Menphys – A new and exciting future

The Centre will become the new Menphys Hub providing the charity with both a long-term home, a base for developing and growing services, along with enhancing the support it provides to disabled children, young people, and their families.

In addition to running its own clubs and services, the new Menphys Hub will also incorporate The Hub Coffee Shop and a new Charity Shop. In supporting the local community, Menphys will also re-open and operate the South Wigston Community Library and IT Suite. This will create a number of volunteer and work experience opportunities for both local people and young people with disabilities.

During the summer, Menphys will be carrying out a number of key building works to ensure that the building is fully accessible and will install new specialist Sensory and Therapy Rooms for our various client groups. This work will include the building of a ‘Changing Places’ which is a specialist disabled toilet for people who require additional facilities and is funded by a grant from Leicestershire County Council.

As part of the Hub’s wider role in the community, Menphys will also be hosting the South Wigston Registrar and Adult Learning Service to compliment the range of services on offer and to help maintain The Bassett Centre as an important community resource for local people.

Menphys CEO, Ian Caldwell, said “Our move to the Bassett Centre is a great opportunity for Menphys to build on the success of its existing clubs and activities for disabled children, young people and their families in Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland, allowing us to extend our reach and capability, whilst also enabling us to develop and grow new services”. He added, “We are looking forward to welcoming both local residents and people from across the city and counties to enjoy the new facilities at The Hub.”

Pam Posnett MBE CC, Chairman of Leicestershire County Council, added “I am delighted to welcome Menphys to the Bassett Centre.  This is great news for South Wigston and the wider Leicestershire community. I very much look forward to the reopening of South Wigston library, and to the County Council working with Menphys and the community to support the hub.”

As a leading local charity, Menphys has enjoyed the support of the local community, businesses and corporate sponsors for many years. In order to continue its important work for disabled children and young people we need to grow the support of these communities.

ESF Community Grants Programme

Round 2: 15th November 2019 to 15th December 2019
Round 3: 15th June to 15th July 2020

Jointly funded by the SFA and the European Social Fund, the Community Grants programme gives small, voluntary and community sector organisations (with a turnover of less than £500,000) an opportunity to access funding to deliver projects that engage ‘hard to reach’ individuals and help them to progress into employment.

Grants of between £5,000 and £20,000 are available for projects or initiatives in Leicester and Leicestershire that help people take steps towards reaching the labour market, and developing their future career potential, whilst reducing unemployment and inactivity.

Activities which are eligible for funding include:

  • initial help with basic skills
  • work experience, including voluntary work
  • training, advice and counselling
  • confidence building
  • job search assistance and other help necessary to secure employment
  • engagement activities

Priority will be given to applications that demonstrate an ability to target participants who are:

  • Over 50
  • With Learning Difficulties and Disabilities
  • From Ethnic Minority Backgrounds
  • Women
  • Unemployed for over 6 months
  • Furthest removed from the labour market with significant barriers to employment

The East Midlands programme is being administered by Futures, and more information can be seen on their website.

To find out more about the Grant programme and to receive support with your application, contact:
Ashley Wilkinson (Community Grants Coordinator – East Midlands)

Tel: 07483 120941

The Y – Funding for Heritage Projects involving Young People

The Y Heritage Project will offer grants of between £3,000 and £30,000 to eligible organisations in Leicester or Leicestershire who are able to help deliver local heritage projects, whilst hosting meaningful work opportunities for vulnerable young people, helping to develop and utilise the skills of these young people (who are residents at the Y’s homeless shelter).

As part of the funding programme, it will run a series of “Dragons Den” style pitches over the next three years, where shortlisted applicants will be able to present their proposals to a panel of young people from The Y.

The Y are very keen to engage with heritage projects across Leicestershire to promote this exciting opportunity.

For any group/organisation to be in with a good chance of being awarded funding, they need to be able to:

  • Develop / deliver a project which promotes local heritage or history. Examples could include restoring artefacts or producing historical exhibitions/displays
  • Engage young people in local heritage and history projects
  • Host a placement for a (vulnerable) young person to help run the project and learn/develop a range of new skills
  • Would be interested in applying for funding (up to £30,000) for such a project

Y Heritage will work to two commissioning and training cycles a year over a three-year period; one which takes place between September and December; and another which takes places between February and May.

Reaching Communities workshop

VAL, CASE and Reaching People are running a short interactive workshop for 15-30 year olds who want to have a say in what they think Leicester City should look like and be like in the next 10 years. We are looking for a variety of people from different areas, ages, ethnicities and in various states of employment, or lack of.

The session will take place on Thursday 22 August, 6-8pm (aiming to finish at 7.30), at The Centre Project, 1 Alfred Place, off Granby Street, Leicester, LE1 1EB.

Get involved

Please contact Zuli Stannard at directly to confirm spaces. There will be free pizza (Vegan and vegetarian options available), so please confirm your place before attending so we can cater for everyone!

