Welcome to the new edition of BEN's newsletter specifically created for you, BEN's volunteers. inVOLve has been produced to communicate and inform you about a wide variety of news, both within BEN and in the wider community. The newsletter has had a complete makeover with the hope that it will be a more effective dialogue between BEN and its volunteering community.
BEN would like greater two way communication with you, our volunteers, so please do use this as an opportunity to get in touch or to voice your opinions and views, or even to contribute your own article. This is truly your volunteer newsletter!
Further details about how to get in touch are detailed at the end of the newsletter.
Government reintroduces British Empire medal to thank Volunteers
In October 2011, David Cameron announced the revival of The British Empire Medal (BEM) in line with the government's quest to establish ‘Big Society Britain'. The medal will be reintroduced to the Queen's Jubilee Honours list this year, around 20 years after it was scrapped by John Major's government back in 1993.
The reason behind reintroducing the BEM is to redress the present culture of local community work (including volunteering) largely going unrecognised, and to support the current push to get more people involved in volunteering in their local and national communities.
Nicknamed the ‘working class gong'; the reintroduction of the medal has not escaped controversy. Public opinion appears to be divided, with many hailing it as a step in the right direction while others believe the reference to Empire is now outdated and inappropriate. There are concerns over the divisions it could cause within society, with many asking why a new medal could not have been created, as opposed to harking back to days of Empire and class divisions; as this medal appears to be doing. Individuals will not have the medal bestowed upon them by the Queen, unlike the other medals distributed in the Queen's honours list, but will have to make do with a Lord-Lieutenant from their local authority.
What can be said is that it will enable hundreds of volunteers and community champions to be given a well-deserved pat on the back. Whether this medal can truly be seen as a step forward in recognizing the work of individuals in their local communities remains to be seen.
Introduction of the Public Services Bill signifies importance of Volunteering
Many voluntary organisations already struggle when trying to procure services for their development and survival, with a daily fight to illustrate the value and worth that volunteers and the voluntary sector bring to our communities across the UK. However, help may be at hand in the form of a new Bill being passed by Parliament.
The Public Services (Social Value) Bill asks local authorities to consider the economic, social and environmental impact of organisations and groups when commissioning and procuring services. This will be of great assistance for those who rely on funding in order to operate. With many organisations finding that their funding is being cut, this Bill brings about a welcome change to the way public authorities decide who is most in need of such funding.
The funds for volunteering still do not match the rhetoric for the Big Society. According to the Institute of Volunteer Research, Volunteer Centres lost an average of 12% of their local authority funding. The Public Services Bill could not have come at a more opportune time, but whether this changes the balance of funding for voluntary organisations is yet to be seen.
So how do these changes affect BEN? Being a national charity with a dispersed and regionally based support base, we rely on the help of local volunteer centres to source and support volunteers in our work. Without these hubs of help, placing volunteers into our work, whether as a BEN Friend or in one of our Residential Centres, would make the task far more difficult. Volunteer centres also enable local individuals, looking for volunteering opportunities, to be placed with us. For BEN, continuing to include volunteers from our local, national and industry communities into our work is essential. Therefore, keeping our local volunteer centres open is of paramount importance.
Major changes are set to take place at our Lynwood Care Home in Sunninghill, with the announcement of a new state of the art Care village to be built in its place. Plans have been approved by local planning authorities for the new village to be built on the existing Lynwood site and it is hoped that the development will begin in the Autumn.
In an announcement to staff, BEN's Chief Executive, David Main, said ‘This is a massive step forward for Lynwood, and the whole of BEN, and I want to thank all of you for helping us to reach this point. The fact that local councillors appreciate the excellent care that is provided to residents in Lynwood, in spite of the ageing buildings, is a testament to the dedication of our team at Lynwood.
We're one very significant step forward towards realising our dreams for Lynwood. Let's celebrate that fact!'
Keep up to date with any news on the BEN website.
Citroen UK Trainees lend a helping hand
Being able to remain mobile and independent is important for the residents at Lynwood Care Centre. They like nothing more than to get out into the grounds. A group of Trainees from Citroen UK in Slough made this possible for a greater number of the residents by designing and building moveable raised flower beds.
The Trainees used their newly acquired skills to source materials from local businesses and put together the beds, donating the end product to Lynwood for use by the residents.
The residents are now able to tend to their pots and plants with ease and move them to areas where they can be viewed at their best. BEN would like to extend its sincere thanks to the trainees from Citroen UK for their hard work and dedication in completing this project.
BEN Wins Best Companies Accolade
We are proud to announce BEN has been awarded a 2-star rating in the Sunday Times Best Companies to Work for 2012. The award which placed BEN as one of the country's best not-for-profit organisations was presented to HR Director, Sara Howard at a special ceremony by Best Companies Director, Glenn Dimelow. In total 1082 organisations entered for this year's awards and places were determined based on employee feedback on areas ranging from leadership and management vision to wellbeing and personal development.
Commenting on BEN's success, HR Director, Sara Howard said, "This is the first year that BEN has entered these awards and to have been placed at all is a great achievement. To receive a 2-star rating is really thrilling and places BEN in the top one third of participating organisations. It's made all the more pleasing by the fact it's based on a staff satisfaction survey which shows that our colleagues think that BEN is an outstanding organisation to work for." The Sunday Times Best Companies list is an annual celebration of the best small, mid-size and big workplaces in the UK. Employees from participating organisations are surveyed based on a rigorous methodology.
