The Good Times, July 2019

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BookTrust : helping more children enjoy the reading habit

Behind the smile : charities in the age of austerity

The Good Times South Yorkshire, Derbyshire & Nottinghamshire

How RSPCA Chesterfield and North Derbyshire are improving their premises for pups like Lottie

July 2019

Welcome Hello dear reader It’s both a challenging and exciting time to work in the not for profit sector. Baroness Stowell’s call for charities to go back to their core purpose and to be more transparent is a rallying cry for the third sector to raise their game, but also to be assured of their role in civil society. The challenges faced by the sector, and particularly among smaller charities, is expressed in Louise Cooke’s Hot Topic article. Turn to page 10 to read Behind the smile, Louise’s take on the stark reality of poverty caused by so called ‘austerity measures’. On page 6 we turn the Spotlight On Chesterfield Volunteer Centre, which does invaluable work brokering relationships between volunteers and voluntary organisations. Having access to books is something I feel particularly strongly about. Literacy is not only vital for academic achievement, but books really can promote a better understanding of the wider world and provide a lifelong source of enjoyment. So, it was my pleasure to interview Gemma Malley, Director of Communications at BookTrust about the charity’s work to help children facing barriers to get into the daily reading habit. A feature on RSPCA Chesterfield and North Derbyshire shows how a local animal charity is attracting support to modernise its facilities and continue its vital rehoming work. Finally, I hope you find my Top Tips on refreshing your charity’s brand interesting. Please do drop me line if you wish to get in touch about a charity or social enterprise to feature in a forthcoming issue. Be good.

Kate Dawson, Editor


p 4-5 BookTrust: Helping children benefit from daily reading P6 Spotlight on: The Volunteer Centre, Chesterfield and North East Derbyshire 2

P7 Hot Topic: Behind the smile - Louise Cooke, CEO of Sharewear Clothing Scheme on the effects of austerity measures

p8-9 Paws for thought: we find out about the work of RSPCA Chesterfield and North Derbyshire

p10 Top Tips for reviewing your charity's brand

Contributors Louise Cooke, Sharewear Clothing Scheme CEO, charity consultant and writer, gives her take on the impact of austerity measures on p7.

THE GOOD TIMES is produced by Kate Dawson, a freelance communications consultant working as Well Read PR. The opinions, views and values expressed by contributors to THE GOOD TIMES are those of the authors of that content and do not necessarily represent my opinions, views or values. Nothing in the magazine constitutes advice on which you should rely. It is provided for general information purposes only. I do not accept liability for products or services offered by third parties. Links to third party websites are provided solely for your convenience. THE GOOD TIMES has not reviewed these third party websites and does not control and is not responsible for these websites or their content or availability. We therefore do not endorse or make any representations about them, or any material found on them, or any results that may be obtained from using them. If you decide to access any of the third party websites linked to THE GOOD TIMES, you do so entirely at your own risk.


BookTrust : Helping children benefit from daily reading

by Kate Dawson

Research shows that regular reading from an early age can advance children’s progress and outcomes at school, as well as support family bonding. Sadly, many young people are at a disadvantage, perhaps because books are not readily available, or reading for pleasure just isn’t the norm at home.

“Of course, tablets and phones are a distraction, but actually most children yearn for that special one-on-one time with you,” explained Gemma. “When a child is on a tablet they tend to play on their own, but with a book they may interact with you and it can start a conversation about other things going on in their lives.”

BookTrust exists to help level the playing field, helping to give more young people the right to benefit from the life-enriching benefits of reading.

BookTrust’s Bookstart initiative gives free books to every child in England and Wales at two key stages before school, as well as free packs for children with additional needs, tips and guidance on reading together, resources ©James Lane and Huw Nicholls 2018 and activities.

Gemma Malley, Director of Communications and Development at BookTrust, explained: “Our research has found that children that are read books before starting school are not only more confident, they are also more likely to listen and engage in class. “We believe that it’s every child’s right to enjoy the benefits of reading, so we work with schools and libraries, as well as delivering targeted programmes for families that may need a little more help, to make books more accessible and to encourage families to get into the daily reading habit.”

Other programmes aim to make reading accessible to children facing barriers, such as those with hearing difficulties or who are visually impaired. School Library Packs are designed for children with special educational needs and for children whose first language isn’t English. The Letterbox programme provides looked after children with a parcel of books and other learning resources, as well as items such as pencil cases, which other children may take for granted.

