VAL Appoints New Chief Executive

L-R: Kevan Liles & Kevin Allen-Khimani

Kevin is the current Head of Operations and Services and has more than 20 years’ service at VAL.  He is well known to many important local stakeholders and will provide experience and continuity for VAL as they move into their next stage of development.

Kevin successfully led VAL’s dynamic response to the Covid 19 pandemic, mobilising thousands of local volunteers and hundreds of community groups to support vulnerable local communities.

“I am delighted that the Trustee Board has been able to secure such a strong successor to lead VAL into the future. The Board will do everything it can to support Kevin in his leadership of our organisation that has proved to be such an essential component in improving the lives of the people and communities of Leicester and Leicestershire.”  Linda Jones, Chair of Trustees.

Kevin will commence his new role in mid-September to allow a 6 week handover period before Kevan Liles retires at the end of October after 33 years’ service at VAL.

“It is so exciting to be given this opportunity to lead such a fantastic organisation. I have already had a tremendous career at VAL and have steadily developed my skills and experience.  My intention is to lead VAL to a better, more sustainable future – building on the strong foundations that already exist.”  Kevin Allen-Khimani, VAL CEO Designate.


Raise funds through online shopping with easyfundraising

As part of our commitment to provide funding advice and support to voluntary groups and charities in Leicester and Leicestershire, we are now working in collaboration with fundraising website easyfundraising to help your organisation generate additional income.

It’s a very simple idea – register your organisation as a good cause with easyfundraising and you will be able to collect free donations when anyone connected to the organisation shops online with 4400 well known retailers including Amazon, eBay, Argos, John Lewis, Trainline,, Currys, Aviva and Waitrose and Direct Line

It’s free to register and use. With many more people shopping online these days and traditional face to face fundraising methods still on hold, this is an easy way for your volunteers and supporters to raise money for your organisation safely from home through their normal online shopping.

easyfundraising has enabled good causes to raise £34m to date, including £4m in 2020 alone. Your organisation does not need to be a registered charity to use easyfundraising and it is open to voluntary organisations of all shape and size.

The benefits

  • Free to register and use
  • Regular, on-going revenue stream for your organisation
  • Easy to set up and requires minimal management

Getting started

All you need to do is create an easyfundraising page for your organisation. It’s free and quick to set up and requires very little ongoing management. You can set up your page here. You can also find out more in this preparation guide to registering your fundraising page.

If you have questions and would like to speak to someone before signing up, please contact who will be happy to help you.

Young People’s Safety Survey

The Young People’s Safety Survey will be used to gather insights which will help them to shape their work around improving safety in communities across Leicester, Leicestershire, and Rutland.

Young people aged between 11 and 24 are being encouraged to complete the survey so that their voices are heard.

The survey can be accessed here.

Local VCSE organisations supporting young people may want to share the survey with their beneficiaries

Food Shoppers Social Media Study

The study is over a 13 week period and will involve :

  • Online survey at start and end of study: Max. 15 minutes on both occasions.
  • Providing weight measurement at start, middle and end of the study: Max. 3 minutes on each occasion.
  • Follow the study’s Twitter/Instagram account: Total of 13 weeks (it will only take about 30 seconds to look at each post)

Details of the study, privacy notice and who to contact to sign up can be found here.

Local VCSE organisations supporting communities with health and social needs may wish to share the survey with their beneficiaries.



Breakthrough Accelerator

The deadline for applications is 10pm on Friday 25 June 2021.

They are seeking applications from grassroots campaigns drawn from communities or groups facing deepening disadvantage because of the Covid pandemic, and who are campaigning for important, long-term change for themselves and others. People whose voices need to be heard.

The programme includes:

  • Three to four strategy workshops with experts drawn from the tops of their professions to kick off the programme, develop your bespoke plan and set you on the path to success, followed by regular reviews to allow you to build and adjust your approach.
  • On-going, intensive weekly support from Breakthrough’s expert team to support you to drive your campaign forward.
  • Matching with members of the Breakthrough Network who will give your campaign advice, support and connections in their areas of expertise, including media and communications, strategy, digital, fundraising and more.
  • Digital tools and guidance to grow national support behind your campaign and inspire thousands to take action with you.
  • Media training, story development and introductions to national journalists to land your campaign on the front pages.
  • Connection to top creative agencies to design and execute Breakthrough moments, from attention grabbing stunts, thumbing stopping social media videos to media takeovers and more.

