As a small charity it can be hard to take a step back from day-to-day operations, but it’s important to take time to reflect and make sure our work is having the impact that is needed, as well as to acknowledge and celebrate all that we have achieved.
Small Charity Week, which raises awareness of the essential work carried out by small charities in the UK, has prompted us to look back on the last year and to pick out 10 of our key achievements.
From helping people find volunteering opportunities, advising charities and not-for-profit groups, and running a range of services that help people stay connected and live independently – we work hard to help make Buckinghamshire a better place to live.
I have used the words of people and groups that we have helped to tell you how the Community Impact Bucks team has helped. Here are 10 highlights from 2022-2023:
“… when the Volunteer Matching Service rang and mentioned the kitchen role to me, it just ticked all my boxes.” Madeleine, kitchen volunteer for Oasis Partnership
We run the Volunteer Matching Service which is a free service which helps Bucks residents find local volunteer roles; last year, we placed 290 volunteers who gave over 9,500 hours to 65 organisations across the county. This has an estimated monetary value of £90,000*.
“The funding information we received was invaluable for us. We have utilised all the recommendations and resources which have increased our knowledge and given us an insight which we didn’t have before.” Jacqui York, No excuse for abuse
We support charities and other not-for-profit organisations on all aspects of running an organisation – from starting up, funding, governance and safeguarding, to recruiting and managing volunteers. Last year we provided tailored support to over 200 organisations across Buckinghamshire, gave over 60 organisations the chance to meet key funders, and helped groups to raise over £741,000 through the Bucks Funding Search. **
“Tania from the Ukraine Community project has been a fantastic supporter and asset for our WAVUS (Wendover & Villages Ukrainian Support Group) community. She has been proactive with ideas for improving the lives of the Ukrainians within our area and has been hands-on in helping to deliver all the initiatives we have done to date.” Guy Blackman, WAVUS (Wendover & Villages Ukrainian Support Group)
Through our Ukraine Community Support project, we are helping to build and strengthen community action to meet the needs of Ukrainians in Buckinghamshire, helping them to thrive within our communities. Since its launch in April 2022, we have brought together a network of 40 charities and community groups, hosted a range of networking and learning events, and taken steps to empower Ukrainians to address their needs for the mid to long term.
“I am very grateful and pleased with the team – they keep my garden looking tidy and their response to all of the questions that I ask and ideas that I give them is very positive.”
Last year, our Gardening and Wellbeing Service team completed 358 garden visits, carrying out 1148 gardening tasks for 105 clients across the county. As well as enabling our clients to enjoy their gardens, the visits provide regular social interaction and encourage a more active lifestyle which, in turn, support their physical and mental health: 100% of our gardening clients last year said the visits improved their wellbeing.
“I was very pleased with the work that the Handy Helpers did for me today. They were professional, friendly and cleaned up after they had finished. I cannot express how grateful I am to your team.”
The Handy Helpers team undertook a wide range of internal and external tasks in and around 355 households in Buckinghamshire, helping the most vulnerable in our communities to be safe and secure in their homes. 100% of our clients said they felt better after a visit from our Handy Helpers team – from alleviating stress associated with the inability to deal with household tasks, minimising risks around the home, and providing an opportunity to make social connections.
“When you’re on your own, it’s great to get out and chat with other people.”
Last year we saw the re-opening of our Pub Lunch Clubs scheme which tackles social isolation and loneliness, particularly in our rural areas. Over 3400 lunches were served to local residents, with 97% saying they felt more part of their local community after attending a Pub Lunch Club.
“My neighbour doesn’t have access to any other transport, and this will help find out what is available in the area.”
Our Transport Hub hotline was busy through the year, receiving over 280 calls from local residents who are without access to public or private transport, and struggling to maintain independence. 73% of calls were for health appointments, with 75% of those being for hospital transport.
