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GaN Canny explores the views of the voluntary, community and social enterprise sector in Gateshead and Newcastle, based on our recent survey of their achievements, challenges, pressures and wider issues affecting the people they support. The survey was completed by 168 organisations from the region.

The report highlights a number of challenges. Funding and sustainability are the most pressing issues for local organisations, regardless of their size. Over two thirds of respondents commented an increase in demand for their services in the last year and many have reported year on year growth in demand for several years; “Although surveys show the overall headlines, my impression is that most voluntary and community organisations are working harder than ever to support people who are having hard times.”

At the same time, voluntary and community organisations have had to rely more on unpaid volunteers. Volunteer recruitment and retention is reported as the second largest challenge.

The individuals and communities using the services and facilities provided by the voluntary sector have experienced increased poverty, mental illness and austerity, impacted by welfare reform, Universal Credit and personal debt. Many public sector services are harder to access due to changing criteria, different locations and charges. The comments and concerns about general health and wellbeing exceeded those received in our past surveys; “More people than ever before in our working memory are being refused public services (health and social care), have less money and fewer resources, and there is a visible impact on loneliness and isolation and a growth in general mental distress. At the same time we are getting fewer resources than before to deal with this.”

The rate of change is having a destabilising effect in medium sized and larger voluntary organisations and there were more reports of governance issues, as trustees and management committee members have to take increasingly complex decisions.

Despite these challenges, the majority of respondents remain optimistic about the future of their organisations. Over a third want to increase the number of beneficiaries, nearly half want to increase services, more than half anticipate more volunteers, and a quarter want to increase staff in the next year. Two thirds of respondents said they had developed a new service, project, initiative or event in the last year and many are turning to more innovative ways of using social media, delivering services and attracting funding. There is a greater emphasis on income generation and the emergence of Community Interest Companies (CICs) has encouraged other organisations to focus more on trading.

There is still an optimism and willingness to engage in addressing major challenges, but we need to be involved from the start of the process, not invited in at the end as an afterthought.

GaN Canny

Wellbeing, health and social care news for people working in and with the voluntary sector in Newcastle and Gateshead.

On the Hoof April includes: Subscribe now information; Call for a voluntary sector member for Newcastle Child Be Healthy Partnership; Call for a voluntary sector member for Newcastle Safeguarding Adults Board; A new Autism and CAMHS toolkit; Newcastle consultation on public health obesity programme; Gateshead Safeguarding Adults Board partnership newsletter; Information Commission Office (ICO) new interactive tool to decide your lawful basis for using people’s information.

These are difficult times for voluntary and community organisations in Gateshead and Newcastle with a number of long established organisations currently under threat of closure. There are a variety of reasons behind the difficuties the voluntary sector is facing but in the West End of Newcastle two charities, working with older people to tackle social isolation, are coming together to ensure they can continue to deliver vital local services. 

On 1 April West End Befrienders and Search with over 75 years of service between them with join forces to offer a broader range of services under the Search name. 

West End Befrienders, founded in the mid-1980s, works through local volunteers to provide befriending and advocacy to older people. The particular expertise of the organisation lies in its work with the South Asian and Chinese communities. West End Befrienders offers exercise classes, talks and activities as well as supporting every day activities such as shopping or attending medical appointments. 

Search, founded in the mid-1970s, delivers a number of projects for older people and their carers, across the west of Newcastle. Services include an advice and information service, a number of community activity groups and volunteering opportunities, plus, the Chain Reaction and the Lunchlinks service, recently commissioned by Newcastle city council.

Rose Gilroy, Chair of West End Befrienders Management committee said "I am delighted that we have been welcomed into the Search family. This provides a secure future for our services to isolated older people. In these difficult times for the voluntary sector it makes sense for two organisations with shared values and common purpose to join together to offer not only continuity of service but enriched opportunities to older people in the West End of Newcastle”

Wendy Dale, Chair of Search Trustees said “This is an exciting opportunity to develop the potential of both organisations which is rare in times of austerity. I am optimistic about the future of both”

Newcastle CVS has just become aware of an NHS England consultation  on reducing prescribing of over-the-counter medicines for 33 minor, short-term health concerns. The consultation was launced on 20 December and closes on Wednesday 14 March. We are formally objecting to this as the NHS own Equality and Health Inequality Analysis notes it will have a disproportionate impact on children, older people, low income households, disabled people, people from BAME groups and others who suffer the greater inequalities in health.

To read and respond to the consultation, visit NHS England and read Newcastle CVS response

Wellbeing, health and social care news for people working in and with the voluntary sector in Newcastle and Gateshead.

On the Hoof February includes: Conversation not Confrontation presentations; Joint Serious Case Review report on sexual exploitation; Deciding Together, Delivering Together; Fulfilling Lives Newcastle and Gateshead re-launch; Doorbells: free performance from Skimstone Arts; Making Gateshead a place where everyone thrives; Gateshead Voluntary Sector Health and Wellbeing Advisory Group; Newcastle Child Friendly City Board and Early Help Board; NHS England consultation on what your GP should not prescribe; Safeguarding training offers.

Newcastle CVS has been involved in The Women’s 100 commemorations on suffrage for some women. As well as the many events that have taken place since 5 February, there are now additional ones planned around International Women’s Day on 8 March 2018. We have updated our list to include these and we would ask you to circulate it around your networks. The theme for this year is #PressforProgress

Newcastle CVS is looking for a new Marketing and Communications officer. 

We are looking for a talented and confident self-starter with excellent communication skills and a commitment to equality, diversity and social justice. You might have a solid track record in marketing and communications or be at the beginning of your career. Ideally you will have experience of using Adobe design software. It is likely that you are educated to degree level but we want to know about your creativity, energy and your commitment to achieving the best.

If you think you've have the skills and experience we're looking for download our job description and application form

See also our Equality and Diversity policy and Ex-offenders policy

Deadline for applications is 5pm, 28 February 2018

This year marks 100 years since women in the UK were given the vote. The Representation of the People Act 1918 came into force on 6 February 1918 and give women over the age of 30 who owned property (about 40%) the right to vote in national elections. The first General Election women were able to participate in was 14 December 1918 and Constance Markievick was the first woman to be elected to the House of Commons who as a member of Sinn Fienn didn't take up her seat. It was not until the following year when Nancy Astor was elected in a by-election that woman MP took up a seat in the Commons. 

To celebrate the centenary, women’s political voice and activism, the Women’s 100 Group has organised a month activities, from 6 February to 8 March. Newcastle CVS is a partner in the Women’s Group and is proud to support this month of special activities

Follow this link to find out more about Events taking place in Newcastle to mark the process of Women’s Suffrage

Welcome to On the Hoof January 2018

Wellbeing, health and social care news for people working in and with the voluntary sector in Newcastle and Gateshead.

On the Hoof January news includes: Conversation not Confrontation launch; Newcastle & Gateshead Wellbeing and Health Open Forum; Newcastle Gateshead Involvement Forum; Scrutinising the development of the STP; Healthwatch Gateshead report on Caring for Carers; Rainbow Home new website; Market Engagement Event for Providers of Older Person’s Services in Gateshead; VAWG Strategic Group; Living Loud: inspiring happier healthier lives; Independent Review of the Mental Health Act and new safeguarding training offers.