guidance to help organisations improve workplace experience and performance through a variety of business models. She is the former Executive Director of Engage for Success, the UK’s movement for employee engagement, and Operations Director of the Employee Ownership Association.

In 2017 and again in 2019, Perkbox, the leading online platform for employee experience, performance and wellbeing, recognised Cathy as being in the top fifteen HR influencers in the country.

This marks a huge moment for Sarah personally, of course, and for iSE and its team. But it also signals a major new development for the social enterprise sector in Birmingham and the region. I’m sure many will join me in saying that we look forward to getting to know Cathy and to working with her as we have with Sarah over the past two decades. A new chapter in social enterprise support and development in Birmingham is about to begin.  

Read the full story on the iSE blog.

Martineau Gardens seeks new CEO

This, just in from Martineau Gardens (which we have written about before here), which is seeking to recruit a new Chief Executive Officer.

Martineau Gardens is a beautiful therapeutic community garden, a charity and social enterprise, located two miles from Birmingham City Centre. Its two and a half acres of organically managed landscape is an oasis for wildlife, a haven of tranquillity, and a destination for outdoor escape and exploration.

Martineau Gardens, Chief Executive Officer vacancy

Salary Scale: NJC 29 (£32,910 per annum)
Hours: 37.5
Location: Birmingham

Martineau Gardens is seeking an inspirational Chief Executive Officer to join our small independent charity, someone who shares our vision and values, invites innovation and thrives on making a positive difference to the people and communities we serve.

Martineau Gardens, holders of the Queens Award for Voluntary Service, is an organically managed community garden close to Birmingham city centre. We offer volunteering opportunities for Social and Therapeutic Horticulture; work placements for SEN students; environmental education for schools; family activities and courses for adults. We supplement our charitable income through public engagement activities including events; plant and produce sales; venue hire and visitor donations.

The opportunity to join as our new Chief Executive comes at an exciting time for the charity as we seek to grow our resources and expertise to support more people and maintain the restorative properties of the Gardens. We are seeking an individual who can develop strategy using a creative approach; someone with high levels of emotional intelligence and the ability to influence, who has experience of managing a team with diverse skills and who has expertise in budgeting and governance.

As Chief Executive Officer, you will lead and guide your team of 10 and support them to adapt and develop their services to ensure sustainability and identify opportunities for new ways of working, delivering plans that meet strategic and operational aims.

Reporting to the Chair of Trustees, the role of Chief Executive will support the Board of Trustees in fulfilling their responsibilities in the governance of the charity and will bring good strategic and analytical skills coupled with the credibility and gravitas to represent the charity, motivating and empowering through values driven leadership.

Potential candidates will need to be fully motivated to provide the dynamic and inspiring leadership required to ensure the charity grows and to be able to support the Charity’s vision, mission and values. You will ideally have previous experience leading in the Charity sector, however we will consider applications from a wide range of backgrounds. Knowledge of Social and Therapeutic Horticulture is desirable but not essential.

If you have the ambition, credentials and values to help steer our charity to the next level, we would love to hear from you. Any offer made is subject to satisfactory references to the charity and an enhanced disclosure from the Disclosure & Barring service (DBS) will be essential if successful.

To apply please provide a comprehensive CV, including details of your achievements in each role. Please include a supporting statement, explaining how you believe your skills and experience match the requirements of the role, directly addressing the criteria as outlined in the person specification. Please also outline your motivation for applying for this role.

Closing date: 27th May 2021
Interview date: Week commencing 9th June 2021

For further information, please email Gill Milburn.

View PDF of advert

Birmingham LGBT: consultancy opportunity

This, just in from Birmingham LGBT:

Birmingham LGBT is looking for a consultant to support the delivery of its LGBT Ageing Better Hub legacy plan from July 2021 to December 2021.

The work includes:

  • Briefing for service providers and commissioners
  • Toolkit for peer-led groups
  • Resources for older LGBT people


The contract value is £7,500 inc. VAT, and you are welcome to bid for the whole or a part of the work.

