Looking backwards to move forwards
In this first full week back at work for everyone, we’ve been doing some reflection on 2018; looking at things that we’re proud of and that have made us determined to launch into 2019 with lots of plans. Here are some of the things that we’re particularly proud of:
- We began the year thanking everyone that supported Beer & Co’s Winter Beer and Wine Festival at St Peter’s Church in Ipswich. We served drinks, pizza and cake and enjoyed some great music and were pleased to be supported, in turn by Beer & Co, receiving a share of the takings for our Empowerment Fund.
- We’ve been running our Earn It Don’t Burn It programme – funded by Orbit Housing for their tenants, it’s all been about helping to save money and manage it more effectively; looking for ways to earn money, apply for grants and reduce bills.
- We came no. 63 in the top 100 companies at the National Centre for Diversity awards.
- Our team worked with University of Suffolk on a piece of research into the effectiveness of money advice for victims of domestic abuse. The report, published in March 2018, concluded that having both the Domestic Abuse Outreach Service and Money Advice service provided by one organisation was a unique feature and had a positive impact. The research also showed that providing money advice to both male and female victims of domestic abuse also helped them to overcome the barrier of financial dependence – one reason why some people are unable to leave, or return to, an abuser. The implications, therefore are positive for reducing repeat victimisation. We’re really pleased at such positive outcomes – we know from our service users that we make a difference – it’s great to have evidence to share with others.
- We were asked by the National Skills Academy for Financial Services to give guidance and advice on a new pilot course for front-line workers on financial capability and awareness of financial abuse; how to support victims of financial abuse and where to refer them.
- We asked for your help and you gave it! We were shortlisted for being awarded £33k by the RBS Skills and Opportunities Fund to build on our Money Advice Service, working with victims of domestic abuse. We asked you, via social media to vote and share as the final decision was open for public vote. We’re so grateful that you showed your support and voted – we won!
- In May we had another hugely successful Suffolk Show – we welcomed many, many people to our stand; we painted faces, we offered advice, we recruited volunteers, we sat and had a cuppa with so many of you and shared information about our services. We’re now planning this year’s event – if there’s anything you’d like to see on our stand, by all means let us know.
- In June Danny Boyle and Richard Curtis were making a new film in Suffolk and Working Title Films, owned by Universal Studios made a substantial donation to our empowerment fund. Asked for recommendations of local charities, Comic Relief kindly nominated ACT as a recipient of a donation and we were delighted.
- We hosted our first charity ball in September – the ‘Cirque des Rêves’ was a spectacular event with fire breathers, aerial silk artistry, samba and Balkan ska… a combination that had our guests dancing non-stop. We had dinner, drinks, a charity auction and a table-top raffle, all in the beautiful Grand Hall of Ipswich Town Hall. We were delighted with so much positive feedback and can’t wait to do it all again this year – watch social media and our website for news of this year’s date.
- In October we retained our Investors in Diversity Stage 2 – we’re proud of each of our awards, all of which are down to our amazing team.
- We also took on responsibility for managing the Appropriate Adult Service for Norfolk and, as a result, we’ve welcomed 50 experienced AAs from across Norfolk who have been a huge support in getting the contract up and running. Having successfully managed the Suffolk AA service for some time, this was a great move forward for ACT.
- In November ACT began delivering a pilot Housing First scheme in Ipswich and aim to support 8 individuals in the first year. Housing First aims to house homeless people, regardless of their ability to previously hold down a tenancy, or any substance misuse for example – the principal is to provide housing first, and to support people with other issues once they’re settled.
- We once again achieved the Advice Quality Standard (AQS) for our Money Advice Service in November – an award that’s given out every 2 years – each renewal involves both a desktop and on site audit and was confirmed over the Christmas period that we have been re-awarded for the next 2 years.
- Alongside Ipswich Housing Action Group, Notting Hill Housing, Ipswich Borough Council, Lyndon House, Chapman Centre, Help Our Homeless Ipswich, we continued to refer people to Selig for the Ipswich Winter Night Shelter – providing shelter and support to people in need, and will do so right through to mid March 2019.
- In December we updated our website to make it more accessible to those people with English as a second language, we added a ‘quick escape’ facility and broke the site down into easier-to navigate sections
- Throughout the year we recruited lots of volunteers, hired new staff, said goodbye to others and had visits from many people and businesses including the Suffolk High Sheriff, George Vestey DL.
- We had Christmas parties for our hard-working staff and for our incredible volunteers; we had a bake-off; we were a UK Charity Week partner; we worked with FIND to distribute hampers to our service users and we ended the year on a massively positive note.
Onwards and upwards for us in 2019 – follow us on social media and visit our website news page regularly for new dates, events, services, initiatives. If you’re thinking of volunteering, we’ve got lots of opportunities open, if you’re job-hunting, visit our recruitment page regularly and if you’re looking to raise funds for a charity this year, we’d be delighted if you chose ACT as your partner – whether you’re an individual or a local business.
To all of you, and to our service users, funders and agencies that we regularly work with, we wish you all the healthiest, most prosperous 2019 and, if we can provide any information or help in any way, please contact us: [email protected] or call us on 01473 622888