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When is a worker a sessional worker, and not a worker?

29 October 2014

Many applicants to Awards for All are confused by the fact that although we won’t pay for salaries, we will pay for the fees of people who come in to run ad-hoc sessions.

Girls learning martial arts

So when is a worker a sessional worker?

A sessional worker is a person who is not likely to be employed by you under a contract of employment. Instead, they will invoice your organisation for their fee and you can use your grant to pay for that. For example, if there is a call for yoga sessions you might want to use a yoga teacher to come along to your group and run them. You could use the grant to pay for their services.

Woman showing kids farm work

Although sessional workers are not likely to have the same employment rules as staff employed on a salary, it is still necessary to make safeguarding agreements with them. For example, you’ll need to make sure that you protect their health and safety.

You might already know sessional workers from using their services in the past. If your sessional worker receives a salary from you already you will need to consider if the service they are providing is additional to their existing role in order for it to be fundable. They will need to invoice you for the extra service they are providing.

You can find an application form and more detailed guidance at Awards for All, England on our website.

Karen Addison from our England Big Advice team wrote this blog’… have you read our other Big Advice blogs?


A day in the life of a Green Doctor

28 October 2014

Hi, my name is Nadira and I work as one of two Green Doctors on the Sustainable Sheppey project for an environmental charity called Groundwork South.

Nadira and DJ at Sheppey FM radio station

Nadira at Sheppey FM radio station

You’re probably wondering what a Green Doctor is. The scheme started about nine years ago in Leicester. Each Green Doctor role varies, but the aim is always the same: to provide free, impartial one-to-one sustainability advice to residents.

The Green Doctor name can be a great conversation starter. As soon as I mention my job title, I usually expect comments such as “You’re not green” or “Can you help me with a medical issue?”

Since January 2014 my colleague Danny Lenain and I have been the Green Doctors for the Sustainable Sheppey project in Kent. We plan to visit 1,900 homes in Sheppey before the project finishes in October 2015, and to save each household one tonne of CO2 emissions through behaviour change and energy efficiency measures. These visits are for any resident whether they privately own, rent or live in social housing. So far, Danny and I have visited over 700 households on the Isle of Sheppey, making a total potential cost saving of £97,658 and potential CO2 savings of 392,804kgs!

Nadira with Irish Wolfhound

Nadira and a big dog!

During the visits we offer advice to residents to save money on their gas, electricity and water bills. This includes guidance on energy company grants and any other local cavity wall or loft insulation grants run by the local council. We also give out freebies for each resident to help them save energy and water. These include LED lightbulbs, shower timers, radiator panels and a ‘save a flush’ bag.

One of the things I enjoy about my work is that every day is different. One day I might be out meeting new and interesting residents and their lovely pets, like the Irish wolfhound in the picture, the next I could be promoting the Green Doctor visits at local events, community centres or on the local radio station.

In September 2014 I was proud to hear that I had been selected as one of the three finalists for the Fuel Poverty Champion category of the UK Community Energy Awards. Although I didn’t win, the nomination was such a thrill for me. The awards ceremony was an excellent way to highlight many excellent projects and to show how we can take best practice ideas from others.

The Sustainable Sheppey project was funded through Big Lottery Fund’s Communities Living Sustainably programme.

More information about the Green Doctors can be found at Groundwork’s website

How can we make a difference for vulnerable families?

27 October 2014

James Ronicle, Senior Research Manager at Ecorys UK, describes how a one day event will bring together the latest evidence on effective approaches for supporting vulnerable families.

Ecorys' James Ronicle

Ecorys’ James Ronicle

In recent times the Big Lottery Fund has invested heavily in support for vulnerable families. The Improving Futures programme is a £26m programme funding 26 projects to improve outcomes for families with multiple and complex problems where the eldest child is aged 5 – 10. The A Better Start programme has invested £215m in five areas, and aims to improve the life chances of over 60,000 babies and young children aged 0-3. The Big Lottery Fund is not alone in investing in this policy area; in England, the Troubled Families programme aims to turn around the lives of the 120,000 most ‘troubled families’ and has recently been further extended to engage a further 400,000 families ; whilst in Wales, Families First aims to develop effective multi-agency approaches to improve outcomes for families.

