VAL Chief Executive awarded MBE in HM The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Birthday List

HM The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Birthday Honours List 2022 marks the public service of individuals across the UK in celebration of Her Majesty’s 70 years of service.

Kevan is honoured among an incredible list of over 1,000 people, recipients who have been awarded for their outstanding contributions and work in their communities across all sectors.

On hearing the news, Kevan Liles MBE said:

“I am deeply humbled to receive this honour. I have spent 30 plus years working with local VCSE groups to promote and support their work in communities – this honour gives recognition to our local community sector and it’s incredible work ‘on the ground’. I take the opportunity to acknowledge all of the staff and trustees at VAL, for their hard work and dedication for our communities.”

“I came to work at VAL way back in 1990 having worked with the Tenants’ Association on St Matthews Estate in Leicester where I had discovered the transformational potential of local community led action – I hope that my work at VAL has done your work justice!”

Kevan, joined VAL as Chief Executive from St Matthews Tenants Association in 1990. He previously worked in production management in Industry and as a Social Worker for the County Council. From that point in 1991 he steadily built the reputation and scale of VAL to the organisation it is today, building it from 10 FTE staff to 75 FTE staff along with our public reach expanding from Leicester to also cover Leicestershire. In 2000/1 he managed the fundraising and raised, £1.5 million over 18 months to fund the refurbishment of the VAL Building at 9 Newarke Street.

Kevan has led the establishment of a range of new local services such as Leicestershire Healthwatch, the Carers Centre, Learning Disability and EU funded local employment projects, not only has this increased the profile of our local voluntary and community action, but has also strengthened our links in working with Strategic Partnerships within the local public sector.

He has also helped in delivering the mass volunteer support such as the Special Olympics, the reinternment of Richard III, and recently the huge local response to the Covid 19 pandemic.


VAL has been helping volunteers and community groups to thrive for over fifty years and across a range of services encompassing education, employment, support and funding for some of the hardest to reach and most marginalised people in society.

To find out how your business, charity or group could value from talking to VAL contact them on 0116 257 5050 or visit https://valonline.org.uk/


Statisticians for Society

Statisticians for Society aims to connect professional statisticians with third sector organisations that need help collecting, analysing and presenting data.

It is free and open to charities and other third sector organisations with an annual income of less than £1million. You can read case studies of some organisations that have benefitted from the service.

We are hosting an event called ‘How data and evidence brought chamber music to Welsh communities’. The event will be held on Friday 10 June 2022 from 1pm – 2.30pm where you will have the chance to hear about the impact the initiative has had on Ensemble Cymru. This is a fantastic opportunity to find out how the charity worked with a statistician to understand their audience and gained insights into securing new audiences for their performances across Wales.

Book on event here.


Bradgate Park Trust – New woodland setting

Throughout this summer we’re looking to work with community groups to offer a free outdoor learning session at Bradgate Park.

Each two-hour session will be led by a Bradgate Park ranger who will take your group through an inspiring morning of activities including natural art, bushcraft skills, and wildlife exploration.

The sessions have been designed to inspire key community figures and group leaders to develop skills, gain confidence, and take ideas in delivering activities outdoors as well as encouraging time in nature, even where facilities are limited.

The woodland workshop is located within the tranquil woodland by Hunts Hill car park with nearby rest room facilities. Complementary transportation to and from the park is included in the session.

Contact Amy Chambers E: development@bradgatepark.org T: 07977 816865


Take action on energy and climate change

Carbon Literacy Training focuses on building the knowledge and motivation for participants to take meaningful action to address climate change.

The training is accredited by the Carbon Literacy Project (https://carbonliteracy.com) which to date has approved the training of over 32,000 individuals and nearly 3000 organisations.

This training takes place online over two mornings: Friday 10th June and Friday 17th June, 9.30am to 12.30pm. Attendance at both sessions is required to complete the course. To register, use the online form here.

