Voluntary Sector Briefing

As the cost of living increase continues to impact upon us, Communities 1st are working in partnership with charities including NCVO and The Community Transport Association in calling for an immediate review of the approved mileage rate that can be claimed by volunteers, owing to its growing impact on volunteer recruitment and retention. To find out more and support the campaign, click here.

I am pleased to offer a brief update on the new Hertfordshire and West Essex Integrated Care System (ICS) VCFSE Alliance, which will work closely with the NHS, Councils, and other partners within the ICS to help make sure everyone can find support when they need it. Now that The Alliance has been formed and now the first step will be seeking feedback from on the newly drafted Health Creation Strategy- as soon as we can we will share more information on this, so you have the opportunity to share your views. 

Maintaining our healthy selves was particularly challenging during the recent unprecedented heat wave. As we learn to adapt to our changing climate, I wanted to remind you that numerous resources are available to help our physical and mental wellbeing. I found this checklist from the British Red Cross particularly helpful. 

It's another reminder on top of countless in the last few years of the enormous debt we owe to all our emergency services. I'm proud that we have been leading the local Emergency Partnerships, highlighting the collaboration across the community - further demonstrated when I attended a roundtable on communicating the economy during the current cost-of-living crisis. It was a fruitful discussion and inspiring to see so many individuals and organisations stepping up. 

Stephen Craker

Chief Executive


If you want more information you can visit our website: www.communities1st.org.uk/Covid-19Updates or contact our Voluntary Sector support team on 01727 743018.


Communities 1st Membership Renewal

Communities 1st membership year runs from 1 May until 30 April (it is a yearly membership, not a rolling membership).  Due to a planned upgrade to our website and CRM, we have chosen to send out membership renewal notices a little late this year. Please do look out for the membership renewal email in the next couple of weeks.

Membership of Communities 1st is very competitively priced, starting at just £30 per year and offers voluntary sector organisations a huge range of fantastic benefits including:

  • Support with all areas of small group development
  • Advice on locating sources of funding and writing funding applications
  • Access to a monthly funding newsletter, packed full of information about potential sources of funding
  • Guidance on governance and policy development
  • Promotion of volunteer vacancies
  • Promotion of events and activities
  • Access to networking events including the Stronger Together Networks. 

All of the above activities are for C1st member organisations only and following the membership renewal process, will no longer be accessible by non member organisations. 

For any queries about membership benefits, or to check the membership status of your organisation please email memberservices@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 please click here.

Stronger Together Networks

The Stronger Together Network Meetings in 2022 will be held in February, May, September and November by Zoom.

There are 6 Stronger Together Networks:

Mental Health Network: A positive and welcoming network of mental health providers, facilitating meetings, networking, sharing of ideas and discussions of best practice to meet the needs of their service users.

Children & Young People Network: A network to provide space for organisations working to support and help children & young people to meet, network, create and share information and ideas across county.

Transport Network: An informative and informal network of local community transport organisations, providing a great networking and information sharing opportunity and a forum to discuss provision of the different services provided within local schemes.

Disability Network: A fantastic opportunity to meet, learn and talk to other organisations working to help people with disabilities in the locality.

Culture and Environment Network: A network giving a fantastic opportunity for BAME organisations, museums, theatres, cinemas, galleries, parks and leisure centres to come together, share information about their facilities, work and network.

Older People Network: A welcoming space for organisations working with older people to network, to share ideas, activities, and promote good physical and mental health and well-being, reduce isolation and loneliness so older people may live healthy and meaningful lives.

You can find the dates and times for the next STN below: 


  • Culture and Environment, Tues 13 Sept 10:30-12:00 
  • Disability, Tues 13 Sept 14:00-15:30 
  • Older People, Weds 14 September 14:00-15:30 
  • Transport, Tues 20 September 10:30-12:00 
  • Mental Health, Tues 20 September 14:00-15:30 
  • Children and Young People, Weds 21 September 14:00-15:30 

Please choose the relevant event(s) and register here to attend, or contact Isobel Hatfield, Partnerships & Development Coordinator for further information.

Email: isobel.hatfield@communites1st.org.uk                 Tel:     01727 649942

Ukraine Peer to Peer Support Sessions 

Communities 1st are hosting weekly sessions where Ukrainians can meet other Ukrainians in the UK and hosts can meet other hosts, to come together, chat and make friends. These sessions are open to all, on both the Homes for Ukraine scheme and the Friends and Family visa. 

Come along to:

Aberford Community Centre, Aberford Rd, Borehamwood WD6 1PN 

From 4.00pm - 6.00pm, every Wednesday. 

For more information email us@communities1st.org.uk

Herts with Ukraine 

The Herts with Ukraine website is hosted by Community Help Herts, a partnership of voluntary sector organisations delivering projects to support the communities in Hertfordshire. This website provides information and resources to help you if you are sponsoring or supporting Ukrainian guests, or are considering doing so. It also provides a wealth of information and resources to support Ukrainian guests, such as local activities and information on where to go for advice on a range of topics. 

