Voluntary Action South West Surrey

A member of the Ash & Tongham, Godalming, Cranleigh, Haslemere, Farnham, Guildford, Surrey Business and Surrey communities

About Voluntary Action South West Surrey

We are a local support and development group helping local voluntary and community groups develop and thrive.

We provide funding advice, we recruit volunteers, we run training and events and have projects to promote community involvement and encourage volunteering.

If you are a local community group needing more volunteers, some help with finding funding or with any other aspect of running you group please get in touch, our email is info@vasws.org.uk

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Visit our website at https://voluntaryactionsws.org.uk/

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Latest posts

A day in the life at Citizen's Advice Waverley

Kevin has been training to be an Advisor for Citizen’s Advice at the Farnham office since May 2021.

Why did you decide to become a Volunteer?

All my career was in NHS management, specializing in Mental Health and Learning Disabilities, so as part of my work I was aware of CA and the impact it had on people who were often very dislocated from the system or were struggling to make sense of life. Probably more significantly though, I have a family member who has problems with alcohol and significant mental health problems who has been saved from homelessness and poverty half a dozen times or more over the years by different CA offices in Surrey and Waverley. What struck us, as a family, was the genuinely staggering kindness, patience and non-judgmental approach shown by the different Advisers we have seen over the years. I’ve now experienced close up how CA can help individuals as well as the important campaigning work it does to improve the lives of people living in the UK.

Tell me about your typical day?

At 9.30 am, we look at the planned schedule for the day and decide who will deal with which appointment, based on experience. For trainees, the Supervisor arranges observation of experienced Advisers or allocates a straightforward enquiry; more complex issues go to a more “seasoned campaigner”. We are ready to go at 10.00 am when the doors are open. We prep in advance of each booked client so we’re ready rather than going in cold; however, the day can get fairly chaotic with the buzzer going again and again as people drop in. Some of us will also be on the phones, answering the National Helpline, and some will be on emails; all of this will be going on at once.

Tell me about someone whom you felt you made a difference to?

I saw a young woman who was really anxious about seeing us; she had a raft of issues to deal with and the challenge was to prioritise them; she didn’t even have a GP as she had just moved into the area. She needed a birth certificate, so I worked out how to get it online. Once she had it, she was able to set up a bank account. At one point she said, “No-one’s ever kind to me, you’re actually listening”.

Why do you continue to do it?

Having retired, I wanted to do something directly with people. Even with a background in the NHS and social services, getting help for our family member was unbelievably difficult; I wondered how others managed. I value the chance to make a difference for people who are struggling with a problem, as we were. I have also met some great people in the office and enjoy the office camaraderie.



What are the typical issues people bring?


Anything from debt or benefit issues to the time of the next bus to Guildford!

What would you say to people thinking about volunteering at Citizen’s Advice?

Do it! It doesn’t matter what your background is. Bring yourself and any skills or experience to the table. What’s most important is an empathic style, being non-judgmental and being resilient in dealing with the hardship that many people face.

If you are interested in volunteering for Citizens’s Advice Waverley, there are a number of roles you could do including being Adviser like Kevin, or working as a receptionist or providing administrative support. Please contact us on for further information via email at volunteering@caw.org.uk.

What is the evidence for social prescribing?

This webinar presents the findings of the five recent Evidence Reviews produced by National Academy of Social Prescribing (NASP) academic collaborative.

Date and time: Mon, 27 February 2023, 13:00 – 14:30

Location: Online

This webinar focuses on the findings from some of the rapid evidence reviews published by NASP and its academic collaborative in December 2022. These reviews summarise what the recent evidence tells us about the health and wellbeing benefits of taking part in activities related to:

· arts, culture and heritage

· natural environment

· social, legal and welfare advice

· physical activity.

The webinar offers the opportunity to hear the headlines, ask questions of the academic authors, and discuss how this evidence might be used to help planning and delivery of social prescribing activities.

The webinar objectives:

- to share what the evidence tells us about social prescribing activities in each of 4 themed areas, and to encourage awareness of the evidence resources available here: https://socialprescribingacademy.org.uk/our-work/evidencing-social-prescribing/social-prescribing-the-evidence/)

- to discuss how to use evidence to support planning and delivery of social prescribing

The webinar will be hosted by NASP and speakers will include members of the NASP academic collaborative who worked on the reviews, and a staff delivery organisation who have used evidence to support the design of their activities and to support applications e.g., to influence commissioning.

