surrey

COVID-19

COVID-19 (Coronavirus)

Information for voluntary sector groups

The spread of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) is a concern for all of us and VSNS takes this situation seriously. We can all do things to help reduce the risk of catching and spreading this virus.

Keep up to date with advice from:

NHS England
Department of Health and Social Care

The government site gives clear guidance on what to do (e.g. self-isolate) if you have returned from visiting any of the affected areas, whether you are experiencing symptoms or not.

What you can do:

  • Regular and thorough hand washing with hot soapy water (not touching mouth, nose or eyes with unwashed hands)
  • The agreement not to take offence when someone politely reminds us about washing our hands (it is easy to forget when we are always in a rush and our minds are elsewhere)
  • Using tissues or your elbow when sneezing or coughing – NOT coughing or sneezing into someone’s face – guidance here
  • Using antibacterial wipes on phones and keyboards – especially if you hot desk
  • Avoid close contact with people who are unwell
  • Ensure people you support understand the situation – particularly if they are unable to speak/read English
  • If you think you might be infected with the Coronavirus, do not risk spreading it by coming into work or by going to the GP or hospital. Ring 111 for advice

If you are providing services in the social, community care or residential care setting there is specific advice for providers of these services on the government website here.

What VSNS has done:

  • We’ve put practical measures in place to help reduce the risk of spread of the virus across our 3 offices such as, improved signage in toilets about hand-washing; paper hand towels; antibacterial hand-wash in kitchens and regular disinfecting of taps and public door handles. These practical measures will be reviewed regularly, in accordance with changes to public health guidance.
  • We have made contingency plans in case the services VSNS provide can no longer be delivered from our offices – if you haven’t already done this, it may be timely to revisit your own contingency planning for the services you provide.
  • We have put in place WhatsApp groups, video conferencing and team chat facilities so that we can stay in contact with each other. If your organisation needs help with any of these technologies we will support you wherever possible.
  • Office phones will be redirected to enable us to be contactable even if the offices are unmanned for a short time.
  • Contacting our volunteers individually and collectively to ensure that they are supported. Befrienders and buddies should be led by their clients wishes and they should not visit anyone if they are feeling unwell or have had known contact with anyone with a virus.

For more information watch the The iHASCO ‘Coronavirus Awareness’ video

Read specific online advice for COVID-19 

Sign Language information from SignHealth on COVID-19

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SEO to increase website visitors and donors

Search Engine Optimisation helps your website perform better in search engines like Google.

SEO is important because good SEO practices improve the usability of your web site and your visitor’s user experience. You’ll get discovered by the right people more often, allowing you to grow your base of supporters and donors.

Users trust search engines – if your site is in at the top of a search for the keywords used by your visitors, they will have more trust in your site.

Many small charities face 2 problems – not enough website visitors and the ones who find you are not engaged enough to stay.

So how can you improve your SEO?

  • Regularly updated, quality, relevant content
  • Identify and use your target keywords
  • Use Google Search Console
  • Use Google Analytics
  • Ensure your site is mobile-friendly
  • Use a plugin like Yoast
  • Fix 404s

The higher your google ranking, the easier your website will be to find. You’ll attract more visitors and persuade them to donate and support you with an interesting and attractive, navigable site – easy!

https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/how-to-do-keyword-research-ht

https://analytics.google.com/analytics/academy/course/6

https://search.google.com/search-console/about

https://www.quicksprout.com/best-seo-plugins-for-wordpress/

https://www.classy.org/blog/7-seo-tips-nonprofit-cant-afford-ignore/

https://charitydigital.org.uk/topics/10-essential-charity-seo-tips-to-get-your-website-found3-6168

https://whitefuse.com/blog/7-steps-mastering-seo-your-charity-website

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Use Social Proof

The Rule of Social Proof: ‘If others are doing it, it must be the right thing to do.’

92% of consumers worldwide trust recommendations from friends and family above all other forms of marketing. People care about what others think and you can use that to attract new donors and supporters.

Tell the stories of your beneficiaries and supporters in text and pictures. A good story will spark emotion and empathy in your reader and persuade them to answer the call to action on your donate page. Images in the online world increase engagement by 313%. Not everything can be expressed with words, but nearly everything can be explained with visuals. Pictures help us relate to content, which will increase credibility and trust in your cause.

Use numbers on your website donation page. Show the number of people who have already given or who have fundraised for you to motivate visitors to donate. Tell your readers your total so far if you have a target amount to raise, this inspires them to help you reach your goal.

If you’ve received positive mentions from credible media sources, influencers or publications, put them on your website as well as key quotes from experts. Don’t forget to include social media buttons on your website pages to demonstrate broad support for your organisation and so people can easily share your content.

