VCSA Newsletter Week of 5th December 2022

VCSA logo

Newsletter for the Week of 5th December 2022


village hall with energy price rise

Image from ACRE's website

New ACRE Research Reveals Village Halls Struggling with Cost of Living

ACRE (Action with Communities in Rural England) have recently released results of their survey conducted over the summer months with nearly 900 village halls across the country.

57% of village halls surveyed said that rising energy prices were causing them financial difficulties. 88 respondents out of 873 claimed they were spending over a third of their income on energy.

The Rural Services Network (RSN) says that while "The Energy Bills Relief Scheme has provided a buffer... we are concerned that if financial support isn't extended beyond March, rural villages could lose their only meeting place."

ACRE is calling for:

  1. A continuation of immediate financial discounts beyond March 2023, to last for as long as energy prices continue to show volatility in the market
  2. A permanent reduction in the tax payable by village halls on their energy bills
  3. Dedicated longer-term grant funding for making energy improvements to community buildings
  4. Financial support for village halls to become Warm Hubs as has been pioneered by Community Action Northumberland (CAN) where people can socialise in warm, welcoming spaces and receive energy advice at the same time

Read the full briefing from ACRE here.

megaphone with speech bubble

VCSA Cost of Living Impacts Survey:

Wave 3 Focus on Service Demands

Thanks very much to those organisations who have taken part in the first two waves of the VCSA Cost of Living Impacts Survey.

Wave 3 is open now! You can still take part, whether or not you participated in Waves 1 or 2. 

Wave 3 of the survey focuses on increases in service demands for VCS organisations. Each wave of this survey takes an average of just 3 minutes to complete, so please take a moment to do so, and then pass it on and get other organisations to take it as well!

Please take just a moment to respond to these few questions and help inform the sector decision-makers in the council and the sector about the impacts of the crisis on organisations like yours.

WAVE 3 NOW OPEN! (through 7th December)

MPFT logo

Community Mental Health Transformation -

Sign up to the Procurement Portal

Does your VCS organisation offer mental health services? Then don't miss the opportunity to sign up to the new procurement system for the Community Mental Health Transformation from the Midlands Partnership Foundation Trust (MPFT).

On 8th November, a virtual engagement event was held for Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin VCSE organisations to introduce them to the new system and answer questions. You can now watch a recording of that event on YouTube and you can also download the slides.

If you want your organisation to be considered for the first round of contracts, you need to sign up during Phase 1 of the procurement timescale, which ends for this first round on 9th December. However, if you do not sign up before the 9th, this will not exclude you from signing up for future rounds.

The MPFT recommends that all VCSE organisations offering mental health services, whatever their size, should sign up to the portal so as not to miss out on advertised contracts. 

You can also download the latest issue of the Community Mental Health Transformation newsletter.

BBC radio shropshire logo

Age UK STW Raises Concerns Over Local BBC Radio Cuts

Heather Osborne, Chief Executive of Age UK Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin, has written a formal letter expressing her organisation's concerns over what cuts to BBC Radio Shropshire would mean to older people in the county.

Earlier this month, the BBC announced cuts to local radio stations as part of its Digital First programme. It will mean that local programming will cease on weekdays from 2pm, and switch to a regional offering.

While controversy over the plans is increasing nationally, local VCSE organisations are also beginning to raise concerns over what cuts to BBC Radio Shropshire programming will mean for local residents.

For instance, Heather Osborne writes in her letter about the impacts on older residents: 

"Older people are one of the biggest listening audiences to Radio Shropshire and mentioned above they listen in for companionship, to hear a friendly voice but also for information about what is happening locally. The station is essential for organisation like ours to be able to get information to local older people, we regularly send our messaging on issues such as the cost of living crisis and during the Covid crisis, it was invaluable. Ours is a very rural county with poor transport networks in some places and equally poor broadband, we believe a local radio service is essential."

The letter was sent to Tim Davie, BBC Director General, Rhodri Davies, Director of BBC Nations and Jason Horton, Director of BBC England, as well as local MPs.