Speakers include:

Chair: Dr Anne Hunt, Head of Evidence, the National Academy for Social Prescribing

Dr Lou Baxter, Senior Evidence Specialist, the National Academy for Social Prescribing

Professor Helen Chatterjee, Professor of Human and Ecological Health, Genetics, Evolution and Environment, Division of Biosciences, University College London

Dr Marie Polley, Visiting Reader, Institute of Connected Communities, University of East London.

Associate Professor Kerryn Husk, Associate Professor of Health Services (research)

Dr Daniel Hayes, Senior Research Fellow, University College London

Who is it for?

Anyone who is interested in finding out more about current evidence for social prescribing and supporting health and wellbeing through participation in activities based on: arts, culture, heritage; physical activity; natural environment and social, welfare legal and financial advice.

This is not aimed at a research audience. You might be from the voluntary and community sector delivering social prescribing, a university or other academic organisation, the health sector, a statutory body or other organisations involved with social prescribing or evaluation.

Reserve your spot.

All-Age Autism Strategy – Better Care Fund Allocation

Surrey’s All-Age Autism Strategy has secured resource from the Better Care Fund, which will continue for the strategy implementation period.

They are encouraging bids from the five workstreams to initiate projects that will support implementation of the All-Age Autism Strategy.

Bids can be either for funding towards larger projects identified at a workstream level, or small grants of up to £10,000 to organisations seeking pump prime funding to address priority areas such as:

  • Social isolation
  • Peer support
  • Promoting early identification and intervention
  • Building confidence and connections in the community
  • Supporting autistic people into employment
  • Training
  • Creating autism friendly settings
Small grant applications could reflect support for autistic people to maintain their independence, support to improve access to existing universal provision, support with volunteering,employment or other valued roles.

Bids are particularly welcomed if they address support for autistic people from marginalised groups who may not be well served by existing provision, such as the LGBTQ+ community,Gypsy Roma Traveller community, minority ethnic groups and others.

The application form is identical whether bidding for small grant funding up to £10,000 or a larger amount. Roles and responsibilities and the due diligence and award process will differ and are proportionate to the size and scale of the request. The process for each is outlined on a separate high level process map.

If you have any queries regarding the application process and to receive and application form, please contact sendedeycommissioning@surreycc.gov.uk

ensuring your phone number is included.

Green volunteering - what do young people really think?

Surrey County Council and Surrey Youth Focus want to hear from you and find out what you think about volunteering - particularly around opportunities to help the environment.

They would love it if you could spend just a few minutes answering their survey. Your answers will help them to understand what you're interested in and know how they can make volunteering more fun and easier for you to do. And don't worry, all answers are completely anonymous, so they won't know who has answered what!

The survey is aimed at young people up to the age of 25.

Make a Difference Awards

Make a Difference are back for another year to celebrate people who are going above and beyond to make a difference where you live.

The awards are a chance to say “Thank You” and show recognition and appreciation for people who love to make life better for others.

Nominations close Sunday 5 March 2023 at 11:00pm

Winners will be selected by a panel of judges and awards will be given in each category, across each local BBC radio station.

For more information, please visit their website.

Making Time for Young Carers in Surrey

Join Surrey Carers Partnership Board to hear national and local perspectives of young carer needs and support in schools, colleges and in wellbeing and mental health.

Date and time: Thu, 16 March 2023, 12:30 – 15:00

Location: Online

Keynote speaker is Andy McGowan, of Carers Trust and Young Carers Alliance

Other speakers will cover:

  • Young Carers in schools - national perspective
  • Young Carers in Surrey Schools - Angel Award scheme
  • Young/ Young Adult Carers in Surrey Colleges
  • Wellbeing and mental health of young carers - research by Dr Kate Blake-Holmes of the University of East Anglia
  • Wellbeing and mental health support to Surrey Schools
  • Next steps on wellbeing and mental health support for Young Carers in Surrey
For more information and to reserve your spot, visit their website.

