Somerset VCSE State of the Sector Survey 2019

In partnership with Spark Somerset, we’ve launched the second Somerset VCSE State of the Sector Survey.

The survey, which will be run every three years, gives VCSE organisations large and small an opportunity to tell us about their organisation, the great work that they do, and any challenges they face. It explores key areas such as income and expenditure, volunteering and workforce and has become a valuable resource for the voluntary and community sector.

The first State of the Sector Survey was run in 2016, and the findings have proved invaluable for a range of activities, including lobbying and fundraising. In addition, they are used to inform local government and funders of the scale and impact of our sector. You can view the report here.

Your input is vital to ensure we understand fully the situation and views from the diverse range of charities, community groups and social purpose organisations working in our county.

You can take part in the survey here. To request a paper copy of the survey, click here. It closes on 14th January 2020. 

As a thank you, everyone who participates in the survey will be entered into a draw to win a donation of £250 for their organisation*, courtesy of Somerset Community Foundation.

*T&Cs apply.

Job Vacancy: Programme Director – Neighbourhoods

Salary: £68,376 pa
Location: Taunton
Working Pattern: Full Time
Contract Type: Fixed Term Contract

People who are engaged in their community are healthier, happier and live more independently for longer. In Somerset, many organisations are joining forces in an exciting programme of work to support Somerset communities to be strong, vibrant places to live, with lots of opportunities for people to get involved in groups, volunteering or being a good neighbour.

Somerset County Council is looking for an innovative and dynamic person to lead and drive forward work across Somerset to help develop stronger and well-connected communities. The ideal candidate will have experience of leading system-wide transformation programmes, the skills to lead work across many different types of organisations and groups to ensure everyone works towards the same vision, and a really good understanding of how communities work.

This will be a three-year post, employed within the Public Health Team at Somerset County Council but working collaboratively across the Somerset system. The postholder will report to the Director of Public Health and will lead the transformation programme on behalf of the Somerset Health and Wellbeing Board.

Click here for more information, including a job description and details of how to apply. The closing date is 22nd November 2019.

New Grants Feed Grass-roots Action

Somerset’s County Councillors will have £2,000 each to fund community projects that improve lives under a new scheme launched this month.

The Improving Lives Grants Scheme has been created to kick-start and support voluntary and grass-roots initiatives that bring people together and help communities stay connected and thrive.

Whether it’s a project to reduce isolation, give parenting support, prevent falls or enhance emotional health and wellbeing – each of Somerset’s 55 county councillors can award up to four grants using their £2,000.

The £110,000 of investment is coming from the authority’s £1m Prevention Fund, set up to finance Council work and community projects that prevent issues, problems and needs developing or escalating. The aim is to improve lives while reducing future demand on the Council’s services – helping the authority remain sustainable in the long-term.

Grants can be used to ‘lever in’ funding from other sources but cannot be used to pay salaries. They can only be awarded to groups or organisations, not individuals. Any individual who has an idea for a potential project should contact their local County Councillor.

Councillor David Fothergill, Leader of Somerset County Council, said: “One of the most important things we can do to strengthen our communities is support locally-led projects built around bringing people together.

“Our elected members understand their communities and these grants will give them some financial muscle to make a real impact.

“We’re not being too prescriptive, but the initiatives put forward should be ones that engage their communities and improve people’s lives. Schemes that support vulnerable, less-advantaged or traditionally isolated groups will be especially welcome”.

Councillors can make applications to the Improving Lives Grants Scheme from 1 September up until 30 November. Applications will be assessed to ensure that they meet the criteria before funding is agreed.

Applications are encouraged from community groups promoting and providing opportunities for people to be socially connected, more physically active, eat well, enjoy the outdoors, be more independent and better informed about health and wellbeing.

It is expected that the majority of grants will go to Parish Councils and voluntary sector organisations; established bodies that can make a big impact at local-level.

Applications can only be made by elected County Councillors and have to benefit their own division.

Click here to find out who the elected Somerset County Councillor is for a particular area and their contact details to discuss your interest in the fund. 

For further guidance click here. 