Full information about the BBC Digital First programme can be found here. 

image of a person taking a survey

Current VCSE Engagement Opportunities


Pontesbury Draft Neighbourhood Plan: Shropshire Council has received a draft Neighbourhood Plan from Pontesbury Parish Council. Several supporting documents are available for the public to view to provide their feedback. Closing date 5pm 9th December

Youth Support Services Survey: The newly established Shropshire Council Youth Support team provide provide support through working on the streets, interacting with young people and running arranged sessions in schools. They want to hear from young people across the county about what they need from this new team. If you are an organisation working with young people, please share this widely. Closing 16th December

Shropshire Council Revised Tenancy Strategy and Policy: Shropshire Council is inviting feedback on its revised tenancy strategy and revised tenancy policy. Both can be found on the Council's consultations page. Closing date 6th Jan 2023

Shrewsbury Design Codes: Participate in a consultation about the design of Shrewsbury as part of the Big Town Plan. The organisers are particularly encouraging those from often underheard groups and communities such as those with disabilities, those from diverse ethnic and religious communities and mothers of young children, to take part. Closing 14th January

Shropshire Political Boundaries Review: The Local Government Boundary Commission wants to hear what residents and organisations think about their local area as part of its electoral divisions review. The Commission is reviewing Shropshire to make sure councillors represent about the same number of electors, and that division arrangements help the council work effectively. It wants to be sure that its proposals reflect community ties and identities. The Commission is interested in views on which communities should be part of the same division. What facilities do people share, such as parks, leisure centres or schools and shopping areas? What issues do neighbouring communities face that they have in common, such as high numbers of visitors or heavy traffic? Have there been new housing or commercial developments that have changed the focus of communities? And are there roads, rivers, railways or other features that people believe form strong boundaries between neighbourhoods? Closing 30th January

Veterans' Survey (Office for National Statistics)Over the next 12 weeks, veterans across the country are able to complete the survey to shape the future of veteran services. Funded and commissioned by the Office of Veterans’ Affairs, this is the first ever exercise to collect feedback from the entire veterans community across the UK. Please share the link with your service beneficiaries and encourage them to complete the survey. Closing date 2nd February

Outpatient Services Survey: As part of their Outpatient Transformation Programme, the Shropshire, Telford & Wrekin NHS want to hear from people about their experiences with outpatient services. Closing date TBD

Shropshire Healthwatch - Getting a GP referral for tests or support: Healthwatch Shropshire wants to hear from people about their experiences with GP referrals. Please share the link below with your service beneficiaries who might be interested. Closing date TBD

Shropshire Council Warm Hubs Questionnaire: Is your organisation planning to run a "warm hub" this winter, or are you thinking about doing so? Shropshire Council would like to help you get the word out about your hub. Closing date TBD

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


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Events and Training Opportunities

coffee cup

In The Café  Get-togethers with a theme for LGBT+ people aged 50-100+

December 14th 2022 - Seasonal Social

2 - 4pm at Palmer's Café, Shrewsbury

The get-together will include a report from the November trip when some of the regulars visited the Shire Living development in Greenfields, Shrewsbury.

This will be followed by some social time and discussion about In the Café, plus an update on progress with a photography project.

Open to all LGBT+ people aged 50 -100 or more. 2 - 4pm at Palmer's Cafe, Claremont St., Shrewsbury.

Shrewsbury Transport available, please email James for further details or phone 01743 590023.

SAND logo

LGBT+ Awareness Course

SAND's public training

Tuesday 7th February 2023 - Face-to-Face, Central Shrewsbury

£40 per person

Get tickets here via Eventbrite

Targeting staff and volunteers:

  • working in health and social care, voluntary sector, housing and other associated services.
  • working in Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin

This half-day LGBT+ awareness raising course has a specific focus on issues impacting on LGBT+ people accessing services as we age. It provides a safe space for people to explore and discuss issues relating to creating safe, inclusive and welcoming environments for lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans (LGBT) people, in particular focusing on older and old LGBT people. 

Telford Together Event Flyer

strettfest logo

Invitation to Arts, Youth, Aports and Community Groups to Participate in Strettfest Carnival 2023

The aim of the Strettons Arts Forum is to promote collaboration between the many and various cultural and activity groups of all ages in the town for the benefit of both residents and visitors. In July this year, the Forum ran a pilot community parade through the town. SSYN helped find two young people to evaluate the event.

The parade was very well received, prompting calls for it to be repeated and expanded.   Please have a look at the video of the event. The Forum is planning an expanded Carnival Parade on Saturday May 27th 2023. This will be an opportunity for community groups of all kinds and ages to come together in a noisy and colourful community parade around the town, bringing together art, music, singing and dance. The Parade will start from Rectory Field and return there for a picnic lunch and further performance opportunities into the afternoon.

If your Group is interested in coming to a briefing / preparatory session in January, where ideas can be pooled, please email Noel Beattie before December 14th.

welcome to telford sign

Unlocking Potential: How can local people become partners in this work?

Online Meeting, 7th December 1:00 - 2:30 pm

The Unlocking Potential Alliance at its last full meeting chose 'Involvement' as one of its two top priorities for the 2023 (the other being collaboration). 

Unlocking Potential Alliance need now to have a SMART plan established that could launch in the New Year. Getting involvement right would mean that when it comes to unlocking potential local people are partners in the Alliance shared vision, and are active in shaping, overseeing and delivering the work, perhaps even helping shape other services and work in the borough.