The internet has made social proof a powerful way to influence social behaviours.  By building and increasing the visibility of social proof for your cause, you more clearly demonstrate the value of your organisation to prospective donors and fundraisers.

https://zapier.com/blog/power-of-empathy/

https://www.globalgiving.org/learn/listicle/photography-tips-for-fundraising/

 

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secure your website with an SSL

Would you enter your contact data on a website that was unsecured? We wouldn’t.

https is a secure way of transmitting the data associated with your website. On most browsers (even those on phones), you’ll see a lock icon in the address bar. The https lock icon appears when your site has an SSL (secure socket layer) certificate.

If your site collects personal information you should be protecting the data of your donors and supporters with an SSL certificate.

Usually costing approximately £50 per year and a couple of days to implement, your website hosting company will almost certainly offer an SSL certificate and set your site up with it.

https://smartcausedigital.com/articles/your-website-not-finished-you-forgot-https

windows 10

Long Live Windows 10

Support for Windows 7 ended on 14th January 2020 and we’ve been asked repeatedly about what that means.

Many of you are still using it – at the end of 2019 about a third of desktop operating systems were reportedly Windows 7, including a large part of the NHS.

Your PC with Windows 7 will continue to work, withdrawal of support by Microsoft means that there will be no software updates (including security updates) so your PC is more vulnerable to cyber-attack. Microsoft will also cease to provide technical support when things go wrong.

Continuing with Windows 7 also affects your organisation’s legal compliance. You cannot meet the security requirements of data protection legislation when you are using an operating system with potential security flaws which are not going to be fixed.

In practical terms – it may cost you more in time wasted recovering data from a system crash or a virus than installing Windows 10.

Unless your PC is very old, Windows 10 will run on the machine you have been using with Windows 7 it’s just a matter of upgrading. If you do decide to upgrade your PC, remember that UK charities can benefit from discounted software donated through the Charity Digital Exchange programme.

https://www.charitydigitalexchange.org/

Northern Ireland Council for Voluntary Action (NICVA) have an excellent, more detailed blog post for more information

https://www.nicva.org/article/still-using-windows-7-heres-what-you-need-to-know

For those of you that hate change – once you’ve made the move you can customise Windows 10 to look like 7!

https://www.digitaltrends.com/computing/how-to-make-windows-10-look-like-windows-7/

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Tell Us What You Think

Organisations succeed when they talk to their customers and ask them what they think.

Every 2 years on behalf of Surrey County Council, we send out ‘A State of the Voluntary Sector Survey’ asking you about the quality of our services.

This survey provides hard numbers and facts on your opinions and we can use them make important decisions about how we help you.

Please complete the survey to voice your opinion and help us to improve services to you and other voluntary organisations in our community.

Surrey County Council Survey

You’re not just helping us – you’re helping yourselves and other local charities by improving what we do for you.

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Spring Training from Voluntary Support North Surrey

Why is it important for charity sector organisations to have a learning culture?

When resources and volunteer numbers are tight we must find ways to be more efficient and effective with what we have. By continuously learning we can find out what we should be doing, what others are doing, how we can do things better, and learn how to measure your impact to show you’re making a difference. VSNS Spring training kicks off in March:

First Steps to Successful Volunteer Management on 17th March, 9.30am to 3pm

Digital Fundraising Workshop on 26th March, 10am to 3pm

Grant and Trust Application Workshop on 30th March, 10am to 3pm 

Volunteering and the Law Workshop on 17th April, 10am to 1.30pm

ThursdayThoughts Networking Event, 23rd April, 10am to 12pm

There are lots of other ways to learn new skills through webinars, podcasts and blog posts from a wide variety of organisations – here are resources I use on a regular basis:

https://charitydigital.org.uk/podcasts

https://knowhow.ncvo.org.uk/studyzone

https://www.nptechforgood.com/webinars/  

 

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More Than Just a Thank You

Did you know that thanking someone for a donation within 48 hours makes it 400% more likely that they will donate to you again? Research shows not being thanked continues to be the most common reason people give for not making further donations to an organisation.

You spend a considerable amount of time and budget finding donors – shouldn’t you spend as much time making sure they stick with you?

Thanking donors should not be a chore, it should be a genuine recognition of their gift. Lack of appreciation is bad manners and a waste of an excellent opportunity to start a conversation. This is your best chance to tell your story, explain what the donation will mean for your beneficiaries and build a relationship with the donor.

NCVO survey found that 70% of donors felt that the thank you was important but that many acknowledgements were dull and predictable. What a shame!

