Spelthorne

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Employee, Business, Community

We have over 20 years experience in matching corporate volunteering activities with local not-for-profit groups. In 2021 we facilitated the employee volunteering of 530 local business volunteers with North Surrey charities. Lockdowns and social distancing were not a barrier to 63 team events and Christmas saw a bumper year of Angel Tree Gift donations by local business employees to vulnerable members of our community. More than 1,300 gifts and monetary donations of £25K have supported 23 charities and their beneficiaries.

So, why is corporate volunteering good for business? Raising your profile and building customer confidence is key to business success. Encouraging your employees to volunteer has been shown to build a positive company-consumer relationship. 88% of consumers said they were more likely to spend money for a company that supports and engages in activities to improve their community.

Recruiting and retaining excellent employees is another reason for engaging with communities. Creating a better work-life balance is becoming increasingly important for employees. By facilitating a workplace culture where your employees are encouraged to support their causes by volunteering, builds a stronger more productive and connected team. Tackling a real issue and providing a solution is a morale boost for volunteers and creates pride in their socially responsible company.

Why do you need us to help you? We have a unique insight into the charitable sector of North Surrey, with strong connections to charities and voluntary groups and a good understanding of what they need and who is best placed to help them. Many of our community and voluntary sector organisations have little or no budget and will really value your enthusiastic volunteers. Whether it’s indoors or outdoors, gardening or helping at a children’s party, using your skills or learning new ones - VSNS will find a project that fulfils the passions of your employees, and enables you to do something truly rewarding as a team.

We are already putting challenges in place for 2022 and looking forward to a busy, exciting year of employee volunteering in North Surrey. Our services are at no cost for you or the charity.

Contact tj@voluntarysupport.org.uk to discuss how we can help you connect.

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Micro Volunteering

Do you want to volunteer but the same old reasons of not enough time or unable to commit to a long term role keep holding you back?

Micro Volunteering is the answer - bite-size tasks with no commitment to repeat and with minimum formality, involving short and specific actions that are quick to start and finish. It's a perfect way for you to do something good or give back, mostly from home, because 80% of micro volunteering takes places online.

We've put together a variety of microvolunteering ideas and there really is something for everyone:

Post Pals volunteers send cards, letters, emails and small gifts to seriously ill children and their siblings in the UK.

Pachamama Project volunteers make reusable sanitary pads for refugees worldwide

Be My Eyes is a free app that connects blind and low-vision people with sighted volunteers who lend their eyes to solve tasks big and small to help blind and low-vision people lead more independent lives.

FCancer volunteers donate their skills by the hour to support cancer charities (eg. photography, coding, writing and design) and help beat cancer.

Campaign to End Loneliness has ways for you to get involved locally or nationally with campaigns and ideas.

Dementia Friends volunteers learn about dementia so they can help their community by raising awareness and understanding.

Give Nature a Home volunteers build homes for nature where they live.

United Nations Online Volunteers (UNV) allows volunteers to team up to address sustainable development challenges – anywhere in the world. Some of their projects do require a little more time and commitment.

Zooniverse enables volunteers to take part in real cutting edge research of all kinds, from classifying galaxies to counting penguins to transcribing manuscripts, there's a project for everyone.

Missing Maps volunteers help to map areas where humanitarian organisations are trying to meet the needs of vulnerable people. Many of the places where disasters occur are 'missing' from any map and first responders lack the information to make decisions regarding relief efforts.

Furlonteer connects skilled professionals with remote volunteer opportunities. If you’ve been furloughed, are taking time out, searching for your next role, or employed with time to spare they have opportunities for everyone.

Remember - many people doing small actions can make a big impact!

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Volunteer yourself happy in 2022!

January is the perfect time to set some personal goals for the year ahead and look at ways to improve your health and wellbeing. We’ve all embraced diets and exercise regimes enthusiastically to then ditch them by the time February arrives. How about exploring something that is easy to maintain throughout the year, definitely addictive and brings rich rewards – volunteering!
Many of us think about it, but it’s easy to put barriers in the way so let’s fact check some of the usual obstacles to volunteering:

1. I can’t commit to a volunteer role on a regular basis:

Not all volunteering opportunities require a regular commitment. We have one-off events that need volunteers. Register with us as an events volunteer to be informed about local one off needs close to you. Email jenny@voluntarysupport.org.uk

2. I work full time – I can’t fit in any volunteering:

  • There are plenty of evening and weekend requirements, or flexible opportunities that you can cover whenever suits you.
  • It’s also worth checking whether your employer offers time off for volunteering – you might be surprised how many companies offer this or actively encourage employees to volunteer within the local community during working hours.
  • You could have valuable professional skills that would benefit local charities – why not get involved as a trustee? Time commitment is often relatively small but you can have a big impact on an organization and boost your CV too.