You can watch a short animation that’s been created for the project to highlight ‘all that is great’ about Leicester.

Smart Meter Roll Out

Smart Energy GB in Communities is being delivered by a group of charities led by national fuel poverty charity National Energy Action (NEA) and is an engagement campaign helping to inform people about smart meters and the positive changes they can bring.

This year we are seeking large organisations with substantial face-to-face reach to householders.
NEA believes that smart metering has the potential to provide real benefits for vulnerable and low income householders, but only if these individuals are effectively engaged and supported throughout the smart meter journey.

We are working to ensure that everyone has the same opportunities to engage in the smart meter rollout, regardless of personal circumstance or location.
In 2019 we are partnering with trusted organisations from the voluntary, private and public sectors to support:

  • People who are over the age of 65.  
    Over 65s are a priority group as they make up 1 in 4 of the total GB adult population but are less likely to engage in

In an effort to raise awareness to this group, NEA can provide FREE bite size briefings on the smart meter rollout to frontline staff and volunteers so they can:

  • Describe the smart meter roll-out programme
  • Explain what a smart metering system does
  • Highlight the obligations and responsibilities held by energy companies
  • Examine the barriers that vulnerable householders may face
  • Explore the opportunities to support vulnerable householders


Helen Carter NEA Project Development Co-ordinator Tel. 07715 527102

Vote for the YES Project in the National Lottery Awards

The YES (Youth Employability Support) Project is a three-year scheme which has helped more than 400 people not in education, employment or training aged 15-24 to improve their chances of work and overcome the barriers they face.

The project has beaten off 700 other potential finalists and is now in the final 10 organisations. The winner will be determined by a public vote, so please place your vote and help this Leicester and Leicestershire-based project to gain the recognition it deserves on the national stage.

How to vote

Voting is easy:

  1. Visit the National Lottery Awards website and place a vote using your email address, OR
  2. Tweet the hashtag #NLAYesProject, or retweet a tweet that includes that hashtag, to register a vote

We’d really appreciate your vote, so please support the YES Project and help us to win this year’s National Lottery Community and Charity Award!

About the YES Project

The YES Project is a partnership of eight organisations, managed by VAL. It is funded by the European Social Fund and The National Lottery Community Fund. Find out more about the project at

Charity seeks Crowdfunding support for pet project

Based off Saffron Lane, the charity – RECOVERY Assistance Dogs (RAD) – hopes that its new crowdfunding appeal will raise more than £10,000 for a canine agility course that dogs and their owners can enjoy together.

Featuring hoops, tunnels, jumps and weaves, the outdoor gym would be set up on city council-owned land close to Aylestone Leisure Centre, providing a space where dog owners could meet up for a chat, and where dogs could improve their agility while socialising with other pets.


Any dogs and their owners would be able to use the facility – free of charge – but it would also be used by the charity to help train its assistance dogs, which do so much to improve the mental health and wellbeing of their owners.


Liz Maitland of RAD said: “Dogs are brilliant at getting their owners out of the house and into a more positive mindset, so we want to give them something that will help improve their own wellbeing too.

“This new canine agility course would provide a place where dogs could interact with other dogs or just have fun with their owners – and it would be the only such facility in the county.

“I hope that anyone who loves dogs, or who recognises the role that dogs can play in improving our mental health, will be able to support our crowdfunding appeal. Any donation – large or small – will help us reach our target and will be very gratefully received.”


The charity is seeking to raise a total £10,278 to fund the project.

It’s come up with a range of rewards to encourage people to support their appeal. The first 30 people to pledge £10, for example, will be sent a photo of a Recovery Assistance Dog puppy – while the first three backers to donate £150 will be rewarded with a five day-break in the charity’s seaside caravan.


City Mayor Peter Soulsby is hosting the appeal via his crowdfunding initiative, CrowdFund Leicester.

For the first time since CrowdFund Leicester was launched in September 2017, the City Mayor could support a project by giving it access to city council land.

The 0.2 hectare (2,000m2) site, close to Aylestone Leisure Centre, would continue to be owned and maintained by the council, but it would be made available to the charity for the canine agility course – providing it can raise the funds it needs.


“RAD is a local charity that does a huge amount of work to highlight the benefits of dog ownership on people’s mental health and overall wellbeing,”

said City Mayor Peter Soulsby.

“Their proposal for a pet-friendly facility that both dogs and their owners will enjoy is one that I’m pleased to support ­ – particularly as we have nothing else like this in Leicester.

“If RAD’s crowdfunding appeal is successful, and they raise the funds they need, I have pledged to provide them with the land they’ll need for their project.

“I wish them the very best of luck with their appeal, and I would encourage local businesses, organisations and individuals to have a look at the charity’s page on the CrowdFund Leicester site and to support the appeal, if they can.”


Anyone wishing to contribute to the appeal can make their donation here:

People can also make cash donations at the RAD charity shop on 10 St Andrews Road, LE2 8RD.