There are lots of great examples out there but the principles are:

  • keep it short
  • make it personal (use their name)
  • be quick (less than 48 hours)
  • thank them for something specific (ideally the amount £)
  • tell a short story on how the donation will be spent
  • include your website link
  • close with another thank you

Treating donors as long-term partners who share your passion for the cause will go a long way in securing further support and hopefully repeat donations.

Have a look at an excellent example from Charity: water

https://www.sumac.com/how-to-write-a-great-donation-thank-you-email-with-examples/

https://www.charitydigitalnews.co.uk/2019/11/13/seven-steps-to-turn-one-time-donors-into-repeat-givers/

amigo lighthouse

Amigo Project Manager for Voluntary Support North Surrey

Job Description

 We are recruiting two Project Managers (one permanent role and one maternity cover role) to manage the Amigo project covering 5 boroughs (Runnymede, Spelthorne, Surrey Heath, West Elmbridge and Woking). The Amigo project helps people in their recovery from mental ill health by providing them with a trained volunteer buddy, to support them to access local community activities enabling them to increase confidence and improve motivation. The role involves assessing and managing clients as well as the recruitment, training, management and retention of volunteers. The role also involves the organising and management of the buddying between clients and volunteers.

 Role Details

 Amigo Project Manager (Permanent)

Amigo Project Manager (Fixed Term – Maternity Cover)

Hours: Full time (35 hours per week) or part time (28 hours per week minimum)

Salary: £24,000 – 26,000 or part-time equivalent

Location: Flexible but required to work across our 3 office locations (Camberley, Chertsey and Staines).

 Main Responsibilities

The post holder will:

  • Recruit, train, supervise and support volunteer buddies
  • Manage and oversee client referrals that are either self-referrals or via our partners, making initial assessments by phone and then meeting clients to determine suitability
  • Signpost clients as appropriate to other partners if Amigo is not suitable for them
  • Use the Recovery Star (a 10 point monitoring tool) to monitor the client’s wellbeing at both the beginning and the end of the process, helping them to understand their recovery
  • Match clients with a suitable volunteer buddy who will support them to attend an activity or group in the local community
  • Source activities for each client as appropriate and organise the planning, frequency of buddying, timing and timescale for each activity, attended by both the client and the volunteer
  • Regularly review the buddying with the client and volunteer to make sure that goals are being met and that the client continues to benefit from the support
  • Oversee the buddying by gaining regular feedback from both the client and volunteer, as well as managing issues as they arise
  • Regularly promote Amigo via social media and local magazines etc to maintain awareness of the project, supporting volunteer recruitment and client referrals
  • Promote the project with community connections partners and referrers to maximise the number of client referrals
  • Provide detailed quarterly monitoring reports to Partners and internal reports at monthly team meetings

Benefits

25 days holiday per annum or part-time equivalent (increasing by 1 day per year of service, up to a maximum of 5 additional days)

Additional days between Christmas and New Year

Applications

Please send your CV and a covering letter stating which role you are interested in to Laura Butler (laura@voluntarysupport.org.uk) by 5pm on Monday 3rd February 2020

Interviews: Tuesday 11th / Wednesday 12th February 2020

For more information download a full copy of the amigo job and person specification here

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Be a Good Neigbour in North Surrey!

Good Neighbours voluntary organisations are run by local people for local people.

All groups offer a helping hand to the less able and vulnerable in our North Surrey community, providing both practical help, with tasks and emotional help through befriending schemes or social activities. Most offer transport to medical appointments, library or prescription collections or a hand with the shopping.

All of the groups in our area reach out to isolated people and each group operates in their own way, to deliver what is needed in our community.

Jean lives in New Haw and has been a client of New Haw and Woodham Good Neighbours for six years. Jean told us “The volunteer drivers have done so much for me. They took me to see my mother in her nursing home and they take me to the hospital or to the doctors. I know that Good Neighbours are just a phone call away and they are happy to take me anywhere.”

There are over 100 voluntary good neighbour schemes in Surrey all looking for volunteers 

The beauty of being a volunteer for a Good Neighbours scheme is the flexibility. One of New Haw and Woodham Good Neighbours volunteers Jack explained why he became a volunteer driver

“It’s so simple! New Haw and Woodham Good Neighbours will give me a list of driving jobs and I just accept those that I can fit into my schedule.” 

This is a unique and direct way to help others in your community by improving neighbourly spirit and goodwill. Volunteers also tell us about how they enjoy being part of a team and that they’ve made new friends and combatted their own loneliness and isolation. 

Make a difference in your community – find out how to be a good neighbour in Surrey

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