The programme is centred on providing pro-bono expert support, coaching and connections but not funding.
Instead they will work with groups to introduce them to funders over the course of the programme.

The application form and information pack can be accessed here.

(COVID-19) Coronavirus restrictions: what you can and cannot do updated with translations

The revised guidance, in various languages, articulates what changed from 21 June 2021 in context to the government’s COVID-19 Response – Spring 2021 (Roadmap).

Previously we wrote about those changes in an article titled Pause at step 3 of the COVID-19 response – Spring 2021 (Roadmap).

The guidance is written in Arabic, Bengali, English, Farsi, Gujarati, Hindi, Polish, Punjabi Gurmukhi, Punjabi Shahmukhi, Slovak, Somali, Urdu, Welsh and an easy read version.

Local VCSE organisations may want to share the various versions with their beneficiaries. Especially as it provides detailed guidance on how to keep safe and support reducing transmission of the virus in areas where the new variant sometimes referred to as the Delta variant is spreading fastest. This includes the geographical area of Leicester City.

The recommendations include:

  • Get both doses of the vaccine when you are offered it, and encourage others to do so as well
  • Participate in surge testing in your local area, whether you are vaccinated or not
  • Self-isolate immediately if you have any symptoms of COVID-19 (a high temperature, a new, continuous cough or a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste) or if you’ve tested positive for COVID-19

You should also take particular caution when meeting anyone outside your household or support bubble. Wherever possible, you should try to:

  • Meet outside rather than inside where possible
  • Keep 2 metres apart from people that you do not live with (unless you have formed a support bubble with them), this includes friends and family you don’t live with
  • Minimise travel in and out of affected areas

VCSE support strategy topic session – infrastructure support

Leicester City Council is developing a new strategy to support the city’s Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise (VCSE) sector. As part of this process, Cllr Rita Patel (Assistant City Mayor, Communities, Equalities & Special Projects) has been hosting a series of engagement sessions on MS Teams with members of the local VCSE sector, to consider topics central to an effective VCSE support strategy. Next up is infrastructure support, on the following days and times:

Mon 28 June, 11:30 – 13:00 BST. Book on Eventbrite

Tue 29 June, 13:00 – 14:30 BST. Book on Eventbrite

Register via one of these Eventbrite links and you will receive a link to the MS Teams in good time before the event. Tickets are free, allocated on a first come first served basis, limited to one per applicant group or organisation. The content on both days will be the same, to maximise attendance and participation, so you only need attend one session. Cllr Patel and the city council’s VCSE Engagement Team look forward to welcoming a range of attendees and contributors from groups and organisations in the city-based VCSE Sector.

The UK Social Enterprise Awards

Applications close on 2 July 2021.

They will be hosted at London’s iconic Guildhall on 8 December 2021.

There are 15 categories :

  • UK Social Enterprise of the year.
  • One to watch
  • Prove it : Social Impact
  • Environmental Social Enterprise
  • Social Enterprise Building Diversity, Inclusion, Equity & Justice
  • Women in social enterprise
  • Buy social – market builder
  • International impact
  • Social investment deal of the year
  • Transformative community business
  • Health & Social Care social enterprise
  • Social enterprise team of the year
  • Tech for good
  • Consumer facing social enterprise
  • Education and training social enterprise

For further details and the application process visit the Social Enterprise Awards website.

An example of a news post

This is the ‘body text’ of the article. Body text is Arial 12pt and the colour is just off-black, which means it is nice and clear to read. This is actually the second paragraph of the article, as the lede text counts as the first.

Headings should only ever be in Paragraph 4

The body text font is designed to be accessible and easy to read, so we should only use other types of format sparingly.