The training addresses:

  • Understanding the core relevant points of climate science, greenhouse gases and what drives climate change
  • What a ‘carbon footprint’ is, and key high-carbon activities for individuals, organisations and countries
  • Key actions that can be taken individually and collectively to reduce your (or your organisation’s) carbon footprint, related to energy, travel, food and purchases
  • Developing a personal action plan of your own next steps

The training format is interactive and friendly with plenty of time for questions and group discussion.

Participants who attend the whole training and complete a short form outlining their pledged actions can be recognised by the Carbon Literacy Trust as ‘Carbon Literate’

De Montfort University is an accredited ‘Carbon Literate’ organisation and has been delivering Carbon Literacy Training since 2020. In 2021, DMU was ranked as the UK’s number one university in the People and Planet league for its comprehensive and ambitious plans to work towards ‘net zero’ emissions through its energy use, travel and procurement.

If you are interested but cannot join on these dates please email zerocarbon@dmu.ac.uk to enquire about potential future dates and other support available.


Consultation – Plans to become a net zero county by 2045

A major consultation has been launched by the council on proposals to make the county cleaner greener and healthier.

Residents, businesses, councils, universities and others are being urged to help shape ambitious plans to make Leicestershire a net zero carbon county by 2045 by getting involved in a major consultation.
Leicestershire County Council is inviting people to comment on how changing the way they travel, how they run and maintain their homes, and how what they buy from day-to-day can help to protect the environment.

Running over three months, the consultation focuses on a net zero action plan which sets out key goals including:

  • Reducing carbon emissions generated by transport
  • Reducing energy use in buildings – plus improving energy efficiency and adding new renewable energy generation
  • Supporting businesses to go green and grow the low carbon economy
  • Supporting communities to tackle climate change
  • Increasing the removal and storage of carbon in natural systems like soil and forests

The consultation is open until 26 July and includes a planned social media campaign with the hashtag #NetZeroLeicestershire, a Facebook live and discussions with young people – as part of the wider engagement process.

To learn more about our net zero ambitions and to fill in our survey please visit the council’s net zero web page.
For copies of the questionnaire in other formats, please email NetZero@leics.gov.uk


UK Shared Prosperity Fund workshops

We are now organising a programme of workshops in June:

14th June 2022 – USKPF Overview: This will provide an overview of the fund and our approach in developing an Investment Plan

21st June 2022 – Communities & Place

22nd June 2022 – Supporting Local Business

23rd June 2022 – People and Skills


Dates, Times and to book to attend the workshops, please complete the registration form on the following website: UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF) (leicester.gov.uk)

We want those attending the workshops to come away with a strong understanding of the UKSPF process, it’s’ criteria and the commissioning timetable we will be working to in Leicester.

And as the commissioning body we want these workshops to provide us with the evidence and insight about what our city, citizens, communities and businesses need so we can present to central govt a robust and compliant UKSPF investment plan for the city by the end of July.

This Investment Plan will provide local organisations with a clear, evidenced set of priorities that the UKSPF will be expected to achieve in Leicester and a timetable against when we will spend the fund to achieve them.

This in turn will allow you or your organisation to develop ideas into project proposals. Unlike the Community Renewal Fund process of last year, there will not be a mad scramble to piece together detailed project plans in a few weeks.

Leicester City Council will not, and nor are we expected to, submit a list of funded projects this summer. Consequently these workshops are not opportunities to pitch ideas but to share your experience and insight so we can arrive at the right priorities for Leicester’s UKSPF Investment Plan.

However we do feel it is right at this stage to manage expectations. The £9m UKSPF grant we have been allocated

  • does not come close to covering existing EU funded projects
  • is being asked to deliver against a broader range of outcomes, and
  • has replaced a city/county geography with a city/7 district model which makes pooling resources harder to do – especially in areas covering business and skills support

Essentially we are being asked to do more with less and in a more fractured funding environment. This is isn’t to say the funding doesn’t represent a significant opportunity but it is important that this context is understood not just for the workshops we will host but in mapping out your own organisations’ funding plans between now and 2024/25.


