Catch22 is the lead consortium partner for Realising Ambition, a UK-wide £25m five year programme funded by the Big Lottery Fund, which invests in projects that help young people to fulfil their potential and avoid pathways into offending.
As the deadline for applying to be UK portfolio lead for Our Environment Our Future approaches, Ruth Marriott, Realising Ambition Programme Manager at Catch22, shares her top lessons on providing programme management support to projects.
- Spend time building relationships. This is the key to everything else, whether it is with your fellow consortium partners or the projects delivering interventions across the UK. This means you need to invest in building them at the start of the programme. Nothing can beat face-to-face contact. It shows you have the willingness to travel and understand each project’s context, builds relationships quickly and means that when difficulties arise projects are more willing to come and talk to you about them.
- Balance delivery with learning. As the Programme Managers, you need to ensure a balanced contract culture. One where organisations are supported to reach agreed delivery targets whilst honouring the spirit of the programme (in this case building an evidence base of what works and what can be replicated across the UK).
- Analyse local area knowledge. Some partners might have an unrealistic estimation of demand; meaning there may be a shortfall in meeting planned delivery numbers in the first year. Sometimes projects struggle to engage the eligible beneficiaries because there is insufficient data about the level of need or the distribution of need in target areas.
- Allow sufficient set up time. It is important to build in sufficient time when replicating in a new area. This includes gaining a greater understanding of the area, particularly where local authorities are the deliverers and funding cuts locally may impact their capacity to deliver. In the worst case scenario, projects may have to withdraw due to an inability to deliver or renegotiate new replication areas. You need to be prepared for this.
- Understand the key issues in delivering the services. You, as the lead organisation, may be the only partner in the consortium that has direct experience of delivering services to the target cohort – in this case children and young people. This gives you a unique understanding of what the day to day issues are, how they can affect delivery, how those issues can be resolved, and means you can offer support to meet the challenges. It also gives that level of credibility that your organisation ‘have been there and done it’. As a social business delivering public services, we understand the sector and its current issues well. This actively compliments the expertise and experience of the consortium, i.e. organisation health (Young Foundation), data collection (Substance) and model fidelity and programme evaluation (Social Research Unit).
Further information on applying to be the UK portfolio lead on Our Environment Our Future, the £30m Big Lottery Fund programme which is set to support young people to shape their local environment and secure careers in the green economy, can be found here.
In this guest blog Barney Mynott, Public Affairs Officer for NAVCA, talks about a series of Transforming Local Infrastructure workshops.
Over the past month I have been at five workshops that NAVCA have held to talk with local infrastructure charities about the difference Transforming Local Infrastructure (TLI) funding made. The workshops aimed to maximise the learning from TLI, making sure that a good idea from South London can be used in Cheshire and Devon benefits from ideas formed in Leicester.
The workshops have been incredibly creative; at times I’ve been drowning in brainwaves. Now the workshops are completed it is possible to pull ideas together into some common themes.
- TLI gave people space. It allowed people to take a step back, think about what is possible and do things they otherwise wouldn’t have been able to.
- You need to be in the right place to make the most of opportunities. It was said that sometimes you need to ‘just do it’. Rather than just doing funded work you need to take a risk and do something unfunded to be in a better position to win paid work.
- Infrastructure charities are in an ideal place to broker support from local businesses and their knowledge of local needs can maximise impact. The majority of support available is in kind (such as providing pro bono help or providing venues) rather than cash.
- Localism increases the desire of local statutory bodies to consult with local communities but without the necessary resources. Low cost representation solutions are needed and TLI provided some solutions.
- There is agreement that consortia can help smaller charities get commissioned but different approaches to doing this. In some areas partnerships were formed to look for contracts, in other areas consortia are built in quickly response to contracts.
- Many organisations are introducing/increasing charging. The debate is about what sells and what will need subsidising. How can you make sure that groups with no money or emerging groups can still get support?
- People have an affinity with their local area. A lot of areas successfully developed local giving schemes to support smaller local charities who struggle to compete with national brands.
