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Thursday, March 29th, 2018

Activities at Auckland Hall Smith’s Wood – Cars Area Big Local

Thursday, March 29th, 2018

New programme to support neighbourhood planning

Through the new £23 million Neighbourhood Planning programme, local community forums and parish councils will be able to apply for basic grants of up to £9,000 (plus an additional £8,000 if they meet certain criteria).

The new programme will run from 2018 – 2022, and is managed by Locality and funded by central government (MHCLG).

Over the last four years My Community and Neighbourhood Planning supported over 2,300 local groups to develop a Neighbourhood Plan or Neighbourhood Development Order.  The new programme will be introducing some important changes.

The funding is available to Town or Parish Councils, where they exist.  In areas that are unparished, applicants will need to put in place a Neighbourhood Forum.

Any grant support received by applicants through the old programme in the 2015-2018 programme will be taken into account when assessing how much grant they can apply for through the new programme 2018 – 2022.  For example, if the applicant is only eligible for Basic Grant and have already received and spent £5,000 in the 2015-2018 programme then they will only be able to apply for up to £4,000 from the new programme.

There is also technical support available to groups facing complex problems.

Organisations wishing to apply should in the first instance is to submit an Expression of Interest form.  Once the applicants completes and submits their Expression of Interest (EOI), a link to a personalised application will be sent to their email address within one working day.

See the MyCommunity guide to the changes and the new funding scheme.

Thursday, March 29th, 2018

Big Lottery developing new funding scheme to tackle youth unemployment

Young people aged 16 – 24 are to be given the opportunity to be part of designing a new funding programme from The Big Lottery Fund that aims to tackle youth unemployment. A total of £90 million will be invested from the dormant accounts youth fund in projects that help young people to overcome the barriers to work that are preventing them from reaching their potential.

Between March and May 2018 participants, aged 16-24 and from diverse communities, will be invited to a variety of events across England to explain the issues they face, including the inequalities apparent in youth unemployment, and help develop ideas to remove barriers to education, employment and training. The events will include workshops with local businesses, youth organisations, and health and education experts and will be run through a variety of media:

  • A website and social media questionnaire so that everyone can get involved.
  • Targeted workshops with young people who have or are experiencing multiple barriers in their transition to work journey in diverse areas of the country.
  • Events that bring local leaders of business, youth organisations, health and education together with young people.
  • A round table discussion with the business sector about ways in which they can support this programme.

Seminars to bring together and challenge the existing evidence and solutions.

Youth organisations or those work with young people who have experience of barriers into employment are asked to encourage young people to take part – to find out how to get involved see the Big Lottery Dormant Account Statement of Intent.

You can read the Big Lottery’s press release on this funding scheme to learn more.

Thursday, March 15th, 2018

13 July: Out of Africa Charity Ball

Friday, March 2nd, 2018

Ending FGM Conference – sharing key messages and research

Birmingham & Solihull Women’s Aid’s recent conference on FGM gave key messages from local research that addressed the impact of local work on ending FGM.

The study can be downloaded below. The key messages from the research and the conference are summarised in the following paragraphs.

We had a very successful conference on FGM on Monday 12th February 2018 at Tally Ho. 60 people attended, with many more wanting to attend but unable to do so due to room capacity. Key messages from the conference & Sophie McHale’s research are:

Nasheima Sheikh – Birmingham & Solihull Women’s Aid (BSWA)

  • Female genital mutilation is an issue of violence against women & girls, requiring a sensitive and confidential approach.
  • BSWA has delivered work on FGM since 2010, most recently in partnership with Coventry Haven, supporting many women and learning about effective approaches.
  • BSWA & Coventry Haven have recruited and supported 90 Community Champions from 15 different countries help to raise awareness to end FGM.
  • BSWA is developing an FGM Health Pathway to reach out to women affected by FGM.

Rachel Oluyemi & Ashley Mungai– Coventry Haven

  • Empowerment of women is key to ending FGM – the Haven has developed women’s groups from many different communities, changing attitudes and helping to end the practice.
  • Ashley “don’t underestimate the power of conversation” & start from understanding community perspectives on FGM.

Sophie McHale – University of Manchester and FGM Impact Study author

  • BSWA & Coventry Haven, with whom the research was done, have supported 860 women; developed 90 Community Champions; raised awareness amongst 1,964 people from FGM affected communities and trained 3,500 professionals.
  • Social Convention Theory advocates that we must reach a mass of people before a ‘tipping’ point is reached in changing attitudes – the impact study & PEER research shows that this may have  been achieved within the Somali community but more engagement needs to happen with marginalised and newly arriving communities
  • Professionals in Birmingham & Coventry had a higher reporting rate of FGM compared to a decline nationally – an indicator of the success of FGM training in the region, mainly by Coventry Haven & BSWA
  • A holistic approach is required; focus on health alone can result in a move from Type 3 to 1, but not eradication.
  • Work against FGM has to be nuanced otherwise perverse results can emerge – eg the emphasis on health consequences can also lead to a medicalisation of FGM.
  • Community attitudes have been affected to be against FGM in those who have participated in activities through BSWA & Coventry Haven: 83% had greater awareness and 71% would know how to respond to FGM confidently.
  • BSWA & Coventry Haven’s work has had a significant positive impact on the confidence, health and wellbeing of women affected by FGM.