Rosie’s Article – Volunteering

Rosie is a freelance writer who has recently graduated from the University of Gloucestershire with a degree in English Language. In her spare time, Rosie can be found in the countryside walking her dog, or making her way through her bookshelf! You can contact Rosie on: rosie.buckley@thewritersdiary.co.uk

Volunteering can be a fantastic way to give back to your community and do something meaningful with your free time. Studies have shown that volunteering can boost your mental and physical health and make you feel healthier and happier.


Volunteers Week is taking place between the 1st and the 6th of June. It is an annual event where the UK celebrates volunteers and gives thanks for the contribution that they make, meaning it’s the ideal time to get involved with charitable projects in your local area.

If you’re looking for inspiration, here are eight ways you can give back to your community.

1. Visit the elderly
Older people are extremely vulnerable to loneliness and social isolation. A recent survey found that 1.4 million elderly people in the UK often feel lonely. Loneliness can have a huge impact on an older person’s physical and mental health and contribute to a wide range of health conditions including heart disease and depression.

Volunteering to visit the elderly can provide a valuable source of social interaction and help tackle loneliness and isolation in the older population. According to Helping Hands Home Care: “Whether you’d like to pop and visit older people in their homes once a week for a chat, develop essential life skills in communication, or even start a whole new chapter of your life, there are opportunities in every sector.”

2. Volunteer at your local school
Schools look for volunteers to help with a wide range of activities such as listening to students read, supporting teachers in the classroom, or helping at school events. Volunteering in a school can teach you valuable skills, especially if you want to pursue a career in the education sector.

Get in touch with schools in your local area if you would like to find out what volunteering opportunities are available.

3. Serve food in a homeless shelter
Homeless shelters provide an essential source of warmth, food, and socialisation for many homeless people in the UK. Shelters are always looking for volunteers to help prepare and serve meals and helping in a homeless shelter can be extremely rewarding. Visit Crisis UK for more advice on how to become a volunteer in a homeless shelter.

4. Donate blood
Giving blood saves lives and every blood donation can save up to three lives according to the NHS Blood and Transplant. The NHS needs more than 6,000 donors to give blood at sessions across England to meet patient needs and more donors are needed urgently.

You can register to become a blood donor and book an appointment by visiting www.blood.co.uk or calling 0300 123 23 23.

5. Volunteer at an animal shelter
Animal shelters are constantly looking for volunteers and taking care of animals can be lots of fun! Being a volunteer at an animal shelter can also improve your emotional and physical health and make you feel happier. Various studies have shown that interacting with animals can lower stress levels and blood pressure.

6. Coach a youth sports team
If you enjoy being active or have skills in a particular sport, coaching a youth sports team could be the ideal volunteering opportunity for you. You’ll get to pass on your skills, share your passion, and act as a positive role model to the team.

7. Arrange a park clean-up
Organising a clean-up in your local park is an easy way to reduce pollution and fight climate change. It will also create a cleaner and healthier environment for your local community to enjoy. Pick your clean-up location and day and ask people to get involved in the event by posting on Facebook or other community platforms online. Check out this blog for tips on how to arrange a successful community clean-up.

8. Donate clothes
Most people have piles of clothes that they no longer like or wear. Donating your unwanted clothes will help those less fortunate than you and give your unloved pieces a new home. Donating clothes will also help fight climate change by reducing the amount of textile waste going to landfills.


Summary
Volunteering is a great way to learn new skills, meet new people, and boost your health and happiness. We all live busy lives and you may find it difficult to make time to volunteer. However, just half an hour a week can make a huge difference to your community. Find out what volunteering opportunities are in your local area and start making a positive impact today!

