Newsletter and Update No. 18 – 27th November 2020

Message from Cath Witherington – Chief Officer 

Still coping with the national restrictions and the uncertainty of what freedoms we may have over the festive season is making things difficult for us all.   So it’s brilliant to hear some good news this week which means we are beginning to see some light at the end of the tunnel.  With some great news about the future prospective vaccines – and a return to normal at some stage next year, I think makes things that little bit easier to stick to the hands – face – space mantra for now, despite a return to Tier 3 rules next week.  I know it doesn’t make planning for Christmas any easier, but I’d rather help to keep my friends and family healthy – so that we can enjoy many more celebrations in the years to come.

One of the lovely things about my role is being able to support and witness the tremendous work of our sector in making a difference to people’s lives.  It was an absolute pleasure to donate laptops to The Doncaster Cancer Support Drop in Centre and YWCA Yorkshire last week.  Both recipients were enormously grateful and told me how transformational those devices would be in helping them reach out and support even more people in Doncaster.  As I have said before, I really do want Voluntary Action Doncaster to do what we can not only to support the sector, but also to celebrate and recognise our local heroes.  So I was delighted to hear this week that one of our member organisations – Tickhill Community Connections has been nominated and shortlisted to the last 20 of the Big Thank You Awards (Yorkshire Post/Sheffield Star).  The public decides on the winner so it would be great if you could cast a vote for our local contender.  Voting closes on 1st December so you need to act quickly.

The winners will be announced at a virtual awards event on Friday the 11th December 7pm. Everyone in Yorkshire will be able to tune in and watch the Big Thank You winners get their awards.

I am delighted that this newsletter is once again full of a wide range of information and opportunities – so thank you to everyone who contributes.  Next time, we will be having a really strong focus on volunteering.  So if you have any stories about what your volunteers are doing, or you are looking to recruit volunteers let us know by 9th December

A Letter from Dr Rupert Suckling

In response to Thursday’s announcement regarding Doncaster going into Tier 3 from 2nd December, Dr Rupert Suckling, our Director of Public Health has written a letter to all Voluntary, Community and Faith leaders. 

Cyber and Financial Protection

As we’re now more online than ever, the Digital Intelligence and Investigations Team at South Yorkshire Police has developed a really helpful booklet to help people protect themselves from Cyber Crime. You can read and download The Little Book of Cyber Scams which provides information on the different types of cyber crimes and how to protect yourself. Please do share it with colleagues, friends and family.

Voluntary Action Doncaster is also delighted to host a Zoom session so that Dannielle Lee, Cyber Protect Officer and her colleague Andy Foster, Financial Protect Officer can share some really helpful hints and tips about how we can protect ourselves from Cyber and other Financial crimes.  Please do come along at 11am on 10 December 2020.  We will finish by 12.30pm.  To join this meeting click on the following link or use the ID code below: 

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 455 647 6397

Wellbeing Therapy via Woodlands Community Hub

Woodlands Community Hub has been funded by DMBC to broaden their services to all residents in the borough, and from the new year will be stepping up their capacity to deliver additional sessions. The service entails hypnotherapy alongside counselling and support, though clients can choose either or both interventions. This is a face to face service, following Covid safe protocols.

Therefore, they are seeking increased referral routes into the service. At this point they accept referrals from agencies, community groups and voluntary groups that support people in some capacity. The referrals are not highly detailed assessments, merely an indication that the person is in need and would benefit from therapeutic support (although the key exemption is that psychiatric conditions cannot be supported through this service).

Any organisation that would be interested in referring service users or members can contact Michel Romano (email: or phone: 07714210747) to discuss further.

Sharing the News – Active Independence

Active Independence are now producing two e-bulletins tailored for Disabled People and their Personal Assistants. 

“I cannot thank you enough just knowing that someone out there recognises us & cares enough to have a newsletter”PA from Doncaster

Have a look and then sign up to receive either of these newsletters at Join Our Network.

If you have any news or items you wish to share with Active Independence members, please email Fiona at

Active Independence have also issued a press release regarding the great news that they have received a share of £1.5m National Emergencies Trust (NET) funding to support grassroots Disabled Persons Groups to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.

This grant will enable the Active Independence to support to Disabled People and PAs by:

  • expanding their Advocacy Service throughout South Yorkshire and surrounding areas
  • helping people with anything from disability benefits to Blue Badges, housing and care issues.
  • promoting their Personal Assistance Register for employers looking for PAs and PAs searching for work across the region
  • updating and developing online Training Programmes to support people to employ PAs safely
  • expanding their confidential PA Support Service offering advice and guidance to PAs across the county
  • provide up-to-date news and support around Covid-19

We look forward to seeing more of their fantastic work in the future.