The Herts with Ukraine website aims to be a community resource. If your organisation would like to post something on the Herts with Ukraine website, please email Gary Franklin at Communities 1st  gary.franklin@communities1st.org.uk

Please click here visit the Herts with Ukraine website. 

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

Safe Spaces Service for People Experiencing Domestic Abuse 

UK SAYS NO MORE is working with Boots, Morrisons pharmacies, Superdrug pharmacies, Well pharmacies, independent pharmacies, HSBC and TSB banks across the UK to provide Safe Spaces in their consultation rooms for people experiencing domestic abuse. You can use a safe space in whichever way works for you. They provide a safe and discrete way to reach out to friends and family, and contact specialist support services.

How to access a Safe Space

  • Walk into any participating Safe Space in the UK
  • Ask a member of staff at the counter to use their Safe Space
  • You will be shown to the Safe Space which will be a private room
  • Once inside you can use the Safe Space in whichever way works for you. They provide a safe and discrete way to reach out to friends and family, contact specialist support services and start your journey to recovery.

Safe Spaces are open and ready for you to use. Just click on the link below to locate spaces in the area needed.

Click here to find Safe Space locations.

Development of Adult Social Care Gateway Services – your views can help shape the future.

Hertfordshire County Council is developing a model to support people’s access to Adult Social Care.

This gives Adult Care Services the opportunity to look at how individuals find information and advice about adult care and support services in Hertfordshire, and how they access Adult Care Services - which might include contacting Adult Care Services to arrange an assessment, to find support for carers or about care and support at home or in a care home.

Adult Care Services are gathering feedback from those who have been in contact or receive support from the Council, including people who have lived experience, carers and professionals, to help improve the way they work with those making contact.

The feedback will help shape the new ‘Gateway’ service and help improve way people are able to get in touch with Adult Care Services.

Please click here for more information or to complete the survey by 5 August. 


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.

999 BSL UK Emergency Video Relay Service 

999 BSL is the name of the UK’s first ever Emergency Video Relay Service in British Sign Language (BSL). The service is available to download as a smartphone app (iOS and Android) and access as a web-based platform. It launched on 17 June 2022.

Ofcom approved Sign Language Interactions (SLI) as the sole provider of the service, which enables deaf BSL users in the UK to make calls to emergency authorities such as the police, ambulance, fire and coastguard services via BSL video relay interpreters.

Click here to find out more. 

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.

Time Well Spent: Impact of Covid-19 on the Volunteer Experience

According to a report from National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO), volunteers are at risk of burnout due to the pressures of the pandemic. As well as their findings, the report ends with recommendations for volunteer-involving organisations on how to restore and support volunteer wellbeing. Read the full report

Consultation on English portion of dormant assets funding

You have the opportunity to shape the future of the £738m Dormant Assets Fund in England. The Government has launched a public consultation to gather views on the social and environmental purposes of the £738 million in dormant assets funding for England in the years ahead. The consultation is open and will close on 09/10/22. Take a look at the online survey here

New research: Covid mutual aid groups are here to stay

Four in 10 mutual aid groups set up in the pandemic are still active, UK data suggests. Neighbours and local communities came together in 2020, with over 4000 mutual aid groups set up to help with food shopping, collecting prescriptions and much more. The We’re Right Here campaign found that 41% were still offering support to their local communities 25 months later, now in response to the living-cost crisis. Read more here.


New Training Offer for Communities 1st Members 

We are offering Communities 1st members access to an extensive programme of e-training. Training will be delivered from the following categories:

  • Digital Skills 
  • Equality, Diversity & Inclusivity 
  • Essential Skills 
  • Food and Hygiene
  • Health & Safety 
  • Leadership & Management 
  • Mental Health & Wellbeing 
  • Personal Development 
  • Policy & Legislation 

All training is available now. 

£125 gives access of up to 25 people per organisation to any of the courses. 

£200 gives access to any of the courses to 50 people per organisation. 

If you would like to discuss accessing courses for a smaller number of people, please contact Juli Riley, see contact details below. 

If you would like to take up this excellent offer but are not currently a member of Communities 1st, please contact christine.halpin@communties1st.org.uk

Please email Juli Riley, Head of Volunteer Centre and Skills, Communities 1st for further information Juli.Riley@communities1st.org.uk. 

Learning Together Programme from the National Academy for Social Prescribing

The Learning Together Programme offers development opportunities for voluntary, community, faith and social enterprise groups and organisations supporting their communities needs through the delivery of social prescribing activities.

Click here to register

Mind in Mid Herts Training 

M-ask wellbeing drama programme 

This fun and free programme using theatre techniques is for those suffering from stress, anxiety, depression and other conditions affecting mental wellbeing. You don’t need any experience to take part, everyone is welcome from absolute beginners to the more experienced.

8 week Programme runs:

Date: Sept 29th, October 6th, October 13th, October 20th, (No Session 27th Oct), November 3rd, November 10th, November 17th and November 24th.

