Voluntary Sector Briefing

We are all aware of the cost of living crisis and many of our member organisations are working with individuals and families struggling to pay for essentials to live, including food and utilities. A number of our member organisations can provide support to people in need, including benefits checks, information and advice as well as access to emergency food packs and toiletries. Please click here to see a list of member organisations or contact Christine on 01727 743018 for more information.

Communities 1st are continuing to work with our partners at Community Help Hertfordshire, as well as a county wide network of voluntary, community, faith and social enterprise organisations, to collate a list of support resources for Ukrainian guests and hosts. If your organisation is offering support, or bringing guests and hosts together, do let us know. If your organisation needs support to work with Ukrainians, please get in touch. We are adding the finishing touches to a number of resources including a ‘Welcome to Hertfordshire’ website and video, as well as a Ukraine Update webinar at the end of May, aimed at the voluntary, community, faith and social enterprise sector. If you would like to receive details of this webinar, please email memberservices@communties1st to register your interest.

If you would like to donate to support the victims of the war, we would encourage you to support the British Red Cross Ukraine Crisis Appeal. As experts in international crises, they are well placed to ensure donations get to where they are most needed.

If your organisation needs support or guidance with any area relating to funding, group development, policies or training, please email memberservices@communities1st.org.uk or phone Christine on 01727 743018.


Best wishes,

Stephen Craker

Chief Executive









Stronger Together Netwroks
The May round of the quarterly Stronger Together Networks have begun. The STNs are a great opportunity to come together and discuss pressing issues with other members working in the same areas and tackling similar issues. Each STN lasts 1.5 hours and the discussion is divided into three main sections with a presentation, table discussions and members updates. We would particularly like to welcome organisations that have never attended an STN before, it is a fantastic chance to network and learn from the experiences of others. If you would like to know more, contact Isobel or Agnese, details below.

The six policy areas covered by the STNs are transport, older people, children & young people, culture & environment, disability, and mental health. Last week, we kicked off with the Older People STN. You can find the dates and times for the next STNs below:

  • Mental Health - Tuesday 10th May, 10.30am - 12.00pm facilitated by Isobel Hatfield
  • Transport - Tuesday 10th May, 2.00 – 3.00pm facilitated by Agnese Cigliano
  • Children & Young People - Wednesday 11th May, 2.00 - 3.00pm facilitated by Agnese Cigliano
  • Culture & Environment - Tuesday 17th May, 10.30am - 12.00 pm facilitated by Agnese Cigliano
  • Disability - Wednesday 18th May, 2.00 - 3.30pm facilitated by Isobel Hatfield

For the full agenda and to register, please email the facilitator(s) of the STNs you're interested in attending at isobel.hatfield@communities1st.org.uk and agnese.cigliano@communities1st.org.uk





















Virtual Weekly Drop-in Support Sessions
Did you know, that as a member of Communities 1st, we can offer you support on a wide range of topics, including funding, governance and policies and volunteer recruitment, as well as opportunities to network and work with other voluntary sector organisations? Our weekly Virtual Drop-in Support Sessions for voluntary sector organisations take place every Wednesday at 11am via Zoom. Drop in to tell us what you are working on, what support you need and to connect with other local voluntary sector organisations.

The sessions are friendly, informal and constructive. Come along anytime you need to.

To register or for more information please visit https://www.communities1st.org.uk/DropInSessions


Communities 1st is running the Able2Enable project across St Albans, Hertsmere, Welwyn Hatfield, Broxbourne and East Herts. We are looking for organisations to become Able2Enable Allies, willing to work with us to host a supported volunteer on an ongoing basis.

Volunteering should be accessible and open to all individuals. Sometimes people need a bit of extra support to volunteer and overcome barriers such as a lack of confidence and motivation, difficulty communicating, problems completing application forms or anxiety about travelling to unfamiliar venues and meeting new people. Able2Enable works with these individuals to enable them to get into volunteering positions.

There are many benefits for organisations hosting a supported volunteer. We can offer you a committed volunteer to support your work, access to our ongoing support, training and guidance to make your workplace more accessible and inclusive to our volunteers, and support to ensure that our volunteer is able to take on the role. You will benefit by having a committed volunteer that can support your work and the satisfaction of supporting your local community. Hosting a supported volunteer can also help to diversify your organisation.

If you would like to refer a volunteer needing some extra support, if you are interested in hosting a volunteer through Able2Enable, or simply to know more about the project and its impact within the community, please contact us at able2enable@communities1st.org.uk


FREE Office and Workplace Equipment
Communities 1st have received a large amount of office and workplace equipment, which we can give away free to members, including office tools and products. We still have some items available, the updated inventory can be found here. Please email memberservices@communities1st.org.uk to request items.

In your email, please state how many of each item you would like and whether you have access to transport. If you cannot arrange transport for collection, we may be able to support you with collection arrangements. All items are stored in Borehamwood.


Area for Nature and Community by Garston Railway Station
Groundwork East, the local environmental charity, has teamed up with Communities 1st member the Abbey Line Community Rail Partnership and Network Rail to develop an area of land for use by nature and the local community. The site is located directly east of Garston Railway station on the Abbey Line. It is currently a small, untidy and under-used piece of land but is being designed to become a nature garden, improving the biodiversity of the area whilst at the same time being suitable for local community activities.

