Befriending in North Surrey

Time to Talk is our befriending project in Surrey Heath. Over the last 6 months we’ve heard some lovely stories from our befrienders and the people they’ve spent time with:

Glen’s daughter became concerned about her mum who had always loved to chat was now struggling to socialise. Glen had suffered a loss, been unwell, moved house and was feeling lonely and isolated. ‘Time to Talk’ matched Glen with Yasmin, one of our volunteers, they hit it off immediately and Yasmin has visited Glen weekly ever since.

Glen’s daughter has noticed a big difference in her mum since the visits started. Glen very much enjoys Yasmin’s company, her visits are ‘the highlight of Mum’s week’. ‘Absolutely gorgeous’ is how Glen describes her time spent with Yasmin, ‘it gives me something to look forward to, we talk about all sorts of things, current affairs, dating and have a good laugh’.

Yasmin tells us that she wished she started volunteering years ago because the time she spends with Glen is lots of fun and flies by. They enjoy sharing stories and experiences, including the way dating has changed over the years, Yasmin had never heard of a dance hall!!

It’s a small thing to be a friend but it has such a huge impact. Why don’t you make a difference to someone’s life by being a Time to Talk volunteer

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Trustees – Volunteers Week 2019

Trustees are literally the foundation of all nonprofit organisations. They are the volunteers who help control how the charity is run and responsible for making sure it is doing what it set out to do and that it has the funds to achieve its aims.

Trustees use their skills and professional experience to support the charity’s cause or causes, working together with the other trustees as a team.

One of the most important things charities need from their Trustees is someone who is committed to the organisation and enthusiastic about what they stand for. It is important that they recruit people from a wide range of backgrounds who offer a variety of different skills and experience.

Richard is a trustee for Egham Education Trust:

“I’m 23 years into a great career with Microsoft and I consider myself the luckiest person alive. I have a decent income, a loving family and a roof over my head. I don’t think I would have ended up in this position if it wasn’t for the Egham Education Trust, which stepped in when I needed it most to help me with financial support, so I was able to afford my education after I left school. The Trust set me on the road for a career in technology and I’ve always been grateful. Now it’s time for me to give back, to help others get the opportunities which I was given to live their lives to the fullest. I’m back at the Egham Education Trust, but this time I’m helping them find people who are in need like I was. It’s a chance for me to give back to the charity that did so much when I needed it the most, and it’s a simple thing to offer my time and skills to volunteer with them.”

Recruiting new trustees is an ongoing issue for most non-profits. Finding someone who has the right skills and experience, a connection with your cause and enough free time to make a genuine contribution can be time consuming.

For the sake of diversity don’t limit your recruitment process to personal connections. Use your social media channels, create a dedicated page on your website and use our Surrey-wide volunteer recruitment database Volunteer Plus (contact for more information)

You can also go national using resources listed by the Small Charities Coalition

As you can see from Richard’s experiences, being a trustee is enormously rewarding. If you’re interested, have a look at our trustee volunteer roles – we have opportunities from a diverse range of local charities.

As we’re so fond of saying … we really do have a volunteering role for everyone!

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Volunteers Week 2019

Volunteers Week is celebrated between 1st and 7th June every year. It is a week in which the UK celebrates volunteers and says thank you to them for the contribution that they make. There’s lots of information about events and how to get involved on the NCVO website and still time to organise a thank you for your volunteers.

For us Volunteers Week 2019 is a busy time of year, we have information events to celebrate, inform and thank volunteers in our community and also our annual Runnymede and Spelthorne Volunteer Awards 2019 ceremony at Royal Holloway University. There are 15 million people in the UK who regularly give their time to local communities and our awards recognise some of those amazing volunteers in our own community. It’s an inspiring, fun evening where we get to meet lots of old friends and make some new ones!

‘Wanting to do good’ remains the most important reason to volunteer. 46% of people say improving things and helping others remains the most common reason why they volunteer. 31% of people said they gave time because the cause was important to them.

Being a volunteer means having time to give, which can make work and family commitments a barrier to volunteering. However, locally we have found increasing numbers of local businesses are interested in help with employee supported volunteering (ESV), where the employees of a business take paid time off to volunteer during work hours. Approximately 11 million employees in the UK are taking part in ESV schemes, estimated at two billion pounds worth of support to deserving charities. By helping tackle local issues, employers can benefit both themselves and the communities in which they operate. Contact us to find out how you can get your business involved. We’d also love to hear from you if you’re a charity with a project that you think a team of volunteers can help with.

There are also ways to volunteer that only take a little time but mean a great deal to the charities and their beneficiaries. If you’d like to volunteer and need help finding the right role please get in touch with alison – there really is something to suit everyone!


GASDS Gift Aid Small Donations Scheme

If your charity has events where you accept donations you should be reclaiming gift aid from HMRC using the Gift Aid Small Donations Scheme GASDS. The maximum donation for which you can make a claim on the GASDS scheme is currently £20 but due to rise to £30 in April 2019, and it’s important to note that donations are not a membership or ticket fee

The rules are straightforward, you must already be registered for gift aid and have made a gift aid claim. Your charity can then claim a payment equivalent to gift aid on cash donations of £20 or less, without the need for the donor to complete any paperwork, or for the donor to be a taxpayer. GASDS Claims are made alongside Gift Aid claims using the Charities Online template provided by HMRC. Note that an individual donation can only be eligible for one type of claim. It is either eligible under Gift Aid or the GASDS but not both.

