Adur Voluntary Action

A member of the Adur and Worthing communities

About Adur Voluntary Action

Adur Voluntary Action (AVA) is an independent movement of voluntary, community and charitable groups and a registered charity founded in 1959. Our members work co-operatively to support one another in mutual aid, self-help, and the building of warm, trusting networks of activity.

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Latest posts

House of Lords report on charities: damp squib indeed

HOUSE OF LORDS REPORT ON SMALL CHARITIES

Don't bother spending time on this, there is nothing new or genuinely helpful, just the same old platitudes. And don't rely on it having any influence either, as nothing is likely to change (AVA).

Here are the links in case you wish to challenge us:

The House of Lords report on charities: what you need to know

Posted on March 26, 2017 by Karl Wilding

{Reproduced on Adur.Interests.Me with thanks to Karl Wilding}

Introduction: charities are vital in a changing world

The House of Lords select committee on charities has now published its report, entitled Stronger Charities For A Stronger Society. This is a substantial, wide-ranging and important piece of work that should and will shape our sector going forward. The analysis and recommendations of this cross-party committee’s report recognise that Britain benefits greatly from our sector. But that for that to continue, charities, and those who support them, need to adapt so that they can better make an impact in the changing world around them.

A report with much to say about small and medium-sized charities

This is not an ideological or party political report. It is ultimately about getting things done, about changing for the better, and supporting charities to make a bigger difference. Its concerns are mainly, though not exclusively, about small and medium-sized charities, but ultimately the content is relevant for the whole sector.

There are strong messages for those working with charities too. There’s very much a call to action to membership bodies like NCVO and ACEVO that we need to collaborate more to support charities in a changing world. We are absolutely up for that and we will be responding to the report with our own action plan.

A wide-ranging report that addresses many important issues

The report is wide ranging: there are 100 conclusions including 42 recommendations across 150 pages. The Douglas Adams fans among you might consider those 42 recommendations to be the answer to life, the universe and everything when it comes to charities. They cover governance, finance and funding (including grant funding and core costs), public service delivery and contracting, digital, volunteering, campaigning and advocacy, and regulation. The latter includes comments on the Charity Commission charging charities for regulation. The committee really has put all the pieces of the puzzle together in the report.

If you don’t have time to read the report, we’ve put the recommendations together for you in one document

Some of the recommendations have a very clear and specific audience: for example, government has been asked to address concerns over public sector commissioning and to help smaller charities bid for contracts. In the field of governance, individual charities have been challenged to regularly undertake skills audits of their trustee boards. All but the smallest charities have been told they should have a website or Facebook page. In other words, there are tangible actions for government, regulators, membership bodies and individual charities. We all have a stake in this.

Other recommendations, such as a call to develop more robust and meaningful partnerships between charities, business and government are longstanding, probably more aspirational in nature, and in need of ownership if we are to take them forward. In that sense, the report is extremely useful in pulling together a wide range of issues that individually we are aware of, but rarely have been brought together.

But the report is not a roadmap to utopia for realists. It is going to need an action plan for implementation, with a detailed gap analysis of existing support and provision. My sense is that a lot of what the Committee want to see in terms of support for small and medium charities is out there. Indeed, I know NCVO, ACEVO, DSC, CFG, SCC and others are providing some of it. But we’re clearly not getting through to enough charities that this support is available and that they should use it. So, at NCVO, we’re going to take a fair bit of time in the coming weeks and months to work with charities to take forward the recommendations in the report.

Governance, governance, governance

One of the main issues covered by the report is how to support trustees and strengthen charity governance. Kids Company still casts a long shadow over charities, but the mood here is carrot rather than stick. The report has lots to say about trustees: diversity, term limits, on-boarding, ongoing training and development, adoption of the Code of Good Governance and time off from work for trustees (an NCVO recommendation).

There is now a body of thinking, support and action taking place across the sector that is getting real momentum. This is a good thing. I believe that in a 18 months’ time we will be able to look back at these recommendations and show real progress. But it might also be the case that excuses for poor or weak governance may be less justifiable in future.

Charging charities for regulation: matters of principle

We are fast approaching a public consultation and debate on charging charities for regulation by the Charity Commission. The committee has rightly highlighted that before any consultation takes place, there are matters of principle that government needs to address, not least of which is whether any payments will simply replace grant funding from the Treasury. The committee says it has ‘grave concerns’ at this point in time. For NCVO’s part, among other things we would also want to see greater transparency and accountability measures so charities could know that fees were being used effectively. We’ll be talking to our members and establishing our own view to coincide with the formal consultation, which the Charity Commission said earlier this month that they plan to launch shortly.