There might be times where it’s useful to use bold for emphasis, for example dates or times or other important information that needs to stand out.

Avoid using the heading 5 or 6 formats for regular text as it’s hard to read and not designed to replace bold or italic formatting.

Other times it might be more useful to use italics for emphasis, which can be useful for things very short quotes of only a couple of words, but again this needs to be used sparingly.

Try to keep headings short

We have a specific style for quotes, to help quotes stand out on the page:

This is our quote style. Ideally we should try to keep quotes short, otherwise they become quite unwieldy or hard to read. Try to make sure all quotes are attributed.

This is how you attribute a quote (in bold)

If you have long quotes, it’s best to try to break them up into shorter ones, by writing sentence in between to fill in the gaps and then starting a new quote. You don’t always have to attribute the quote in the way it’s done above either. This is what Phil Welsh said about quotes:

Breaking up the quote into multiple pieces will help you to keep in as much of the original quoted text as possible, while making sure it’s still possible to read it.

How to use links in text

When we link to other pages, we should always try to use inline links like this as opposed to doing something like ‘You can find out more about this here‘.

There are two reasons for this. One is that inline links are more descriptive, so when you want to link to an article about what VALUES clients think about the service, people are more likely to click on the link because they can see what it’s going to be about.

The second reason is for accessibility. For someone with a visual impairment using a screen reader, not only will the link be more descriptive but it will also be read out more naturally by the screen reader software.

Imagine how difficult it would be to understand click here something like this read more if it was read out to you like this and we asked you to read more here.

Some summary points

Let’s go over some key points:

  • Stick to basic formatting and use things like quote formatting sparingly to ensure that articles are clear and easy to read
  • If you’ve used an image, make sure it has the alt text field completed
  • Choose the right category for the post so that the relevant ‘read more’ links will appear underneath it
  • If the article is for a funded project with logo requirements, make sure to select the right funding stripe to appear at the top of the page (don’t add funding text or images at the bottom of the page, most guidelines say that funder logos should be prominent and at the top of pages)
  • Fill in the SEO details in the Yoast plugin underneath the article (these will help with articles appearing correctly in Google searches)

Three Leicestershire charities win the 2020 Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service

We wanted to highlight the three charities that received the Queen’s Award this year, and congratulate all three organisations for their amazing achievement. You can find out more about each of the organisations and how to find and support them below:

Hinckley Concordia Association

The Hinckley Concordia Association (HCA) is a registered charity which owns and administrates the Concordia Theatre. They are pleased to say that the volunteer ethos which made this dream come true is still in existence today, the theatre is completely run by volunteers.

The theatre, which is based on the three sections of a renovated hosiery factory, hosts a number of amateur performance societies who perform regularly at the theatre.


Leicestershire Search and Rescue

Leicestershire Search & Rescue (LeicSAR) is a non-profit organisation, made up entirely of emergency volunteers, providing vital support and assistance to the emergency services, local authorities and the general public. Their volunteers share a common interest, which is providing a professional, reliable and vital service to the people of Leicestershire and surrounding areas, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Their primary role is to provide specialist resources to Leicestershire’s emergency services to assist in the search and rescue of vulnerable and missing people in the Leicestershire area. They also provide support to neighbouring teams in other counties.


Mountsorrel and Rothley Community Heritage Centre

In 2007 Mountsorrel and Rothley Community Heritage Centre formed to restore the 1¼ miles of the Mountsorrel Railway. With £100,000 raised from the local community and help from local business their 120 volunteers have delivered so much more! Contributing over 140,000 hours of volunteer labour they restored the rail line, built Mountsorrel Station with car park and access, repaired two stone bridges and then went on to create the Mountsorrel And Rothley Community Heritage Centre and all the many areas of interest that the heritage centre site now contains.

They opened to the public on 25th April 2016. Their aim is to encourage visitors to find out and learn about our local heritage and ecology, as well as providing a pleasant area and environment to relax and enjoy themselves.


More about the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service

You can find out more about the QAVS and nominate your choice for the 2021 Queen’s Award on their website. Nominations close on 25 September 2020.