Now we’re all back at work and trying hard to keep to our new year’s resolutions and avoid all that leftover office chocolate, we want to take a look back at the last year as well as looking ahead to some of the things we’re excited about in 2020.
In January 2019 the Work.Live.Leicestershire (WiLL) project launched, aiming to help people in rural areas throughout Leicestershire to overcome barriers to training, employment, and well-being. VAL is one of nine delivery partners on the project, which is led by Vista.
In February the YES Project hosted an awards event to celebrate the progress of some of the young people on the project. It proved to be an inspiring afternoon hearing the award winners’ journeys; the barriers they’ve overcome, their achievements and plans for the future. The ten award winners were decided by each of the YES Project’s Delivery Partners.
On 1 March 2019 the GREAT Project held their annual showcase event, Changing Lives Together, to celebrate the achievements of some of our participants both past and present. Over 100 delegates attended from various organisations across Leicester and Leicestershire, including project partners.
In March VAL was awarded £18,200 through the £3 million Connect Fund programme to promote social investment, a means of funding which could be vital to the future of the local Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise (VCSE) sector.
In April VALUES launched a new site at Danbury Gardens Extra Care in Humberstone, Leicester. The new site means that even more people can access VALUES services and get support. VALUES has been helping people with learning disabilities to make friends, learn new skills and have fun for over 20 years.
VAL published an Economic Impact Report, detailing the financial impact that we had on Leicester and Leicestershire in the previous financial year.
In May, VAL ran its first funding fair of the year in Melton. 15 funders ran stalls for over 135 attendees, and the event was opened by Cllr Pam Posnett, Chair of the County Council and Melton.
Volunteers Week is a national celebration of all things volunteering, taking place every year between 1-7 June. As the Volunteer Centre for Leicester and Leicestershire, VAL took an active role in promoting volunteers week across the city and county, including multiple events, free drop-in sessions, a Volunteer Fair and a thank you event for our own volunteers.
The GREAT Project reached its target of 500 participants after a huge amount of hard work by the project team. It also launched its #BehindEveryGREATMan campaign to recruit more male participants.
VAL welcomed the National Youth Agency, one of very few national charities based in Leicester, who moved their offices to Newarke Street after leaving their previous office space.
In July the YES Project learned that it had been nominated for the National Lottery’s 25th Birthday Awards, a huge honour to be recognised alongside 9 other projects in the Community and Charity category.
In August we released our Annual Review for 2018-19, covering some of the highlights of the previous year.
We also held a stall at the Belgrave Mela where we talked to members of the public about volunteering and supporting the local community.
In September we were thrilled to find out that our YES and GREAT Projects had received funding extensions to 2022, enabling both projects to continue helping people across Leicester and Leicestershire to overcome barriers and find work, training or education.
We also hosted Future Focus, VAL’s annual conference for the voluntary sector. This year was our 7th Future Focus, and one of our biggest and best yet. The conference was opened by Dr Nik Kotecha, Director of Morningside Pharmaceuticals, and closed by Melanie Mills, Director of Big Society Capital. Over 120 delegates attended eight workshops, plus VAL’s Annual General Meeting.
In October VALUES opened the Sandwich Station, a training shop for VALUES clients to learn work skills and gain experience in a real-life environment. Jon Ashworth, MP for Leicester South, officially opened the shop and the opening was featured on GEM 106 and East Midlands Today.
We also welcomed the Dutch Embassy, who hosted a Brexit information event Dutch citizens living in the UK, which was livestreamed on Facebook.
On 5 November VAL held its first ever Voluntary Awards for Leicester and Leicestershire. The awards celebrated local individuals and organisations for their contribution to the local community. 11 awards were handed out overall in a ceremony hosted by Rupal Rajani and sponsored by Morningside Pharmaceuticals, with award categories sponsored by various local businesses and charities.
Every year Trustees Week celebrates the work that Trustees across the country do and highlights why they are so important. VAL supported Trustees Week in 2019 by sharing the experiences of our own trustees and holding sessions for potential trustees as part of the Leicester Business Festival.
In December we held our second Funding Fair of 2019, with over 130 attendees for the event hosted by Leicester City Council.
It was also announced that the WiLL project will be extended until December 2020.
Finally, six members of VAL staff gave up their valuable free time on 23 December to support LOROS with sorting out their donations and creating Christmas cards for LOROS patients.
Coming up in 2020
After such a big year for VAL in 2019, there are a few things we’re really looking forward to in 2020:
- The launch of our InVALuable Network, an opportunity for charities and businesses to come together and find out how they can support each other
- VALUES hosting the launch of Mencap’s Round the World Challenge on 29 January
- The relaunch of our training programme
- The YES Project’s stakeholder event in February
- The second annual VAL Awards for the voluntary sector in Leicester and Leicestershire (date to be confirmed)
We’d like to thank everyone who supported VAL in 2019 and we hope you’ll stick around and continue supporting us with all the exciting things we have coming up in 2020!