Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Improvement Plan Lifts Need For Close Scrutinisation of Bedfordshire's NHS

NHS England has removed special measures on Bedfordshire's health body, after it delivered on an improvement plan to stabilise its finances and put the organisation on a firmer footing.

Bedfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group was placed under 'legal directions' in 2015 after it delivered a £42m uncontrolled loss over the previous two years.

The 'legal directions' meant that a new Accountable Officer and Executive team was appointed and the organisation was closely scrutinised to ensure better financial management and corporate governance was put in place.

The organisation also increased its clinical leadership, appointing a number of clinicians, including a new chair to the health body, to ensure that all decisions were made with patients in mind.

Dr Alvin Low, Chairman of Bedfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group said, "We are delighted that NHS England has lifted 'legal directions'. It is a resounding endorsement of the hard work and commitment shown by the Executive team and our staff over the last two years.

Much work has been done to steady the ship and strengthen the organisation, while ensuring that we continue to deliver quality health care services to residents in Bedfordshire."

In 2017, Bedfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group delivered a surplus for the first time since it was created in 2013, whilst also paying back some of the deficit it accrued in the previous two years.

Dr Low said, "While this is terrific news, we need to be mindful of challenges ahead, especially in terms of managing our finances when our population is growing in size and need. However, this process has made us a stronger and more resilient organisation than we were before and we will continue to work hard to make a difference to the health of the communities we serve in Bedfordshire."

Bedfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group is responsible for planning, organising and buying NHS-funded healthcare for the 441,000 people who live in Bedfordshire. This includes hospital, community health and mental health services.

·         BCCG is run by GPs, nurses, hospital doctors and other clinicians – the people you see whenever you come into contact with the NHS. All 53 GP practices in Bedfordshire are members of the CCG which is divided into five areas, which we call localities. These are: Bedford, Chiltern Vale, Leighton Buzzard, Ivel Valley and West Mid Bedfordshire and all of the 53 GP practices in Bedfordshire are members.

Thursday, 15 June 2017

Voluntary Service News Update June 2017

 Events and Courses
Summer Unconference - Tuesday 11 July, 10am – 4pm. Bunyan Meeting Rooms, Bedford.