The growing reliance on digital storytelling and technology is a worrying trend, with a recent study by BookTrust revealing that over half (55%) of parents in the East Midlands admit giving their children time on a smartphone, tablet, or in front of the TV, instead of sharing a bedtime story.

This year BookTrust has launched Pyjamarama, a campaign to encourage reading for enjoyment and to raise funds for the charity. Participants were asked to donate £1 in return for ‘permission’ to wear their PJs for the day and to celebrate the bedtime story in any way they chose.


The initiative, fronted by Francesca Simon, bestselling author of the Horrid Henry books, was enjoyed by more than 600,000 children across the country.

The funds raised from Pyjamarama will go a long way in helping BookTrust with its work to make reading available to more children.”

Amy Dickins, Assistant Headteacher, Carlton Digby School in Nottingham, organised a day of fun games and interactive reading sessions for pupils as part of Pyjamarama.

“We are always really grateful for the Library Packs from BookTrust which make reading so much more fun and accessible for our pupils - many of whom have co-occuring difficulties and often a short attention span.” “Reading is linked to literacy skills and independent living - everything from being able to read a bus timetable, to filling in an application form - so we welcome any tools to help our pupils improve their reading Florence, 10 years with xxxxx skills,” Amy explained. The success of Pyjamarama goes beyond the funds raised, it also helps engage many more supporters with BookTrust’s mission.

Above: Ra'nell with teaching assistant Jackie Dooley

Gemma added: “Just ten minutes of reading a book with a child each day helps build children’s language, resilience, confidence 5 and imagination.

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Left to right: Matthew and Erdem

Gemma shares some learning from her role at BookTrust: Don’t be too prescriptive with your fundraising campaigns. Pyjamarama is very flexible which means it’s easy for schools and businesses to adapt. Discuss what works best with your celebrity ambassadors – we have found that some prefer doing promotional films, others are happy to go into schools and do media. As long as there’s a mutual benefit you’ll keep people on board. Our ‘case for support’ may not be as immediately compelling, as other causes, so it’s been important to get our messaging right: BookTrust isn’t primarily about books, it’s about equality of opportunity.

To find out more about BookTrust visit

Spotlight on... Dave Radford, Centre Manager, Chesterfield Volunteer Centre Chesterfield Volunteer Centre is a local volunteering development agency working independently to support organisations from the voluntary, community and public sectors. 1. What does Chesterfield Volunteer Centre do? As part of a national network of agencies we promote, support and develop volunteering and aim to make a positive impact on the quality of the volunteering experience for individual volunteers and the organisations that work with them.

3. What are the benefits of volunteering? People volunteer for a variety of reasons, usually because they feel strongly about a particular cause. Volunteers gain improved self confidence and it can help those who have been out of work for a prolonged period to gain new skills and update their CV. Volunteering can also increase social networks and volunteers report improved mental health and overall wellbeing.

2. What contribution do volunteers make to the lives and wellbeing of people who are living alone or with health problems across Chesterfield (and N. E. Derbyshire)? Volunteers make a massive difference to the lives of elderly and socially isolated people. The Volunteer Centre runs a one to one befriending scheme and we have over a hundred volunteers working with isolated people across our area. We also run the ‘Home From Hospital’ scheme for people who have recently been discharged from hospital, the ‘Safe & Sound’ project for people needing one off emergency support and ‘The Macmillan Project’ for people who have recently been diagnosed with a terminal illness. On a national scale formal volunteering is worth £20 billion to the economy. In this area alone it has been calculated that for every pound invested in befriending we deliver £37 worth of service.