Winter Wellness

Thrive at Doncaster Mind, IMP;ACT and Safe Space work in partnership and have come together to respond to the mental health and wellbeing needs of individuals in the Doncaster Community. They have developed a useful booklet which includes coping strategies, who to turn to for financial guidance, tips to overcome isolation and loneliness, and more.

To find the necessary contact details to gain access to this booklet, or to find out more about each of the organisations involved, take a look at the leaflet they have provided.

It’s also Fuel Poverty Awareness Day on Friday 27th November – the perfect time to make sure that everyone has the help they need to keep warm and safe this winter. 

Here are some important resources:

Please share this information with your staff, colleagues and partners, including anyone who works directly with Doncaster residents. 

PPE Packs and Face Coverings

PPE is now available for community organisations once again.  

What does a PPE pack include?

Each PPE Pack will include the following items:

  • 6x Small bottles of Hand Gel
  • 1x Pack of Hand Wipes
  • 1x Pack of Disposable Gloves

If your group or organisation would like some of these please contact Hannah McWilliams from Well Doncaster ( and let her know how many you would like. They are advising ordering no more than 3 packs at a time. Hannah will then liaise with colleagues and confirm there is enough stock availability and when these can be delivered and then get back to you with these times and days.

They also currently have some face coverings available for distribution to community groups, organisations and food banks. Face coverings will be available in packs of 50. Please let Hannah know if you or your organisation would like to access face coverings and if so, how many you would like to request. If you could also provide a delivery address with your request, it will speed up the process of distributing these.

Hannah will then pass on this information to her colleagues and delivery of face coverings will be sorted with Refurnish.

Health and Social Care Voluntary Sector Forum

The Health and Social Care Voluntary Sector Forum has now been active for over 8 years. Over the past year the attendance has been a smaller group and they are now revamping the membership list as there may be new people or organisations who wish to join.

Membership is open to those who feel they will gain from attending these meetings and are able to contribute in whatever way is best for them, their organisation and the forum. You can read the current Terms of Reference, however they are due to be reviewed in the future.

The next meeting is scheduled for Tuesday 5TH January 2021, 10AM to 12PM via a Microsoft Teams Call.

If you would like to join this forum please contact Mandy Willis (

Get Your Project or Group on BBC TV & Radio 

“It’s that time of year again when we ask key local voluntary, community organisations & charities organisations if there’s a long feature we can do on your work or your project which will run several times over our BBC Radio Sheffield & BBC Look North Christmas schedules. 

It doesn’t have to be Christmas related, in fact if it isn’t it would be better. We’d also use shorter versions for our news bulletins. 

We’d need to speak to real people you’re helping, supporting or working with about their experiences and your spokesperson too. 

If you have something you think might make a good story/feature and which highlights your work please get in touch at or call me on 07711 913313.”

Loneliness Research Study

A NIHR research study with the University of Oxford and York around loneliness and social isolation has begun, and they are looking for participants! The study involves two stages – a national phase and a local phase of co-design which will take place in Doncaster next year. In Phase 1 it is anticipated that there will be around 50 interviews across the UK exploring experiences of loneliness and the aspiration is to reach a wide number of service users including some from the following groups:

  • People with depression 
  • LGBTQ+ community
  • Migrants and asylum-seekers
  • Substance users
  • Homeless people  

In Phase 2 (in 2021) a local cohort of staff and residents will be recruited from Doncaster and details will be circulated in the new year regarding the next stage.

The universities are hoping to capture experiences from a number of areas across the UK and from those who have received support from services. For more information and details about participating, have a look at their Project Outline and their flyer about the study.

Census 2021

Households across Doncaster will soon be asked to take part in the nationwide survey of housing and the population. It has been carried out every decade since 1801, with the exception of 1941. 

Information from the digital-first census will help decide how services are planned and funded in your local area. This could mean things like doctors’ surgeries, housing or new bus routes. Households will receive a letter with a unique access code in the post, allowing them to complete their questionnaire online. Paper questionnaires will be available on request. Census day is 21st March 2021.

There are also a range of support services available, including help by phone, webchat, email, social media or text message. If you can’t get online or need help completing the census online, there’ll be Census Support Centres across England and Wales. We’ll also have guidance in a range of languages and accessible formats. Households will be sent a letter inviting them to take part in early March.

For more information about all the help available visit the Census website and have a look at their Community handbook.

Funding Opportunities

Thriving Communities Fund

This week there was a webinar to launch the new Thriving Communities Fund.  The fund aims to support local voluntary, community, faith and social enterprise (VCSFSE) projects that bring together place-based partnerships to improve and increase the range and reach of available social prescribing community activities – especially for those people most impacted by COVID19 and health inequalities.  This Fund, totalling £1.4 million is being delivered by Arts Council England is looking to make approximately 30 awards of up to £50,000 nationally.  Applications have opened and will close on 8th January 2021.  The level of competition for these limited funds will be immense. So the panel will be looking for new and innovative approaches that tick all the boxes and are developed by strong collaborative partnerships.  So I’m interested to try and find out who is already, or is thinking about working on ideas for developing a bid for Doncaster.  If you are, or want some feedback from the workshop I attended please do get in touch with or call on 01302 965459. For more information about eligibility and key dates, check out their website.