Gill Squires – WM Police

  • Obtaining an FGM Protection Order is relatively simple – anyone can apply – and it is free. See above attachment for guide.
  • Many different criteria can be included to ensure victims and those around them are properly protected. Breach of an order can result in imprisonment.

Fiona Allen – Birmingham South & Central CCG – Designated Safeguarding Children Nurse

  • There are many health consequences of FGM yet health services are not always aware that the underlying cause of presenting symptoms could be FGM.
  • Women are suffering with PTSD, flashbacks, and other mental & physical symptoms but many health professionals are not confident in asking questions about FGM
  • There are legal responsibilities on NHS staff around FGM.
  • A new health pathway for FGM is being developed with BSWA & GP practices.

Materials from the conference to download:

Friday, March 2nd, 2018

Bridging the Access Gap in Solihull – Signs4Life

A new initiative to encourage more staff and volunteers, to take up sign language as an extra language and skill is now available in the West Midlands and surrounding areas. Award winning Signs4Life are showcasing this local initiative to help staff and volunteers to communicate and engage with their colleagues, service users, and members of the public, who may have hearing impairments.

“You never know when you will come into contact with a client, a colleague or member of the public who is autistic, deaf or visually impaired. There are over 9 million deaf and hard of hearing people registered in the UK. We are working with organisations as varied as Specsavers, The British Red Cross, prisons, supermarkets, museums, schools and hospitals. Each of our workshops help you comply with the Disability Discrimination Act and Equality Acts 2010 and encourage a ‘can do’ approach to the 12 million people in the UK who have a physical, sensory or learning disability,” explains Ms Sara Phillips, Signs4Life tutor.

If you would like further information about the Signs4Life workshops in the West Midlands and surrounding areas, please get in touch with Sara on 07964 019 764 or visit our website

Thursday, February 15th, 2018

Armed Forces Covenant newsletter: February 2018

AFC News for Coventry, Solihull and Warwickshire: Family Day on 8 April

The 5th edition of the Armed Forces Covenant Newsletter for Coventry, Solihull and Warwickshire is out now!  This includes details of the Forces Family Day at Compton Verney Art Gallery and Park on Sunday 8th April when serving personnel and veterans, and up to 4 family members, can visit Compton Verney for FREE!

The Newsletter also introduces new staff, a veterans recovery project and details on the new Veterans’ Gateway; the first point of contact for veterans in need of support.

The newsletter can be found here AFC News 5.

Thursday, February 1st, 2018

Solihull Together Fund Grants Awarded

An independent panel comprising three champions of our local VCS, Fidelis Navas of Xoserve, Matyn Garner of Solihull School and Sharon Gray of JLR, met to consider the 2017 Solihull Together Fund Grant Awards. They awarded a total of £3,000 to nine of the organisations which applied.

Some of the things that will be funded are new printer/photocopier for a community group, a First Aid at Work course for volunteers, three Forest School sessions, new flower beds for a Friends of Park Group, a planter for a Friends of Station Group and travel to a Community Cup tournament for a community/disability group.

The money was raised at last year’s Solihull Sustain / AgeUK Solihull Ball. This year’s Ball on Friday 13th July at the St Johns Hotel will again raise money for the Fund.

Thursday, January 18th, 2018

Fraudsters offering fake Government grants

Action Fraud is warning people to watch out for emails and cold calls from fraudsters who are asking people to apply for Government grants in return for an advance fee.

Action Fraud has received 85 reports of this type of fraud since January 2017 with a total loss of £255,724 and an average loss of £3,000.

Bogus companies which have websites set up in the company name, claim to be operating on behalf of the UK Government

The fraudsters cold call businesses and individuals offering the grants and if they’re interested, direct them to fill out an online application form with their personal information.

Once the fraudsters have obtained the personal information they will re-contact victims and congratulate them on being accepted onto the grant programme.

Applicants are then asked to provide identification and are instructed to get a pre-paid card to deposit their own contribution to the fake Government grant scheme. Prepaid cards can be used in a similar way to credit cards, except the funds on a prepaid card are loaded on prior to spending.

Fraudsters will contact the victims by phone or email to ask for the details of their pre-paid card and copies of statements in order for them to add the grant funds.

Of course the grant funds are never given by the fraudsters and the money that’s been loaded onto the card by the victim is stolen.

For more on this scam and how to avoid it visit the Action Fraud website.

Thursday, December 21st, 2017

Events at Auckland Hall, Smith’s Wood

There’s plenty going on at Auckland Hall, Smith’s Wood.

Their calendar for the start of 2018 is here. Keep an eye on their Facebook page for more up-to-date details.