In the session there will be chance to pause and think differently about shared power across a community and what this might bring, the session will end on setting some clear next step actions

Register free on Eventbrite

opiod improvement workshop flyer

Tickets via Eventbrite (free)

Who should attend?

This workshop will be relevant to individuals from Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin Integrated Care system impacted by the opioid agenda and involved in decision making including Healthcare professionals - GPs, Consultants, Pharmacy teams, Physiotherapists, Social Prescribers, Nurse specialists, Pain Specialists from Primary and Secondary care, Community pharmacy, Local authorities and representatives from local authority, patient groups and Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise organisations.

Accessing these sessions:

You will be sent a MS Teams link in due course. If you haven't received this by the day before, please contact

Key contact about this event:

For any questions you may have about this series of events, please contact

Healthy weight strategy workshop flyer

WEA logo

WEA: Online Mental Health and Wellbeing Courses Offered

The Workers' Educational Association (WEA) is offering a number of upcoming mental health and wellbeing-related courses online. Click on the links below for more details.

Non-accredited courses:

Taster sessions:

These 90 minute taster sessions enable potential students to meet the tutor, introduction to the course and seek further information on the full course and how it can lead into NCFE accredited courses in Stress Awareness L1 and Counselling Skills L2.

Accredited courses:

WEA will be also delivering accredited online courses: To be able to enrol onto these courses students will need to undertake an Initial Assessment and if successful be transferred onto the course.

Students can enrol by using the online links provided above or contact student support services on 0300 303 3464 to enrol by phone.

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Job / Volunteer Opportunities

SYST logo

Shropshire Youth Support Trust (SYST)  - Youth Engagement Officer

Reports to: Chief Executive & Community Enterprise Co-ordinator

Salary: £21,000 to £23,000 dependant on experience

Contract: Permanent Hours: Full Time – 37.5 per week

Location: SYST HQ, Telford Town Centre

This role involves delivering on our NEET & Employability/Enterprise Programmes and supporting a caseload of young people into a sustainable future.

As a SYST Youth Engagement Officer, you’ll engage and build quality relationships with young people, volunteers and partners, and act as an effective communicator and collaborator, working as part of a team and independently. If you have the skills, and the passion to help young people, be their critical friend, and support them to change their lives then we would love to hear from you!

Learn more and apply via LinkedIn.

citizens advice logo

Advice Session Supervisor or a Trainee Advice Session Supervisor

Citizens Advice values diversity, promotes equality and challenges discrimination.  They encourage and welcome applications from people of all backgrounds.

Are you passionate about making a difference, making society fairer and working for an organisation that values diversity, promotes equality and challenges discrimination?  

Citizens Advice Shropshire is recruiting an experienced Advice Session Supervisor or a Trainee Advice Session Supervisor. They encourage and welcome applications from people of all backgrounds and will consider trainee positions.

Salary: £24,188 to £28,340 depending on experience

Contract: Full time 37 hours per week, permanent.

Location: The successful applicant would be based in Shrewsbury office and must be able to work flexibly across the county when required.

Start: As soon as possible

Post may be subject to a DBS check.

Further details and application form (no CVs) can be found on the Citizens Advice Shropshire website.

Shropshire Community Foundation Logo

Part-Time Business Development Officer

Shropshire Community Foundation is looking for a part-time Business Development Officer to instigate, cultivate, and steward good relationships with high-net-worth individuals and businesses to generate financial support to enable grant-giving across Shropshire.

Download the full job description and person specification here.

Place of work: Primarily home-based, but travel across Shropshire, Telford & Wrekin will be regularly required 

Compensation: £14K for 18 hours per week

Applications should be emailed to 

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

Lloyd’s Bank Foundation England and Wales Launches Unrestricted Grants

Following the release of its 2022-26 strategy, ‘Building a Better Future’ the Foundation has announced the launch of a Specialist Funding Programme to continue supporting small and grassroots organisations across England and Wales.

Charities and Charitable Incorporated Organisations (CIOs) with a turnover of £25,000 to £500,000 can apply for an unrestricted grant of up to £75,000 over three years, provided they are carrying out work which fits in with one of the fund’s priorities:

  • Addiction and dependency on alcohol, drugs and/or gambling
  • Asylum seekers and refugees
  • Domestic and sexual abuse
  • Homeless and vulnerably housed
  • Offending, prison or community service
  • Sexual exploitation
  • Trafficking and modern slavery
  • Care leavers

The funding is for organisations supporting people (17 years and older) who are experiencing complex social issues resulting in a significant impact on their lives. As 'specialist organisations', applicants need to demonstrate the following:

  • In-depth services, rather than short-term or one-off support.
  • Holistic and person-centred services.
  • Personal plans in the form of written or electronic records of every person being supported, noting progress against activities.