Workshop in Godalming for teenagers wanting to explore their full potential

At Broadwater Youth Centre, Farncombe
  • Simple strategies to reduce brain overwhelm
  • How to increase focus, concentration and motivation
  • Get more out of your day – and how to feel more empowered
Saturday, 25th February, 3pm to 5pm

Cost £15 per person (low income option available)

This is a fun and interactive workshop for teens in Secondary School who are keen to understand how to harness their brain power, in order to reduce overwhelm and find more peace and balance in the body and mind.

This can really help with clarity of the mind, and also increase energy, focus and concentration, much needed for school and after-school activities.

We will be working with you to create your own personal brain strategies, and how you can build on these on a daily basis.

Recent studies have found that when students learn the science of the brain, they take more active part in managing their daily habits and this also helps the self-confidence in other areas of life.

  • Tone Tellefsen Hughes – Chiropractor on latest science about the teen brain and how to understand how it works, and what strategies can help to reduce brain fog, improve focus, concentration and energy.
  • Lesley Mc Call -Teen Therapist will be sharing techniques to calm and quiet the brain when it is too active and disruptive for work and or sleep. Her strategies can also make a big difference for self-confidence and focus.
  • Fiona Hayers – Nutritional therapist on what foods can increase energy and focus, and which ones can help to calm the brain for both sleep and rest. She will demonstrate how nutrition is connected to the brain and it’s importance in daily life.


For more information and to book your ticket, visit their website.

A Day In The Life Of A Citizens Advice Volunteer

Volunteer advisers are key to the support given to people by Guildford and Ash Citizens Advice. Here, one of its volunteers at its Ash office writes about a day in the life of an adviser, and perhaps may inspire more to join the team.

It’s the start of a new year – what new year’s resolutions might you make this year? How about a new challenge – learning how to help those in your community by training to be an adviser, making a huge difference the lives of individuals?

Harry has been volunteering as an adviser for nearly 10 years, and writing below he gives a flavour of what it’s like to be a volunteer adviser at Citizens Advice.

He writes: “The highlight for me is always being able to help a client solve their issues – seeing them going away very much happier than when they arrived! Each one is different, because of the wide range of problems that they come in with and because each person is an individual.

“The day starts with a team meeting on Zoom. I normally go into the Ash office, getting there soon after 9am, to log-on and get set for the day (with a coffee) with a quick look to see what appointments I have.

“The team meeting has 20-plus people so we are sometimes all together and sometimes in breakout rooms. It’s a chance to catch up on what’s new locally and with changes on national issues. We might also have a training module from the training supervisor to help us keep up to date.

“The volunteer’s day is lead by the advice session supervisors – there’s normally one in the office, but if they are busy or if I’m volunteering at home there are two on Zoom. They are employed staff with a wealth of experience and always my go to place when there is anything I can’t figure out myself. I start with a chat through with them the appointments I have coming up.

“Clients come from email or phone contact, or sometimes a referral for example from the council. The initial contact will give a core of information, sufficient to decide whether we can deal with things on the phone or if it’s worth a face to face.

“In a typical day I will have appointments at 10.30am and 1pm, and if there’s time left there is a list of people to call. We close at 4pm and I’m finished before 5pm.

“So it’s now 10.30am and I have read up about my client’s issues, researched them on the internal information systems or elsewhere and discussed them with the supervisor.

“The client comes for what, in an ideal world, would be a one-hour appointment, but is often two hours. They only come if they have an issue they couldn’t solve on their own, so you know it will be something interesting and complicated!

“It may need more than one session but we do our best to solve things not just defer them. Before we finish I normally check back with the supervisor who often has something to add.

“At the moment there are lots of cash flow issues – with increased costs of living. Often these appear as debts that people can’t pay. The solutions are varied – we need to understand someone’s whole financial position and may solve an energy bill problem by helping claim a different benefit the client wasn’t aware of.

“Or it may be a question of how to create a budget that works for the client and getting the debts scheduled. And they may need a food parcel while we get things stabilised. From experience, the thing we know is that there is always a solution so it’s about finding what is needed to help the client.

“Just when you think you are now the expert on disability benefits you then get someone coming in with no idea where to start on a divorce – it’s not normally something people have done before and they may be feeling bruised and vulnerable.

“Or it might be a dispute between neighbours or an issue of a supplier or builder that they can’t get resolved. Maybe it will be about schools or about what their employer has done at work. If clients can’t resolve things themselves we are the place they come to!