Village Centre Community FridgeVirginia Water Scout leader / helper, Citizens Advice Runnymede and Spelthorne TrusteeEikon Chair of Trustees 

3. I don’t have any useful experience to offer:

Volunteering can be a great way to develop and boost your skills, especially for younger volunteers or volunteers who are struggling to find work. Many volunteer roles will offer you training as part of your induction.

Other roles require basic skills, such as an ability to drive, a willingness to listen but most importantly, organisations need volunteers who are willing, enthusiastic and reliable

Family Befriending with Barnardos, Telephone befriending Age UK Surrey, Telephone befriending in Surrey Heath, Volunteer Drivers

4. Covid is too prevalent, now is not the right time to be mixing with others:

We have voluntary roles which can be done from home, whether that is supporting the lonely with a weekly phone call, or helping organisations with their social media strategy. It can be a great way to start working with a group and may pave the way for more opportunities as restrictions ease. There are also micro volunteering options you can try from the comfort of your own desk/armchair!

Family Befriending with Barnardos, Telephone befriending Age UK Surrey,m Telephone befriending in Surrey Heath

5. There is nothing local to me:

You'd be surprised! We can help you find something that suits your skills, interests and lifestyle - take a look at our website for opportunities local to your postcode or call us on 01932 571122.

Interested to hear more? Register to receive our volunteer newsletter to hear all about the latest volunteering opportunities in your area.

Still not sure? Speak to our team about what you are interested in and we’ll be happy to find opportunities to match your availability and interests. Call 01932 571122.

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VSNS awarded a Lieutenancy Certificate of Appreciation

We're delighted that VSNS has been awarded a Lieutenancy Certificate of Appreciation in recognition of the critical role the staff and volunteers have played in supporting local communities during the COVID pandemic.

We exist to support voluntary organisations, and during the pandemic quickly adapted to support residents and assist the council and health partners with a wide range of initiatives, including:

  • Supporting the management and oversight of the vaccination centres
  • Setting up services where there were gaps, e.g. shopping services/prescription deliveries
  • Supporting a massive volunteer programme and signposting to key areas of need
  • Providing key community insights for local authorities

When the pandemic began, VSNS were able to coordinate the offers of help and introduce the technology needed to manage large numbers of volunteers. The organisation is continuing work to recruit volunteers for six vaccination centres in Surrey to help with covid and flu vaccines. Since January, 1400 volunteers have marshalled at North Surrey vaccine centres for more than 70,000 hours.

It has been a difficult couple of years and the end is not yet in sight. But amidst all the negatives, we have seen the best of people coming together to do what is needed in their communities, to help each other. The voluntary and community sector was a natural place to go for many people, with much of the coordination and support led by local infrastructure organisations such as VSNS.

Chief Officer for North West Surrey Health & Care Alliance, Jack Wagstaff, said: “Thank you, your swift action and continued support with the recruitment of volunteers has saved lives.”

Leader of Spelthorne Borough Council, Cllr Lawrence Nichols, said: “I would like to thank Voluntary Support North Surrey for all the fantastic work they have done to help keep communities safe and well during the pandemic, and everything they continue to do. So many people have become interested in volunteering since the pandemic began and VSNS has done a brilliant job coordinating those offers of help, supporting our vaccinations centres and identifying areas of need.”

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VSNS DBS Process

In order to speed up the DBS process and to give your organisation more control, we are suggesting that you perform your own DBS checks using an online provider.We’ve had recommendations for two online providers below:

  • Disclosure Services (there is a £12 admin charge including VAT per check for volunteers with no charge to register)
  • U-Check (there is a £14 admin charge per check including VAT for up to 50 volunteer checks with a one-off registration fee of £49 plus VAT).

This online route is far more efficient since the application is completed electronically (thus eliminating errors); the identity of the applicant is verified by the recruiting organisation and the turnaround for receiving the DBS certificate is quick (usually within a day or two of completing the online application) although this is dependent on there being no problems with the application at the police service level.

Face to Face DBS Checks

For those of you who wish to continue with face-to-face checks, Surrey Community Action can offer these for an admin fee of £9.60 but you will need to be able to travel to Guildford.  For more information, please contact Amanda Channer on 01483 566072 or by email at amandac@surreyca.org.uk.

