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Hello everyone

Well, this has been a year like no other……. Coronavirus has impacted on all of our lives in a way virtually unimaginable around 12 months ago. Unfortunately, some of us have seen first-hand the devastating health impact of this deadly virus on our friends, families and colleagues and changed the way that we all live and work.
 
However, we have also had much to celebrate and be thankful for, including; 
  • the amazing agility of the third sector in responding at speed to the pandemic
  • the brilliant community response
VSGWL was able to take a leadership role and respond positively by working at pace to provide a coordinated response to help and support to communities in West Lothian. I would like to take the opportunity to pay tribute to the whole VSGWL team for their support and work throughout the year. Like many organisations, we moved quickly to provide digital help and support to the public and sector – even though we weren’t set up to do so. 

We have seen fantastic examples of 'service before self' shown by colleagues right across the Third Sector. The rapid mobilisation of the Sector in responding to the crisis was genuinely remarkable - and continues to be foremost in the range of essential services still being offered.
 
I want to also acknowledge the incredible community response from individuals across the area. Over 1300 individuals signed up to volunteer to help support their neighbours, communities and those in most need.

Some of the learnings about working from home will inevitably stay with us as we move forward and eventually out from this pandemic. With the welcome news of the vaccine being rolled out, there is real hope of some return to `normal` over the coming months. Who knows, we may even reach a point when cries of `you`re still on mute` becomes a thing of the past!!

Thanks to each and every one of you.

Wishing you and your families a Merry Christmas and a Happy, safe New Year. All the best for 2021!

Alan McCloskey
CEO
VSGWL
Org in the Spotlight - December 2020
Cyrenians OPAL (Older People, Active Lives) supports older people to increase their independence and well-being across the West Lothian area. Our aim is to re-connect isolated people with social, leisure and community activities. We do this by providing regular one-to-one support, which can include home visits, outings, phone conversations and help in attending local groups and activities. We also provide 13 social & activity groups across West Lothian.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, our regular face-to-face services have not been possible, so we had to look for other ways to keep isolated older people connected in the community. Since March, we’ve been providing weekly telephone support, online social groups over Zoom, letters and activity packs through the post, digital support to help people connect with friends & family and socially distanced doorstep visits to those most in need.

With the Covid-19 vaccination programme now under way, we’re looking forward to being able to re-start our one-to-one home visits and groups. Until that time comes we’ll continue to develop and improve our current range of services.

We’d love to hear from you if you or someone you know could benefit from our support. We’re also recruiting volunteers to support our current services, but also to get involved in our return to regular services when that becomes possible. In either case, please contact us on 01506 815 815 or opal@cyrenians.scot. You can also find us online at www.facebook.com/OPALCyrenians and www.cyrenians.scot/OPAL
Funding Available

Apply for a grant through the Kickstart Scheme - You can use the Kickstart Scheme to create new 6-month job placements for young people who are currently on Universal Credit and at risk of long-term unemployment. Updated 11 September with examples of what information applicants can provide to show the Kickstart Scheme job placements are new jobs.
Charity Bank COVID-19 Funding List As a result of the Coronavirus, many organisations are now in an extremely precarious position, often having to deliver additional services with fewer volunteers and staff members, while having to cancel fundraising activities. Here you will find a list of emergency funds for charities and social enterprises that are experiencing difficulties. It will be updated as new opportunities are identified.
Community & Third Sector Recovery Programme The Community & Third Sector Recovery Programme aims to support charities, community groups, social enterprises and voluntary organisations that are supporting people and communities through the shift from lockdown to recovery. As well as providing ongoing crisis support, they will be planning and implementing changes to adapt and thrive in a very different social and economic climate.
Connecting Scotland Funding - Supporting the most vulnerable to get online - The Connecting Scotland Programme aims to get 50,000 digitally excluded households online by the end of 2021. If you are an organisation that already works with the target groups for this initiative, you can apply for devices to distribute.
The Response, Recovery and Resilience Fund - In partnership with the National Emergencies Trust, we're providing funding to support charities and constituted community groups that have been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. Our Response, Recovery and Resilience Fund launched at the end of March and by 1st November had distributed just over £6 million in funds to 1,180 charities and community groups the length of Scotland. 
The Robertson Trust - Following the launch of our 2020-30 strategy last week, we are delighted to now introduce our new funds. Scotland’s charities and community organisations will be able to access funding to support work which aims to alleviate the effects of poverty and trauma on individuals and communities across the country.
 