HMRC states that to make a GASDS claim you must have claimed Gift Aid in the same tax year as you want to claim GASDS and without incurring a penalty in the last two years. You must also have claimed Gift Aid in at least two of the last four tax years (without a two-year gap between claims). Your GASDS claim can’t be more than 10 times your Gift Aid claim – so if you receive £100 in Gift Aid donations in a tax year, you can only claim on up to £1,000 of small donations under GASDS for that year (when you actually submit the claim is irrelevant). The maximum GASDS claim is £2000.

I found a really good example on the website:

A charity receives £8,800 in a tax year in eligible cash donations with documented Gift Aid donations of £800 and small cash donations of £8,000. The charity can make claims on all of its donations; £800 under the Gift Aid scheme, and £8,000 under the GASDS because the matching principle allows for a GASDS claim of ten times that of the Gift Aid claim for donations received in the same tax year. The charity will receive £2000 in GASDS (25% of £8000) which is currently the maximum and £200 (25% of £800) in Gift Aid from their £8800 donations.

Good to note that you should inform your supporters that they need to commit to Gift Aid to allow you to make a GASDS claim.


Time for a Cuppa

There are 850,000 people in the UK living with dementia right now and approximately 3000 people in our community of North Surrey. We can all feel lonely at times but people living with dementia and those who care for them face even bigger challenges. A third of people with dementia said they had lost friends following their diagnosis. The stigma around dementia can lead to people becoming isolated and poor experiences with the general public can make people withdraw from society. Becoming socially isolated can lead to a loss of confidence and a sense of loneliness, both of which have a negative impact on well-being.

Dementia UK are tackling the issues around dementia by providing specialist nurses to help people live positively with dementia but we can all do something to help others. Reaching out to people in our community who may be lonely or socially isolated can make a big difference. A small gesture like sharing a cuppa with a person who is feeling lonely can give so much, they will have something to look forward to, a sense of connection to others and a feeling that they are cared for. As one lady recently matched with a befriender said ‘I just miss having conversations with people’. 

You can tackle loneliness in your community and raise funds for Dementia UK during Time for a Cuppa week (1st to 8th of March). Why not share a tea party with friends and family, or reach out to someone in your community who may be lonely.

You can make a longer term difference by being a befriender in our local community so get in touch with or to find out more.


Telling Your Story for Digital Fundraising

Telling people the mission of your charity is no longer good enough. It has become increasingly obvious in the last few months of blog reading and webinar listening that digital fundraising in 2019 will be all about telling stories about your organisation and stories about the people you support.

Whether we like it or not social media has changed the way we communicate with one another. Social media use is growing; 68% of adults use Facebook; 73% use YouTube and 82% of Baby Boomers use social media sites. When we hear a story, we relate it to our own experiences and how we feel about it. Your story should inspire your supporters to take action and share with their own personal social networks.

Story telling is the perfect way to communicate in personal terms your charity’s mission, impact and to engage with your donors and supporters. Use your website, emails and your social networks (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube ….)  to inform the world about what you do and how you are helping your community. The benefits of telling the right story will be bigger donations, increased media coverage for your cause and better connections with your current and new supporters.

A good story turns people from passive to active. Making readers understand and empathise with the subjects of your story, is 100% more effective than explaining what you do in a dry academic report. Great stories resonate with an audience. Decide who your story is appealing to and craft it accordingly. Your story will take shape when you have identified: your most active supporters; what they like; what motivates them; what makes them happy/sad and what’s important to them.

Why not put together a series of stories on the same subject from different perspectives to appeal to different donor age groups and motivations.

Everyone in your organisation should be collecting stories: beneficiary stories; organisation stories; supporter stories; volunteer stories; event stories; donor stories; community stories – the list is endless. They should also be collecting images and making videos! If you want to showcase your organisation and the amazing things you do – what better way to do it than to engage those who do the work every day as well as the people in your community who benefit.

Finally, remember that donors fund people – not organisations – so make your stories about people!


The Joys of Spring (Training)

Over the next 5 weeks we are offering free training to local voluntary organisations as part of our Spring training program. Our goal is to support you and grow the charity sector in North Surrey and we believe that giving you skills through training to fundraise, manage and recruit volunteers and maintain a strong board of trustees is fundamental to your success. 

Why is training important? 

 All too often in the nonprofit world, budget constraints force us to make hard choices between day to day funding of projects and training for employees and volunteers. It may not just be a question of cost, you may not even have time to attend training. We believe that if you measure the outcomes from educating your staff and volunteers as they relate to your organisational goals then money and/or time spent on training is well spent. 

 You may need to recruit a strong board, increase fundraising, embrace digital or retain more volunteers. That makes training in these subjects a good investment for the people expected to realise these goals and this is the training you should prioritise.  

