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Sally Young talks about 'Being realistic about volunteerism and its capacity'

Dear Sir / Madam, 

Paul Benneworth’s article on social innovation involving citizens actively developing their own solutions for the problems they face was very well written. Certainly here in Newcastle we have a number of examples of communities coming together to find different approaches to tackle problems.  The Jesmond Community Leisure Trust has successfully managed Jesmond Pool for more than twenty years; the Blakelaw Community Partnership is taking over a local Post Office and many people from faith and non-faith organisations are providing food and clothing banks to tackle some of the worst impacts of austerity.

But let’s not fool ourselves that services that rely purely on volunteering, goodwill and minimal resources can provide an alternative to the loss of major provision by the state (whether central or local government).  Contrary to popular belief, levels of volunteerism tend to be higher in the wealthier areas, possibly because people have more time, resources and fewer worries. So if we rely purely on volunteer-run services, they might not be in the areas of greatest need.  In any case, as charities have been saying for many years, voluntary action has a cost in organisation, training, support and development.

The best and most sustainable programmes seem to be those where there is genuine partnership between the people who use services, their carers, voluntary and community groups, and the public and private sectors. But experience has shown that these take time to develop and for trust to mature. Services can’t be rapidly removed with the assumption that ‘someone will always provide’, as clearly this isn’t the case.

The rapid speed at which the state is currently shrinking is problematic; over the next few years this will become more evident in Newcastle as problems in housing, health, social care and the environment become much more obvious.

If the new Combined Authority and Mayor want to address these issues seriously, they need to involve all partners as part of the solution.

Yours sincerely

Sally Young

Our Lives was published in April this year and documented the experience of urban poverty in 21st Century Britain. The authors of the report, all women from across the UK and including Sally Young, Newcastle CVS Chief Executive, have updated the report to give an account of how those featured in the original case studies have fared during the past eight months.

The updated stories offer a mixed picture of how ordinary people facing a wide range of complex problems manage within systems that are being cut back, ending or refocused on meeting those with different levels of need and support. Some stories such as Maria’s offer hope; the majority serve to illustrate how difficult life is for people with limited assets and resources.

The latest version of Our Lives is being launched in Parliament today. To view the report click here

Plans of such a reduction would add up to a funding cut of £320m, which was described as "Hugely Damaging" by The National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO).

Rumours that George Osborne is planning to announce a reduction in the share of good causes that the Big Lottery Fund receives from 40% to 22%. This would see the Big Lottery Fund to lose £320million for every year. George Osborne will set out the spending plans for the next five years.

Since 2010 the Big Lottery Fund has funded 173 projects in Newcastle Central to a value of £14,088,885, including here at Newcastle CVS.

The cuts in the last few years now mean that charities get a greater percentage of their income through grants than contracts; so organisations such as Big Lottery are more important than ever.

Voluntary and community projects in Newcastle have all had to step in to try to cover the funding gaps in the last few years. A reduction of this level would be disastrous for Newcastle as it reduces the amount of funding for local groups at a time when many are struggling (please refer to Taking the Temperature 2015).

The smallest community groups would be hardest hit as 90% of Big Lottery Fund grants are smaller than £10,000.

It will also undermine public confidence in the Lottery by attacking the additionality principle it was funded upon; that the lottery should add to rather than replace public funding. Of course, the majority of people who buy lottery tickets tend to have lower incomes.

Big Lottery Funds are guaranteed years in advance; for instance Newcastle CVS have recently received a three year grant to develop a new neurological advocacy service. We are also involved in a 'Complex Lives' programme that is funded for seven years. This means any immediate reduction would cause many funding streams to close for several years as the money has already been allocated.

Finally, the Big Lottery has not yet been paid back the £425million that was 'borrowed' to pay for the 2012 Olympics. This means that local charities and community groups are in effect subsidising the move of West Ham football club.

Please raise these issues, quote and publicise this information. These plans would be detrimental if put in action. 

healthwatch newcastle logo

Healthwatch Newcastle is seeking a motivated, publically-aware person who can work as Chair elect from April 2016 and then as Chair from September 2016.