Making DBS checks portable by subscribing to the DBS Update Service

Please remember to encourage all your volunteers to register with the Update Service to make their DBS check portable.  This means that your volunteers will not have to complete another check since the online subscription held by the Update Service is updated with any new information.  You will be able to access the volunteer’s Update Service subscription with their permission using their DBS certificate number.  Here is the information on the DBS Update Service for employers.  Please also remind your volunteers to keep their DBS certificate in conjunction with their subscription to the Update Service as this holds the information on the level of check and may be needed for reference in future.

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Local Giving - small charities need you!

Christmas campaigns for national charities are in fully swing, but have you ever looked closer to home? It’s smaller local organisations at the heart of our communities that are really making a difference and have also been hardest hit by the pandemic. Now is the perfect time to support them and their users and there are lots of simple ways you can help both up to Christmas and beyond.
We’ll be updating the information below throughout the run up to Christmas. If you’re a local organisation with something to share – please contact us.
Know of something worthwhile we haven’t highlighted? Let us know
Share your shopping
Don’t forget to pop a little something into your trolley for the Foodbank as you start to stock up for the big day. Runnymede, Spelthorne and Surrey Heath Foodbanks all have lists of items they’re in need of here. But don’t leave it too late as they start preparing Christmas deliveries in early December - click here to find your nearest foodbank
Cards that care
Lots of us already choose charity cards to send out at Christmas, but did you know some local charities produce their own designs? White Lodge, Woking and Sam Beare Hospice and Princess Alice Hospice have a range of designs which you can easily buy online.
Local charity shops also often have a good selection of cards on offer (and maybe you’ll find some bargain gifts while you’re in there).
But have you considered going cardless this Christmas and making a donation to charity instead? Many local charities have their own websites and donate buttons making it easy and simple to give. And there are some wonderful causes – from charities like Eikon supporting mental health in schools to the Village Centre in Englefield Green offering range of services to the local community.
Give a gift that really matters
It can feel nice to give a physical gift rather than just make a cash donation and lots of charities really welcome this.
Just a Helping Hand is a Chertsey-based organisation supporting the homeless. They are creating rucksacks of useful items for those in need including items like shampoo bars, hats, gloves etc. Maybe get together with some friends and each buy something to put in the rucksack. These are needed by December 15th.
The Salvation Army in Addlestone are running their annual Christmas present appeal, looking for donations of new toys, books or gift vouchers for local children who otherwise may not receive a gift this year. You can drop items to the Salvation Army Hall in Addlestone between 9 and 12 Monday to Friday before December 10th or we also welcome donations to our office in Chertsey.
Home Start Surrey Heath in Camberley are collecting toys for local children in need. You can donate at the Entertainer in Camberley or High Cross Church until December 6th.

Many charities create a gift list on Amazon so you can buy exactly what they need:
• Oasis Childcare in Cobham support children in vulnerable situation. They provide food hampers for families, and also look to offer gifts to the children. See their list here
• Hersham Hounds are looking for items to support their work with retired racing greyhounds – details here
• Transform Housing provides housing and support to over 1,500 homeless and vulnerable people each year across Surrey. Find out about their needs here
Or you can simply ensure you support local charities as you buy gifts for others. Shop using Amazon Smile and donate to local charities as you buy – lots of local charities are listed and you can search easily for them here. Each time you buy something on Amazon, your chosen charity gets a portion of the purchase price.
Feelgood festive events
Nothing like a Christmas market or Santa run to get you in the festive mood – just don’t forget to pre-register for these.
Woking and Sam Beare Hospice are combing the two with a Christmas market and a fun run on December 5th at Woking Leisure Cente.
White Lodge have added a canine twist to their festive exercise with a Santa Paws Lakeside Walk at Virginia Water on December 4th.
Or if you’re heading to Guildford for some Christmas shopping, why not combine it with Kelly’s Santa Fun Run at Stoke Park on December 5th where they are raising money for Challengers – a charity that helps disabled children and their families.
Surplus to Supper, a Sunbury-based charity working across North Surrey to bridge the gap between food waste and food poverty, are hosting a shopping evening on 2nd December from 6.30 to 8.30.
Look ahead to 2022
Don’t let the end of Christmas mark the end of your interest in supporting great local charities.
As you look to spring cleaning or wonder what to do with unwanted Christmas gifts, think about donating goods to local organisations. Good quality and new items are particularly welcomed by many local organisations.
Your Sanctuary support survivors of domestic abuse. They particularly welcome donations of unopened and unused toiletries and perfumes.
As you start to think about making New Year’s resolutions, consider giving some of your time to volunteer. There are lots of opportunities whatever your skills and availability – take a look on our website where you can search current opportunities and you can register your details with us to receive regular updates of new opportunities.