The success of any organisation is due to its people, and that’s particularly true in the case of the charity sector. During these difficult times, you can show their commitment to staff and volunteers by upskilling those who champion the cause and really contribute to helping your organisation achieve its vision.  

 Through training, the need for supervision decreases and your staff and volunteers will make better decisions on their own and solve problems more effectively. Training helps develop leadership talent and communication skills, it decreases fear in attempting new tasks and enables handling of stress, frustration and conflicts. These factors give people a chance to perform better which results in developing feelings of satisfaction in their role.Training develops talents and capabilities which ensure that everyone makes a contribution towards your long term goals. 

 Who to train? 

 Most training is considered for new volunteers or employees and it is good to invest in development of their skills so that they can increase their contribution. But ongoing training of current employees/volunteers is as important since it helps them to adapt their daily routine work according to changing requirements, improves their performance on current role and prepares them for an intended role. Importantly, training inspires new thinking which helps to reduce resistance to change.  

 Why not ask your employees and volunteers to identify training they think would help them in their role. Ask them how they would use the learned knowledge/skills/confidence, how these would benefit the team and how they would share the knowledge.  

 If you only have the money or time to send one person on a course, there are useful things you can do: 

  •  Ask the person who is going on the course to give feedback to other colleagues, share important lessons and any handouts or templates. This also allows the attendee to review and reinforce their learning, meaning that it’s more likely to have an impact.  
  •  Contact a training provider and see if they can come and deliver the training specifically for your team – it is often cheaper. You could also think about sharing a trainer with another voluntary group with similar training needs. 

 What are your training options? 

 Excitingly, there are an increasing number of training options: 

  •  We offer face to face training in one of our three offices on the subjects of fundraising, social media, volunteer recruitment and management and governance. There are also a number of local options offered by other volunteer centres and the Surrey Skills Academy. 
  •  Why not set up (or join) an informal network to find peer support where questions, problems and advice are shared and discussed. 
  •  E-learning is an accessible way for staff to learn. Some infrastructure organisations are offering bite-size and accessible training for smaller organisations to access as and when they need it. Have a look at Media Trust, NCVO KnowHow and the Small Charities Coalition. 
  •  As part of their corporate social responsibility, some of the larger search engine and social media platforms offer free training such a google Digital Garage and Facebook Blueprint and don’t forget YouTube with its many ’how to’ videos. 
  •  Webinars can help geographically isolated charities or those short of time and low on office cover. You don’t even need to participate – just sign in, listen and learn. 

 Finally, use your social media to find blogs to follow – ask other groups what information fills their inboxes and have a look. We suggest MediaTrust, Third SectorHubspotNCVO, White FuseUK Fundraising to get you started.

social prescribing

Social Prescribing in Surrey Heath

What is it?

Social prescribing helps people with a range of social and physical problems to access local services provided by the voluntary sector. It’s a way for them to connect to community groups and statutory services for practical and emotional support.

Long term, it reduces health demand on GP practices and hospital admissions, since it’s estimated that about 20% of patient consultations are for social rather than medical problems. Rather than writing a medical prescription, doctors refer some of their patients to a social prescribing service which provides a non medical solution such as activities with local volunteer groups. Connecting with the community is good for an individual’s health and could potentially lead to big cost savings for the health service.

What are Voluntary Support North Surrey doing? 

Since 2015, our social prescribing project in Surrey Heath has had 587 clients and have generated 909 referrals for a social prescription to local voluntary organisations and groups. From our experience the biggest referral group is for befriending, which is not surprising given the national statistics for loneliness. Over 9 million people in the UK – almost a fifth of the population – say they are always or often lonely. If you or someone you know could benefit from talking to a Surrey Heath social prescriber please visit our social prescribing project page

Does social prescribing work?

Evidence suggests that social prescribing leads to a range of positive health and well-being outcomes. Studies in Bristol and Rotherham have found improvements in anxiety levels, feelings about general health and quality of life and a reduction in the use of NHS services.

From our own experience, we have found that social prescribing is a very powerful tool running in conjunction with statutory services. It helps support vulnerable members of our North Surrey society become less isolated, give them more support with health and home situations. Most importantly, social prescribing connects and reintegrates people in their communities and gives them hope.

We’ve had great outcomes for our residents. Recently an elderly couple in Ash Vale in their late 80s and both with chronic ill health conditions were referred by their GP to our social prescribing project. We registered the couple with Crossroads for respite care and referred to Sight for Surrey to provide specialist equipment. They were also connected to an Age UK befriending service to reduce isolation.

What can you do?

We need volunteers! All of the voluntary organisations who we refer to need volunteers or donations. There’s a huge range of ways you can be a volunteer. You could be a driver for a local good neighbour organisation and offer a transport lifeline for members of our community no longer able to drive. Citizens Advice Bureau advisors give financial guidance to people stressed and anxious about money or employment. Dementia support groups and community organisations offering respite, social events and activities also urgently need volunteers. We have a new befriending project called Time to Talk which has a waiting list of people who need a friend.

Get involved and take part in social prescribing to make real difference – contact

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