 

Get involved in volunteering

If you’re inspired to get involved in volunteering, you can find out more on our VAL Volunteering website.

If you’re a voluntary, community or social enterprise organisation who wants more support with recruiting or managing volunteers, you can get in touch with us via:

helpline@valonline.org.uk
0116 257 5050


Barwell & Hollycroft Surgery Telephone Befriending Service

Article written by: Barwell & Hollycroft Surgery


Many GP practices are visited by patients who are struggling with loneliness. The pressures on GP surgeries mean that GP’s do not have the time to spend chatting to people to help alleviate their feelings of loneliness. The Jo Cox Foundation discovered that loneliness does more harm to people’s physical and mental health than obesity and smoking 15 cigarettes a day – anxiety stress insomnia, depression and dementia are also symptoms associated with loneliness.

To begin with it was really difficult to work out how best to develop the idea.  People’s time is precious and face to face Befriending is very valuable but many people do not have the capacity to take this on.  Telephone Befriending then began to seem a possible way of offering a service where people in full time work could give up some time a week talking to a Befriendee.

At first it was difficult to get started but the big change came with the introduction of Local Area Coordinators, financed by Social Services and Social Prescribers funded by the NHS. These people are linked to GP surgeries and do brilliant jobs of dealing with non-clinical issues that patients have. Referrals  from health professionals meant that a holistic approach was being satisfied so not only was loneliness addressed but things contributing to their loneliness (health, family issues, mobility) were also being looked at.

With this in place then referrals began to be made to us.

But wait! Referrals are fine but we didn’t have any volunteers so I was advised to look at VAL (Voluntary Action Leicestershire) and the Rural Community Council (RCC) who both offered very valuable advice. The need for DBS checks was discussed, training needs and funding opportunities identified.

Befrienders are there as Alerters not as people who solve the problems of the people they are assigned. If we have concerns then these are passed through our Coordinator who then contacts the person who referred the Befriendee to us.  We then step back allowing the professionals to take over.

Getting new recruits is always a problem but since advertising through VAL we have had 10 of our 41 Befrienders come to us.  We are delighted to say that one of those can speak a number of Indian languages and we have our first referral so this will hopefully mean a more meaningful interaction can take place.

After three years we are seeing that the benefits to this service don’t only serve the person referred to us but also the Befriender gets a great deal out of some very interesting conversations. Some long term friendships have developed and thrived.

We have also been nominated twice for the Hinckley & Bosworth Making a Difference Awards and were, along with 3 other organisations, finalists in the National Association of Link workers Awards for Community Groups.


Ebay for change

Details of the ebay for change programme can be found here: https://pages.ebay.co.uk/ebay-for-change/

They are now getting ready to take on their fourth wave of sellers who will be selling on the platform in time for Christmas 2022 respectively.

Training will begin in September 2022.

If your social enterprise would like to part of the programme then you can complete an application here: https://pages.ebay.co.uk/ebay-for-change/


Working with Young People – Media Literacy and Digital Youth Work

Many young people have grown up in a digital age with access to computers, technology, and the internet; making it essential that youth workers are able to effectively respond to young people’s changing needs in the new digital landscape.

The free course contains 5 micro-modules:

  • How the online environment operates, includes commercial motivations behind online platforms, digital advertising, and how and why digital communities are used by young people
  • How online content is generated and can be critically analysed, looking specifically at awareness of dis-information and how to fact-check to determine veracity
  • The risks of sharing personal data online, centring on how personal data can be used by others and the importance of protecting online privacy
  • Understanding how actions online have consequences offline, highlighting what behaviour is not acceptable online and the impact extended screen-time can have on wellbeing
  • How youth work can enable young people to engage in safe and positive online engagement, brings together learning from modules 1-4 and applying this knowledge to support young people with improving their safety and wellbeing in digital spaces

Volunteer and staff within the local VCSE youth sector may wish to access this free training.

Further details and how to book can be found here.