NCVO will provide separate short briefs on the main themes in the report

Rather than try and cover all aspects of the report in this blog post, our expert policy and sector support specialists will blog over the coming week on each topic, covering the take-away issues and what charities can do in response. We’ll highlight what we think are the best available resources to help you if you want to take action. So, over the next week look out for further briefings on:

Governance

Funding and finance

Regulation

Public services and contracting

Impact

Campaigning and advocacy

Digital

Public trust and confidence

Volunteering

Next steps for infrastructure: An action plan for implementing the report

Conclusion: the world is changed by charity

A cross-party committee of peers are clearly hugely enthused and impressed by modern charities, if this report is anything to go by. They are determined to help charities navigate a world that is changing everywhere we look, and changing quickly. But it would be a mistake to presume that that admiration and enthusiasm is any way naive or blind to the weaknesses and failures of modern charities: the warning implicit in this report is adapt or die.

The message of adapt or die is also one clearly aimed at those in government, business trusts and foundations, and membership bodies who work with front line charities. There are some reasonably strong warnings in here: good words and appreciation for small and medium charities in particular will not lead to their survival in an age where it is no longer just outdated or inefficient organisations falling by the wayside. They also need to adapt their approach and recognise that weak communities cannot be helped by weak voluntary organisations.

This is a very welcome report. We should thank the Lords Committee for it. It sets out much that we can do to strengthen charities on the front line. It will take hard work to implement, but we must face that task and respond to the calls for action throughout the report. Charities and society truly will be stronger for it.

Poverty in Adur & Worthing

Whilst so many local policies focus upon trying to stimulate local economic growth, with little real attention to who if anyone benefits, work is also moving ahead to set up a Poverty Commission, with the support of the Adur Churches Forum, Church Action on Poverty, Adur Voluntary Action and others. There is ample evidence about the fundamental contribution of poverty to ill health, social and economic isolation and reduced community cohesion. Poverty amongst families, single people, adults and children is an hidden epidemic in the midst of Adur. Here's an initiative that is seeking to do something about that, removing poverty and its associated suffering from under the carpet. For more details contact Adur Churches Forum via AVA in the first instance.

Recommended reading: Bregman, Rutger. Utopia for realists, Bloomsbury, 2017

Lancing Village Action

Well done the Lancing Village Action team of volunteers who raised £88 for Comic Relief last Thursday. Lovely cakes, too! Village Action is a true community-based initiative built up from scratch over the last five years. It supports a growing number of activities including Men in Sheds, Lancing Food Bank, IPad Club, and also runs regular fund raising events for good causes like Comic Relief and Macmillan Cancer Care. In a world increasingly defined by public sector austerity, Village Action offers a model that allows the independent local voluntary sector to keep on, keeping on.

Sompting Big Local - update

Congratulations to Sompting Big Local on the approval of their action plan for the coming three years by the Local Trust. For more detailed information contact the Big Local Hub in Cokeham Road, Sompting; or Adur Voluntary Action

Peoples Health Trust

Addressing the cause

09 March 2017

In this piece, John Hume explains why the Trust focuses on addressing the underlying causes of health inequalities. This is in contrast to more traditional healthcare models, centred on treating sickness and disease.

I recently spent time with a group of committed NHS professionals who were grappling with the very real problem of health prevention. The NHS is under considerable pressure and the group has been tasked over three years with looking at how the NHS can consider some of the wider social and economic factors, which ensure people have good health.

In some ways, this sounds easy. It’s common sense to most people with whom the Trust works: living with years of low-pay-no-pay cycles, or poor housing, or a lack of space just to let kids play safely, will bring negative health issues in the long term. Indeed, there is very clear evidence that the places in which people live, and the circumstances in which they find themselves, have a significant effect on their health.

However, our health services have to mainly focus on healthcare; that is, on supporting people to get better. It has become an almost impossible cycle of treating the symptoms but not the true causes. This isn’t a criticism of the NHS in any way; their work needs no defence. However, if we are to seriously look at health and broader wellbeing, we need to move beyond healthcare - and we need to stop blaming healthcare for the fact people are sick.