4. Are there any stand out projects that you'd like to tell me about? The Elderfriends project has made a significant impact on the lives of lonely and socially isolated people across Chesterfield and North East Derbyshire for 20 years. With the decline of the extended family this service is sorely needed. Studies show that loneliness poses a significant threat to health and is linked with depression, reduced immunity and in older people, dementia. 5. Is there a particular book, person or philosophy that inspires you? My mantra is simply to try and be the best person I can be. None of us are perfect and we never will be, but just being a good person could help us all. Find out more at:


Hot topic :

Behind the smile Those who deny poverty exists have their head in the clouds; the effects of austerity measures are widespread and the third sector is picking up the pieces, argues Louise Cooke, Sharewear CEO, writer and charity consultant "No-one ever knows what’s going on behind your smile” said a woman recently when being interviewed about the impact of clothing poverty on her life, following a comment made by the Chancellor Philip Hammond, on BBC Newsnight, that poverty in the UK doesn't exist because he couldn’t see it around him. The truth of the matter is that millions of people in this country are putting on a brave face. Unless they appear to be leading a ‘well-adjusted life’, gaining employment or a place on a training course becomes impossible, with so few opportunities to go around. But behind the smiles, millions of UK citizens are coping with dire poverty which goes beyond Prof. Alston's report for the UN. To understand the brutal effect of 'austerity measures' take a look at Joseph Rowntree Foundation's research which reveals that 1 in 5 of the UK population (14.3 million people) are living in poverty. Baroness Stowell, Charity Commission Chair, has called for a “cultural upheaval” in the charity sector, so that charities can fulfil their potential to “strengthen society, communities and democracy.” However, those of us working in small charities will wonder how this is to be achieved with an ever-dwindling pot of funding. 7

The challenge of staying afloat will be further compounded by Brexit, which will have devastating consequences for those charities heavily reliant on the European Social Fund. As a hands-on CEO (voluntary) of a small registered charity in Nottinghamshire that punches way beyond its weight, I interpret Baroness Stowell’s comments as an endorsement for small charities, which, in spite of all the barriers we face, stand at the heart of our communities and can serve more than one purpose at the same time. For me it’s no coincidence that Small Charities Week and Volunteers Week fall so closely together since small charities often rely completely on the dedication of loyal volunteers. Small charities are plugging the gap left by dramatic and ongoing cuts to our public services. We empower people to access the services of a private sector that is not geared to support the disadvantaged. Poverty is all around us and takes many forms, not just financial hardship, but also lack of friendships and poverty of opportunities afforded to the better off. Small charities truly can create an upheaval in the sector, but also in society, by supporting not only our beneficiaries but our volunteers too; with a smile on our faces. Find out more about Sharewear at

Paws for Thought : RSPCA Chesterfield and North Derbyshire by Kate Dawson

The RSPCA’s premises in Chesterfield are in desperate need of an upgrade and thanks to the generosity of the charity’s supporters things are about to change, with a new building set to improve the conditions for animals, staff and visitors alike.

The new modern facilities will provide a cleaner and quieter environment for the cats and dogs. Each kennel will have two spaces per dog, a front area where the public can view them and a back area for the dogs to hide away if they feel nervous.

Steph McCawley, Supporter Engagement Officer, told us about the challenge of fundraising for an animal charity and what difference the new facilities will make.

The Rebuild Project is set to cost £2 million, with the total raised currently standing at £1.5 million, allowing for the charity to take a phased approach to the redevelopment. In addition to raising the remaining funds for the redevelopment, the charity needs to raise £420,000 a year to continue caring for and rehoming around 800 animals a year.

“The existing premises date back to the ‘60s and aren’t up to the latest recommended for animal care. Florence, 10 standards years with xxxxx Our new building will include more spacious kennels and specialist facilities for sick and injured animals, as well as a more welcoming waiting room and improved areas for adoption meetings,” said Steph.

“Although we are part of the national RSPCA, we're completely dependent on the generosity of our supporters to stay afloat,” said Steph. "One of the highlights of the fundraising calendar is our annual Dog Show which this year, is set to bring in around £5,000. We’ve also got very loyal employees and volunteers,” enthused Steph. “Last year they raised around £15,000 towards the Rebuild Appeal from doing a sponsored skydive. Their dedication on all fronts is insurmountable.”

Attracting the support from corporates is a tougher nut to crack, but essential for the charity’s survival: Steph explained: “Animal welfare just doesn’t have the currency of some of the big health charities, but we’ve built some strong and mutually beneficial relationships and we're always looking for new partners to support our cause.”

Animal care assistant Kimstar Bestwick with Jambo


TheEstate feedback Hunters Agents are loyal supporters from this young of the charity, as are Dunston Lodge person says it all Kennels who often give over and above what they’ve pledged. Staff at the Pets at Home stores in Chesterfield, Clay Cross and Dronfield have voted for the RSPCA to be its ‘Charity of the Year’ this year and we received a further £73,000 via their Support Adoption for Pets charity toward the Rebuild Appeal.