“Citizens Advice provides all the sort of backup I was used to when I was working – so there’s lots of training, information and recording systems provided by head office which are excellent, experienced and knowledgeable supervisors to talk to as you go along and experts to refer to if it’s something we can’t solve locally.

“And all the other things you would expect in a professional office. It’s impossible to know how to solve everything – it’s about being in a place where you know how to find the information and support you need.

“Recent highlights for me have been getting benefits sorted out – an incorrectly calculated over payment of £30,000 reduced to £2,000, a state pension in payment where the records were all held wrongly, and a very deserved and needed disability benefit agreed where it had already been declined on review. Next time someone asks it will be different – the common theme being client’s issues resolved!

“I spent my career managing organisations. In contrast, volunteering at Citizens Advice gives a close personal contact with clients – they share the detail of their lives and you get the interest and satisfaction of helping them.”

If you’d like to explore volunteering with Guildford and Ash Citizens Advice, contact Mary at recruitment@ca-ga.org.uk.

If you’d like advice on any issue, complete a webform on its website https://ca-ga.org.uk/get-advice/forms/ or phone on 08082 787 888.

Independent Chair of the Surrey Music Hub Advisory Board

Surrey Music Hub (the Music Education Hub for Surrey) is seeking to appoint an Independent Chair.

This is a voluntary position with an allowance of up to £3,000 for expenses.

Surrey Music Hub is a partnership led by Surrey Arts. It serves the local authority area of Surrey County Council with a total school population of 158,000 children, in 392 state maintained, academy and free schools (221 state maintained, 165 academy, 6 free schools including 8 pupil referral units), through music making and the arts and cultural offer. The lead partner in Surrey Music Hub is Surrey Arts, which is part of Surrey County Council (SCC) Cultural Services. The Hub is overseen by the Surrey Music Hub Steering Board, which is made up of partners and local stakeholders and is currently chaired by the Head of Surrey Arts.

Core roles of Surrey Music Hub:

  • Ensure that every child aged 5 to 18 has the opportunity to learn a musical instrument through whole class ensemble teaching programmes.
  • Provide opportunities to play in ensembles and to perform from an early stage.
  • Ensure that clear progression routes are available and affordable to all young people.
  • Develop a singing strategy to ensure that every pupil is singing regularly, and that choirs and other vocal ensembles are available in the area.
Extension roles of Surrey Music Hub:

  • Offer Continuous Professional Development (CPD) to school staff, particularly in supporting schools to deliver music in the curriculum.
  • Provide an instrument loan service, with discounts or free provision for those on low incomes.
  • Provide access to large scale and/or high-quality music experiences for pupils, working with professional musicians and/or venues. This may include undertaking work to publicise the opportunities available to schools, parents/carers and students.


For more information and to apply, please visit their website.

Lloyd’s Bank Foundation England and Wales Launches Unrestricted Grants

The grants programme will support small organisations addressing complexsocial issues.

Following the release of its 2022-26 strategy, ‘Building a BetterFuture’ the Foundation has announced the launch of a Specialist FundingProgramme to continue supporting small and grassroots organisations acrossEngland and Wales.

Charities and Charitable Incorporated Organisations (CIOs) with aturnover of £25,000 to £500,000 can apply for an unrestricted grant of up to£75,000 over three years, provided they are carrying out work which fits inwith one of the fund’s priorities:

  • Addiction and dependency on alcohol, drugs and/or gambling
  • Asylum seekers and refugees
  • Domestic and sexual abuse
  • Homeless and vulnerably housed
  • Offending, prison or community service
  • Sexual exploitation
  • Trafficking and modern slavery
  • Care leavers
The funding is for organisations supporting people (17 years and older)who are experiencing complex social issues resulting in a significant impact ontheir lives. As 'specialist organisations', applicants need to demonstrate thefollowing:

  • In-depth services, rather than short-term or one-off support.
  • Holistic and person-centred services.
  • Personal plans in the form of written or electronic records of every person being supported, noting progress against activities.
Grants can be used to support any costs which further the charity'spurpose, including building reserves and meeting core costs.

There will be an information webinar on 12 January 2023 to discuss thefund.

The deadline to apply is 3 March 2023, for decisions by 14 July 2023.

More information here: https://www.lloydsbankfoundation.org.uk/funding/specialist-programme