VCSA Newsletter Week of 21st March 2022

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Newsletter for the Week of 21st March 2022


VCSA State of the Sector Survey call for responses

Your Voice Matters!


The VCSA is running its first State of the Sector Survey since 2017. Just think about how much has happened in these past five years! It is so important that we hear from you.

Hearing from lots of different organisations from across the county will give us good data. Getting good data means that we can reliably communicate the value of the sector to our partners and funders and we can give you trustworthy facts that you can use in grant applications and in promoting your work. With funding opportunities becoming narrower and so many organisations struggling, it is more important than ever that we communicate the important economic and social value that the VCS sector provides to Shropshire, Telford & Wrekin.

We know that your time is precious, and that it takes time to complete this survey (approximately 30min), but we hope you will find that there is a huge value to your individual organisation and to the sector as a whole in having this kind of data available.

You do not have to disclose anything you don’t want to. All data will be anonymised, and you can choose what data to report (or not), including the name and contact details of your organisation, if you wish. However, if you do wish to provide your contact information, we are offering to make any organisation that wants one a free infographic using their data that they can use for funding or promotional purposes should they wish.

The survey closes March 31st, so please don't delay. We want to hear from voluntary organisations, non-profits, charities and community interest companies all across the county, so once you take it - share it!

Here's the link in full:


Open Harmony music session photo
Open Harmony Logo

VCSA Member Feature: Open Harmony

I was so scared, wasn’t seeing anybody, [this has] given me such confidence. I remembered I always wanted to be a writer and now I’m starting….

This is Lynda, describing her experiences working with Open Harmony, a CIC that helps at-risk adults across Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin through music-based programming.

Open Harmony has been a member of the VCSA since it started in 2019. But 2019 now seems a lifetime ago. Open Harmony’s Founding Director, Laura Atyeo, says that interest in their services has grown substantially since the start of the pandemic.

“We reach adults (usually 35+) who ‘fall through the cracks’ in the system – have low-level mental health or social care issues that are not yet in crisis/requiring specialist intervention but, due to their circumstances – financial insecurity, unemployment, social isolation – are at risk of doing so.  Usually, they are not eligible for any other support” says Laura.

Open Harmony works with adults who have chronic mental or physical health conditions, are unemployed, or suffer from isolation. Activities offered as part of therapy by Open Harmony are free at the point of use to members. These include jamming/singing groups, song and music composition, storytelling, improvisation and much more. Services are usually tailored to the needs and interests of the individual members and 1:1 holistic support is offered too. 

Many of the key benefits to members comes from the peer-supported community that has been  built up and nurtured since lockdown.  This gives a sense of belonging, friendship and peer-to-peer coaching and support – members see themselves as a team that wants to create a legacy.

Laura herself has twenty years of experience in the healthcare field and is a lifelong musician as well. She says that she founded Open Harmony as a means of transforming her own feelings of disempowerment, frustration, and stress by embracing her creative talents and using them to give back to others.

“Music is transcendent, and the means/vehicle for positive change.  We are experts at creating a positive, safe space enabling everyone present to express themselves and be their genuine selves” she explains.

And it works. Laura notes that since its inception 42% of Open Harmony’s members have gone into education or training, 29% have started their own independent creative projects (e.g., producing their own music), 16% have started paid or self-employment, and 16% are now giving back by volunteering with Open Harmony – either through supporting other members in sessions, or by serving on their steering committee. Two members have even gone on to start and build their own Social Enterprise.

These results make Open Harmony a valued member of Shropshire social prescribing. Tom Stickley, Shropshire Mental Health Social Work Team, said: “We’ve been looking for years, no other services do this for these groups of people.” Additionally, Katy Warren, Shropshire Social Prescribing lead notes: “There’s nothing that would fill the gap if Open Harmony disappeared.”

The VCSA is proud to count Open Harmony among its members. If you would like to learn more or to partner with Open Harmony, feel free to check out their website, or reach out to Laura Atyeo, Founding Director, via email or telephone on 07753 381908.

