Increase in numbers of charity accounts being closed by banks

Oxfam and save the Children are just two of the charities that have been hit as banks take the safe option for fear of falling foul of money laundering legislation.

Banks face potential fines of billions of pounds if they don't follow strict guidance on laws designed to weed out terrorist funding.

Charities have warned that the clamp-down is causing government-backed aid efforts to fail, humanitarian workers to be put at risk and deperate people to suffer.

The most charity accounts were closed by HSBC and Co-Operative Bank in the last two years, according to a Reuters survey of more than 30 case studies.

The UK government said it is setting up a working group comprising charity executives, bankers and officials to meet in the coming months to "drive to allow legitimate charities to operate unhindered.

Some banks are responding to the problem, but other institutions are taking the easy option and steering clear of allowing aid charities to set up new accounts or simply closing existing accounts with no warning.

Monowara Gani, a director of the Muslim Charities Forum, said: "Delayed and declined payments have become a regular recurrence in the sector with charities experiencing disruption to their objectives on a daily or weekly basis.”
Mike Parkinson, policy adviser for Oxfam UK, said he had encountered delays in opening bank accounts overseas.

"The humanitarian sector is struggling with a policy vacuum, leaving commercial organisations such as banks to set the risk rules for delivery of publicly-funded aid,” he said.
Tim Boyes-Watson, executive director of Mango which helps charities manage their finances said: "We feel like banks used to be competing for charity business, but now they are pushing us away.”

Read more here

Comic Relief Launch New Active Ageing Grants Programme (UK)

Comic Relief is providing a limited number of grants for local community based organisations to enable disadvantaged older people to design, deliver and take part in opportunities to contribute to their communities.

The new Active Ageing: Creating Change in Communities initiative is providing £1.5 million of funding in order to engage older people aged 65 and over from ‘harder to reach’ groups to get involved in opportunities which use their skills, knowledge and experience to contribute to their communities.
Registered and un-registered community based organisations and partnerships across the UK, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man can apply for grants of between £40,000 and £80,000 to support projects, initiatives and activities which primarily focus on benefitting older people, specifically those older people who do not usually participate in volunteering or social activities because they are from a disadvantaged community, or face barriers to participation. Comic Relief is also interested in supporting activities which will have a wider benefit for the community in which they are taking place.
To be eligible for funding, projects should:
• Meet at least one of the following outcomes: 
• Older people improve their mental health and wellbeing.
• Older people increase the quality and quantity of their social connections.
• Older people develop an enhanced sense of purpose and empowerment.
• Provide creative, fresh approaches to engage beneficiaries in social action activities which bring people together and help to improve their lives and solve problems that are important to their communities. This may include activities around campaigning and fundraising as well as volunteering, all of which can create a double benefit for communities and the older person themselves. For the activities to have positive benefits for the older people involved, they should: 
• Provide meaningful roles with opportunities for social interaction and leadership.
• Ensure that older people are recognised and valued for their contribution.
• Make older people feel valued and enable them to be creative and productive. To do this, activities might focus wholly on older people, or use a broader community or intergenerational approach. Applicants must be able to demonstrate that they really understand the needs of their community, the role that older people can play in catalysing social change and make the case that they can deliver.
Comic Relief expects to award grants to between 15 and 25 projects.

The deadline for applications is 29 August 2017 (midday).

Contact the Elderly wants to expand its service across Scotland to reach 1,000 older Scots at risk of loneliness

A charity wants to offer a “friendship lifeline” to 1,000 older people who live alone in Scotland within the next year.

Contact the Elderly organises free monthly Sunday afternoon tea parties in cities, towns and villages from the Borders to the Highlands.

It currently has 126 groups serving 860 older people but now wants to increase this to 890 groups serving 1,000.

For this the charity requires 250 additional volunteers.

Morna O’ May, head of service at Contact the Elderly, said: “In the past year, we have welcomed more than 20 tea parties and while we are immensely proud of what we, and our volunteers, have achieved we know there are so many more people who would benefit from an afternoon of baking and a blether once a month.

“With the goal of reaching 1,000 older guests in the coming year, we are committed to working tirelessly to reach out to those living alone in communities throughout Scotland and finding volunteers who want to make a big impact with a small time commitment.

“Our parties are beloved by volunteers and guests alike and true friendships are quickly formed. We hear each and every week how much the afternoons mean to everyone involved.”
There are currently plans to develop groups nationwide with development underway in Tealing, Hawick, Blairgowrie, Perth, Stirling, Falkirk and Alloa. It will also be launching more groups in areas which already have Contact the Elderly tea parties taking place throughout the country.

A volunteer driver collects one or two older people and accompanies them to a volunteer host’s home.

A host will welcome a group of between six and eight people once or twice a year.

Find out more about volunteering at Contact the Elderly.

 Read more HERE


VAO delivers training around the PVG Scheme


When you see the letters PVG does it sent you into a panic?
Do you know what PVG stands for?
Do you know what it means?
Do you know what you have to do?

Don’t Panic! VAO are here to help!
Here’s a quick rundown -
The Protection of Vulnerable Groups Scheme (PVG) was introduced on Feb 28th, 2011, to ensure that those who have regular contact with vulnerable groups (children and Protected Adults) through the workplace do not have a history of harmful behaviour.
Also the scheme aims to deliver a fair and consistent system that will be quick and easy for people to use, ending the need for multiple written disclosure applications.
The legislation applies to a wide and diverse range of organisations and groups across the statutory, voluntary and private sector that provide services, activities and amenities for children and protected adults.
Did you know that, VAO delivers training around the PVG Scheme, including
• What is and what isn’t regulated work
• How to join Volunteer Scotland Disclosure Services
• How to complete and process the application forms
• How to manage the scheme on an ongoing basis for your organisation.

If you would like to find out more about PVG or register for the next training session, please contact or call 01856 872897

Scottish Government’s Climate Challenge Fund is open for applications

Community-led organisations from across Scotland are invited to apply to the Scottish Government’s Climate Challenge Fund (CCF) for funding to support local projects that tackle climate change.

CCF grants of up to £150,000 per organisation, per year, are available for projects taking place between 1 April 2018 and 31 March 2020*. The deadline to submit an Expression of Interest, the first stage of the application process for a CCF Grant, is 17:00 on 28 August 2017.

CCF Development Grants of up to £1,500 are available until further notice to help community-led organisations identify and scope out potential climate action projects - with the aim of enabling the organisation to apply for a CCF grant or to another funder. Applications for Development Grant are invited monthly.

To date, the CCF has awarded grants totalling £85.8 million -supporting a range of successful projects, including energy efficiency improvements to community-owned buildings, home energy efficiency advice, lower carbon travel options and community growing initiatives, plus schemes that help reduce waste and move Scotland further towards a more circular economy.

Apply Now - Potential applicants are encouraged to visit the CCF website to find out if their organisation and project idea is eligible for funding.

Keep Scotland Beautiful advise all potential applicants to submit an Expression of Interest as soon as possible, (deadline is 17:00 on 28 August 2017), to allow as much time as possible to develop their application.

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