General News

A2E Vacancy Bulletin – Latest Vacancy Bulletin from Access2Employment.
Asda to donate over one million meals to help the most vulnerable this Christmas - This Christmas Asda are donating 1 million meals to help combat holiday hunger. Food grants of up to £1000 are available to community groups through the Asda Foundation, contact your local store for more information.
Board Members needed for Community Action Blackburn - Community Action Blackburn are currently looking for new volunteer Charity Directors. They are looking for people local to Blackburn who might be interested in supporting a community led charity in their local area. They would be also keen to hear from people further afield, particularly with financial knowledge.
Consultation Launch - Revision of the National Guidance for Child Protection in Scotland - The Scottish Government is seeking your views on the revised National Guidance for Child Protection in Scotland which will replace the current National Guidance published in 2014.
Cyrenians OPAL Evening Group – Evening online social group for 60+
Equalities Outcomes Consultation - The Equality Act 2010 requires all public bodies (such as councils and the health service) to publish equality outcomes at least every four years. Equality outcomes aim to achieve specific and identifiable improvements in people's life chances, eliminate discrimination and foster good relations.
Employment Opportunity with CAB – CAB are recruiting a Pension Wise Guidance Specialist.
Impact Arts Employability Fund January Recruitment - Impact Arts are currently recruiting for their January Creative Pathways course and within that course they have space for 9 Employability Fund places for 16/17 year olds.
Kidzeco update on current services - An update on the current services provided.
Mental health information for employers - Information and guidance on looking after your employees’ mental health is available from Healthy Working Lives.
OPAL Service Provision – Helping older people in West Lothian stay connected in 2020
Org in the Spotlight - This months Org in the Spotlight is Cyrenians OPAL.
Scottish Government research survey to understand practical and emotional barriers to adherence with coronavirus restrictions - During the coronavirus pandemic, restrictions and guidance has been introduced to limit the spread of the virus. These important restrictions have changed the way we shop, travel, work and socialise. Evidence shows that some people are finding it difficult to follow the restrictions completely for a range of reasons. This short anonymous survey asks a few questions about experiences of coronavirus restrictions, to help understand barriers in more detail. It asks what people have found easy and difficult.
Social Security Scotland - Devolved Benefits -  ​Social Security Scotland is the new service that has been created by the Scottish Government to deliver a number of benefits. These benefits will transfer from the UK Government to the Scottish Government in stages over the next four years. Social Security Scotland deliver benefits to residents of Scotland who may be on low incomes, disabled, carers, young people entering the workplace and to help people heat their homes.
St Andrew's First Aid are looking for new volunteers in West Lothian - St Andrew's First Aid are looing for new volunteers in Perth, Dundee and Angus and Edinburgh and Lothian.
TFN Guide to Running a Charity or Social Enterprise 2020-21 - TFN’s Guide to Running A Charity or Social Enterprise 2020/21 is out now – and you can read it here! This year’s edition is a guide like no other, as it has been a year like no other.
The Corporate Insolvency and Governance Act 2020 - These regulations extend the ‘relevant period’ set out in Schedule 14 of the Corporate Insolvency and Governance Act 2020, meaning that SCIOs can continue to hold remote members meetings until 30 March 2021.
Westspace Newsletter - December Newsletter from Westspace.
If you would like to make a submission to our eBulletin/Website/Social Media then please email vsg@vsgwl.org
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Voluntary Sector Gateway West Lothian is a Registered Company in Scotland No. SC244154 and is a Registered Scottish Charity No. SC027612.

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