Tag Archives: third sector

Asset Transfer: Everything you need to know

What were the key learning points from WCVA’s Asset Transfer event? The National Assets Working Group reflect on the day.

Asset TransferThe Asset Transfer event organised by the WCVA was a day of learning for all of us involved in community asset transfers – community groups, local councils and members of the National Assets Working Group (NAWG). For us in NAWG, it was an opportunity to engage directly with groups taking part in community asset transfers.

Setting out our stall

Sharing a stand with colleagues from the Welsh Government responsible for the Protecting Community Assets consultation, we brought our lifetime supply of Community Asset Transfers in Wales – A Best Practice Guide. By the time Lyn Cadwallader, Chair of One Voice Wales recommended the guidance, all copies of the English language version had gone (luckily, the internet never runs out!)

Our Welsh Government colleagues also offered up copies of their consultation on Protecting Community Assets (closing date 11 September 2015) – please have your say.

Opening Speeches

Jane Hutt AM, Minister for Finance and Government Business, outlined the Welsh Government’s support for community asset transfer and took questions from delegates. One question from the floor (with no easy answer) asked about funding for feasibility studies for community groups looking to take over community assets.

After the Minister’s speech, there were two speakers from the social enterprise sector; Louise Barr from Monwel, discussed their expansion as Wales’ largest signage manufacturer. The second speaker, Dinah Pye, from Cynon Valley Museum outlined their story in negotiating with Rhondda Cynon Taf council to re-open their heritage museum. She outlined the challenges arising from originating as a pressure group, then morphing into Trustees of the facility; namely that they had the correct skillset for the future and the importance of getting expert advice at the right time on contracts and employment law.

Workshops

We were as keen to learn from the event as we were to engage with people and attended different workshops to gain some coverage of the issues being discussed. These included DTA Wales’ workshop on establishing viability of the community enterprise/ service – exploring how if an asset wasn’t viable, then it could become a liability.

Empower delivered an interesting workshop on developing an entrepreneurial culture within the team – stressing the need to be clear in target setting for outcomes; transparency on why that was necessary (how much money would be required each month to stay viable); and the need for everyone involved to own the solutions. There were also some sobering examples of poor management and cost control, bringing charities to the brink of insolvency.

There was a lot of emphasis given to the need to be as prepared as possible – business plans, employment law and TUPE were mentioned as recurring themes.

Representatives of Unity Trust Bank (an ethical and social bank) and the WCVA funding programme talked through how and when to access the funding available to social enterprise and community groups for both the initial community asset transfer and following that, any capital investment that might be needed. The message to take away was that loan finance can actually help attract other grant funding as the bank welcomes being part of match funding with other funding partners. Applicants should not be afraid to consider a range of funding streams and be prepared to think outside the box. There is plenty of advice and help available, be brave they said!

Geldards talked delegates through the legal issues that can present when groups and individuals take up the challenge of pursuing an asset transfer. They helped navigate the potential steps from a germ of an idea through to a full incorporation as a charitable or social enterprise organisation, focusing on how the risk of personal liability for an asset can be managed.

Logos of organisations that contributed

Organisations that contributed to the conference

Reflections on the day

The event presented much needed access to information and professional advice, which can be provided by contacting the WCVA on their number: 0800 2888 329.

Whilst the work of the NAWG is focussed on the Welsh public sector, with the spotlight on community asset transfer, it was useful for us to discover the experiences of delegates, first hand. This will inevitably inform our work in this area and practically speaking, inform the development of our website and future guidance work. Engage with us at assetscymru@wales.gsi.gov.uk.

Protecting your charity

Trustees Shared Learning Seminar

Our Trustees seminars are inspiring affairs. There’s nothing like working in a room full of people who are giving their time and expertise for free to make you realise there is a lot of good in the world we live in. Having worked in the voluntary sector for eight years before starting work at the Wales Audit Office, I’ve got a bit of an emotional investment in the sector too.

In the opening session of both days we heard from Mike Palmer and Chris Bolton talk about the Wales Audit Office’s public interest reports. As an organisation we really want to avoid the kind of circumstances where we need to produce them, so these seminars are our way of trying to prevent or reduce the likelihood of this happening in the future.

Trustees Seminar - Seminar Ymddiriedolwyr

I attended the Charity Commission’s workshops at both events, where it was clear that the best way to protect your charity is to have the right processes in place at the start. It sounds like an obvious message, but many people said that their focus was very much on the work of the charity, and very often the process tended to be forgotten about.

It was interesting to hear about the steps that organisations are taking to ensure that they manage risks. One trustee mentioned ‘the press test’ – how would their actions be viewed if they were covered in detail by the press? It’s a simple approach that encourages trustees to reflect on their decisions and to avoid making decisions in haste. The bottom line is that everything they do has to be in the best interest of the charity.

There was also discussion about inductions and training. Do trustees have a clear idea of what is expected of them? Have they been given the right information to enable them to get to grips with their roles effectively?

We had some fascinating discussions about what to do if something does go wrong. At the Cardiff seminar Rosie Stokes from the Charity Commission confirmed that using charitable funds for legal purposes is a valid use of charitable funds. It’s important that charities deal with issues effectively and rigorously if they want to protect their charity.

You can hear Rosie discuss the workshop in the above video, and the slides from the Charity Commission workshop are also online. It’s worth having a look at both so you can think about the messages within them and contrast them with what your organisation is doing. One of the key messages that came out of the event is that governing documents set out the aims and objectives of your charity. And if you’re working to those aims and objectives, then you’re far more likely to be delivering the effective services that your beneficiaries need.