Organised by Bedford Community Network, this is a free, delegate-led event for voluntary organisations in Bedford Borough.
An unconference is an unconventional conference which is organised, structured and led by the people attending it. There is no fixed agenda, no-one has selected the speakers before the event, no-one has decided for you what an 'Important Topic' is, and there will be no 'death by powerpoint' keynote speech!
If you have an idea for a session or a burning issue you'd like to raise then come to the event and pitch it, but you don't need to have all the answers!  If you don't have any ideas for a session, come to the event anyway, see what other people are suggesting and get involved!
The venue has multiple rooms so we can cater for several workshops and discussions. Once we've filled the timetable with all the interesting topics, you can choose what sessions you want to take part in and you'll get the chance to interact with others who share the same interests and to learn from each other.  The topics will be relevant to you (the delegates) because you suggested them.
Interested? Click here.
Running Effective Meetings - Tuesday 27 June, 9:30am – 1pm, Bedford - A half-day course designed to help those who chair or participate in meetings to understand how to run effective meetings that are constructive, concise and actually achieve something. Just £20 per delegate! For more information click here.
Tender Opportunity - Child & Adolescent Mental Health (CAMHS), Bedfordshire. An 'Industry Event' is being held on 23 June, 11am - 12.30pm, in Flitwick. Commissioners will be looking for 'innovative proposals to provide consistent access to evidence based interventions delivering demonstrable outcomes for Children, young people and their families as part of an integrated offer. The scope will include schools and early help activities, with a strong emphasis on service user and stakeholder engagement.' Click here.
Whitbread Plc Chairman's Fund – Awards of between £250 and £3,000 on projects fitting the three themes of the fund:
  • Skills and inclusion
  • The reduction of rural social isolation
  • Community cohesion
The fund has been created to support charities and community groups whose beneficiaries are from the South Bedfordshire communities of Dunstable, Houghton Regis, Leighton Buzzard and the outlying villages to the County boundary. Click here.
Merry Christmas! – Now is the time to start planning for Christmas! The closing date to register for The Big Give Christmas Challenge is 7 July. This scheme offers supporters of participating charities the opportunity to have their donation doubled when the campaign goes live in November. Click here.
 Other Information
Deaf drop-in service in Bedford – Deafconnect are running sessions every Wednesday, 10am-4pm, at CVS Offices. Deaf staff with an interpreter are offering help and support on a range of issues, including form filling, booking interpreters, benefits, housing and health. Click here.
Bedford Borough Council has produced a Draft Mental Health Accommodation Strategy, which is now out for consultation until 11 September. Click here.
Access2Books is a charity based in Bedfordshire whose mission it is to ensure that everyone has access to books. They take the most popular children's books in the UK and turn them into accessible books for people who have print disabilities. For more information click here.
Small Charity Week is 19-24 June – check out the website, which includes information on fundraising opportunities. Click here.
Changes to Data Protection law - Do you know what the GDPR is? The General Data Protection Regulation will apply from May 2018, setting out the main responsibilities for organisations and their use of personal data, including a new accountability requirement. Click here.
Mencap's 'Employ Me' program aims to develop peoples' employability skills through either weekly 1 to 1 meetings with an Employment Coordinator, or as part of a group session – whichever the individual prefers. Sessions cover everything from C.V. writing to health and safety, and anything else relating to work and the workplace. Whilst the ultimate aim is to find someone a paid job, they also aim to provide people with the skills they need to find paid work in the future, so even if you just need help finding the right training course, volunteering role or work experience, then Mencap can support you. More information on the Mencap website, but to make a local referral email david.muwonge@mencap.org.uk
The NSPCC has published updated editions of two safeguarding publications:
  • Standards and guidance for the voluntary and community sector in England designed to help non-statutory organisations put in place clear safeguarding arrangements for children, young people and young adults up to the age of 25. click here.
  • Are they safe?: a safeguarding guide for group leaders in the voluntary and community sector, which provides a range of activities, support or services, from arts activities and hobbies to faith-based education or community work. Click here.

Education and Learning Manager, Relate Bedfordshire and Luton. The post will be based in Bedford and on a 12 months fixed term contract. Deadline, 5pm, 30 June. Click here.

CLOSING SOON! - Young Carer Peer Mentor Coordinator (maternity cover), Carers in Bedfordshire. Part-time. 28 hours a week. Grade 3: £20,065 FTE (starting salary); pro-rata for part-time hours. Evening and weekend working will be required. Deadline 12pm, 16 June. Click here.

Families United Network are recruiting to the following posts:

  • Support Workers for the Saturday Club in Luton
  • Cleaner for 6 hours a week

For more information click here.

Youth Inspired C.I.C have two vacancies. They are looking to recruit a Tutor and a Support Worker.  Closing date for applications for either of these roles is 30 June. Click here.

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Those Magnificent Men In Their Dunstable Sheds

Dunstable Men-In-Sheds put on a display at the Cheering Volunteers event organised by Central Bedfordshire Council and held at Grove Theatre on Tuesday evening.

The group fosters the health and wellbeing of men and is open to those aged 55+. It provides facilities so that men can meet, share common hobbies and interests, learn and share skills, as well as developing new ideas and helping with community based projects.

The men come from all walks of life and enjoy good company, a cup of tea, chatting while having fun. Woodworking, metalworking and craft working are among the things catered for.

The 20+ strong group meet at the Meadway Allotment site in Dunstable, and typically opens Monday Wednesday and Friday mornings, as well as Thursday evenings. All members have an equal say, and it runs on a voluntary basis. The group aspires to do a lot to help Dunstable community.

Dunstable Men-In-Sheds are affiliated to UK Men's Sheds Association, who provide practical support. If you'd like to find out more about the local group contact Martin on 01582 668598 or Terry on 01582 604476.

Monday, 5 June 2017

Volunteer News | 5 June 2017



CVS Update  |  5 June 2017



Happy Volunteers' Week!

Volunteers' Week is an annual celebration of the fantastic contribution millions of volunteers make across the UK. It takes place from 1-7 June every year.  Why not take the opportunity to say 'thank you' to your existing volunteers? Go to http://volunteersweek.org/ for more information.

CVS Volunteering has a new online volunteering recruitment system. Potential volunteers are now able to browse and register for local opportunities 24/7. If your organisation has volunteering roles you want us to promote, then email Paul Atkin today (paul@cvsbeds.org.uk) to get set up. To look at the current list of opportunities online click here.


Safeguarding our Communities from Harm, Saturday 10 June (1pm-4pm) - This 'Train the Trainer' session is being run by Bedfordshire Police at the Police Headquarters in Kempston for staff from voluntary organisations in Bedford who may come across or work with victims in their local community. Click here.

Refugee Week starts on 15 June with an extensive programme of events across Bedford. Click here.

Free CVS Workshop - Fit for Funding, 20 June (6.30pm -9pm), Bedford - The workshop will cover all the basics you will need to get 'Fit for Funding', including your governing document, policies, budgeting, and a brief introduction to outcomes and demonstrating need. Click here.

PREVENT Training Session, 23 June, 11am-12.30pm, TOKKO, Luton. This free training is run by Bedfordshire Police and will cover and explain the PREVENT duty and what it means to you. It will also explain how to ensure compliance and raising awareness within your job role and organisation. To reserve your place please e-mail hazel.mellon@tokko.co.uk

Benefits Update 2017 - Thursday 29 June (10am - 1pm) - Bunyan Meeting Rooms, Bedford. This half-day course from Bedfordshire Advice Forum is aimed at people who give advice on benefits to clients, and who want an update on the wide-ranging, 2017 benefit changes. A good knowledge of current benefits is required. Click here for more details and prices.

Summer Unconference - Tuesday 11 July (10am - 4:00pm). Bunyan Meeting Rooms, Bedford. Bedford Community Network are holding a Summer Unconference for voluntary organisations in Bedford Borough. An Unconference has no agenda until the delegates propose and agree the topics to be discussed. Click here.

Free CVS Workshop - Outcomes and Impact, 13 July (10am-12.30pm), Bedford - This free workshop will help you to clearly link your aims, outcomes and activities in your funding applications. Click here.

Training from just £20 per delegate! - CVS has organised a new season of training courses for staff and volunteers of voluntary and community sector organisations in Bedfordshire.

  • Running Effective Meetings - Tuesday 27 June, 9:30am - 1pm
  • Taking and Presenting Minutes - Tuesday 18 July, 9:30am - 1pm
  • Recruiting and Selecting Staff - Thursday 20 July, 9:30am - 1pm
  • Finance Made Easy - Friday 21 July, 9:30am - 1pm

For more information click here.


National Churches Trust offers funds for Christian church projects which help maintain the UK's heritage of church buildings and enhance their ability to serve local communities. The next deadline for the following grants programmes is 3 July:

  • Community Grants of £10,000 to £25,000 to enable increased community use of places of worship
  • Repair Grants of £10,000 to £40,000 are available towards the cost of urgent and essential structural repair projects
  • Project Viability and Project Development Grants up to £10,000

For more information click here.

Help The Homeless's main funding remit is the regular allocation of grants (generally up to £5,000) for capital costs to small and medium-sized registered charities only (those with a turnover of under £1m per annum). All applications must relate to projects that assist individuals to return to mainstream society, rather than simply offer shelter or other forms of sustenance. The next two deadlines are 15 June and 15 September. Click here.

Tender Opportunity - The Bedfordshire Employment & Skills Service (BESS) wishes to commission a number of adult training courses to be delivered in the academic year 2017-18 and the funding available is £500,000.  The courses will support unemployed residents of Central Bedfordshire and Bedford Borough local authority areas into further learning or employment. Deadline is 19 June. Click here.

Old Possum's Practical Trust makes a number of small grants (within the range of £500 - £5,000) each year for literary, artistic, musical and theatrical projects. Grants are more likely to be given for projects which fall within artistic, aesthetic, literary, musical and theatrical criteria. All applications must demonstrate a high level of sustainability and contextual impact. Priority will be given to those which have an impact on future literary work and display enterprise in their artistic endeavour. Click here.

Greggs offer grants of up to £2,000 to smaller not-for-profit organisations in areas where there is a Greggs store. There are two types of grant available:

  • Local Community Projects Fund is for projects which improve resilience within communities of interest, such as people who are disabled or suffering chronic illness, living in poverty, voluntary carers, homeless, isolated older people, or other demonstrable significant need. For more information click here.
  • Environmental Grants are for projects that improve the physical environment in a way that will improve people's lives. Click here.

The next deadline is 24 June.


The Luton and Bedfordshire Community Awards welcome nominations about individuals, who either live or work in organisations within the boundaries of Luton and Central Bedfordshire. There are a number of awards, including Volunteer of the Year. The closing date for nominations is 14 August. Click here.

Bedford and Luton Community Foundation is actively seeking new trustees for the Board, to help with the management and governance of the Charity. The role requires hands-on professionals who understand the financial, regulatory or voluntary sector background within which the Foundation operates. Deadline 30 June. Click here.

Relate Bedfordshire and Luton is able to deliver a 'Customer Care' 2-day workshop at your venue, which will provide tailored strategies for your Customer Service staff.  This new bespoke support for employers, starting this month, aims to help improve handling of customer queries and complaints over the phone or face-to-face, in areas like Community Centres, Children Centres, Call Centres and Receptions. For more information and costs, contact email training@relatebedsandluton.org.uk

Can you offer volunteering opportunities to people who are unemployed? A local organisation is looking to run a 'Progressing into Work' course, which is a mixture of classroom-based activity and volunteering, but they need to pair-up with supportive organisations which can offer suitable volunteering opportunities. If you want to find out more an informal meeting is being organised at CVS at end of June, so email martin@cvsbeds.org.uk for more information.


Sales Apprentice, ReUse Centre, 35-hour week over 5 days that will include regular Saturday working. Deadline, 12pm, 8 June. Click here.

Friday, 2 June 2017

It's Harder to Find Acceptable Coinage For Asda Dunstable Car Park

How do you pay for parking at Dunstable Asda when all your old £1 coins have gone?

A yellow sticker says "This machine does not accept the NEW £1 coin Other UK coins accepted Apologies for any inconvenience"

A red sticker says "This machine does not accept new 5p and 10p coins"

Horizon Parking are responsible for the parking meters at Asda car park. When asked what are people supposed to do when they want to pay for parking at Asda, an Horizon spokesperson said, "You could ask customer services at Asda, I'm sure they'd be obliging."

When it was pointed out to Horizon that Asda was not responsible for the car park, and Horizon were, the Horizon spokesman said, "Sorry."

When it was pointed out that it was inconvenient to go into the store for change, and then to return to the parked vehicle, by which time it might have been fined, the Horizon spokesman said, "I see, Sir."

When asked on what date the meters would be changed, the spokesman said he didn't know.

 New round pound coins started being phased out from March 28th. Around one in every 30 £1 coins in people's change in recent years has been fake. The old round £1 coins will have to be used by 15th October.

Monday, 29 May 2017

10 Retirement Homes To Be Built In Dunstable By Teen Tycoon

A family-run business has acquired a residential park in Dunstable - Park refurbishment will offer 10 new retirement homes

Family-run Best Park Homes, which operates residential park homes across the UK, has acquired a mobile caravan park in Dunstable, following a £945,000 funding package from HSBC.

The flexible business loan will assist Best Park Homes in the acquisition and refurbishment of the new site, which is already an existing residential park for retired and semi-retired people. The deal will fund improvements to the park, including approximately 10 new homes, a new road and a renovation of the site’s grounds and communal spaces.

Russell Marchant, HSBC’s Area Director of Business Banking for East London, said: “Best Park Homes is owned by Alfie Best Junior, who is only 19 years old and holds an ambitious entrepreneurial spirit, taking after his father who runs Wyldecrest Parks. Alfie is a truly inspirational entrepreneur and he regularly hosts motivational talks across the UK. It’s been great to see how the business has gone from strength-to-strength over the past few years and this latest acquisition will allow the company to continue to grow at a rapid pace, as well as delivering a high quality residential park to the Dunstable community.”

Best Park Homes has banked with HSBC since it was established in 2014 and the partnership has seen the business significantly grow with two successful residential home sites in the UK.

Alfie Best Junior, Owner of Best Park Homes, added: “We have a long-standing and highly effective relationship with HSBC. The bank previously supported the acquisition of our park in Crays Hill in Essex and, with this latest purchase, we can improve the residential home offering in Dunstable. We look forward to offering current and new residents a bigger and better place to live.”

Sunday, 28 May 2017

EDUCATION - Party Manifesto's 2017

#GE2017 Let's look at Education, and the parties manifesto's, what are they saying, why are they saying it, and what's in store for us depending on who we vote for?


"There are still 1 million children in primary and secondary schools rated by Ofsted as ’requires improvement’ or ’inadequate’. "
"We will deliver more good school places, ending the ban on selective schools and asking universities and independent schools to help run state schools."
"Thanks to our school reforms– such as the establishment of free schools and academies, and changes to ensure a rigorous curriculum – there are more good and outstanding schools today than ever before. There are now more than 1.8 million more children in schools rated good and outstanding than in 2010."
"The proportion of pupils taking core academic subjects at GCSE has almost doubled."
"A Conservative government will strengthen the teaching of literacy and numeracy in the early years so that all pupils – regardless of background – get the best possible start in life. "
"We will continue with our programme of free schools, building at least a hundred new free schools a year. "
"We will prohibit councils from creating any new places in schools that have been rated either ‘inadequate’ or ‘requires improvement’ by Ofsted."
" We will replace the unfair and ineffective inclusivity rules that prevent the establishment of new Roman Catholic schools, instead requiring new faith schools to prove that parents of other faiths and none would be prepared to send their children to that school."
"We will bear down on unnecessary paperwork and the burden of Ofsted inspections. "
" We will be clear at the outset that we will never introduce a mandatory lottery-based school admissions policy."
"We will build on the success of the phonics screening test. We will expect every 11-year old to know their times tables off by heart. "
💷"We will increase the overall schools budget by £4 billion by 2022"
"We will continue to protect the Pupil Premium to support those who need it."
🍽 "We do not believe that giving school lunches to all children free of charge for the first three years of primary school – regardless of the income of their parents – is a sensible use of public money. "
"We will introduce, this year, thirty hours of free childcare for three and four-year-olds for working parents who find it difficult to manage the costs of childcare"
" We will introduce a presumption that all new primary schools should include a nursery"
"We will introduce mental health first aid training for teachers in every primary and secondary school by the end of the parliament and ensure that every school has a single point of contact with mental health services."
" We will reform Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services so that children with serious conditions are seen within an appropriate timeframe and no child has to leave their local area and their family to receive normal treatment."
"We will review support for Children in Need to understand why their outcomes are so poor."
"We will create new ’schools maps’ to help parents choose the school that is right for their child"


"Ensure that all front-line public service professionals, including in schools and universities, receive better training in mental health"
"Schools should be free to encourage children to participate in a truly rounded curriculum including the arts, sport and culture that broaden children’s learning and develop their passion for education."
💷"We will invest nearly £7 billion extra in our children’s education – increasing school budgets and the Pupil Premium to protect against rising costs and pupil numbers, and introducing a fairer national funding formula."
💷"We will invest in high-quality early years education, tripling the Early Years Pupil Premium to £1,000."
"We will oppose any new selective schools and giving local authorities proper democratic control over admissions and new schools."
"We will reverse all cuts to front-line school and college budgets, protecting per-pupil funding in real terms."
"We will introduce a fairer national funding system with a protection for all schools, so that no school loses money."
"We will protect the Pupil Premium which targets extra help at disadvantaged children."
"We will raise the quality of early years provision and aim for every formal early years setting to employ at least one person who holds an early years teacher qualification by 2022. "
"We will end the 1% cap on teachers’ pay rises."
"We will guarantee that all teachers in state-funded schools will be fully qualified or working towards qualified teacher status (QTS) from January 2019."
"We will introduce a clear and properly funded entitlement to genuinely high-quality professional development for all teachers – 25 hours per year by 2020, rising to the OECD average of 50 hours by 2025."
"We will support proper long-term planning of initial teacher training places, prioritising close partnerships with higher education and specialist routes such as Teach First in order to recruit the highest-quality teachers in shortage areas such as science, technology, engineering, the arts and maths.
"We will tackle unnecessary teacher workloads, including by establishing an independent Education Standards Authority to pilot, phase in and resource future policy changes in consultation with professionals and experts."
"We will reform Ofsted inspections so that they include a focus on longer-term outcomes and sustainable improvement as well as teacher workload, sickness and retention."
"We will support the establishment of a new, independent Foundation for Leadership in Education, working under the umbrella of the Chartered College of Teaching, to promote high-quality, evidence-based leadership and help the best leaders into the most challenging schools."
"We will continue to work with the Education Endowment Foundation to establish a comprehensive evidence base on what works in teaching."
"We will give democratically accountable local authorities clear responsibility for local school places planning and repeal the rule that all new state-funded schools must be free schools or academies. We will encourage local head teachers
with a strong record to play a key role in school improvement, working with schools and local authorities.
"We will scrap the planned expansion of grammar schools and devolve all capital monies for new school spaces to local authorities."
"We will allow Ofsted to inspect both local authorities and academy chains."
"We will rule out state-funded profit-making schools and ensure that new schools are built in areas where there is a need for new school places, instead of wasting money on oversupply."
"We will ensure that identification and support for special educational needs and disabilities takes place as early as possible. All new policies should have an assessment of how they affect pupils who have special educational needs, and ensure they adhere to duties under the Equality Act"
🍽"We will  extend free school meals to all children in primary education and promote school breakfast clubs"
"We will establish a new online Family University, supported by leading organisations such as the BBC and Open University, to provide every family with advice and guidance for learning and parenting at home, as well as inspiring trips out and local opportunities."


"roll out educational provision for early years children"
" will not waste money on inefficient free schools and the Conservatives’ grammar schools"
" does not want a return to secondary moderns."
"We will  oppose any attempt to force schools to become academies. "
"We will make sure schools are properly resourced  ensuring that all schools have the resources they need."
"We will introduce a fairer funding formula that leaves no school worse off."
"We will redress the historical underfunding of certain schools"
"We  will also invest in new school buildings, including the phased removal of asbestos from existing schools"
"We trust in teachers and support staff professionalism to refocus their workload on what happens in the classroom."
"...  simplify the admissions process for parents and to ensure that no child slips through the net."
"we will reduce class sizes to less than 30 for all five, six, and seven year-olds."
🍽 "we will introduce free school meals for all primary school children"
"We will abandon plans to reintroduce baseline assessments"
"We will tackle the teacher recruitment and retention crisis by ending the public-sector pay cap"
"We will scrap the plans for schools to pay the apprenticeship levy."
"We will extend schools-based counselling to all schools to improve children’s mental health."
"We will ensure that access to a counselling service is available for all children in secondary schools."
"We will deliver a strategy for children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) based on inclusivity"
"Labour would abandon Conservative plans to once again reinvent the wheel by building new technical colleges, redirecting the money to increase teacher numbers in the FE sector."
"remove the VAT exemption on private school fees."
"We will reintroduce the Schools Support Staff Negotiating Body and national pay settlements for teachers. "
"We will increase the number of health visitors and school nurses."
💷"will introduce an arts pupil premium to every primary school in England – a £160 million annual per year boost for schools to invest in projects that will support cultural activities for schools over the longer term."


"We will properly fund our schools so real term spending per pupil increases and is protected."
"Bring Academies and Free Schools into the local authority system, abolish SATS and reduce class sizes."
"Scrap university tuition fees, fund full student grants and greater public investment in further and higher education."
"Restore Education Maintenance Allowance and enable apprenticeships to all qualified young people aged 16-25."
"Free universal early education and childcare for all children, with formal education starting at age 7."
"Address the crisis of teacher workload, with measures such as abolishing Ofsted, and reforming the curriculum so that it is pupil-centred, freeing up teachers to teach."
"Ensuring that every child with Special Educational Needs or Disability has access to a mainstream education, in accordance with the UN Convention for Persons with Disabilities."