Grants can be used to support any costs which further the charity's purpose, including building reserves and meeting core costs.

There will be an information webinar on 12 January 2023 to discuss the fund. Register here for this webinar.

The deadline to apply is 3 March 2023. For more information and to apply, visit the Lloyds Bank Foundation website.

New Dates for National Lottery Grants for Heritage over £250,000

Not-for-profit organisations and third sector-led partnerships in the UK can now apply for the largest grants within the National Lottery’s Heritage programme.

Until the end of the 2022/23 financial year, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, priority will be given to projects that:

  • Promote inclusion and involve a wider range of people (mandatory outcome).
  • Boost the local economy.
  • Encourage skills development and job creation.
  • Support wellbeing.
  • Create better places to live, work and visit.
  • Improve the resilience of organisations working in heritage.

The programme provides three levels of grants, with those under £250,000 offered on a rolling basis:

  • £3,000 to £10,000 (for up to one year).
  • £10,000 to £250,000 (for up to five years).
  • £250,000 to £5 million (over five years).

Grants can cover a wide range of projects and cover most costs associated with direct project delivery including staff/volunteers, training, repair and conservation and digital outputs.

The next deadline for grants up to £5 million is 23 February 2023.

Agency for Good logo

Free Marketing Services Award

Agency for Good is offering UK based registered social organisations (Charities, CICs, etc) a marketing package worth £4,000. One full award and two match funded awards available.

Includes the delivery of:

  • New Logo and Brand
  • Besopke Website
  • Marketing and Social Media Strategy
  • SEO 6 month plan and 1 month of social media management.

Eligibility Criteria:

  • Must be a UK based and registered organisation (Charity, CIO, CIC (LBG)) with clear social values and aims.
  • The organisation must have been registered for less than 5 years at the time of application.
  • Can show clear evidence of creating social impact or a clear plan of how this will be achieved.
  • Cannot support religious or political based organisations.
  • Cannot support organisations that are arms of for profit entities.
  • Depending on numbers of applications received they may not be able to provide feedback.

These awards are intended to be run quarterly as available. Please note that they are funding this from our own profits so we can make no guarantees that they will always be available. They operate with minimal overheads and a small team which means using their trusted team of freelancers. They are not asking them to do this for free.

Application closing date: 16th January 2023. Find more information and apply on the Agency for Good website.

community resource logo

Spark Up Grants Available on a Rolling Basis

The Covid 19 pandemic has shown that when one or two individuals recognise there is a need for a service or additional support in their community, a solution can be found but to make that happen some initial seed funding is required. Funded by Shropshire Council through the Contain Outbreak Management Fund (COMF), Community Resource is making available small grants to help start up new initiatives, or new community support groups which can/ or will be delivering practical help and support to help people in their community. 

Grants between £50 and £300 can be made for funded schemes in Shropshire that predominantly serve Shropshire residents and from applicants that demonstrate:

  • They are/will be working with individuals or groups of people who require some additional support or have an additional needs
  • They are, or will be, providing practical help or support to people in their community e.g. adult/children at risk, the elderly, children and young people, young families

Please download the information pack and application form as soon as possible. Applications considered on a rolling basis until all funds have been allocated.

Severn Trent logo

New: Severn Trent Community Fund Core Costs Funding 

Severn Trent have some exciting news to share with you - through a new separate funding stream, their Community Fund is now offering support with core costs.  

They have committed to allocating £150,000 from the Community Fund to cover core costs for groups finding it hard to maintain their activities, to help them to continue delivering their vital services to our communities. 

Charities and organisations can apply to be considered for a restricted grant of between £5,000 - £20,000 (depending on the size of the organisation) for 1 year to help them and our communities get through this very challenging time. 

This support will be available to not-for-profit organisations that: 

  • Support communities within the Severn Trent region; 
  • Have been operating since 2017 or before
  • Have an annual income of £250,000 or less (averaged over the past 5 years); 
  • Deliver a service that links to one of our three key elements of community wellbeing (people, place and environment)  

Severn Trent Community Fund: Core Funding will be open on a rolling basis until the budget has been awarded and they anticipate demand for our support to be high, so whilst they'd love to, unfortunately they won’t be able to fund every application received.   

Full eligibility criteria and details on how to apply can be found on their website.

This core funding stream will run alongside their main Community Fund, so they will still be accepting applications for new projects through that separate channel.  

Don't forget to check out the VCSA's latest funding roundup, which is now available to view on our website, or you can click here to download a copy now.

Don't forget to check out our list of grants with rolling deadlines as well!

Don't see something on this list that should be here? Please contact us and let us know.


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