Talk to most healthcare professionals and, although they talk about symptoms of one specific condition or another and treatment plans, more often than not the conversation naturally comes around to the ‘real reasons’ for the illness: the circumstances in which people live and about how these things have undeniably contributed to their ill-health.

Dr Ichiro Kawachi, an epidemiologist at Harvard TC Chan School of Public Health summed this up perfectly when he said:

‘A lack of healthcare is not the cause of the disease… Just because aspirin cures a fever, it doesn’t mean a lack of aspirin is the cause of that fever’.

For the Trust, good ‘healthcare’ isn’t the way to address health inequalities; it’s very important, but it doesn’t address the circumstances in which people live. To paraphrase Professor Sir Michael Marmot, health systems often patch people up and send them back to the circumstances which contributed to or caused their condition in the first place. As a ‘business model’ seeking to solve rather than create a problem, this is deeply flawed.

People’s Health Trust decided to focus on the conditions in which people were living, the things which mattered to them, and increasing their sense of control so that they could lead the change locally.

We know that we need to work in partnership to address the systematic differences in health between different socio-economic groups. These inequalities are not inevitable. They aren’t caused by chance but because of the inequitable distribution of power and of wealth.

We wanted to set up processes which would place local people firmly in control over the decisions which happen in their neighbourhoods.

We wanted this process to encourage local residents to use their wisdom about the things which they knew positively and negatively impacted their health. We wanted to support them to become vocal about this and to be in control of the resources and of the agenda. In short, to use it as a process – a process which would empower, which would see power shared, and encourage local solutions.

We now have 900 local projects live at any one time. But it’s not the numbers which really matter. What has become important is the process – a process of being in control; a process of empowerment. Of people feeling free to determine what supports better health for them locally.

The projects we have supported have been anything from tenants’ rights groups and campaigning groups to social knitting groups, or from groups who eat together to women surviving domestic violence.

And there are some powerful results coming through from our evaluation work. They are early findings, but 81% of local residents involved with our projects feel an increased sense of belonging, with 85% feeling “less isolated” than they had before they started the project.

There are also some powerful partnerships starting to emerge too. Edberts House, in Gateshead, received funding from People’s Health Trust to develop a deep engagement process and enable local people themselves to identify the things which they knew would improve their health and wellbeing.

Following the engagement Edberts House worked with St Alban’s Medical Practice and Public Health to form a partnership using Clinical Commissioning Group and Cabinet Office funding to pilot a project for residents attending the GP with non-medical issues to access appropriate local activities, groups and networks that will improve their health and increase their sense of wellbeing.

This programme has now been scaled up across the East Gateshead Locality, and has supported over 650 vulnerable individuals at a cost of £60,000 per year.

We remain deeply committed to supporting engagement with local residents to ensure that they are in control of the ways in which health inequalities are addressed locally and we remain clear that none of us is able to do this work alone: it is only by working in partnership that we will see preventative health work really take hold.

John Hume, Chief Executive of People’s Health Trus

The last London (Adur's alma mater)

IAIN SINCLAIR

The Last London

"That’s where the current last London seems to be: riding the crest of a slump. That madness of quitting Europe, burning our bridges, starving hospitals of funds, is part of a suicide-note delirium. When the worst is coming straight at you at a thousand miles a minute" (https://www.lrb.co.uk/v39/n07/iain-sinclair/the-last-london?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=3907&utm_content=ukrw_subsact)

And so to Adur. Demolish, close, cut, slash, burn, build, sell off. It's the economy, stupid. But where's the robust evidence about which groups of local people benefit? Let alone acknowledgement about who loses? The image seems sadly symbolic of the strange and rapidly accelerating death of local government, public and health services.

Ageing well

Good locally relevant research reported here by the excellent Peoples Health Trust

http://www.peopleshealthtrust.org.uk/news/news-stories/ageing-better

Our best window display to date in Lancing Village Action

Adur Special Needs window display

Adur Civic Centre

A huge amount of SRB (government) money was spent refurbishing the Council Chamber just here, eight years ago. It could have been used to benefit voluntary and community groups, but our plan for Burrscrofte (still empty) was summarily rejected.

Small charities and non-domestic rates

2016 budget claimed to make business properties valued < £15, 000 exempt from non -domestic rates.

Just learned this does not apparently include charities..and there is a revaluation in progress

nul points!