Interested in having your organisation's stories of success featured in our newsletter, website or social media? We want to hear from you! Contact:


Heart flag ukraine

Shropshire Homes for Ukraine

Following the Government announcement of the Homes for Ukraine scheme, Shropshire Council, along with all other local authorities are waiting for further information regarding the matching of families and hosts as well as how many people can be welcomed into Shropshire.

While councils await further instructions, the Homes for Ukraine Local Sponsorship Scheme encourages those who are happy to offer a room or property to a Ukrainian family for 6+ months to register their details. 

Click here for more information on this government campaign.


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'Levelling Up' : A Review

By now, many of our VCSA members are well aware of the 300+ page-long 'Levelling Up' White Paper released in February of this year. In a nutshell - it's all about geography. There is a focus on the distinct inequalities faced between and among regions in the UK and how to address them. 

But what this White Paper will mean going forward for VCS organisations and for the county is still an ongoing conversation - one that will be intimately connected to funding and to the work that we all do.

To help you navigate this big topic, we have collected some key insights from major VCS organisations, as well as tools and resources here for you to explore:

  • The Guardian's guide to the White Paper's key points is a helpful overall summary of what the White Paper contains.
  • Civil Society also does a nice job of summarising the key points of the White Paper from the perspective of charities and social enterprises.
  • Shropshire Council responded to the White Paper with disappointment that it does not contain specific plans for investment in the county.
  • Telford & Wrekin Council responded with a desire for more details about the White Paper's stated plans for future governance.
  • The NCVO response offers a particular analysis to the white paper's meaning for charities and volunteering.
  • Social Enterprise UK Chief Executive Peter Holbrook issued a response to the  White Paper, and the Chair of its Board, Lord Adebowale, write an opinion piece in The Times last week on the importance of social enterprises in Levelling Up.
  • The NHS Confederation offered a response to the White Paper as well, which includes insights on partnership working and communities.
  • Pro Bono Economics offers an interesting commentary on the significance of the Levelling Up White Paper and what it means for social capital and social wellbeing.
  • Don't have time to read all the things? Third Sector produced an interesting podcast episode devoted to the White Paper.
  • Oxford Consultants for Social Inclusion (OCSI) have developed a Community Needs Index tool that can help identify 'left behind' areas that the White Paper is seeking to address.


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Events and Training Opportunities

SIP logo

Upcoming Free and Subsidised Courses for Shropshire Community Groups

Community groups within Shropshire are being invited to take part in a wide range of training courses to help them ‘survive and thrive’.

The varied topics are open to local charitable groups and organisations and include spotting the risks in vulnerable people, governance and legal structures and mental health awareness. The courses are accredited and offered by sector experts. 

Upcoming sessions include Adult Safeguarding Awareness training on 31st March, and Governance and Legal Structures for Charities on 26th April. And many, many more!

As part of a launch offer two free places per organisation are available on the first programme of courses, held between March and May. From June onwards the same programme will run again and the cost of each session will be substantially subsided at £15.00 per delegate.  

The events are managed by the Shropshire Infrastructure Partnership (SIP) Voluntary & Community Support Team and are supported by funding from Shropshire Council.

For more information and to book your place on one of the events, visit the Eventbrite pageAnd don't forget to check the site for updates - as more trainings will continue to be added!


SSYN Network Poster

South Shropshire Youth Network: Next Networking Meeting

South Shropshire Youth Network is a peer network for anyone working with young people aged 8-25 years old. Their next network meeting is on Tuesday 29 March 12.30-2.15 on Zoom.


The meeting will start with 45 minutes of networking, followed by a workshop on setting up a youth strategy in your local area.

If you’d like to join attend, for the first bit or for the whole meeting, contact Infrastructure Support Officer Marinke Fontein. 

