Annual Review 2019-2020
Voluntary Action LeicesterShire (VAL) is charity that works to change lives for the better across Leicester and Leicestershire.
This year we held our first ever VALLs (Voluntary Awards for Leicester and Leicestershire) with tremendous support and sponsorship from Dr Nik Kotecha, Director of Morningside Pharmaceuticals. The awards formed part of our campaign to open up local voluntary effort to local businesses – raising awareness of the incredible strength and depth of community effort across the city and the county.
We also opened up new horizons for our VALUES clients though the Sandwich Station at the front of VAL building. This offers experience in retail, customer service, and food preparation for people with a Learning Disability, extending our approach that is to integrate everyone into the community as far as possible.
Our Building Better Opportunities projects continued to perform strongly reaching participant targets and being very successful in getting people into work.
Chief Executive Officer
This is the hardest Annual Review introduction I have written in all my years at VAL. For 49 weeks of the last financial year our delivery was operating as usual – and as you will see from this review we had some amazing achievements. Then in March 2020 everything changed for us, our families, our stakeholders and our service users.
We began to prepare for the inevitable on 12 March, preparing staff and resources to deliver services remotely. By the time of the UK lockdown announcement of 23 March, all of our services were run by staff based at home and within 24 hours our building was closed.
We quickly established ourselves as a key partner for the County and City Councils to support local volunteers and voluntary groups and began remote support for service users on our YES and GREAT projects as well as for our VALUES clients. I am immensely proud of our staff’s ability to adapt to the new reality and ensure we continued to support some of the most vulnerable in our communities.
As I write this at my kitchen table I have no better idea than anyone what the ‘new normal’ will look or feel like. The current crisis though will surely teach us all of the value of community, looking after and supporting the most vulnerable, and the enriching and life-affirming delight that is volunteering.
Stay safe all.
As part of the combined response to the Coronavirus pandemic, VAL worked with Leicester City Council and Leicestershire County Council to create a bank of volunteers to help local communities.
Over 2,400 people signed up to be a part of the volunteer bank, and to date VAL has placed over 1,000 people with local VCSE organisations.Read volunteer stories
Hours of support for groups
Funding for 28 groups
Volunteering enquiries converted (14.% national average)
People from 450 groups attended a VAL event
City Charity of the Year
The Bridge Homelessness to Hope (winner)
City Small Charity of the Year
Sound Café Leicester (winner)
County Charity of the Year
Bodie Hodges Foundation (winner)
County Small Charity of the Year
The Well (winner)
Trustee of the Year
Volunteer-Led Organisation of the Year
Sponsored by Zinthiya Trust) Woodhouse & Woodhouse Eaves Good Neighbour Scheme (winner)
Volunteer of the Year
(Sponsored by Dluxe Magazine) Emma Hallam (winner) Adrian Key (special recommendation)
Social Enterprise of the Year
(Sponsored by East Midlands Chamber)
Dear Albert (winner)
Voluntary Sector Ally of the Year
(Sponsored by Business 2 Business) Caterpillar UK Limited (winner)
Overall Charity of the Year
Woodhouse and Woodhouse Eaves Good Neighbourhood Scheme (winner)
Lifetime Achievement Award (Sponsored by Voluntary Action LeicesterShire)
Rick Moore (winner)
Participants into volunteering
Participants into training
Participant into job search
Working in textiles for many years, Ling was offered voluntary redundancy, she felt it could be a positive new start for her. Ling turned to volunteering to find new opportunities.
Since then her first-hand experience and enthusiasm has resulted in paid employment joining the Work. Live. Leicestershire team at VAL as a Project Advisor.Read Ling's story
participants in total
participants find employment
participants find education or training opportunities
of participants who left the project saw an increase in their confidence
of participants left with employability skills
of participants who left the project saw an improvement in their relationships
The ‘Behind Every GREAT Man’ was an extension of a previous initiative to help the project sign up more male participants.
The project has not only seen the number of male participants rise from a quarter of the total to a third, but we now offer male-only support groups which which have successfully helped many male participants actively engage more with the activities on offer.Find out more Watch video
Before joining the GREAT Project, Sukhwinder faced multiple barriers to work, including anxiety, mental health issues, a disability and lack of skills, all of which were preventing him from finding his first job. So when his local job centre referred him to the GREAT Project, he was happy to sign up.Read Sukhwinder’s story
find enough confidence to start job searching independently
find education or training opportunities
of young people left with improved confidence
of young people left with employability skills
of young people saw an improvement in their relationships at home
In August, the YES Project entered The 25th Birthday National Lottery Awards, awards that celebrate the amazing achievements of extraordinary people alongside lottery funded projects.
The YES Project was nominated for the Community and Charity award, and is proud to have placed as a finalist for this category.Read more
Lynette, a 24 year old young adult, was unemployed at the time of joining the YES Project, and had goals she wanted to achieve. Lynette felt that to achieve those goals, she needed some support to help her find employment.Read Lynette's story
Something else the YES Project is exceptionally proud of this year, was the event held in February 2020. A New Direction; #ReRouting Futures saw the project invite stakeholders from across the county, and from different organisations, including businesses, charities, local authority and Trusts, to a venue in the heart of Leicester.Read more
The Sandwich Station is a training shop, run out of VAL’s building on Newarke Street, where people with learning disabilities can learn workplace skills. All of the sandwiches are made on site and VALUES clients serve customers in the sandwich kiosk every day between 11am and 1pm, selling sandwich meal deals to passers-by.
The shop was opened by Jon Ashworth MP and since opening has sold over 321 sandwiches since October 2019.
This is a fantastic inclusive initiative by the VALUES project, and I truly hope it is a success. I encourage people to pop into VAL and support the Sandwich Station.
litres of recycled rainwater used to flush toilets
fewer plastic bottles used by switching to glass
fewer single-use plastic bin bags
Looking forward to the coming year our first priority will be to retain what we currently deliver successfully and to high quality as shown in this review. In addition and where possible we will seek out opportunities to enhance this provision.
Therefore we will:
- Seek a continuation of our contracts with the City and County Councils to provide support for local community and voluntary groups and support for volunteering
- Maintain our VALUES service for people with learning disabilities, seeking to continue to grow the service steadily by 3% per year
- Continue to deliver our Building Better Opportunities projects (GREAT, YES and WiLL projects).
- Sustain our building income from office rental
Where possible we will seek to press VAL forward into additional areas such as better working with Health colleagues, working with public sector partners on improving public sector volunteering, and improving our working links with district councils.
Chair of VAL's Trustee Board
The end of this 2019-20 year has been overwhelmed by the Coronavirus pandemic and VAL staff have responded magnificently both by moving our operations to remote/home working and mobilising volunteers and local groups to support our communities. There is still uncertainty about the future in terms of living with the virus and the potential economic impact it has caused.
VAL has had a very successful year and was well positioned to cope with the crisis of the pandemic. We have enhanced our reputation with our support to partners in recent months and the Trustee Board anticipate this year will be equaly notable for VAL.