Across these programmes, and others, projects are adopting a diverse range of approaches to engage families and improve their lives. Many are implementing ‘tried and tested’ approaches (such as having a ‘key worker’ that acts as a single point of contact for the family). Other projects are trialling new approaches, such as training community champions to work with families on a ‘para-professional’ standing, or basing key workers in doctor’s surgeries so doctors can signpost families more effectively.

But how do we know what works? After these programmes have finished, what should we scale up? If these are ‘pathfinders’, which paths should we follow, and which ones should we not?

Young mum playing with child on swingThe one day event – ‘Making a Difference for Vulnerable Families: Evidence into Policy and Practice’ seeks to answers these questions. The event provides exclusive insight into the findings from leading national family support programmes, including:

  • Troubled Families
  • Improving Futures
  • Families First

We will reveal some of the first findings from the Improving Futures programme, such as how the programme managed to reduce the number of families with children with persistent, disruptive and violent behaviour by 49%, and increase the number of families regularly participating in family activities by 53%.

You will have a chance to hear from:

  • Leading figures in family policy (Naomi Eisenstadt, Kate Morris);
  • Government departments (DCLG and Welsh Government); and
  • Evaluators of some of these national family programmes (such as Ecorys UK, leading the Troubled Families evaluation, Improving Futures evaluation consortium and supporting Ipsos MORI in the Families First evaluation).

With 4 keynote speakers and 14 workshops on offer, hear the latest research and evidence on:

  • Engaging with men
  • Mental health
  • Young carers
  • The role of key workers
  • The role of volunteers.

The event will also include an exhibition hall, with 25 exhibition stands featuring national family programmes and local family projects (including ones run by Action for Children, Barnardo’s and many local voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) organisations).

Places are still available for the event and this is the final week of the Early Bird discount, with tickets priced at £25 (exc. VAT) for VCSEs and £45 (exc. VAT) for other organisations. The event is taking place in Birmingham on Monday 8 December, 10am to 4pm, at the Birmingham Voluntary Service Council (BVSC).

For more information visit:

Don’t miss this unique opportunity to come together with practitioners, researchers and policy-makers working in this area to share knowledge and experience from across the UK.

Through my eyes, who am I?

22 October 2014

Service user, client, customer, patient, ex-offender, offender, prisoner, criminal, A1726AY, number, addict, junkie, coke head, alcoholic, drunk, referral, claimant, benefit scrounger, benefit cheat, resident, occupant, mentally ill, manic depressive, nutter, blind, blind idiot, partially sighted, visually impaired, four eyes, disabled, Spastic, Dyslexic, problem child, brain dead, stupid, thick, naughty.

Darren making speech at a lectern

Darren Murinas making his ‘labels’ speech

These are just a few labels that have been given to me over last 30 years by many people and some professionals. Well I am Darren yes I am a person like yourselves, just with few added extras, also I am a citizen, citizen of Stoke-on-Trent an Expert citizen with lots of lived experience in the field off multiple complex needs. I don’t remember much about my childhood! However I do remember been given these labels and still to this day at 42 years old aim still been labelled!! I was told at such an early age that I was stupid thick naughty and I would never amount to nothing. I struggle to understand why no one would ever think this would affect me later on in life. The labels given to me over many years  have taken away my personal identity and I have struggled to know who I am and how I fit into what some professionals would call mainstream society, these barriers I face on a day-to-day basis and it’s really difficult to understand who I’m meant to be in society.

One my first childhood memories is back in late 70’s… I was about six years old, I remember a dark green Rover car pulled up outside my mum’s house, a tall man got out the car, dressed in light gray suit green over coat brown shoes smelling of cigarettes and extra strong mints, I could even tell you what was playing on the radio, on a memorable September day! I was pushed into the back of the car and then we drove off, I was told that I was going away for short while to a special needs school in Coventry – to stop crying and shut up -naughty blind spastic! This was my first experience with someone who was meant to be supporting me!

Oh by the way, the short time was 11 years from then… I found myself mixed up in the world off addiction and crime for almost 20 years. I went to prison in 2010 for conspiracy to supply class A drugs. In prison there was no real support for me with my disabilities, however I found myself fitting in to the regime perfectly… yes, you could say I was the perfect model prisoner. I was released from prison December 2012, I really didn’t know what I was going to do with myself!