Community Mental Health Transformation Team Workshop Event

The Community Mental Health Team are hosting a workshop event, taking place on Monday 4 April between 2pm and 3.30pm, where attendees can find out more about the transformation and how they can get involved to shape the future of local community mental health services.

If you are interested in attending, please contact:

You can download a flyer for the event Community Mental Health Transformation workshop poster.jpg.

The team have also started to publish a quarterly stakeholder newsletter to provide all the latest news and updates relating to the transformation.  The first edition of the newsletter can be accessed by clicking here. All future editions will be published via the ICS’ website via this page.


VCSA Annual Assembly Invite

Launch event flyer

Keep on Moving Shropshire Fest Flyer

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Job / Volunteer Opportunities

NHS Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin Clinical Commissioning Group: Senior Engagement Officer

Grade: Band 6   Band 6 roles start at £32,306 which would be the entry point for someone new to the NHS. Full time: 37.5 hrs

Contract: Fixed term/Secondment for 12 months

Location: Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin

This is an exciting opportunity for an experienced Senior Engagement Officer to join as a new member of the newly formed Integrated Care System (ICS) and Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) communications and engagement team.

If you are passionate and enthusiastic about ensuring that the views, experiences and needs of our communities and stakeholders are captured and used to design and develop NHS services locally, this role could be for you.

The successful candidate will support the development, delivery, and analysis of engagement activity with a diverse population to help shape our health services.

The role is ideal for someone who is experienced in engagement and developing and maintaining positive and effective relationships with a wide range of stakeholders.

They are looking for someone who is inquisitive and driven to find new and innovative ways of reaching out to different groups, in particular people whose voices are seldom heard.

The post holder will need to have strong project management skills and proven experience of engagement. They will have good knowledge of different techniques and tools, including digital and face to face, and an understanding of the health and care sector.

The post holder needs to embody the ICS values, demonstrating real commitment to wanting to improve the way they deliver services for our population. They are looking for a dynamic, motivated individual who is a self-starter, able to adapt to new strategies, ideas and ways of working. The post holder will be encouraged and supported to improve their knowledge, skills and abilities helping them to progress their career.

As well as being highly organised, you will be a strong team player, confident in making decisions and have experience working with stakeholders at all levels across the different organisations and health and care systems.

Although the role is hosted by Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin CCG the successful candidate will work on behalf of the ICS (or system) as part of an integrated team. This ICS sees NHS organisations work in partnership with local authorities and other partners to take collective responsibility for managing resources, delivering NHS care, and improving the health of the population they serve.

If you would like an informal conversation about the position please email Kate Manning, Senior Engagement and Communications Manager or phone 07970 353927.

The closing date for applications is 21st March at midnight. Click here to apply.


Cavalier Centre: Volunteer and Participant Coordinator

The Cavalier Centre are looking for someone who is passionate about the potential of horses and horse related activity to promote improved mental, physical and emotional health; who is enthusiastic about the work, mission and vision of the Cavalier Centre. You will be a volunteer champion and maintain an inclusive and welcoming environment for participants. You’ll be a people person, work well in a busy environment and have excellent communication and organisation skills.

Applications must be received by 9am 24th March 2022

You can download the full job description and the application form here, or visit their website.


Full Job Description – Volunteer and Participant Coordinator

Application Form – VP C application-form


Teldoc: Social Prescribing Link Worker

The social prescriber link worker (SPLW) works alongside a team within general practice and within the Primary Care Network (PCN) and empowers people to take control of their health and well-being.

The service will support patients to access all available opportunities by linking individuals with community and volunteering support so they can take charge of their own health and well-being. You would address the wider determinants of health, such as debt, poor housing and physical inactivity.

Closing date: 21st March

Applications can be made on the NHS jobs website.

For questions about the job, contact Elaine Edwards.


Hope house image

Hope House Volunteer Needed: Shrewsbury Harlescott Shop


Do you have a passion for fashion, enjoy reading, love a wide range of music and films or have an eye for the collectable or unusual? Then Hope House could really use your help in their Harlescott shop.

