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CAVA has completed its third year of delivering the Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise Sector (VCSE) infrastructure contract for Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council (SMBC) and has been successful in continued delivery of this service for a further two years

About VCSE

We have continued to increase our knowledge of the VCSE in Solihull, developing and maintaining relationships with groups and individuals across the borough. We have increased the range of organisations worked with including parks, faith groups, sports facilities and schools and increased the number of groups supported and hours of direct support given with an increased focus on governance support. Our regular volunteering and funding e-bulletins and social media channels help to keep the VCSE informed and updated.

CAVA has continued to deliver high quality events across the borough, which have continued to be valued as groups continue to recover post covid.  These include events helping to shape the sector (‘Reconnect, Reflect, Rebuild’ and ‘Embedding the voluntary community and social enterprise (VCSE) sector into the Integrated Care System (ICS)’ and celebrating diversity in the sector (‘International Women’s Day and Young Trustees’).

In total we delivered 53 virtual events, these included 17 funding webinars and clinics, 9 strategic webinars, 4 governance and learning events, 5 access to volunteering/volunteers events, 12 virtual networking events, and 6 digital skills events and clinics. We contributed to another 29 events and have increased our outreach presence.

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Increasing Understanding of VCSE Need

The Reconnect, Reflect, Rebuild event and the ‘State of the Sector’ survey outputs were conduits to identifying significant concerns in the sector for financial sustainability. Growing demand for services, the challenges of volunteer and trustee recruitment are also key concerns for the VCSE along with concerns about increased social isolation , digital exclusion and mental health issues in the communities they serve.Collaboration and partnership between VCOs and across sectors was recognised as a key success factor of the COVID response and continues partnership work is welcomed. The impact of the VCSE during COVID has been recognised and organisations are keen for its profile to remain high.

Findings from the State of the Sector survey were used to help inform the SMBC VCSE Strategic Assessment.

Strengthening Networks and Partnerships

The CAVA Solihull team have been well engaged with the SMBC Community Development team in identifying community needs, sharing trends and information about support needs through regular meetings and have actively worked with SMBC to forward its Thriving Communities agenda.

We continue to support some key networks and forums

North Solihull Voluntary and Community Alliance – after putting their meetings on hold during the first lockdown, CAVA led on the reinstatement of the Alliance and facilitated Board and network meetings.  NSCVA has been focused on dementia support and working towards setting up a dementia cafe at Seeds of Hope.

Solihull Faiths Forum – We continue to support the Forum, which met regularly during the year and has now resumed face to face meetings. We specifically support them with their AGM and governance review

Kingshurst Community Group -We continue to attend meetings relating to the regeneration of Kingshurst and the identification of appropriate community space in the new development.

Funding panels – CAVA supports a range of panels, including ‘Change into Action’, Holiday Activity Funding (HAF) and some Heart of England Community Foundation funds.

VCSE Reference Group – CAVA has had a regular presence at the VCSE Reference Group, originally set up during the COVID emergency and now meeting with SMBC around COVID recovery.

Volunteer Managers’ Forum – the VMF has met fortnightly throughout the pandemic, providing peer support and sharing ideas and experience around volunteer management and hosting the celebratory Afternoon Tea during Volunteers Week.



Covid restrictions had placed businesses under very considerable financial pressure in Year 2 of the contract. The later part of Year 3 saw an increase in participation and a thirst for networking events where CAVA was able to promote volunteering and trustee opportunities.

A range of organisations supported the VCSE with volunteers and donations, from JLR to Virgin Media and SMBC itself repurposed 15 benches to local charities, increasing their social value contribution.

By the end of Year 3, plans had progressed well for the Volunteer Managers Volunteers’ Celebration Afternoon Tea in June. Funding for the October 2022 Solihull Civic Honours was secured, with confirmation of sponsorship from the NEC Group, Lucent Financial Planners and Arenas, and additional interest from the Crowne Plaza manager and John Lewis.


Our new Volunteering Coordinator has worked with a wide variety of volunteer involving organisations: 44 groups have been given one to one support on topics.

We have increased the use of the Simply Connect Volunteer brokerage database. In this period 13 new groups registered on Simply Connect and offered 36 volunteer opportunities.

Simply Connect also now includes the promotion of trustee vacancies.

Working with volunteers

We have found new ways of promoting volunteering opportunities through an interactive flyer, participation on the Skills360 website and increased outreach for one to one surgeries for prospective volunteers and for organisations looking to recruit volunteers.

The Volunteer Managers Forum continues to be a forum for sharing good practice, innovation and ideas around good practice in volunteer management.

As lead of the Volunteer Managers Forum, we organised the well-attended Volunteer Afternoon Tea celebrating Solihull’s residents volunteering support.

Our 2022/23year in numbers*......



Economic Value of Volunteering



Rated support as very good or good


Funding Awarded

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For more details about Solihull’s volunteer work Click here

To view Solihull’s community directory link Click here

For further information please contact us