- Finally, many coming to the workshops were from areas which didn’t get TLI funding. They brought their own ideas and thoughts about ways for infrastructure to evolve.
Voluntary sector infrastructure has existed for over 100 years and it is as innovative as ever in finding new ways to meet the needs of local charities and community groups.
NAVCA has learnt a lot from these workshops and we are putting these ideas along with our learning from the End of Grant reports into six themed documents. These reports will give information about what has been tried by different TLI partnerships and help us understand what has worked and what hasn’t. We will make these available for everyone. TLI funding has finished but, as the workshops have shown, the work continues.
Last October we launched the UK-wide programme Basic Online Skills. We invited applications from lead organisations who felt they could improve the basic online skills of people who rarely or never use the internet.
The first stage of the application process has now closed; we were hugely impressed at the range and quality of the applications we received.
Of the 33 who submitted applications, seven have been invited to develop their proposals further. They have been asked to consider the local needs of people not engaging with the internet and this is where local support could come in.
If you are an organisation interested in becoming a local delivery partner please follow this link to find out more on the Big Lottery Fund website. Each of the seven lead applicants have produced a one-page strategy document that outlines their project and they urge you to contact them directly to find out more; contact details are included in each of the strategy documents.
The people we will help with this funding are currently without basic online skills; they might not have the ability to safely interact online and evaluate websites they can trust, they might lack the confidence to apply for a job online or send and receive emails to keep up with loved ones.
Some of the proposals are targeting specific groups such as older people, social housing tenants, people with sensory loss, the homeless and families with disabled children. Do you have experience with these groups?
Please follow the link to find out more and for the opportunity to be part of a UK-wide movement to get more people connected to the internet and each other.
Why are we investing in this programme?
The Big Lottery Fund is a founding member of Go ON UK, with whom we are developing this programme to encourage and support more people to use computers and the internet.
Nearly one in five (9.8 million) adults in the UK don’t have the basic online skills to fully benefit from the internet, and around 6.7 million have never used a computer or the internet at all. This means that some of the most vulnerable people in society are missing out on the many benefits of the digital world.
Ever wondered who is on the end of that phone when you ring Big Lottery Fund? Just who is it sending you that reply to your email? When you contact us through our live chat feature, is that really a person typing back to you?
Well, if you call our switchboard or helpline number, send an email to our enquiries inbox or connect via webchat, you will get through to one of the helpful, happy and very much human members of the England Big Advice team.
Based in Newcastle, we are a team of ten funding officers that combine a wealth of experience and knowledge gained from working across our funding programmes. We offer pre-application information and advice to people and organisations thinking about applying for funding. We want to make sure that people understand what they need to do before they apply and don’t waste their time filling in applications that are not suitable for their projects.
We deal with around 300 calls, 40 emails and an increasing number of webchats each day and get asked lots of interesting questions, from where to find an application form to how to make an application stronger.
When should you contact the Big Advice team?
The first port of call for anyone interested in finding funding is our website. The website contains information on all of the different funding options available including detailed guidance notes and access to application forms.
We can identify if you are eligible to apply, point you to the most suitable funding option and answer specific questions about our programmes. Whether you have an application form ready to go, or want to know if your good idea is something that lottery funding will support, the team can provide feedback on how ‘application ready’ you are, once you have reviewed our guidance and have a project idea in mind.
What if Big Advice can’t answer my question?
Then we will know someone who can! We can get back to you with a speedy response, or put you in touch with an expert in another team. For advice on other funding available in your area, it may be worthwhile speaking to a local funding advisor or support agency. Details of a local contact can be found at the NAVCA website at its member’s directory page www.navca.org.uk/directory.
Dean T Huggins, programme manager from Sustainable Sunderland, explains in this blog how they marked Climate Week.
Sunderland Black and Minority Ethnic Network Limited (SBMEN) is the lead partner for the Sustainable Sunderland project and works with several other local organisations to deliver their Communities Living Sustainably (CLS) project.
