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Dudley community and voluntary sector has a wide range of services that support Dudley citizens. The voluntary and community sector has a vital role to play in connecting people and communities to achieve resilience. This role was particularly recognised through the covid pandemic and currently in addressing cost of living issues.

The Voluntary Sector Innovation Fund, introduced in 2017, tested a new way of investing in the community and voluntary sector. It encouraged community-centred approaches, collaboration between groups, and sustainable ways of working which built on existing community assets. An outcomes framework was developed following a borough wide storytelling exercise which provided powerful examples of the contribution people and groups make to their communities and the things which were most important to their health and wellbeing. These were:

  • Increased sense of belonging and community – feeling part of something
  • Increased sense of social connection to others – being together and staying in touch
  • Increased sense of autonomy and control – having choice and being able to make my own decisions
  • Increased opportunity to contribute and give back – getting involved and contributing
  • Increased sense of purpose – having a reason to get up in the morning
  • Increased opportunities to learn – sharing skills and knowledge and learning more
  • Increased numbers of people being active – getting out and about

Through the Voluntary Sector Innovation Fund 47 projects and around 90 different community and voluntary sector groups received investment totalling £3 million. In addition, 38 council officers were trained and supported to work alongside project leads to develop their knowledge and skills to enable them to work differently with the community and voluntary sector in the future.

The Voluntary Sector Innovation Fund was based on a commitment to work differently with our community and voluntary sector and the approach taken to stimulate innovation, invite and assess project applications, allocate investment and work alongside community and voluntary sector project leads was based on an approach previously developed for grassroots community projects, called ‘Make it Happen’. This initiative has been running since 2017 and provides a valuable blueprint and learning for other teams and programmes seeking to invest in the community and voluntary sector. These include the ‘Your Home Your Forum’ community grants which are considered by elected members, the Connecting Older People’s Fund administered by Public Health and in the future, potentially national funding such as the UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF) which is administered locally. Working in this way in the future will help to ensure that investment achieves the best possible outcomes and supports a strong, cohesive community and voluntary sector.

During 2022/23, the ICB has commissioned, in conjunction with local partners, a number of schemes though the voluntary and community services sector, designed to address health inequalities. This has been done on a non-recurrent basis and these schemes will be reviewed to see if they can be made sustainable in 2023/24.

Subject to the availability of further resources, the ICB and partners will seek to commission further schemes in 2023/24.

Healthwatch Dudley has teamed up with local organisations to train an army of information champions to give community information. See Community Information Point Network for more information.

Dudley Council and health partners have a common goal to promote independence, reduce dependency and support more people to remain living in their own homes for as long as possible with appropriate support. For more information on voluntary and community services with Dudley please visit the community information directory.

Adult Social Care Voluntary Sector

Adult Social Care Voluntary Sector Spend 2023-24

Healthwatch £218,360
ULO Peer Advocacy £50,774
Homelessness £313,370
Domestic Abuse £299,810
Carers services £337,000
Voluntary sector partnership service (Advocacy, Advice, Direct Payment Support, Wellbeing) £1,200,000
MH Prevention services £513,420
Total £2,932,736

Below are a few examples of recent and current commissioning activity with the Voluntary and Community Sector. For enquiries, please see further information section at the end of this document.

Mental Health Prevention Services

As part of this commitment Dudley Council commissions a service within the Dudley voluntary and community sector to provide a service for Dudley people to develop the skills to self -manage their mental health with the goal to remain living independently in the community and reducing the need to access higher level statutory or crisis level services.

During 2023 these services will be retendered to ensure appropriate support continues to be available to those in need within the borough.

A New Model of Combined Prevention and Support Services

Dudley completed a tender in 2021 for an innovative partnership, thought to be one of the first of its kind in the country where a suite of services is brought together to operate as a single entity to boost the health and wellbeing support available to residents.

The partnership brings services together under one umbrella including health and wellbeing information and advice, advocacy and direct payments support, self-management for people living with a long-term health condition and a system-wide approach to tackling loneliness and isolation which means Dudley residents of all ages have only one point of contact regardless of how many services they may need. The contract and model work of the basis of a flexible approach that can move resource according to demand and priorities and actively promote innovation.

Service for People at Risk of Falls

Dudley Council currently commissions a service within the voluntary and community sector to provide a service to build strength, balance and mobility in people aged 65 years or more.

The aim of the service is to reduce risk of falls and support people to recover from a fall. Hence, reducing the need to rely on NHS or adult social care services. A further outcome is improving people’s social connections by attending a long term programme of intervention.

