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

Celebrating Volunteers in Leicestershire

The first event was at the Leicester Riverside Festival, we engaged with over 120 people over the course of the weekend. Even with the rain we still managed to go on and speak to a number of people who were interested in volunteering.

On Monday 3 June, we held a Thank you event at our offices, where we celebrated in style with a lunch for our volunteers and trustees who work across for VAL. It was a great success and gave us a chance to celebrate the invaluable contribution volunteers make to our organisation.

On Tuesday 4 June, we held a ‘Speed Networking’ event at Braunstone Brite Centre in partnership with the Leicester Employment Hub. The floor was buzzing with over 140 attendees, along with stall holders from various organisations. It was an opportunity to give people a chance to meet a range of different organisations and to ask key questions. This event was also showcased in the news on Friday 7 June on ITV Central News.

On Wednesday 5 June we held a Volunteer Fair at Hinckley Library, which consisted of 9 organisations and 25 people who came to ask about volunteering, to find out more about the local opportunities which were available. It was also a chance for representatives from local charities and organisations to network with each other.

On Thursday 6 June we ran a Volunteer Celebration Event at John Storer House in Loughborough.  The event involved a speed networking session giving local volunteer co-ordinators, volunteers and members of the public a chance to meet a range of different organisations to ask some key questions and get a flavour of their work. This was a chance to bring together local voluntary organisations to celebrate the work of their volunteers.

We also held an Event at Hood Park Leisure Centre in Ashby, where 80 people came along from 30 organisations. The event was not only about volunteering but was open to the public, local groups, businesses and organisations to promote local services and to learn about what is on offer in and around Ashby, to encourage more people to volunteer and get involved in their local community.

VAL went ‘online’ – On Friday 7 June, to end our Volunteers Week we held an online drop in session for all, via our social media channels. Members of our team were available via Twitter, Facebook and an online chat forum to answer any questions, share comments or ideas related to volunteering and share feedback and learning.

Our Volunteers week does not end there, as we continue to help people change their lives for the better. Volunteering can help you gain valuable new skills and experiences, make new friends, build your CV and can help to boost your confidence.

If you’re interested in volunteering, find out more from

Volunteers Week 1-7 June 2019

During the week, hundreds of events and celebrations take place across the country, giving organisations and local communities the chance to say thank you to people who give their time to support good causes. From trustees and campaigners to carers and fundraisers, this is a great time to think about the fantastic contribution all your volunteers make.

Theme for Volunteers Week this year: Time to Celebrate

The theme for Volunteers’ Week is a chance to celebrate and say thank you for the fantastic contribution millions of volunteers make across the UK.

Further information on the national Volunteers’ Week campaign can be found on the NCVO website:

What is happening in Leicestershire?
Saturday 1 June & Sunday 2 June

Event:     Leicester Riverside Festival
Venue:    Western Blvd, Leicester LE2 7HN
Time:      Saturday 12pm – 6pm
               Sunday 12pm – 5pm

VAL will be promoting and showcasing volunteering at the event with case studies and members of VAL staff. Come along and meet VAL Staff at Leicester Riverside Festival.

Monday 3 June

VAL’s volunteering drop-in for Leicester City will be available on Monday, 10.30am-12.30pm. If you are interested in volunteering, then pop in to speak to someone from our team who will be able to help you to identify some possible volunteering opportunities.

Tuesday 4 June

Event:     Volunteer Celebration Event
Venue:    The BRITE Centre,
Time:      10.00am – 12.00pm noon

We’re holding a Volunteer Celebration Event at the Brite Centre in Leicester to bring together organisations looking for volunteers with potential volunteers. This event will run a bit different to previous events we have organised as it will involve a speed networking session to give people a chance to meet a range of different organisations and to ask some key questions to get a flavour of the opportunities available.

We are asking anyone interested in volunteering to book a place via Eventbrite to give us an idea on numbers and to prepare the space for the event:

VAL’s volunteering drop-in for Leicester City will be available on Tuesday, 10.30am-12.30pm. If you are interested in volunteering, then pop in to speak to someone from our team who will be able to help you to identify some possible volunteering opportunities.

Wednesday 5 June

Event:     Hinckley Library drop-in
Venue:    Hinckley Library, Lancaster Road, LE10 0AT
Time:      10.30am – 12.30pm noon

Come and meet local organisations looking for volunteers!