An Update from the Safer Somerset Partnership

The latest edition of the Somerset Domestic Abuse Newsletter, which contains updates on local and national domestic abuse related matters, is now available to download here.

Somerset VCSE Community Safety Forum

On Tuesday 2nd July members of the VCSE community and the public sector in Somerset came together for a Community Safety Forum at Long Sutton Golf Course. More than 50 people attended and heard updates from:

  • Lucy Macready, Somerset County Council – Safer Communities Partnership and Referral Pathways
  • Amy Hurst, Sedgemoor District Council – Serious and Organised Crime including County Lines
  • Any Lloyd, Somerset County Council – One Teams
  • Simon Billington, Redeeming Our Communities (ROC) – Rough Sleepers Project

Attendees also had the chance to input into how the VCSE community can engage with the Community Safety agenda across Somerset.

A copy of the presentation slides from the event can be found here.

An update from the Somerset Safeguarding Adults Board

The latest newsletter from the Somerset Safeguarding Adults Board is now available.

This edition includes:

  • News from the SSAB
  • SSAB Annual Conference
  • New Strategic Plan for 2019-2022
  • Mendip House Safeguarding Adult Review in the news
  • Changes to MARAC
  • Get the SSAB Website on your phone or tablet
  • Business Manager Blog
  • Learning Lessons
  • National: ‘Colin’
  • Regional:  Analysis of Safeguarding Adult Reviews in the South West
  • Local:  Sharing systems and best practices in relation to Never Events
  • Care about recruitment
  • Learning from Children’s Services
  • National News and Headlines
  • Training and Development
  • Useful Safeguarding Adults Links

You can read the newsletter here.

The Somerset Plan for Children, Young People and Families

This week, children and young people helped launch a document that will shape the way Somerset County Council and its partners support them over the next three years.

The voices of children and young people have been central to the creation of the Children and Young People’s plan for 2019-22 which outlines the challenges and dangers they face.

Supporting children and young people, keeping them safe and improving their lives, is one of the most important roles the Council and its partners in health and the police undertake.

The plan is there to help them achieve this and highlights issues such as exam stress, difficulties in education, lack of opportunities, bullying, abuse, exploitation, poverty and self-harm and family problems.

Children and young people from across Somerset – many of whom attended today’s launch – took part in a series of work shops and helped draw up the plan and set its priorities.

The plan will inform and focus the efforts of the Council, Avon and Somerset Police and Somerset NHS with the aim of improving the lives of children and young people by strengthening families and communities and tackling the numerous challenges they face.

The priorities chosen by children and young people and outlined in the plan covered better health provision and access to affordable activities to support health and wellbeing, support for parents, useful training and social skills, and ensuring schools and colleges were safe places.

The Plan’s overall vision is for Somerset’s children and young people to be happy, healthy and preparing for adulthood.

Somerset County Council’s Director of Children’s Services, Julian Wooster said: “The plan is critical for Somerset, it really focusses on the challenges facing families bringing up children.

“It’s so important we provide families with the right level of support to succeed in life and to bring up children so they can participate fully in education and other activities to prepare them for adulthood.”

Sandra Corry, Director of Quality and Patient Safety at Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group said: “One of the key things we’re doing in health is improving access to mental health services for young people and ensuring help is available at an earlier stage.
“We want to prevent young people possibly ending up in A&E because they have self-harmed.
“We want our GP practices, the Council and Public Health to really wrap services around the child and young person and how we support parents.”

Superintendent of Avon and Somerset Police, Mike Prior added: “This plan is all about giving children and young people the best possible start in life.
“We want everyone in Somerset to grow up safe, secure and looking to the future, able to contribute to society, make the county their home and in turn bring their children up here too.”

You can read the plan in full here

Improving Commissioning through a VCSE Single Point of Contact

The Single Point of Contact (SPOC) model is currently being dicsussed as part of the Richmond Group‘s work, exploring to how to build and improve collaboration between the voluntary sector and public bodies.

We thought it would be useful to share NAVCA‘s report, Improving Commissioning through a VCSE Single Point of Contact (May 17), which explores the SPOC model, how it works, and the value it can bring. 

Read the report here.