British Red Cross seeks 10,000 volunteers for local crises

The ‘community reserve volunteers’ would offer practical help in the event of a local calamity

The British Red Cross has launched a campaign to recruit 10,000 volunteers who would be able to help others if a crisis hit their local community.

The charity is hoping to recruit 10,000 “community reserve volunteers” by the end of 2019. They would be available to offer practical assistance initially in areas that have been affected by major flooding, including north Wales, Somerset and Cumbria.

But the Red Cross said it hoped the volunteers could help with the response to other major incidents in the UK, such as the Manchester and London terror attacks or the Grenfell Tower fire.

The charity said it hoped to have teams of potential volunteers in place in areas prone to flooding and weather-related emergencies by this winter.

Volunteers would be contacted by text message in the event of a major emergency in their local area.

Simon Lewis, head of crisis response for the British Red Cross, said the scheme was a way for people to help others in their communities by registering their willingness in advance.

“Through the events of this year, including the Manchester Arena and London Bridge attacks and the Grenfell Tower disaster, we’ve seen extraordinary compassion shown by ordinary people from local communities when a crisis hits,” he said.

“We would call upon people only at times of major crisis, which we hope won’t happen often. But when it does and extra help is needed, people will have the opportunity to do small things that make a big difference. There are many different ways of helping your community, but this is a new one.”

Volunteers, who must be over 18, can find out more information and sign up here.

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Big Lottery Fund offers £4.5m funding to support local social action

Under the Place Based Social Action programme, organisations can apply for an initial £5,000, which could become as much as £500,000

The Big Lottery Fund and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport are offering £4.5m of funding to projects that will support social action in local communities.

The Place Based Social Action programme, which has opened to expressions of interest, is offering up to £500,000 of funding to partnerships that will help people improve their local areas.

Guidance on the scheme provided by the BLF, which will provide funding until December 2024, says this could include activity such as helping people and organisations to take action on issues that matter to them or encouraging new ways of working so that local people have more influence over and ownership of local services.

The guidance says that applications should come from local partnerships, which could involve community members, local charities or business, or representatives from the local authority.

Each application must be endorsed by the relevant local authority and only one application can be made per local authority area.

Up to 20 applications will be selected for initial funding of £5,000 to create plans setting out how social action can help respond to local priorities.

From those successful applications, 10 will be chosen to apply for phase two, when funding of up to £240,000 will be available for each scheme.

Five of those will later be selected to apply for phase three, when an additional £255,000 will be available to each project.

Tracey Crouch, the Minister for Sport and Civil Society, said: “People know what are the most important matters in their local areas, and this joint funding will help communities come together and drive the change they want to see. I am looking forward to seeing the positive impact this investment will have.”

Expressions of interest can be made until 28 November.

For more information, click here.

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Local finance infrastructure needs more support to help small charities, says CFG

A report from the Charity Finance Group says there is a big gap between what small charities need and the capacity of accountancy and support providers

Local finance infrastructure needs more support to meet the needs of small charities, a report from the Charity Finance Group has concluded.

The report, which concentrates mainly on the state of small charity accountancy and support service providers, says there is a significant gap between the needs of small charities and the capacity of accountancy and support providers.

The report says that many small charity finance services will struggle to expand to meet growing demand for their services, and the number of accountancy and support service providers has fallen nationally.

There are also challenges in communicating which services are available to small charities and a lack of resources to help small providers keep up to date with developments in complex areas such as tax, the report says.

National bodies could do more, it adds, to meet the needs of these support providers, including promoting better collaboration between them.

The weakest areas for accountancy and support services highlighted in the report are the Midlands, the south east and London, whereas Yorkshire has the strongest area of provision.

The report also highlights skills-based volunteering, digital support and building communication channels to promote services to small charities as ways in which local infrastructure can be helped.

It says ocial investment could be used to help these organisations, recognising the impact they have on the sector while simultaneously realising that it will take time to grow successful business models.

Andrew O’Brien, head of policy and engagement at the CFG, said: “Local infrastructure bodies are the backbone of our sector, providing critical support that enables smaller charities to do their work. The past few years have been challenging for support providers, as it has been for the sector as a whole. But the importance of financial advice and support has never been greater, given the environment in which small charities are operating.

“There are a number of measures that can be taken to support these vital organisations, but it requires a partnership between providers, foundations and government. The CFG will continue to do what we can to help boost the support available to these organisations so that they can, in turn, help small charities to thrive.”

The report was produced as part of the CFG’s small charities programme, which has been supported by funding from the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation.

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