  • No need to book, just pop along on the day
  • Meet representatives from local charities and organisations
  • Find out how you can make a difference while learning new skills
  • Make friends and have fun through volunteering

For more information, contact: Voluntary Action Leicestershire Tel. 0116 2575050
or Email

Thursday 6 June

Event:     Volunteer Celebration Event
Venue:    John Storer House – Loughborough, Ward’s End, Loughborough LE11 3HA
Time:      10.00am – 12.00pm noon

We’re holding a Volunteer Celebration and Networking Event at John Storer House Loughborough to bring together local voluntary organisations to celebrate the work of their volunteers and network with one another. Like the event in Leicester, this event will run a bit differently to previous events we have organised as it will involve a speed networking session to give local volunteer co-ordinators, volunteers and members of the public a chance to meet a range of different organisations and to ask some key questions to get a flavour of their work. This event will also be open to people interested in volunteering to find out more about local volunteering opportunities.

For more information, contact: Voluntary Action Leicestershire Tel. 0116 2575050
or Email

Thursday 6 June

Event:     Ashby Event
Venue:    Hood Park Leisure Centre
Time:      3.00pm – 6.00pm noon

This event isn’t just about volunteering, but celebrating everything that goes on in the Ashby area. You might want to take up a new hobby or sport, get involved as a volunteer or show some support for the local community. Ashby has a thriving community and lots to offer, but sometimes people just don’t know what is out there or how to get involved. Whatever your interests, there is something out for you, so come along to find out more!

This session will be open to the public, local groups, businesses and organisations to promote local services, to learn about what is on offer in and around Ashby, and to encourage more people to volunteer and get involved in their local community. There will be information stalls from a variety of different community groups and organisations and the opportunity to chat to people about how you could get involved in their activities. You can drop in at any time between 3-6pm and find out more about what is happening in the local community.

Friday 7 June

Event:     On-line drop-in service
Venue:    Online
Time:      10.30am – 12.30pm noon

To try a different way to engage volunteers we are offering a special online drop in service for volunteers and organisations. The way this will work is some of our staff and volunteers will be dedicating time to be available on twitter, Facebook and an online chat during this time ask us any questions, share any comments or ideas related to volunteering we will be responding online to share feedback and learning.

VAL Volunteering Facebook page:



Monday, Tuesday & Thursday VAL Drop in Sessions –

Event:     VAL Volunteering Drop-In
Venue:    Voluntary Action Leicestershire, 9 Newarke Street, Leicester, LE1 5SN
Time:      10.30am to 12.30pm

If you are interested in volunteering, then pop in to speak to someone from our team who will be able to help you to identify some possible volunteering opportunities.

Nominate a deserving voluntary group for The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service

The group being nominated must:
  • have at least two people doing volunteering work, and have been running for 3 years.
  • have more volunteers than paid staff
  • provide a local service and meet a need for people living in the community
  • be supported, recognised and respected by the local community and the people who benefit from it.
  • have significantly benefitted others and demonstrated excellence in volunteering
Winning groups receive:
  • a certificate signed by The Queen and a domed glass crystal, presented personally by HM Lord-Lieutenant; and
  • two representatives from the group will be invited to attend a Royal Garden Party at Buckingham Palace.
So how do you make a nomination?

You must be independent of the group you are nominating.
Nominations can be made online at where further guidance is available

Submit your nomination by 13th September 2019 to make sure the group is considered for the 2020 awards. The awards are announced on 2 June each year.

Top tips when nominating:

Make contact with group – they can provide information to support your nomination and it doesn’t matter if they know you are nominating them.
Be factually correct as nominations will be assessed and checked.
Pack as much into as few words as possible – focus on achievements and what difference the group makes
If you would like any advice or support with your nomination, please contact the Lieutenancy Office. We have valuable experience that we can share with you to strengthen your nomination.

Carers caring for Carers – Staying Well Together

As part of this work, VAL gave feedback to the funder about the issues local VCSE organisations had experienced with the stage one-application form.  They are going to take this information into account to make the application more user friendly.

VAL continued to support applicants that reached the stage two process with advice on what to include in various sections of the form and a read and review of the application.  Funding will enable a number of local VCSE organisations, to deliver local initiatives that local people will create and shape which will help their community or neighbourhood to become even better.

People’s Health Trust’s Grants Support Officer Martine Fitt says, “It’s important to the Trust to work with local organisations and use their knowledge and expertise to support groups to apply for an Active Communities grant, and ensure we are reaching people in neighbourhoods experiencing disadvantage.

One of the VCSE organisations that VAL supported with the stage two application was Carers of Leicestershire Advocacy and Support Project.

Support included what to include in various aspects of the application form, demonstrating that the project idea aligned with the criteria and ethos of the Active Community programme.