Barrier Buster Fund

Well Doncaster have received some monies to support Doncaster based Social Enterprises overcome barriers faced during the COVID pandemic, they will be issuing this as the Barrier Buster Fund.

The key requirements are:

  • Must be a constituted group, CIC, Social Enterprise, Charity, or faith based organisation – we cannot fund un-constituted groups
  • The grant must be to overcome a COVID related barrier in delivering their product or service
  • Grants are up to £500 but there is no lower limit
  • Must have a bank account in the organisations name
  • Must agree to spend the monies within 3 months of receipt
  • Agree to sign up to and engage with the CWB project
  • Will need to provide proof of spend
  • Will be asked to take part in case studies

Applications must be sent to and clearly marked Barrier Buster Fund. For postal applications or key contacts see the information page.

South Yorkshire Community Resilience Fund

We know that Covid-19 has hit our communities hard, but it has been inspiring to see charities, social enterprises and local community groups pulling together and achieving remarkable things. However, just at the moment when our communities need them the most, charities and community organisations have seen their income devastated by Covid-19 and the lock-down.

That’s why the South Yorkshire Community Resilience Programme will make grants to charities and community organisations delivering essential services to vulnerable people: supporting the resilience of these vital charities and community organisations.

The South Yorkshire Community Resilience Fund will make grants to charities and community organisations:

  • To ensure essential services are provided to vulnerable people, both in the short and long term through increased community support for the work of charitable organisations.
  • To reduce closures of charities that provide essential services to vulnerable groups during the Covid-19 crisis by ensuring they have the financial resources to operate, thereby reducing the burden on public services.
  • To sustain vital charitable work due to the added pressures brought about by Covid-19 and different fundraising techniques.
  • To fund those charities and community organisations adjusting their services and activities to respond to future delivery.

Find more information about this fund and the application process on their website.

Job Opportunities

Neighbourhood Engagement & Response Officer – Doncaster Council

As a Neighbourhood Engagement and Response Officer you would be working with Doncaster Council’s Communities Service. You would be working with the Communities Area Teams based across the borough, providing a highly visible, front facing public service offering engagement and responding to local identified issues.

You would play a key part in supporting and delivering a highly visible presence that engages with members of the public, local organisations and businesses, providing them with reassurance and information, advice and guidance on Covid-19 related issues. You would also take part in promotional activities that share good practice including educational campaigns aimed at improving understanding of regulations and guidance currently in place.

They are looking for candidates with the following skills:

  • Excellent communication.
  • Ability to engage with people with challenging behaviour.
  • Understanding of partnership working.
  • Able to work flexibly in the interests of the service, this will include evening and weekend day work.
  • Able to take responsibility for organising own work effectively and maintaining accurate records.

The closing date for applications is 3rd December 2020. You can find more details about the role and apply via the Doncaster Council website.

Fundraiser – Doncaster Mind

In this role, you would be expected to develop and implement a fundraising action plan for Doncaster Mind with support from the Senior Management Team, increase their community fundraising opportunities including events and increase their links and fundraising opportunities with corporate organisations. 

This role is for 15 hours a week and applications close on 7th December 2020. You can find further details about the role and applying on their website.

Mental Health & Wellbeing Trainer – Doncaster Mind

In this role you would need to deliver consistent high quality training packages such as Mental Health First Aid, Suicide Prevention, Stress Management and Resilience Training, create content for standard and bespoke courses and update these based as necessary. You would also need to actively promote the training opportunities offered by Doncaster Mind, manage enquiries about Doncaster Mind training interventions and develop a training marketing and publicity plan with support from the senior management team.

This role is for 22.5 hours a week and applications close on 7th December 2020. You can find further details about the role and applying on their website.

Director – SAGE Sheffield

With funding secured currently until July 2021, SAGE are seeking an exceptional and passionate person to join them in the role of Director. As operational lead, the appointed person will help define and shape the future of this recognised charity whilst working closely with the trustees.

They are looking for an experienced individual who has a proven track record of senior management and strategy deployment. As Director you would also be the primary contact for the organisation with responsibility for raising the profile of the organisation, generating income and managing the operations.

The work will be not only demanding but is also varied and interesting. The successful candidate will be expected to develop an understanding of the service delivery, including helping deliver to the groups if necessary, and also represent the public face of SAGE. There will be regular contact with the public, referral agencies, beneficiaries, trustees and other organisations.

Find out more about the role and how to apply via the job advertisement or via the online job listing.

Our Social Media Channels

We now regularly update our Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn accounts so please do follow us!

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