The successful applicant will have knowledge of the issues affecting older LGBT people; a proven track record of writing policies, factsheets and policy briefings; community development skills and experience of working with grassroots community groups.

The closing date for submissions is 14 May 2021.

Full details and how to submit a Tender here

Exterior restoration of historic Argent Centre completed

The Argent Centre with scaffolding, Summer 2020 (Photo: Townscape Heritage)

This is a little different to the kind of news we normally carry but it is relevant because it highlights the work of a Birmingham community benefit society that you may not have heard of — along with the property management company that acts on its behalf. And it involves the exterior restoration of one of the gems of the Jewellery Quarter: The Argent Centre.

Midlands Industrial Association (MIA) is a community benefit society established almost forty years ago. It manages seven properties in Birmingham — including the Argent Centre — and the Chubb Building (known more widely as the Lighthouse Media Centre) in Wolverhampton. MIA’s aims are to promote employment, support small firms and fight dereliction by providing suitable workspace through the refurbishment of redundant buildings and the reclamation of derelict sites in inner city areas of Birmingham and Wolverhampton.

Funding from the Jewellery Quarter Heritage Trust and the National Lottery Heritage Fund has enabled the complete restoration of the exterior of the Grade II* listed Argent Centre. The scheme for undertaking this major restoration was developed for MIA by Prince Warnes Properties, which manages all of MIA’s properties.

The work has just been completed and includes architecturally faithful reinstatement of the crowning turrets that were part of J. G. Bland’s original design when the factory was built in 1863 for pen manufacturer, W. E. Wiley. Wiley’s pens and nibs sold in countless millions and were exported around the world.

Wiley was a mixture of canny businessman and enlightened self-interest. He believed that better conditions for his workers made for better business and the top floors of his factory included Turkish baths which were heated using waste steam from the manufacturing process. Why waste good, hot steam when it could be sold? If you’re wondering what ‘hammam’ Turkish Baths cost in the mid-nineteenth century I can tell you that a single first class bath started at 3/6d — Townscape Heritage shows the original 1860s advert.

All of the work on The Argent Centre was done by Midlands companies. Stonemasonry and restoration was by Midland Conservation Ltd (Walsall), glasswork and window restoration by Nick Bayliss Architectural Glass Ltd (Birmingham), and the new five-foot stainless steel finials that now top the turrets were handmade by Oakham Fabrication in Cradley Heath. The project was overseen by Birmingham-based Oliver Architecture and managed on behalf of MIA by Prince Warnes Properties.

In the interests of full disclosure, I can say that while I am a happy tenant at The Argent Centre, no one is paying me to say this — I am simply pleased to see the building restored to its former glory. I know it took years to raise the resources to make this possible and everyone involved deserves to be congratulated.

Have a look at the excellent short film about the restoration that Townscape Heritage has produced.

More about regeneration in the Jewellery Quarter.

Townscape Heritage article about The Argent Centre.

Community conversation events — Business in the Community and Midland Metro Alliance

Business in the Community (BITC) is working in partnership with Midland Metro Alliance (MMA) to host a Community Conversation event as MMA extends its light rail services in the region. BITC is looking for local, cross-sector representatives to get involved in supporting the strengthening and recovery of the Birmingham area.

The event will take place as two virtual conversations (Zoom) — the first on Wednesday 5th May 2021 and the second on Wednesday 19th May 2021. Both events run from 10:30am until noon and BITC would like participants to register for both events.

The event is intended to bring together the business, public and VCSE sectors to enable dialogue that will lead to participants agreeing collaborative actions that they will continue to work together to achieve.

The focus will be on the benefits of improved connectivity with areas of opportunity and major employment sites and wider social and environmental issues.

 More information — read the invitation in full

→ Register for Session 1 (Wednesday 5th May 2021)

→ Register for Session 2 (Wednesday 19th May 2021)

Questions or further information: Kelly Stackhouse, Programme Manager at BITC, by email.