“We’re going to fund your project! We’re so happy to tell you that we really liked your application for National Lottery funding – and we want to offer Ashley Green and District Community Association £30,354 over 1 year to help your community thrive. I made the application, last May, based purely on the Funding Report you created for me. I can’t thank you enough.” Ashley Green and District Community Association
Ashley Green and District Community Association was just one of the community buildings we supported last year. Our Community Buildings Service had its highest ever subscription rate of 98 community buildings and received nearly 200 enquiries from across the county. We also identified rising energy costs as a key challenge for community buildings and, in response, partnered with Utility Aid to address these issues.
“Alliance membership has been transformative – for the first time in my 8 years with our charity, I feel our experience and work in the local community is starting to be recognised by decision-makers in health […]. Having a relationship with the VCSE mandated now seems to be a game-changer, and the more groups that engage with the Alliance, the more effective we can be together.”Home Start – Oxford
We host the BOB VCSE Health Alliance, an initiative which brings together over 300 health-related charities and groups (VCSEs) across Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and Berkshire to work in partnership with the NHS and local authorities as part of the new Integrated Care System. Since the launch of the new Integrated Care System (ICS) for the region in July 2022, the Alliance has been building ways of working between VCSEs and the ICS, which will soon be captured in a Memorandum of Understanding with the Integrated Care Board. The Alliance’s Action Groups have shaped key elements of the ICP Strategy and the NHS Joint Forward Plan – a document that will guide the delivery of health and care services across the region over the next 5 years.
“Being able to get a taste or the feel of the organisation is key. One organisation I volunteer with offers an open taster session where members of the public can just enjoy the facilities.” Volunteering in Buckinghamshire research
Volunteering in the UK is at its lowest levels in a decade – a trend that is reflected in Buckinghamshire. To understand the reasons why and what steps volunteer-involving organisations in the county could take to boost their volunteer numbers, Community Impact Bucks and BHSCA appointed Laura Elson Consulting Ltd to carry out independent research into the needs, barriers and opportunities for organisations, current and potential volunteers. Since its completion, it has been shared across a range of cross-sector events in the county including the voluntary sector, health and education channels and local authority organisations to help inform plans for volunteering in the future.
These are just some of the ways we contribute to the lives of individuals, communities, and causes throughout Buckinghamshire. Have a look at our website for information about these services and other support we provide to help make Buckinghamshire a better place to live.
* The 9500 hours of volunteering time has an estimated monetary value of £90,011, based on national minimum wage for over 25s and minimum time commitment for each role – the true value is likely to be much greater.
** over £741,741 secured through Bucks Funding Search during FY 22-23 – information gathered from survey with 36 respondents though true value likely to be much higher.
For more information
- To register as a volunteer or if your organisation has a volunteer vacancy that needs to be filled, visit Volunteer Matching Service.
- For help on any aspect of running a not-for-profit organisation, fill in our Request for Support form and have a look at our online resources for Funding, Volunteer recruitment and management, Running your organisation. To be kept update on the latest guidance, funding opportunities and useful advice for not-for-profit organisations in the county, sign-up to our free mailing list.
- For information on how we support the community response helping Ukrainians in the county, visit Community Support for Ukrainians in Buckinghamshire.
- If you need help clearing your garden, or you would like to refer a client, find out more about our Gardening and Wellbeing Service on our website.
- If you need help with maintenance tasks around or in the house, or would like to refer a client, you can find more information on the Handy Helpers webpage.
- To see a list of the current Pub Lunch Clubs or to volunteer, visit Pub Lunch Clubs.
- For details of the Transport Hub hotline and how it works, visit Transport Hub.
- If you run a community building or village hall, you can find information about our Community Buildings Service and other online resources on our Community Buildings Service webpage.
- If your organisation would like to collaborate with the newly developing regional and local health systems, visit BOB VCSE Health Alliance.
- Read our blog on the Volunteering in Buckinghamshire research which we carried out with Buckinghamshire Health and Social Care Academy (BHSCA) and check out our online resources on volunteering.
- For more information on the awareness week (19-23rd June 2023), visit Small Charity Week.