The service forms part of the Dudley Integrated Falls Prevention Pathway. Dudley Council recognise the impact of strength and balance-based exercises in adults and older adults in the prevention of falls.

Service for People at Risk of Becoming Homeless

Dudley Council currently commissions the provision of accommodation with housing related support for adult single people and couples primarily aged over 18 years of age who are priority and non-priority homeless, at risk of becoming homeless or sleeping rough who need immediate access to housing and support to prevent homelessness.

The goal of the service is to prepare residents for move on to live independently in their own tenancy.

The service facilitates a severe weather service that can be used over-night, upon request from Dudley Council, by providing a warm, safe seated area, washing facilities and a warm drink for people who require overnight shelter which is operational 365 nights per year.

In 2023 Dudley Council will retender this service to ensure continued appropriate support is available to those in need within the borough.

Domestic Abuse

Dudley Council currently commissions the provision of refuge and satellite accommodation in Dudley Borough with housing related support, floating support in the community and a sanctuary service for people experiencing or at risk of domestic abuse in Dudley Borough.

The goal of the service is to support those affected by domestic abuse to recognise and cope with their experience and prepare residents for move on to independent tenancies elsewhere or remain safely in their own home.

In commissioning and retendering services Dudley Council is taking on board feedback from the sector around sustainability and how best to support the voluntary and community sector.

Where there is the opportunity to re-tender services the decision is often made to implement longer contracts which help to attract a higher calibre of staff, promote stability and staff retention, in turn enabling providers to build up effective and influential teams especially important with smaller organisations as the impact of losing staff can be significant. A longer contract also allows Dudley Council and voluntary sector organisations the opportunity to build those important trusting relationships and maximise resources and or investment.

Poverty

Dudley Council recognise the detrimental impact of the increase in the cost of living on people most at risk of poverty.

Dudley Council has developed a Strategic Mitigating Poverty Partnership (SMMP) that includes both statutory and voluntary sector partners to help Dudley residents who experience the greatest socio-economic deprivation. Dudley Council have commissioned and assigned funding to many projects.

Dudley Council have supported organisations tackling poverty via Action Poverty grants (£50,000 has been allocated to six community groups), to provide additional capacity and build on existing initiatives to mitigate the effects of poverty.

In 2022, £150,000 was funded to CA Dudley and Wolverhampton (£75,000 from Black Country Integrated Care Board, and £75,000 from Public Health).

Dudley Council have partnered with Wolverhampton and Dudley Citizens Advice Bureau, to offer advice and guidance to community on reducing expenditure, saving money, maximising income, and energy advice to residents in order to keep fuel costs low as possible.

Household Support Fund has been distributed to residents most in need via these Cost-of-Living Support Hubs, as well as foodbank vouchers, fuel vouchers and referrals made to BC ICB for support with digital device loan scheme and digital skills support.

Four hubs were set up, of which two opened as of 30th Jan 2023, one opened in April, and one will open in May 2023:

  • Dudley town
  • Brierley Hill
  • Halesowen
  • Stourbridge

The cost-of-living support hubs are supported by a mixture of paid roles and volunteers, some of which have lived experience, which has enriched the way they can support people with empathy and compassion and are now thriving in these roles.

The data reported from CAB (30th January 2023 – 31st March 2023) shows a high level of need for residents:

  • 70% single people or single people with dependent or non-dependent children
  • 58% have priority debts – they are behind on rent, council tax or utilities
  • 73% have a prepayment meter for their utilities
  • 32% are aged 18-34
  • 32% are aged 34-44
  • 36% are aged over 45
  • 26% of clients do not have access to technology
  • 50% of client have had to use other products when menstruating because they could not afford period products

Dudley Council has also supported Black Country Foodbank. Dudley has 12 Foodbanks, and this the highest number of Foodbanks across the three boroughs (Dudley, Walsall, and Sandwell).

There was a 29% increase in the number of people supported in 2022 (from 2021).

  • In 2022, Dudley Foodbanks offered support to 18,978 residents, 34% of those supported being children
  • 126 tonnes of food
  • 252,632 meals, which averaged to 973 meals a day

The data shows a clear need for local residents, and that preventing and mitigating the impact of poverty will require a system level approach. Dudley Council will work with all system partners to prevent poverty and reduce the lifelong impact poverty can have.

Key Message

Dudley Council and partners will continue to support the voluntary sector, promoting and recognising the valuable contribution the sector makes to the citizens of Dudley.

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