CrowdFund Leicester is hosted by crowdfunding platform Spacehive.

Through CrowdFund Leicester, the City Mayor’s community engagement fund is supporting ideas that bring communities together and improve Leicester for everyone.

More information is available on the City Mayor’s webpages at

Paws-a-While Garden

Located at Leicester Animal Aid, a rescue and re-homing Centre for cats and dogs based in Huncote, the garden was an overgrown and neglected corner of the site but has now been transformed into an oasis of peace and tranquillity thanks to Mars Petcare who funded and created the garden.

Last year more than 120 volunteers worked tirelessly to turn the unloved area into a haven for wildlife and a place for people to come to enjoy being close to nature.

The garden has a wildlife pond, bird hide, a woodland area with bench and totem pole, a gazebo and a bug hotel. The garden is bursting with life and colour and has attracted many different types of birds, one even nested in one of the bird boxes, and we have tadpoles in the wildlife pond.

The idea behind the garden was to create a space that, together with providing somewhere for people coming to the Centre to visit, could be used to bring people together and be used by different groups and organisations.

We want the space to be enjoyed and used.  If you know any groups who would benefit from visiting the garden – whether it’s just to come and sit for half-an-hour, look at the different wildlife habitats, fill up our bird feeders or do some light gardening tasks such as weeding – we’d love to hear from you. It could be a one-off visit or regular visits and if there was a specific project your group would like to do, such as growing vegetables in a raised bed, then we would happily try to apply for funding.

The entrance to the garden and gazebo is fully accessible but the rest of the garden has woodchip paths.  Your group would need its own transport, as the Centre is not on any public transport routes,

If you’d like to find out more please contact

Everybody’s Reading Festival

The festival is city-wide and last year saw more than 100 events take place at 40 venues throughout Leicester involving everyone from children to grandparents, including many events on the city’s estates.

This year, the event organised by De Montfort University has been extended from a nine-day festival to cover the whole month of October.
Community and voluntary groups are being invited to come forward with ideas for reading events and to apply for up to £200 in funding for their plans.

Event co-ordinator Jess Bogic said:
“The event’s aim is to take reading out to the wider community in Leicester so that children, parents, grandparents and the people of Leicester have an opportunity to come to events inspired by books, reading and words. But we also want council staff to play a leading role this year and would like as many people as possible to come forward with their event ideas to get everybody reading across the city.”

The festival started in 2010 and has hosted world-famous authors like Michael Rosen, Helen Skelton and Michael Morpurgo at events. Local writers and performers like poet Jess Green, writers Bali Rai and Rod Duncan and all-round wordsmith Carole Leeming have also made appearances.
In the last five years, more than 24,500 people have attended 580 events.

Those wishing to stage events for the Everybody’s Reading 2019 festival and apply for the £200 sponsorship should sign up at

Visit from NCVO

They first met with VAL support staff to get a sense of the unique issues facing local infrastructure.  Then a number of local organisations attended a working lunch to discuss issues facing Leicestershire based charities.  Attendees included representation from Trade Sexual Health, The Recovery Consultancy Limited, National Youth Agency, Home group limited, First Step Leicester Leicestershire and Rutland,  Enrych Leicestershire and Derbyshire, Focus  Charity, Leicester Mammas CIC, Rothley Community Library, Zinthiya Ganeshpanchan Trust,  and Leicester Ageing Together.

Some key points from the roundtable meeting included:

  • Challenges of constant reductions in funding. Meaning that medium and larger organisations are now applying for grants from sources typically used by small organisation, leading to increased competition across the board.
  • The need to change the perception of voluntary sector that we come for free
  • How can we move away from competitive tendering as the default funding option
  • Recognition from central government of the role and scope of the voluntary sector, especially at a local grassroots level
  • Stretched NHS organisations are referring clients to the local sector to meet the demand. However, the local sector is struggling to obtain grant funding to pay for these services.

NCVO is campaigning on some of these issues, having heard from their members in other parts of England as well.

In the afternoon, Lev and Roshni met with George Ballentyne, Leicester City Council’s Voluntary & Community Sector Engagement Manager to discuss the city council’s public sector membership of NCVO. There was an agreement for NCVO and VAL to look at jointly upskilling new councillors about the role of the local sector.  Mr Ballentyne also asked NCVO for help in ensuring that as many councillors and council staff as possible have access to the excellent resources on the NCVO Knowhow website.

Feedback from the event included:

A working lunch delegate – “VAL is very important to us: “We can’t lose VAL! – it’s my support mechanism.”

NCVO – “I’d just like to say a big public ‘thank you’ from Roshni and me to colleagues at VAL for hosting this very productive visit, and especially Helen for arranging the day and sending me very thorough information in advance. “

If you are a local VCSE organisation based in Leicester or Leicestershire, who are providing services to local residents in those areas, who is exploring collaborative opportunities, please consider using VAL’s sector support, activity referral service, to assist you with this. Requests for support can be sent to helpline 0116 257 5050 or