Mary Cooper - Trolley Shop Manager
What is your volunteering role at BEN?
I am the Trolley Shop Manager at Lynwood Care Home.
What does an average volunteering day look like for you?
Being the Trolley Shop Manager involves a lot of organisation. I am in charge of buying the items to be sold from the Trolley shop and making sure that our stocks are replenished for the next time we go round the home. I have to go to the supermarket to buy the items that the residents will need. We try to purchase items that will sell and also which will enable us to make a profit for the League of Friends. This profit is reinvested back into Lynwood, enabling them to buy hoists and chairs and other equipment that they need.
It takes around 4 hours on a Tuesday to make the round with the Trolley Shop. I have a group of helpers who help me with this. I also go shopping for the items every fortnight at the local supermarket.
If a resident requires an item that we have not got in stock, I'll happily purchase this for them for the next time the Trolley shop makes its rounds. I find that those residents who do not have relatives greatly benefit from the Trolley Shop and I'm always more than happy to help them in whatever way I am able.
Why is the Trolley shop needed?
The Trolley Shop is there to provide a service for the residents. We are able to provide residents with items that they would like to purchase. We are especially there for those residents who have no relatives or who may not be able to get out to buy these items themselves.
How did you become a volunteer?
My father used to be a resident at Lynwood. He was at Lynwood for 10 years and absolutely loved it. It was through his connection with BEN that I was approached by the League of Friends and asked to join them. A number of years ago, the trolley shop changed hands and responsibility fell to the League of Friends. I was asked to take over the running of the shop, and it's been 8 years since that day!
What do you like most about your role?
Having the opportunity to help people; to show them compassion. I find being able to provide residents with the things they need very rewarding. It can actually be quite fun!
Mary is currently looking for somebody to take over the running of the Trolley Shop. Mary would love to carry on volunteering as the Trolley Shop manager, but unfortunately finds that she is now unable to cope with the physical side of the role. If you would be interested in meeting with Mary to discuss the role or would like to find out more we would love to hear from you. You can contact the Volunteer Office on 01344 294719 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
There are a number of ways to get involved in BEN Events from exhibitions to challenge events.
Welfare - BEN Friends
BEN Friends are needed in the following areas:
Aberdeen, Aberystwyth, Cheshire, Glasgow, Inverness, Lancashire, Liverpool, North Cornwall, Northern Ireland, Norwich, Preston and Blackpool, St Helens, Southport, Wirral, Wrexham and York.
Welfare Committee Member (predominantly Lynwood based)
Residential Centre Volunteers
Alex House (Southport) - Receptionist
Arthur Wilson (Coventry) - Minibus Escort and Day Centre Help
Lynwood (Sunninghill) - Treetops Befriender
Town Thorns (Rugby) - Activities Assistants
For further information about any of the volunteering opportunities, or to register your interest, please contact the Volunteer Office at email@example.com or call 01344 294719.
Consultation on Criminal Record Checks
As many of BEN's volunteers will know one of the biggest potential barriers to volunteering can be the need for a CRB check to be processed.
A recent review by the Criminal Records Bureau has set in place plans to make certain changes to the CRB service. The proposed idea for a new ‘portable scheme' will enable individuals to volunteer for more than one organization at a time, without having to have a CRB processed for each position (as is currently required).
It will also mean that if a person approaches BEN to volunteer, we can check their portable online status to determine whether a new CRB check is needed, thus cutting down on both administration and waiting time for the volunteer.
However, it is still unclear whether volunteers will have to pay for this new service. The Home Office has stated that, although the normal one off CRB checks will remain free for volunteers, it is possible that there may be a fee for the online service.
BEN will keep you up to date on any changes that take place which will affect our volunteers. To find out more about the changes being discussed, click here.
How would you feel about paying for a portable online check? If you have an opinion, why not write in to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Update on Volunteer Expense Rate
BEN has always felt that it is correct for our volunteers to be reimbursed for any expenses they may incur during their time volunteering with BEN. As you may be aware, BEN's fuel reimbursement rates are based on the HMRC advisory fuel rates. These are produced quarterly and are subject to change.
In line with new HMRC guidance, therefore, the rate at which BEN reimburses volunteer mileage will change from 22.5p per mile to 22p per mile with effect from 1st July 2012.
This is revised to reflect recent price reductions.
If you have any questions relating to this or any other aspect of volunteering expenses, please do not hesitate to contact us at email@example.com or on 01344 294719.
As part of the new newsletter, we want to make sure that the news and views from BEN's volunteer community are heard. We therefore invite you to write in to the Volunteer Office with any stories, news or opinions that you may have about volunteering with BEN or on more general topics. We will try to include as many as we can in the newsletter and hope that you will use this as a chance to help improve volunteering at BEN and help us to celebrate the successes that BEN has.
To submit an item to the newsletter, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or send via post to: Volunteer Office, Jaguar House, Rise Road, Sunninghill, Berkshire, SL5 0AJ.
We look forward to hearing from you!