Growing Groups

Working for the Voluntary Sector in Hastings

Do they get it?

I’ve just had one of those classic email requests from the East Sussex County Council, asking if I can shunt four documents round for them, to advertise a grant opportunity for young people.  Apart from simply seeing email as a replacement for the postal service and a way to save on stamps, it really misses out on the concept that the VCS is communicating with people in a range of ways rather than just pressing the ‘forward’ button.

The message itself  says ” this fund is available for young people to apply for grant funds to improve local youth facilities – it is not a fund for adults to apply from”.

Excusing the fact that you apply TO rather than FROM, this just seems to fail to use all the resources that could be used to put the message out.

Grant opportunity – great, but why can’t they use their own website to post the documents and just send us a link to include in e newsletters, our own website, blogs etc (I could have even included it here!).

Putting aside the fact that an increasing number of younger people now look on email as being ‘for old people’  it would just be so much more effective in getting the message out (and responses back)!

August 12, 2008 Posted by | voluntary | | 2 Comments

Websites n stuff

I went to soggy Brighton on Saturday to buy some bits of shiny anodised metal – now sold as part of the essential equipment to go with every outdoor hobby that features on the magazine rack in W H Smiths.

On Sunday I went for a clamber at Harrisons Rocks,  playing on Far Left, Elementary and Unclimbed Wall. These climbs are all graded around 5B and 5C which in truth makes them a good grade or two beyond me without quite a lot of tight rope. Mind you I suspect they are a good bit easier if you,ve done them before and you know where each of the holds are.

On Monday I uploaded some stuff to our work website on request from Rose ( Volunteer Centre Organiser at Hastings Voluntary Action ) who is gradually assembling a good practice guide for Volunteer Using Organisations.  Also, with a bit of help from SCIP I managed to rig up SyncMyCal with our work website. So we now use a Google Calendar to publicise events as the first stage towards shairing the same sort of process with the other Councils For Voluntary Service in East Sussex.

August 12, 2008 Posted by | climbing, voluntary | Leave a comment

Sync my Voluntary Sector

I’ve been fiddling about with a bit of software called ‘SyncMyCal’ this morning.  This is the tool identitied to help all the Councils for Voluntary Service (CVS) in East Sussex to provide one single web based calendar for training and event information.

SyncMyCal is a widget that sits with your Outlook Calendar Toolbars and allows multiple users of a google calendar to update their own entries at the press of a button. Its been possible to upload a single Outlook calendar to Google page as a freebee for some time – without any extra software – but the problem comes when you want to update existing information (because this is when you want some items deleted, some added and others amended).

Now with The final google calendar can be stuck in any web page

The AskCaspar website presently holds a copy of the google calendar which all East Sussex CVS’s will be able to send information too, but it’s pritty easy to past the same calendar into any of the websites of the contributing Councils for Voluntary Service.

I’ve also had a quick go at this on the Hastings Voluntary Action website in preparation for the glorious day.

August 8, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

What comes around, goes around

I’ve been uploading lots of interesting stuff to the Hastings Voluntary Action website recently.

My boss has done a paper – which I’ve just uploaded – on the implications for the voluntary sector of the shift towards service commissioning as opposed to grant aid. The paper speaks for itself and as a sensible employee I never pass comment on my bosses work on line.

That said, reading the report reminded me of some of the territory I visited in my earlier life as a Councillor on the good Borough of Hastigns. Following the Cabinet/Scrutiny reorganisation of Local Government – an event doubtless etched on everyone’s consciousness (not) – I ended up in a fairly full-time occupation as the trusty Cabinet Member for Neigbourhoods, Community and Housing.

But painfully aware that no local authority is an island – except of course for the Isle of White – I  felt it was important to have an involvment in some national organisations trying to grapple with bigger issues. For me this meant playing a an active part on the Executive of an organisation called the Local Government Information Unit.  If you’ve never heard of the LGIU (why should you), among other things,  it is an impressive powerhouse of policy wonks who have made some compelling arguments about the greater freedoms and flexibilities needed by local government to respond to local needs and stimulate innovation in local service delivery. At the time those arguments helped to shape much of the light touch settlement that has since been established between local and central government.

Now that I’ve left elected office and moved back to the voluntary sector (a  sort of poacher turned pheasant move) I prefer to stay away from all that high profile championing of the sector stuff. Since work life is infinitely better hold up in the attic (rather like the couple in Beetlejuice), where you can fiddle about with a good database / newsletter / website.

Anyway,  viewed from the attic, it looks to me,  like those who are charged with championing the sector are now going to have to convey similar arguments to local councils that councils once made to central government.

Its my birthday today, so Kate bought me some Friends. Yes yes, I know what your going to say, “you cant buy friendship John” , but you can buy these.

August 7, 2008 Posted by | climbing, Hastings, voluntary | 2 Comments