April 2014

Representatives from over 30 voluntary and community groups learnt more about the needs of veterans in Southend at an event organised by local charity, SAVS. 

Speakers from the Royal British legion and Veterans First talked about the issues faced by people leaving the armed forces, such as housing, mental ill health, adjusting to life in civvy street and the complex rules about the benefits they are entitled to.

Alison Semmence, Chief Exec of SAVS explained that there are many veterans living in Southend and the voluntary sector needs to understand their needs and make sure veterans  know about the vast amount of support on offer from Southend’s voluntary sector.

Veteran Stuart Meyrick who now works for Southend Mind talked about the challenges he faced adapting to life after the army and coping with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

“When I left the army I was suffering with PTSD but it took years for this to be diagnosed by my GP.  It was finally recognised in 2010 and since then I have been receiving treatment from Southend Mind who have really helped me cope with it,” says Stuart.

The attendees found the day very informative and learnt a lot about how we can support veterans.

“An incredibly powerful and moving speech made by the ex-serviceman regarding his experience of how PTSD affected his life and family,” says Ann Davenport from South East Essex Advocacy for Older People.

A new initiative that has arisen from the event is a Social Group which will be run by the Royal British Legion in SAVS café on the second Tuesday of every month.  Any ex service personnel are welcome to come along from 10 – 1 to meet other veterans.  The first session will run next Thursday 10th April.  For further information please call Simon Ferrier at the British Legion on 07795 603813

Recycling Rewards Communities encourages local residents to enter a prize draw to win £250 by pledging to recycle.  At the same time, residents are asked to vote for their favourite registered community organisation or project from a list of fantastic projects operating across Southend.  The five community projects that receive the most votes will receive between £500 - £4,000.  You will need to register your details by 5pm on 2nd May in order for your community group to be considered.  Your income needs to be between £10,000 and £250,000 and you need to benefit the Southend community.  For more information, see below.  

We have been given the seal of approval by The Charity Commission as it has demonstrated it has all the hallmarks of an effective charity.  SAVS, the Southend Association of Voluntary Services was recently assessed by the Charities Evaluation Service and as a result has been awarded the nationally recognised PQASSO Quality Mark.

We work behind the scenes to support over 300 local voluntary and community groups in Southend to help them reach their full potential.  We provide advice and information on how to set up and run a charity, for example, what policies are needed, how to find funding and how to work with volunteers. In addition we also have a range of projects that support the elderly, people with mental health problems, Ex-offenders and also run the Triple T youth clubs.

Back in early 2013 we were assessed on how we are run, work with the local community and how we achieve results.   

“The assessor from the Charities Evaluation Service spent a week at SAVS talking to practically all of our staff, volunteers and trustees,” says Alison Semmence, CEO of SAVS.

“It was a pretty tough assessment and looked at everything we do.  They found we were particularly strong at working with others, listening to the views of the community and at getting results.”

The Charities Evaluation Service commented in its report about SAVS that;

“Trustees, staff and volunteers have a clear sense of purpose and demonstrate great commitment and enthusiasm in achieving exceptional results in the very diverse range of projects and activities that the organisation undertakes”.  

Southend Borough Council supports SAVS and is delighted with their achievement.

“As local government finance comes under increasing pressure it is inevitable that we will become ever more dependent on the efforts and contribution of the voluntary sector. In Southend we are fortunate to have in SAVS an organisation which provides very effective direction, support and coordination for our voluntary groups and which continues to make a real and obvious difference for the residents of Southend’’ says Nigel Holdcroft, leader of the Council