It will offer space for small local groups to get together for gardening activities, or giving opportunities to learn about wildlife through watching birds, butterflies, bugs and other creatures.

The Abbey Line and Groundwork East are seeking feedback on the plans from the local community. They have created a short questionnaire, which also gives full information of the current plans for the new garden. They are seeking as many responses as possible to help them finalise their plans for the site. The questionnaire can be found here.

If you think your group might like to make use of the space, please let the Abbey Line CRP know via the questionnaire so they can get in touch with you. Alternatively, please contact Rob Varney at robert.varney@communities1st.org.uk


NHS West Herts Engagement Sessions
NHS West Herts organises regular engagement and information sessions to update stakeholders. During the next round of stakeholders updates, the Trust will acknowledge the publication of draft papers for the May 31st trust board meeting.

The next sessions will focus on travel and access. Stakeholders will hear about progress on the work of the trust to improve travel to and between their sites.

The next travel and access session will take place on May 26th, 12.00-1.30 pm. Register your interest by sending an email to westherts.redevelopment@nhs.net


Evaluation of the VCSE COVID-19 Emergency Funding
The Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has published the VCSE fund evaluation assessing the impact and delivery of the COVID-19 emergency funding package for VCSE organisations. The final report and separate case study report can be found on the government website here.


The Queen's Award for Voluntary Service
Every day, millions of people across the UK are making a difference by volunteering.

Each year, outstanding examples of this work are celebrated through the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service (QAVS). Created in 2002 for the Queen’s Golden Jubilee, QAVS awards have been shining a light on the fantastic work of voluntary groups for many years.

Equivalent to an MBE, QAVS are the highest awards given to local voluntary groups in the UK, and they are awarded for life.

Nominations for the 2023 awards are now open. Nominations for the 2023 awards will be accepted until the 15 September 2022. You can read more about it and learn how to apply here.





Upcoming Training with the National Academy for Social Prescribing
The National Academy for Social Prescribing is hosting some interesting events in the coming months, as part of their ongoing support to organisations that promote social prescribing in their local communities. All organisations in the East of England are welcome to join.

The next NASP Webinar will be on “Exploring Funding models in the voluntary and community sector ” and will take place on Monday, May 16th, 3.00-4.00 pm.

Join us for this webinar where we will discuss different sources of funding available to the VCFSE sector and the specific needs of funding social prescribing. You will come away with an enhanced understanding of different types of funding and how to go about approaching these.  

Please note, we will not be talking about specific funding opportunities and we cannot promise to cover every possible avenue of funding available.

Register here.


HCF Training Programme
Hertfordshire Community Foundation offer a wide range of training for voluntary sector organisations. Since the start of the pandemic these sessions have been online however, some are now moving to face to face sessions:

  • Speaking with confidence, Tuesday 10th May, 9.30 am-1.30pm. Register here.
  • Emergency first aid at work, Wednesday 18th May, 9.00 am-4.00pm. Register here.
  • Emergency first aid at work, Friday 17th June, 9.00 am-4.00pm. Register here.

You can check their full training offer here.




Community Fundraiser (up to £25,0000 pa)
Youth Talk are recruiting a Community Fundraiser. Community fundraising is at the heart of Youth Talk and they are looking for a passionate, experienced fundraiser to join their team. This job will build on significant work and achievements from the previous years, the successful candidate will be a people person and act as the first point of contact for supporters.


Fundraising Assistant (up to £21,000 pa)
The second fulfilling job is as a Fundraising Assistant, this role involves a wide range of experiences and activities. It’s fantastic place to start if you’re wanting to unlock doors to the world of fundraising careers and the charity sector and best of all work to support our local young people in St Albans.

More information on both the position and how to apply here.

Any questions please email rachel.simkin@youthtalk.org.uk


Wellbeing and Engagement Co-ordinator (£16850 for 21h/w)
St Albans and District Food Bank is an independent charity and a member of the Trussell Trust Foodbank network. Their mission is the prevention or relief of poverty in the local area. St Albans and District Food Bank are a volunteer-based organisation within excess of 100 fantastic active volunteers supporting the breadth of operations from warehousing to client facing distribution centres. The main purpose of this role is to identify broader needs of clients and work to facilitate their engagement with third party agencies in order to find long lasting solutions to their need for Foodbank support and so avoid dependency on Foodbank provision.

Primary responsibilities include:

  • Work with partner agencies to agree criteria to identify clients with referral needs.
  • Work with the volunteers to help them support distressed clients & to identify clients with referral needs and signposting.
  • Proactive in encouraging referrals and connecting with all local communities, particularly those communities that are hard to reach.
  • To produce monitoring reports and updates (inc. equal opportunity assessments) on periodic basis to inform Board / CEO / volunteers.
  • Develop signposting materials for use by distribution centre volunteers in pointing clients to other local agencies for additional support.

More information on the position and how to apply email raugustine@stalbansdistrict.foodbank.org.uk