Dyfrig

Can crowdfunding help to reshape public services?

Re-shaping services with the PublicAs someone who doesn’t know the meaning of the word ‘holiday’, the Good Practice Exchange Manager Chris Bolton is currently in Nova Scotia, where he’s learning about the work of the Nova Scotia Securities Commission.

The commission have been undertaking some work on crowdfunding recently, as they’re proposing exemptions so that small and medium size enterprises can raise money in a new way. It also means that investors have another way of investing in them. They’ve been running public information sessions in order to find out what people think.

Crowdfunding / Ariannu Torfol

Crowdfunding is where a project is funded by getting contributions from a large number of people, and this usually happens on the internet. As a music fan, I’ve taken part in a few crowdfunding exercises, where musicians are looking to produce work that wouldn’t see the light of day otherwise. That’s just the start of it – there are so many weird and wonderful projects out there, from the bacon themed cookery book to the three metre high inflatable statue of Lionel Richie’s head.

Could public services get involved in crowdfunding? Crowdfunding has really taken off in recent years, with umpteen different platforms available from IndieGoGo to Kickstarter. In the near future Heliwm will be launched too, which will focus on Welsh language creative and digital projects. It’s interesting to see that there’s even a platform for civic projects – Spacehive. It’s already been used to plug a funding gap at Glyncoch Community Centre, where a new community centre will be built to fit the community’s needs.

Nesta ask some key questions in this blog post – is there a risk of crowdfunded cash being used to replace what should normally be publicly funded? Could it work for services as well as products? These are very important questions to ask. But they also throw some positives into the mix, and I’d like to add another – could it help change the relationship between providers and recipients of services?

At the Good Practice Exchange we clearly recognise that Welsh public services have to change the way in which services are delivered and by also by whom. We have already seen that at our recent shared learning seminar on Reshaping Services in Cardiff, where we showcased public services being delivered by trusts, voluntary sector and community councils to name but a few. At the same seminar, Tony Bovaird told us that six million people work for public services, and there are over sixty million citizens in the UK. Yet the balance of power is still firmly in the hands of the minority. Could crowdfunding help to change the way that public services perceive people, so that they’re no longer seen as grateful recipients, but as key players in public service delivery?

So if you need to reshape a service and want some ideas of approaches, we’ll be holding a further seminar in Llanrwst on 18 September, and we currently have 9 places left. From our recent presentations at the Working With Not To network, we know that there are a lot of people in the area who are really passionate about putting co-production into action. We’re really looking forward to learning more about how the relationship between those who deliver and receive services is being changed in North Wales.

Dyfrig

Balanced Boards

Trustees Shared Learning Seminar

The recent Trustee Shared Learning Seminars resulted in a rich seam of approaches shared by delegates in Norma Jarboe’s workshop on Balanced Boards. Norma shared some current thinking around the importance of having a balanced board and some very thought provoking stats which reinforced some of her key messages, which you can see below.

During the workshop, delegates also shared some of their approaches with their workshop attendees. Following the workshop, I caught up with a few of the delegates to capture their comments.

I would like to thank Bernadette Fuge, Chair of Age Cymru, Ray Singh, Independent Member (Legal) of Velindre NHS Trust Board and Joanne Moore, HR and Governance Manager for Learning Disability Wales for giving up their time freely to enable us to share their knowledge as wide as possible.

Bernadette Fuge

Bernadette Fuge, shared Age Cymru’s approach in how they obtained a board with the necessary skill sets that reflected the direction of their organisation. Ray Singh also shared Velindre NHS Trust Board’s approach. Joanne Moore from Learning Disability Wales, shared the changes they have recently undertaken to widen the diversity of their board. In particular, how they recruited their new trustees and the different type of media they used to access hard to reach groups. At this point, several workshops attendees were busily scribbling down some of Joanne’s suggestions. Here comments are captured in this podcast.

Trustee Co-option seems to be a popular solution for some boards to bridge certain skill gaps.

Ray Singh of Velindre NHS Trust / Ray Singh o Ymddiriedolaeth GIG Velindre

Some delegates were struggling with the need to limit the time members served on their boards; some delegates shared situations where some board members had been members for more than 17 years. Ray Singh, Velindre NHS Trust Board’s Independent Board Member shared their approach to this matter. Bernadette Fuge also shared Age Cymru’s approach.

One of the very interesting approaches Age Cymru have adopted in recent years is annual appraisals for their Board Trustees. Bernadette provides more details in this podcast.

Several of the workshop delegates shared their inability to access hard to reach groups. Joanne Moore, HR and Governance Manager for Learning Disability Wales to share some of their approaches. Several workshops delegates were busily writing down what Jo had to say. So if you weren’t at this workshop, here is what she had to say.

Learning Disability Wales / Anabledd Dysgu Cymru

Hopefully, this blog has given you a bit of a flavour of the useful sharing of information that went on the Balanced Boards workshop. We have further information to share with you from our North Wales seminar so what this space!

Ena

Jyst Gweithdai WordPress / Just WordPress Workshops

Bydd Tanwen Grover a Dyfrig Williams o dîm y Gyfnewidfa Arfer Dda yn cynnal sesiwn ar blogio yn y 3ydd sector a’r sector cyhoeddus yn ddigwyddiad nesaf Defnyddwyr WordPress Cymru, sef Jyst Gweithdai WordPress. Cliciwch yma am ragor o wybodaeth.

Tanwen Grover and Dyfrig Williams from the Good Practice Exchange Wales are holding a session on blogging in the public and third sectors at the nest WordPress Users Wales Event – Just WordPress Workshops. Click here for further information.