The plight of the animals helped by the charity is often heart-breaking. Aside from wilful cruelty, many animals are also neglected due to ignorance or the ill health (or death) of their owners. Cover girl, Lottie, pictured right was found malnourished and living with 52 other dogs in a house in Cumbria.

Lottie with animal care assistant Richard Grainger

“Staff doing the graveyard shift will also have access to a proper bedroom, as opposed to the storeroom they’re currently sleeping in ” she added. Animal care is integral to learning at Turner Farm

Florence, 10 years with xxxxx Florence, 10 , shows Sandra,RSPCAs 91 some wild flowers “A number of regional were

Steph shares some of what she’s learnt in her new role:

contacted to see what space they had – we took in seven dogs, two Cocker Spaniels and five Cockapoos, including Lottie, who have now all been rehomed. It doesn’t bear thinking about what would have become of those dogs if the RSPCA had not intervened.” said Steph.

· Animal Getting out the stories of the plight of care is integral to learning at Turner Farm animals is the main lever for attracting support and that is where the charity’s social media presence really packs a punch. · It’s important to work with allies, for example we work closely with Cats Protection League and RSPB – they attend our Annual Show and we cross promote on social media. It means we all get a better reach amongst like-minded Animal care is integral to learning at Turner Farm individuals. · Volunteers are an important asset. Some get involved with animal care, volunteering at fundraising events and acting as ambassadors, going into schools and giving talks.

So, it’s exciting times ahead for the RSPCA, in Chesterfield, but the hard work doesn’t stop for Steph once the Rebuild Appeal has been completed:

“The first phase of the new facilities, due to open later this year, will give us much more scope to attract support,” Steph explained. “We’ll be encouraging families to visit to see the animals (which we hope will attract donations, if not secure adoptions) and our new function room will enable us to deliver pet classes, talks and expand our work with schools.


For more information about RSPCA Chesterfield and North Derbyshire visit

Top tips for reviewing your charity's brand

A change in strategic direction or merger with an allied cause usually requires a refreshed brand. Or perhaps your messaging and tone of voice isn’t quite resonating with your service users. Whatever the reason, taking a step back to review your brand can really pay off. Here are my top tips for how to go about it. 1. Your brand is not just about your logo – it’s also about how your charity treats people. Start by finding out what your beneficiaries, partners and other audiences think about you. It might not quite match up to how you think you are perceived.

2. Revisit your vision, mission and values – although your core charitable purpose may not have changed since you were established, the world around you certainly will have. How have you evolved? Does your brand still represent what you stand for? Do you have any characteristics as an organisation that you need to convey better?

3. Think about your tone of voice. Who do you need to communicate with? Does your website, marketing or information material ‘speak to’ these people in a language style that they will understand and engage with?

4. Involve your staff and volunteers in the brand review process; they will have valuable insights ‘from the coalface’. It’s also important you get their buy-in on what’s agreed, so regular internal briefings as your new brand is developed and prior to any external launch is vital.

5 Put it into action! Wherever possible include your refreshed messaging, as well as the new ‘look', in communication material. Over time this will build your brand value. Also ensure that existing staff and new starters are given brand guidelines. A new visual identity will count for nothing if staff don’t ‘get it’ and you don’t convey your charity's values at every opportunity.

Kate Dawson is a PR and communications consultant specialising in the health, charity and public sectors. She can help you review and refresh your brand, including working with an associate graphic designer to create a new visual identity and brand toolkit. Visit 10


"When you wake up in the morning, wake your forgotten and forsaken “Loveup is as notwell, patronising andup charity aboutrooster!” pity, it is about love. dreams wake them like anisn't insisting Charity and love are the same -- with charity you- give love,Murat so don't just Mehmet ildandd give money but reach out your hand instead.” ― Mother Teresa

Thank you for all your photo submissions for small charity week. So many wonderful charities working tirelessly to make the world a better place, to ease pain and suffering and to enrich people's lives. We love this image of pupils at the only free preschool in Sri Lanka funded by the Rosie May Foundation, based in Nottingham. The school is part of Project Hope which helps single mothers keep their children out of orphanages.

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