The time commitment will vary on a month to month basis, but is expected not to exceed the equivalent of 2-3 days per month. The remuneration is £5000 per annum, plus reasonable travel costs and other expenses.

The closing date for applications is 8 January 2016. Candidates must be available for interview on Monday 25 January 2016.

To find out more and apply visit


On the Hoof brings you wellbeing, health and social care news for people working in and with the voluntary and community sector in Newcastle and beyond. 

November’s includes: the Deciding Together consultation, which in Newcastle is about older people's and adult's inpatient services, and adult community services; and the work of Expanding Minds, Improving Lives to change children and young peoples' mental health services.

There are two exciting part-time opportunities to work at Healthwatch Newcastle. We are looking for a Project Manager and a Volunteer and Outreach Coordinator with the motivation, initiative and experience to help build on our continuing success.

The closing date for completed application forms is 12 noon on 27 November. Interviews will be held w/c 9 December.

For more information and to apply visit

'Building a picture: second report' illustrates the scale and depth of services and activities for children and young people offered by voluntary organisations in Newcastle upon Tyne. The report brings together information from23 voluntary organisations. While they vary in size the majority are in the £100,000 to £250,000 band; they spend more than £4.7 million on services and activities for children and young people, and provided 803 hours of weekly face to face services and support.

Building a picture October 2015

October's On the Hoof brings news of a new Wellbeing for Life Board task and finish group on NPS; the launch of Deciding Together NHS public consultation with an event on 12 November; Expanding Minds, Improving Lives listening events to improve children and young people’s mental health services; Newcastle Safeguarding Adults Board Annual Report, and safeguarding resources.


September’s On the Hoof includes highlights of the Wellbeing and Health Open Forum; headlines from the report Paint a Canvas; the Newcastle Gateshead CCG third sector development and innovation fund awards; health and social care integration news; and consultation events

For previous issues visit

Jacqui   Jacqui Jobson, Director at Advocacy Centre North                  

You might have heard about some of the changes here at Advocacy Centre North so I thought I would give you an update on the services we will be delivering in the future.

First of its kind Neurological Advocacy service
We are excited to announce our new Neurological Advocacy service for people in Newcastle and Gateshead, funded by the National Lottery through the Big Lottery Fund and in partnership with the Northern Neurological Alliance. Dot Lee and Gem O'Connor will be working with volunteers to support people with neurological conditions. This is a first for the North East and we hope to build on this over the next three years. We will start to take referrals in September.

Existing services
We will continue to deliver the Mental Health Advocacy service, with Jane Cater leading a team including; Helen Chandler, Margaret Mound, Bob Finch and Ruth Stanforth. We look forward to developing this work further and reaching people in the community who need support. 

The Community Advocacy service will be led by Paul Whitlock with a team made up of: Claire Crawford, Angela Walls and Steven Wingate. They will supervise over 35 volunteers to support people with disabilities, as well as offering direct support to our service users.

Our BME Advocacy service, also led by Paul, has a range of experienced bilingual advocates who provide advocacy into BME communities in Newcastle, including Shervin Khademi Nouri, Leila Radmard, Elton So and Samina Zia.

Our Fulfilling Lives service will be funded for another year and we say goodbye to Rose Dean as she goes off to college and Shaun Morton will be joining Jen Okon and teams across our five other delivery partners.

What’s in the pipeline
We are delighted to announce that we have been awarded funding to provide advocacy support to people in GP surgeries and within the criminal justice system. We will let you know more soon.

More about us
We recently made a short film about advocacy and what it means to our service users - have a look here . Watch out for the launch of our longer more detailed film about advocacy called ‘It’s a win win!’

Jane Cater, Paul Whitlock, Melissa Girling and I are the senior team and we are the people you are most likely to come across at external events and meetings. Do not hesitate to contact us if you would like any more information about our services. We look forward to continued strong working relationships with you in the future to the benefit of adults in vulnerable circumstances.

You can contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.