This project focuses on energy saving and we target in particular four wards with the highest levels of fuel poverty in the city. After engaging local people, voluntary groups and businesses, we introduced the concept of ‘One Planet Living’ which we are promoting to local residents to help them reduce their carbon footprints and live more sustainably.
During Climate Week we promoted our work and ongoing activities to a wide audience through events including an Environmental Showcase. Organised by the International Community Organisation of Sunderland, and hosted by Sunderland University and the University Students’ Union, we used the event to share information about our partnership and talk to students about how they can be involved with the work that we’re doing.
We think that students will be good ambassadors for energy saving and One Planet Living, and can help spread the word to other young people. We can also give them opportunities to take on projects that relate directly to their studies. For example, we are recruiting students from the MSc Environmental Science course to do projects around behaviour change and climate change and currently have an MA Marketing student helping us to develop our marketing processes.
Many students from the university, mainly those studying environmental sciences, attended the event to hear presentations on a range of topics from experts in the field. They also had the opportunity to meet people representing a range of organisations, including Sunderland City Council’s recycling officer. Sunderland University are now reviewing the feedback from the event which was successful in drawing around 50 students and lecturers during the day.
At Sustainable Sunderland we’ve been using our project to engage with a range of people of all ages including students. We’ve found many young people are keen to find out more about how they can protect their environment which is why I think it’s great that Big Lottery Fund is going to help young people to do just that through its new programme, Our Environment Our Future.
We, along with our partners all agreed that through this event and Climate Week we had raised awareness of work on climate change, particularly with young people, and we now plan to organise something similar again next year.
Sustainable Sunderland is one of twelve projects supported by the CLS programme which aims to encourage behaviour change among individuals and communities so they can cope better with the environmental, economic and social impacts of a changing climate.
Access to Nature, which is run by Natural England and funded by the Big Lottery Fund through the Changing Spaces programme, has run over 100 successful projects since it launched in 2010.
In this blog Kerry Rowe, Education Coordinator at Lawrence Weston Community Farm, tells us about an imaginative event recently held to engage the local community.
Lawrence Weston Community Farm runs a community-managed Access to Nature project, Discovering Nature, in the Bristol area. The farm aims to improve the quality of life for local people and its service-users through a range of innovative activities.
To celebrate the culmination of our Discovering Nature project we held a special event to give the volunteers and our supporters a big thank you for their hard work. We invited Whispering Woods group to hold a magical event which included fireside tales, aerial artistry, music, dancing and twilight adventures in our newly opened Water Vole Woodland.
A programme of activities led up to the big event, including a woodland trapeze workshop for children, storytelling and lantern making. Four young people received training from Knowle West Media Centre giving them the skills needed to act as our press photographers on the night.
At the event itself a cold and frosty evening saw 80 people gather, wrapped up warmly. As the crowd waited for the event to begin, quiet speculation grew about what the evening held in store. We started by circling around the fire. Young children sat on knees and older ones were already mesmerised by the jumping flames. The scene was set by the storyteller and then off we trailed, following huge fire beacons into the woodland.
Stepping over a bridge lit by candles we felt a shiver of excitement as up in the trees a beautiful figure swung on a trapeze strung between the branches. The woodland, so familiar to us in the day with its chirruping birds, was suddenly magical and mystical. Our journey around the woodland was interspersed with whispering storytellers, musicians and wonderful tree high performers leading us on a story of twists and turns.
The finale drew many gasps of awe as the performer bound in silk ropes danced high above our heads in the trees. The evening is still fondly remembered by everyone that participated and has inspired many to make return visits to the farm and the woodland.
To find out more about Lawrence Weston Community Farm check out their YouTube film.
The Access to Nature funding for Lawrence Weston Community Farm comes to an end in March 2014. The farm has recently been granted £456,544 from the Big Lottery Fund through the Reaching Communities programme. The funding will be used to build a Community Café and Training Facility. It is envisaged that construction will start in May 2014 and that it will be open for business towards the end of the year.