Well let’s not look back at the past too much, it’s about looking forward to the future and all of us coming together and supporting each other to make this city of ours, a much better place for everyone to live and get the right support they need to carry on their journey to recovery and more fulfilled lives.  I was invited to attend focus group in 2013 where I was told about a great new amazing vision that someone like myself, a  real person living with multiple complex needs, as a voice of real lived experience, to help others in this city (of Stoke).

Darren making speech at lectern

Who am I now, today?

Since becoming an expert citizen my life has become so much better, and I have achieved so much over the last 18 months – an NVQ level 3 Advice and Guidance, which to me, is the biggest achievement in my life apart from my children. Also I enrolled on an ICT level 2 Functional Skills, also completed my brighter futures foundation in support work and for the first time in my life I am looking forward to the future. Now I’ve been given the opportunity to share my story and experiences to help promote service change in the city.

Wow what a vision… that I Darren, Expert Citizen with a real opportunity to be able to give something back to the community off Stoke-on-Trent which for many years I helped to destroy.

I am one of the lucky ones who got the right support at the right time on my release from prison, support that has been tailor-made for myself, to me this is massively important. However I keep asking myself the question – where was this support all them years ago? We all need to remember we all experts in our own lives and not one cap fits all and we all need to remember to listen to the voices of our own expert citizens to help and make Stoke-on-Trent the lead city in supporting people with multiple complex needs. All of us today have the passion, the vision, the voice, the lived experience, to make a difference. I would like to ask you this question in your eyes – Who Am I Now Today?

YouTube of my presentation by Voices of Stoke

‘It’s about being true to yourself’

16 October 2014

Big Music Project Hub champion Sean Kinsley on what inspires him and why his work’s the real deal…

Rap musician Sean, 24, volunteers at The Big Music Project hub, The Street, where he organises gigs workshops and events. We caught up with Sean at The Big Music Project Live event in London.

Sean and guitarist performing on stage

As a Big Music Project champion, Sean stages events that use music to glue the community together.

“I get a lot out of The Big Music Project,” he says. “I like to help people through issues and I also like music and to be able to connect them is amazing.”

Scarborough-based The Street, holds regular gigs, runs recording sessions, workshops and a production course for young musicians and plans to add music video directing, fashion design and drama. It put on an event with Oxjam Music Festival, this Autumn, which spanned genres like hip hop, punk, acoustic, pop and grunge.

One thing Sean’s especially proud of helping is new recording artists find their feet.

“We’ve got some people whose self-esteem is really low,” he explains. “Getting them to do things like record a simple chorus, even if there’s nobody there, they find it very nerve-wracking. So I eke them into it in the studio by building their confidence.”

One person he’s helped recently played a gig at Moj

o’s Music Café in Scarborough. “That’s a pretty big thing because they’ve gone from being scared to even sing a note in front of people to doing gigs for 60 people. It was amazing.”

With his own music, authenticity is everything. “I rap about my life and the things that inspire me.” Shunning mainstream hip-hop fodder like girls, guns and gangsters, Sean raps about real people’s struggles. “I don’t rap about girls and clubbing because that would be lying. I’m in a committed relationship. I’m just a normal guy who feels for people who have it rougher than me. That’s what I write about.”

Rapper Sean holds up his award

One such person is a friend who felt pushed out by her mother’

s new boyfriend and ran away from home and lived rough. “She said things like that change you because people look at you and judge you. They don’t ask your story, but instantly think you’re a druggy, an alcoholic or a waste of space. I wrote a song about that.

Besides building confidence in new artists, Sean also uses music to help other young people cope with personal issues such as bullying.

He says The Big Music Project has come at the right time. “More people want to be involved in the music industry and not just on stage. More want to work backstage. You wouldn’t have the artist if you didn’t have the people helping out back stage, so it’s an amazing thing to see.”

At The Big Music Live London Sean spoke to the Big Lottery Fund about the live event, volunteering and his busy schedule.


The last of the four national Big Music Project Live events is in Belfast this  Saturday. They have attracted thousands of young people and major artists. But it doesn’t stop there. The Big Music Project is also running an internship and work-experience programme, including online listings and associated careers advice called The Big Music Project On Track Scheme for young people who want a career in music.

Follow @BigMusicUK and #BigMusic for the latest.