Time: 5:30 pm – 7:30 pm.

Location: St Albans Mind 11 Hatfield Rd, St Albans AL1 3RR.

For more information, please call 03303 208100 or email admin@mindinmidherts.org.uk


Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction Programme 

The online programme is an eight-week evidence-based program; which offers mindfulness training to assist people with stress, anxiety and depression. This will be run by our qualified mindfulness practitioner. 

It is a practical approach that trains attention, allowing people to cultivate awareness and therefore enabling them to have more choice and take wise action in their lives. You’ll also receive a workbook to utilise alongside the course and practice skills yourself.

If you have any queries then please get in contact with the training team: admin@mindinmidherts.org.uk


Mental Health Peer Support Training 

Do you want to support others with their mental health? Become a Mental Health Peer Supporter! Mind in Mid Herts will be offering training to give you the skills to support others with their mental health and wellbeing. 

The current online course dates for this training are below:

  • Tuesday 26th July, Wednesday 27th July (2x full days 9.30am to 4.30pm)
  • Tuesday 9th August, Wednesday 10th August,
  • Thursday 11th August, Friday 12th August (4x half-days 9am to 1pm)
  • Wednesday 17th August, Thursday 18th August (2x full days 9.30am to 4.30pm) 
  • Thursday 15th September, Friday 16th September (2x full days 9:30am - 4:30am)
  • Thursday 29th September, Friday 30th September (2x full days 9:30am to 4:30pm)

Please click here to book your free course. 

New Leaf College 

New Leaf College offers hope for the future despite life's challenges, opportunity, learning from other student's experiences and equipping students with skills to make changes to support their wellbeing. 

For the Autumn term the college will return to the classroom, offering sessions in Stevenage, Watford, Ware and Hemel Hempstead as well as continuing to provide sessions online. 

They would like to work with Partners who may be able to offer access for residents to join their online sessions from a local venue. If you can provide a venue, please call 01442864966 or contact louisa.whorrod@nhs.net. 

Please visit the New Leaf College here.


Safe Webinar (Security Advice For Everyone)

SAFE shares CST's security knowledge with groups outside of the Jewish community that are vulnerable to violence, extremism or hate crime. 

Please see the full schedule below with links to the Zoom pre-registration page.  

7th September at 2pm, Basic security (An introduction to security for places of worship and faith communities):
Register here

14th September at 2pm, Conflict Management (Effective communication in high stress situations):
Registration here. 

21st September at 7pm, Organising security (Security and risk management, and how to develop a security plan):
Register here.

29th September at 7pm, Hate crime and your community (How to deal with racial and religious hatred – especially in the digital age):
Registration here.

20th October at 2pm, Online security (How to protect yourself and your community from online threats):
Registration here.

26th October at 2pm, Women’s safety (Simple tips to keep you safe during your busy daily life):
Registration here

If you need any help please contact enquires@safe.cst.org.uk


Domestic Abuse Project Worker

Full Time 1 Year Fixed Term Contract to cover Maternity Leave

SAHWR provides specialist services to women, men and children fleeing domestic abuse.

We are looking for an enthusiastic individual. You will have strong communication skills and experience of partnership working, a firm knowledge of the impact of domestic abuse and supported housing management systems.

The ideal candidate will have experience of undertaking assessments, risk management, and completing support plans to enable our clients to successfully move on from their experiences. Ideally candidates will have knowledge of and experience of working with people in groups delivering support and facilitating programs.

The successful candidate will need to have a driving licence; have a car that is available during working hours, insured for business use and that is suitable for carrying families in connection with their work.

Hours: 37 hrs. per week five days per week

Salary: £ 20202.00 to 24569.48 depending on experience

Closing Date: 5th August 22

Interviews: Week Beginning 15th August 22

To apply email lizperry@sahwr.org.uk for an application pack. CV’s will not be considered.

Post is open to women only under the Equality Act 2010, schedule 9, part 1. 

Operations and Participation Assistant 

Herts Inclusive Theatre are looking for an Operations and Participation Assistant to join their small Hertfordshire-based theatre organisation.

Hours: 24 hours per week 

Salary: £20,800

About this role: The position is to support the organisation with the operational running of the office and participation department, providing administration and operational support ensuring the company runs as efficiently and smoothly as possible.

Click here to apply. 

Activities Coordinator 

Trinity Community Project provide services five days a week for adults living with a learning difficulty and/or experiencing mental health concerns. A range of activities are provided within the centre and in the local community to encourage people to develop independent living skills and promote a sense of wellbeing and social inclusion.

Hours: 30 hours per week

Salary: £16,458 

Location: St Albans, Hertfordshire

Trinity Community Project are looking for an enthusiastic, reliable and motivated Activities Coordinator, to work alongside their Service Manager in planning and organising a range of activities that promote people’s wellbeing and independence, such as dancing, arts and crafts or day trips. 

This is a permanent post based in their centre in St Albans, Hertfordshire. Start date - September 2022.

Click here to apply