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The Chief's Blog - August 2020

Fri 14 Aug 2020

Ok so its starting to wear a bit isn’t it now? We are all a little weary for sure. We need a break (PLEASE get one, as we need you all refreshed for what lies ahead) and we are all wanting to get back to seeing our friends and colleagues, I mean really see them. So, instead of dwelling too much on the new (not at all) normal, which is really very abnormal but becoming routine; I decided to just tell you about some stuff we are doing this month. I’ll leave the more ranty stuff til the new local politicians have settled in (welcome new cabinet at county council) and the MPs are back from their hols in September. In any case there is a lot of really good stuff happening!


We know its getting tougher to recruit than it has been in recent months, so the volunteering webform mobilised overnight for Covid response has been mainstreamed on our website here and we are also sharing new opportunities and volunteering news with those who sign up through 8 new district newsletters. We have been working with the county council to bring you Do-it Staffordshire, a local version of the national volunteering website, with lots of additional functionality. Existing VCSE organisations using our volunteer brokerage service will have already received a personal invite to claim their ‘profiles’ which will be migrated from the Do-it.org website. All members will also be contacted to take up the offer shortly or can email volunteering@supportstaffordshire.org.uk. Our Senior Volunteering Officer, Zoe, is taking a well earned break but Do-it enquiries will be answered and Zoe will be back soon to help out any members who need assistance in volunteer recruitment.


Support Staffordshire now has 996 members, so we will soon be having a little celebration of our 1,000th member. We’ve been in touch with about 40% of you directly during Covid, with funding the top enquiry and supported you to bring in over 1¾ Million Pounds in that time, a huge boost to Staffordshire communities. We are currently planning our FREE training for the autumn (funded by Staffordshire County Council), so any suggestions are very welcome to consultancy@supportstaffordshire.org.uk. We are also delighted to have just been awarded over £60k from the National Lottery Community Fund, to offer support to mutual aid groups that want to grow into Good Neighbour Schemes, supporting their communities with tasks such as travel, shopping and social activities. These can be start up orgs that began in Covid or projects of existing organisations, so if we aren’t already aware of you please contact us again at consultancy@supportstaffordshire.org.uk.


I’m also really excited to report that this month we will begin a new kind of collaboration with Hednesford Town Council, working in partnership to offer a Community Officer resource to the people of that ‘parish’. Many town and parish councils have played a key role during Covid, so if you aren’t already a Support Staffordshire Parish/Town Council Associate and want to know more then email membership@supportstaffordshire.org.uk, and if you’d like to discuss ways we can collaborate such as Hednesford have then drop me a line directly garry.jones@supportstaffordshire.org.uk.


Despite the operational challenges we’ve found it crucial to keep engaging members during this period, in fact we’ve done even more of it, with over 200 of you attending our forums online. Thanks to everyone who contributed to our Covid survey too, which has helped shape thinking for us, the councils and has been fed into national evidence. I know there are a lot of surveys around at present including this important one for all residents from the county council so please try to add your voice if you have 5 minutes. As such I’m reluctant to launch another one but we may try to put out something short in the weeks ahead to check our understanding of your current challenges. We know funding remains up there with the ongoing costs of cleaning/hygiene and PPE plus lower beneficiary numbers at any one time, but so does the practical matter of getting together at all for many of our smaller member groups with vulnerable participants and organisers! If you don’t think you are being heard please talk to our locality staff near you or email me directly garry.jones@supportstaffordshire.org.uk. We do have finally have half an hour in the diary with the county’s MPs after four communications to them with little response (Theo Clarke MP aside). A small group of Team Staffordshire partners will be meeting them in late September. We will be pressing the need for much better VCSE consideration in economic recovery plans alongside our shared fate wrapped up with local government, not least adult social care reform, which is as urgent as ever.

That’s a snapshot, much else going on too.

Thank you for your ongoing dedication to your communities and for being part of this wider movement of all of ours.

And take that break!

Garry Jones

Chief Executive