Extra money for Reaching Communities applicants

15 October 2014

a man does headstand on another mans head

Community groups are so busy doing their day-to-day work that they have little time or money left for their staff and trustees to learn new skills or focus on long-term goals, grant holders have told us.

So we’ve decided to offer extra money to organisations who are applying to our Reaching Communities programme to help them develop their skills, knowledge and confidence.

This money is available for all stage two applicants to Reaching Communities and stage three applicants to Reaching Communities buildings. You can ask for up to 10 per cent of the grant you’re applying for – up to £15,000. We’ll send you full details when we invite you to apply.

You don’t have to use this money just on staff involved in your Reaching Communities project. We want there to be a lasting benefit to your organisation, so we’d like you to use the money to look at your organisation as a whole. Can you think of areas of your work that could be a whole lot better with some extra support or training?

Group meeting at a tableIf you are just starting to plan your project, or you’re filling out a stage one form, you don’t need to worry about this yet. The money will be added to your grant if your stage two application is successful.

If you are completing a stage two application now, find out more by downloading the Building Capabilities guidance notes.


Find out more about our approach to supporting organisations to increase skills and confidence.

The Reveal

14 October 2014

It struck me one day – why should artists that have a disability or condition, such as Down syndrome be treated any differently to other artists? We all have our eccentricities, it’s what makes us unique, especially creatively _MG_4743-200x200minded souls – they thrive on being different! Why therefore, should a piece of work created by an individual with Down syndrome be given any less, in regards to respect, an honest critique or it’s worth…. The Big Lottery Fund agreed with me and my project Heart & Sold was awarded £10,000 for a special event._MG_4743-full

In 2007 we had a son, Max, born with Down syndrome. I spent the first two years of his life in part time educational counselling courses. This eventually led to an MA in Art Psychotherapy of which the first academic year brought all my demons to the surface, through necessary self-study. As hard as this was, it allowed me to quickly come to terms with my son’s condition. I deferred due to the fact I wanted to focus on enjoying him and his older sister (they now both have a younger sister too).

Content as a full time mum, I soon found a gap once Max started school. This allowed me precious time to reflect on previous years, especially my short time analysing the various art works produced by those with a condition, disability or mental illness during the first year of my MA. That’s when it struck me; art comes from within and shouldn’t be judged on conditioning, prejudice or wrongful perception. In fact, it shouldn’t be judged on outward or inward appearances at all, but on whether or not you like what you see.

My project, Heart & Sold, was created specifically for artists that have Down syndrome. It’s an arts organisation established to help celebrate, support and promote an international collective of creative talent, which now includes artists from America, Nigeria, Australia and the U.K.

We ran a small pilot exhibition in 2012 and its success led to the creation of a fully interactive website, allowing the public the opportunity to read about the artists and purchase limited edition prints of their works. A great PR opportunity then came when the Duke & Duchess of Cambridge accepted one of our artist’s original works for Prince George’s nursery last year. This made headlines around the world, firmly establishing us as a professional arts organisation and advocate for disability art.

_MG_5130-halfThis success gave us the confidence and ambition to organise something special – the Heart & Sold exhibition launch! It was called The Reveal and  included original works selected from our international collective of artists, but it needed funding…that’s where the Big Lottery Fund came in.

Their belief in our organisation enabled us to produce a professional arts exhibition in the heart of London, allowing our largely unknown and unappreciated artists, the platform they so deserved – to create, educate, inspire, sell and most importantly promote the idea that art is from the heart and has nothing to do with the condition. Find out more about Heart & Sold here.

On track with Build-it

7 October 2014

Build-it is a Big Lottery-funded programme led by London Youth. It will give oasis1,500 young people in the London Borough of Lambeth the chance to learn construction skills and get work experience through building and repairing social housing and other facilities across the borough.

The film features the Right Track project – part of the Oasis Children’s Venture charity in Stockwell. Build-it has played a vital role in refurbishing a facility popular with young people from the area.

The film includes interviews with Build-it participant Jamie Simpson,  Build-it delivery officer Claude Murray, and Right Track manager Jean-Pierre Moore.



For more information on the work of London Youth call Abdullah Mahmood, Communications Support Officer on  020 7549 8815.

London Youth supports a network of over 400 community youth organisations, reaching 75,000 young people across every London borough.


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