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Life after Virgin Money Giving

Virgin Money has announced the closure of Virgin Money Giving, taking effect on 30 November 2021. The closure is unwelcome news for many of us in the UK charity sector and it raises important questions about the viability of donation platforms in the face of competition from other payment methods.

The good news for charities is that there are now lots of ways to collect donations:

But, for those of you who would like to continue using fundraising platforms because of the features and support they offer, here are your options from Charity Digital: https://charitydigital.org.uk/topics/topics/the-best-online-fundraising-platforms-for-charities-5324 

and an interesting podcast on the subject that's worth a listen https://charitydigital.org.uk/podcasts/podcast-virgin-money-giving-and-the-future-of-fundraising-platforms

More information:

https://charitydigital.org.uk/topics/topics/video-five-digital-fundraising-platforms-your-charity-should-know-about-9232

https://www.bhibcharities.co.uk/advice/the-best-online-fundraising-platforms/

 

 

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Why do I need a charity newsletter?

Nonprofit newsletters get some of the best average open rates in email marketing (26%). Newsletters provide important opportunities to showcase the work you do, make appeals for donations and other support and raise awareness of the problems your charity tackles. Use your newsletter to connect with donors and volunteers, encouraging them to take action.

Email drives more charitable donations than any other online channel. 42% of donors prefer to hear from causes they support by email, 20% of donors said that emails made them more likely to donate again and 69% of subscribers said they were more likely to donate after receiving an appeal for a specific need.

Everyone gets more emails than they can ever read. A typical email receives no more than 15 seconds of attention - so make yours stand out. Use images, a good subject line and engaging opening paragraph. If a reader is not interested at the opening of your newsletter, they won’t read what comes later.

What else should you do?

  • ensure that your newsletter can be read on a mobile device.
  • personalise (use recipient names)
  • all non-profit newsletters should include a call to action - usually a request for donations, volunteers or an ask to social share
  • keep text to a minimum and focus on 1-5 stories or calls-to-action
  • have your donate button and social media icons at the top of the newsletter
  • enable social sharing
  • use images and video screenshots linking to your website or YouTube
  • send on Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday - avoid Mondays and Fridays

Finally, remember you cannot email anyone without their permission, but you can build your email list by:

  • have a subscribe button on your website
  • promote through conversations with supporters
  • run a specific list building social media campaign
  • offer donors the option to subscribe in thank you messages

Subscribe to our e-news here!

More reading:

https://getanewsletter.com/en/blog/newsletter-introduction-examples-how-to-write-catchy-intros-for-your-newsletters/

http://www.thestorytellingnonprofit.com/blog/5-non-profit-newsletters-to-learn-from/

https://knowhow.ncvo.org.uk/campaigns/communications/e-newsletters

https://charitydigital.org.uk/topics/topics/everything-you-need-to-know-about-email-marketing-software-8734?

Paxmead - Monday 1

Menzies prepares the Paxmead Riverbase for summer childrens activities

Children have not been able to enjoy the river based activities at Paxmead for the last 18 months.  Two hard working teams from Menzies chopped, cut back, gardened and moved the campfire circle to help get the site ready for the summer activities on the river.  Gill was delighted with all their hard work which has enabled them to get the base looking in great shape and ready for action fo the children.
charity website

What does a good charity website look like?

The best charity websites are kind to users – not overloading them with choices or too much text, and instead making calls to action obvious and ensuring that users can easily find further information as needed. Here are our top tips to improve your site:

  • Give your website visitors what they want! Make your home page menu clear with no more than 6 options. Users need to be able to find what they need quickly so make your messages clear and concise to avoid overwhelming users with too much information. Guide Dogs is a great example of a clear, user friendly website with https://www.guidedogs.org.uk/
  • Be clear what your charity does, how website visitors can support you and what support means to the lives of your beneficiaries. Charity Water does this really well https://www.charitywater.org/uk
  • Use images for instant impact - donors respond to campaigns that feature a single, identifiable beneficiary. Care International UK has faces of beneficiaries on every page https://www.careinternational.org.uk/fighting-poverty
  • Make sure your website is device appropriate. You must consider how it's being viewed on smart phones, iPads and tablets. Comic Relief looks good on all devices https://www.comicrelief.com/rednoseday
  • Payment or sign-up processes should be as simple as possible. Not too many steps to complete and don't ask for unnecessary information in long winded forms.

More reading:

What Makes a Good Charity Website?

https://www.theukdomain.uk/what-makes-a-great-charity-website/

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