Kirsteen McVeigh, GP Partnership Worker at The Carers Centre says “Thanks very much for your support with our People’s Health Trust bid, your notes and suggestions were much appreciated. “

Carers caring for Carers – Staying Well Together

The project will offer 6 x 10 week programmes of weekly activity sessions that will support carers to look after and focus on their own health and wellbeing. A Carers Steering Group will directly lead the project. They will decide when and where the activity sessions will take place, as well as what type of activity the different programmes will focus on. Pre project consultation identified a wide range of activities that carers felt would support them to improve their health and wellbeing and included everything from gardening to crafts to yoga and mindfulness

Kirsteen McVeigh, GP Partnership Worker says: “Carers tell us how difficult they can find it to look after their own health and wellbeing when they’re looking after a family member or friend. Stress, lack of sleep, back pain, depression, diabetes; all of these issues and many more result in carers being twice as likely to suffer poor health as well as having 40% raised mortality.

Nobody knows more about the impact of caring on health than carers themselves and that is why we really appreciate this funding from Peoples Health Trust, which will allow carers to decide for themselves what they need. This project is a great opportunity for people to take some time out for themselves and focus on their own health and wellbeing – something which can often seem impossible during the caring day but with a little extra support, can make all the difference.”

To find out how you as a funder, or business interested in setting up a grant scheme as part of your corporate social responsibility initiatives could value from taking to VAL contact them on their sector support helpline 0116 257 5050

If you are a VCSE organisation and are looking at how to fund your service delivery/projects please contact VAL at 0116 2575 5050 VAL can provide various support including guidance on funding criteria, read and review of draft applications, and funding searches.

About Voluntary Action Leicestershire (VAL)

Voluntary Action LeicesterShire is a charity that focuses on improving the lives of people in Leicester & Leicestershire. We do this through direct service delivery and by providing support to the local voluntary and community sector. Find out more at

About Carers of Leicestershire Advocacy and Support Project

Based in Leicester City Centre overlooking the Train Station, the charitable company is known as The Carers Centre, they support family carers across the diverse population of Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland who look after people with different needs.

The project Carers caring for Carers – Staying Well Together funded by People’s Health Trust using money raised by Health Lottery East Midlands,is open to all unpaid carers who live in Leicester City or Oadby & Wigston. The project starts in the autumn.

If you are interested in finding out more or would like to be involved in setting up and directing the project through the work of the Carers Steering Group please get in touch with Kirsteen McVeigh at The Carers Centre on 0116 251 0999 or email:

About People’s Health Trust

People’s Health Trust is an independent charity investing in local neighbourhoods to help create a society without health inequalities. It works closely with each of the regional and country lotteries raising money through The Health Lottery, and distributes grants.

Charity Landscape Report

Every year, the Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) surveys charity leaders to understand the challenges they face, and to assess the impact these challenges have on the sector’s ability to meet the needs of its beneficiaries.

This year’s survey reveals an ongoing backdrop of uncertainty of change facing charities and their leaders.

The report also revealed that a fifth of charities with an income of less than £1 million are struggling to survive. Several recommendations are made to help charities adapt to current challenges and ‘brave’ the current landscape. You can read a summary here where you will also find the full findings of the report.

Launch party for new VALUES base in Leicester

The main base for VALUES is at Voluntary Action LeicesterShire (VAL). VAL created VALUES in 1998 for a handful of people, and twenty years on they now support over 120 clients to take part in over 100 activities each week, with over 30 full or part-time staff and volunteers.

The service is paid for through Personal Budgets, so each VALUES client has a choice over which activities they want to do. Activities could include anything from cooking skills to travel training or learning to play a musical instrument in the VALUES band, and clients have access to the same support worker each week.

The new base includes conveniences like onsite parking and large disabled toilets, and the onsite gardens and hair salon will offer exciting new activities for VALUES clients to get involved in. Clients will also have the chance to mix with the residents of the retirement village and have fun playing bingo or singing around the piano!

Mikaela Paterson, VALUES Team Manager, said:

“We’re really excited that Danbury Gardens has offered for us to use their fantastic facilities for our new VALUES base.

This is a great opportunity for us to offer new activities not only to our new clients, but hopefully to offer our support to even more people across Leicester who struggled to get to our main offices.

We’d love to meet anyone who’s interested in joining VALUES, or even just wants to find out what we do, so come along on the 10th of April to see what support we can offer. And there’s free tea and cake too!”

The launch event is open to anyone who wants to come along and see what VALUES does.