Wales Council for Voluntary Action

Jul 17 '14

Shaping another volunteering conference - reflections of a conference organiser


Fiona Liddell, WCVA Volunteering Development Officer, looks back at this year’s Wales Volunteering Conference and thinks about what we learned.

It’s another year and another volunteering conference. What topic this time?  Organising a national conference that will inspire, inform and encourage weary volunteer managers in widely differing contexts in Wales is no mean feat.

But I have to say that the theme for this year’s conference came together remarkably well.  As early as a year ago we mooted the title Shaping the volunteering landscape.  I, for one, liked the active verb ‘shaping’. So often it feels like we are on the receiving end of decisions about budgets and policies and that we are expected, quite simply, to do more and more with less and less. It seemed like a good time to be reminded of the avenues of influence that we do have in shaping the policy environments in which volunteering can either flourish or falter.

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Jul 15 '14

Is procurement incompatible with co-production?


As the rhetoric about co-production gains momentum in debates about public services in Wales, WCVA’s Gareth Coles considers the barriers to making co-production a widespread reality.  

The issue about the practical implementation of co-production policy was explored in detail at a recent training course on ‘Commissioning for outcomes and co-production’, delivered by NEF (New Economics Foundation) and organised by Co-production Wales (All in this Together).

The course presented a fantastic opportunity to explore how to further the take up of co-production across Wales with colleagues from the public and third sectors. With inspiring case studies from England and Wales of engaged commissioning processes, the course provided extensive evidence that shifting to a more co-productive approach to public services was achievable. 

But in exploring how to further the implementation of co-production, one particularly thorny problem had been troubling me: will the hope of co-production founder on the rocks of procurement?

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Jul 10 '14

Volunteering gives you a porpoise, so dive right in


Volunteering in Wales gives you the opportunity to do all sorts of things you might not expect – including monitoring dolphin and porpoise behaviour around the coast. The Sea Watch Foundation explain more ahead of National Whale and Dolphin Watch Week 2014.

The goal of the Sea Watch Foundation is to conserve whales, dolphins and porpoises around the coast of the UK, and one of the most important areas is off the coast of Wales.

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Jun 23 '14

VAT’s key role in third sector finance review


As a review is announced into trading and funding relationships between the third sector and government, Liz Maher of Centurion VAT Specialists takes a look at the VAT issues that need to be addressed as part of the process.

An article in Civil Society News caught my eye. ‘Umbrella bodies to review state of sector finances,’ it said, making me wonder whether they’d been in attendance at our recent Great Debate event, which Centurion VAT delivered in association with Broomfield accountants and WCVA, entitled Funding gaps - change or die?

The article outlines a review led by NCVO into areas like the growing role of trading and funding relationships between government and the third sector, in order to provide ‘analysis to enable the voluntary sector to plan for the future’.

I do hope that the umbrella bodies take on board the VAT issues and repercussions that we are increasingly seeing across the third sector.

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Jun 5 '14

World Environment Day 2014: Finding peace with bees and vegetables

It’s World Environment Day, in which the world comes together to tackle climate change - all actions, no matter how small, can make difference. As part of the celebrations, we bring you this blog about the inspirational work of Adam Street Allotments in Blaenau Gwent, and the impact they have made on their local environment and community.

Adam Street Allotments in Blaenau Gwent is an inspiring example of a community allotment association where members have their own plots but also work tirelessly alongside other volunteers to create communal areas for the community to enjoy. Thanks to recent funding from Environment Wales, they have also acquired apiaries and have planted wild flower areas for our pollinators to frequent.

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Apr 11 '14

What can peer learning do for Communities First?

In this blog, Russell Todd, Communities First Advice Co-ordinator, examines some examples of peer learning and reflects on his experiences.

Last July I blogged about the experience of researching examples of peer learning and support that has informed plans for a similar framework in Wales’s Communities First (CF) programme.

I had found some interesting examples of it operating in other sectors, programmes and organisations such as the Families First and former Mentro Allan programmes in Wales, the Big Local programme in England, in community renewal in Northern Ireland and the Our Place initiative in Scotland.

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Apr 4 '14

Learning reflection: The art of managing and supervising volunteers


In this blog, Jean Roddan of North East Wales Carers Information Service discusses her findings and feelings having completed the ILM accredited course The art of managing and supervising volunteers.

Well here I am having completed the fourth and final day of the ILM accredited course The art of managing and supervising volunteers and writing this blog has given me the chance to reflect on it.

I suppose my main impression of the four weeks was that it was great to meet new people from different backgrounds and ranges of experience. Everyone contributed to each day, whether it was making paper aeroplanes, throwing bean bags or really working together to make some sense of it all.

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Apr 2 '14

Can a new scheme give the long-term unemployed a Lift?

Russell Todd, WCVA Communities First Advice Co-ordinator, takes a look at a new Welsh Government programme which aims to reduce the number of workless households in Wales.

On Monday 24 March the Welsh Government launched the Lift Programme which aims to reduce the number of households in Wales where no-one is in work long term.

Lift will place two brokers in each of the following Communities First (CF) Clusters, where it is being piloted:

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Mar 31 '14

Wales Volunteer of the Year - a winner’s story

The deadline for nominations in Wales Volunteer of the Year 2014 closes at 5pm on Friday, 11 April. Here one of last year’s winners in the Green category, Sam Holt of Cardiff, talks about the impact that winning had on his life.

I was shocked when I was nominated and read the words others had written about me. I felt touched and proud that I had such a profound influence on so many lives. I had volunteered so many hours over so many years, but I never did it for praise or position but for the sense of peace and that it was the right thing to do for my community. Volunteering was my coping mechanism for my depression and my wife’s chronic illness. It gave me a sense of worth in hard times and enabled me to challenge my desire to hide away when things got tough.

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Mar 18 '14

'Violence against women is a disturbing fact of everyday life'

Here’s a piece we didn’t get to put up when International Women’s Day came around the other week. Jasmin Chowdhury has worked in the fields of reducing inequalities and promoting social justice for almost fifteen years and has worked in the sector, for the NHS and within Welsh universities, and here discusses violence against women from around the world.

Although it’s great to see the hype surrounding International Women’s Day, the increasing amount of evidence regarding all different forms of violence against women and the domination of patriarchy across the globe, in all spheres of our life is deeply worrying. Whether it’s the gang rape cases in India, the new law in Afghanistan allowing men to attack their wives, daughters and sisters in the name of ‘honour’, without any fear of facing any judicial punishment; the thousands of women who are killed every year by their intimate partners; or become victims of human trafficking, FGM or domestic abuse, violence against women is a disturbing fact of everyday life in all corners of the world.

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