There are lots of ways that you can help, to fit around your life and commitments, either on a regular basis or as and when you’re free. You don’t need any previous experience, just enthusiasm and a willingness to help.

In addition to raising vital funds to help local children and their families, their shops also demonstrate environment-friendly procedures with a commitment to recycling and re-using, helping to reduce the impact of consumerism and fast fashion. They sell ladies’, men’s and children’s clothing and accessories, books and toys, electricals, small items of furniture, jewellery and collectables.

If you have some time to spare and would like to join a friendly and supportive team doing something really worthwhile and fulfilling that makes you feel good (and gives you the opportunity to pick up some real bargains!), then please pop into the shop for a chat.

You can find them at Unit 3 Lancaster Retail Park, Brixton Way (next door to Iceland) or phone on 01743 463361.


Do you have a job or volunteer opportunity you would like us to promote? Please send your information to and we will include it in our next newsletter!

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Grant and Funding News

Recover and Grow Grant Scheme

The aim of the Recover and Grow Grant Scheme is to give continued support to smaller, local not-for-profit and community organisations to:

  • help them recover from the negative impact of Covid-19, and
  • encourage new ways of working which will help them to be more resilient and effective going forward, stimulating the local economy, boosting public involvement in community activities and expanding the opportunities to volunteer.

Amount: up to £5,000

Application Deadline: Rolling basis until fund is depleted

Apply online on the Community Resource website.

Small Grants for Community Buildings in Shropshire

Community Resource  has been asked by the Millichope Foundation to administer a fund for the benefit of community buildings in Shropshire. The fund provides small grants of up to £500 to enable village halls and community centres to purchase items of equipment to help meet the needs of their local community.

Examples of things that have been funded previously include:

  • Hearing loops or equipment to assist disabled users
  • Tables, chairs and other furniture
  • Kitchen equipment (eg white goods or crockery)
  • Replacement water heaters or radiators
  • Curtains, draught excluders and other insulation
  • Audio and visual equipment (eg a PA system) and portable staging

The fund cannot contribute to general running costs, staff salaries, volunteers expenses, large capital projects or resurfacing of car parks.

Next deadline: You can submit your application to us at any time.

Application form and guidance notes can be found on the Community Resource website.

Woodward Charitable Trust – Children’s Summer Playscheme Grant

Grants pf up to £1,000 are available for locally based small-scale registered charities in the UK to support children's summer playschemes.

Preference is given to:

  • small local playschemes that provide a wide-ranging programme of activities. Trustees prefer activities that are relatively inexpensive such as crafts and cooking, as well as outdoor activities and sport.
  • schemes that involve a large number of children.
  • schemes catering for children from disadvantaged backgrounds.
  • schemes where past users are encouraged to come back and help as volunteers.

Application Deadline 8th April 2022. Applications can be made on their website.

Thomas Wall Trust – Grants for Registered Charities

The Thomas Wall Trust believes that communication skills are critical capabilities for people who want to improve their employment prospects, self-confidence, resilience, and life chances.

The Trust recognises that communication is underpinned by a set of key features and skills such as empathy, listening, emotional intelligence, confidence, and clarity, amongst others.

They are an inclusive charity, welcoming proposals which target people experiencing multiple deprivation or other groups demonstrably facing major hurdles to employment, especially; women, people with physical, mental, or learning disabilities, refugees and asylum seekers.

The Trust offer grants up to £5,000 to specific projects or core activities that develop these critical life skills for people from disadvantaged groups.

Applications can be made via their website before the 2nd of May 2022.


VCSA Website Features Funding Roundup 

The VCSA website will now feature a regularly updated roundup of relevant funding opportunities. While our newsletter highlights some of top latest funding news and opportunities, this list is a collection of many more up-to-date grant opportunities in an easy to download document. Check it out!


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To share your news with Shropshire Voluntary and Community Sector Assembly members and our partners email: