Getting help from Shropshire Community Council
PUBLISHED: 10:53 05 January 2011 | UPDATED: 20:39 20 February 2013
Shropshire Community Council has been helping the helpers for 50 years, here's <br/><br/>how it can support your organisation
In an era of austerity and uncertainty, more and more people look to organisations in their community to provide information, support, entertainment and companionship. And these organisations rely increasingly on the time and goodwill of local people to keep them growing.
With more than 2,000 of these groups in the county, Shropshire leads the way in rural community life. Shropshire people are renowned for giving their time freely to maintain thriving and supportive communities. People juggle busy lives with serving as a parish councillor, managing a village hall, being part of a good neighbour scheme, leading a youth group and raising money for good causes.
So where do these groups look for support when they need it?
For the past 50 years the Community Council of Shropshire has been helping many of these groups, associations, charities and enterprises to grow and flourish.
Over the decades the charity, one of 38 community councils across England, has developed specialist knowledge and is trusted by communities across the county to provide independent and responsive support.
So how can the Community Council help your organisation?
Funding advice and grants
Finding resources to run a community group is always a challenge. In the past six months, the Community Council has advised more than 100 community groups about where to look for funding and how to put together their application.
To complement this advice, the Community Council manages a number of small grants to help groups from across Shropshire with their work. Local childrens charity Longmynd Adventure Camp sought the Community Councils help with a 100,000 refurbishment project. With the aid of personal funding advice, access to an online database of grant funders and two small grants, the camps trustees were able to get their project fully funded well ahead of schedule. When it comes to managing or joining a voluntary organisation, we are definitely not alone, says Kim March, the camps fundraising officer.
Building strong management committees
Working behind the scenes in every well-run community group is a trustee board or management committee making sure the organisation is operating effectively. The Community Council is on hand to help volunteers understand their charitable duties, complex legal issues and how to work effectively as a management group.
The Community Councils Charity Trustees Network enables trustees to learn about the important issues they face and to discuss matters with others in the same position. Specialist guest speakers attend free quarterly meetings to inform trustees about issues including insurance, annual reports and incorporation.
One-to-one advice for trustees is also available from the Community Council. Vice chair of Knockin Assembly Rooms, Clare Roberts explains that the Community Council has supported our committee greatly from their assistance during funding negotiations to the general day-to-day.
Volunteers are the lifeblood for community groups in Shropshire. Working in partnership with Oswestry Community Action, the Community Council supports individuals seeking voluntary work. The Community Council helps groups to develop rewarding volunteering opportunities and to train, support and retain volunteers and to promote their vacancies. South Shropshire-based community food scheme, Grow Cook and Share needed help with preparing the ground for a new vegetable garden. Volunteering Officer, Clive Leworthy matched the group to a team of nine trainee pharmacists from Boots with the group for a day as part of an employer-supported volunteering initiative. Valerie Meehan, coordinator of Grow, Cook and Share reported that the volunteers worked incredibly hard. They managed to level the site, lay paths and backfill raised beds with 10 tons of topsoil in just one day.
Training and events
The Community Council coordinates courses, briefing sessions and conferences on numerous topics relevant to voluntary and community groups. Courses and events bring together people from a wide range of groups who share an interest in learning more about topics such as fundraising, developing a marketing plan or evaluating your project, explains Maxine Betts, Head of Rural Services. Our recently completed training suite provides a well equipped, easily accessible space in which we can deliver courses in Shrewsbury and we also make use of several community buildings to take courses and events out into communities.
For more information about how the Community Council could support your group, call 01743 360641 or visit www.shropshire-rcc.org.uk