This year Action Hampshire turns 70!
Action Hampshire’s specialist knowledge in the community, voluntary and social enterprise sector spans over 70 years. We support this sector to deliver great services to local people and communities; speak up for the changes they would like to see; and shape the future of where they live and work.
We are celebrating this amazing achievement by:
- Sharing 70 impacts, in 70 Tweets over the next 10 weeks. You will be able to follow along on Twitter using the hashtag #AH70 or you can follow this page!
- We will be publishing a weird and wonderful facts and figures page on our website later in the year and….
- We’ll be posting video testimonials from our members, partners and Trustees wishing us a happy 70th anniversary.
Would you like to get involved?
We would love to hear about your experiences of working with us and share your stories.
Please get in touch: email@example.com
We promote community empowerment!
In 2010, Action Hampshire administered the Hampshire & IoW portion of the South East Community Empowerment Awards, which was an initiative of the former South East Regional Empowerment Partnership.
After difficult review, four organisations won the top prize of £5,000. One of these was Buriton Village Voice Group.
At the time the judges said:
The Buriton Village Voice Group is a team of volunteers who have produced a very successful parish plan for the rural parish of Buriton. They started from the maxim that ‘life is never perfect’ and there are some things that people would like to improve or change, and other things that they would like to stay just as they are.
The project is a summary of all the main issues (social, environmental and economic) that concern people in the parish, and how they’d like things to be in the future. The Village Voice Group spent over a year using all kinds of creative techniques to make sure that their consultative work and ‘problem identification’ reaching all parts of the community – not just the usual suspects or a vocal minority.
Armed with solid evidence, they then developed a series of action plans to address all the important issues.
Virtually all the action plans have led to valuable changes on the ground and improvements in peoples’ lives. The vast majority of these achievements have been undertaken by the people of Buriton acting together ‘with each other, for each other’. Judges felt this project was a model of fantastic community led planning. Excellent community action and influence over decision making. Sustainable, empowering and learning can be shared. Wide range of outcomes.
Having won the award, the group decided to invest their winnings in creating a time capsule book, ensuring that the whole community would benefit from their winnings. They commemorated village life in the landmark Diamond Jubilee and Olympics year of 2012.
Our extensive networks mean we can engage with people that others often struggle to reach
In 2016, Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service (HFRS) had a challenge. They were publicly consulting about a significant restructure to the Fire Service, but were concerned they were not hearing the voices of everyone they serve. They were keen to hear from people whose voices are less often heard. Would the restructure have any additional or different impacts on these communities? And how could insights help to inform the implementation process? HFRS wanted to find out if a proposed restructure would have any additional, or different, impacts on the communities or groups.
Action Hampshire was commissioned by HFRS to carry out a series of focus groups with priority communities eg. Sign Language Users, transgender people, people struggling with their mental health, parents of disabled children, informal carers … We provided a small amount of funding to enable our specialist partners across the HFRS patch to pull together a group of their beneficiaries that could be consulted on HFRS proposed changes.
We chose communities that we felt were less often heard, and approached our member organisations (working within these communities) to ask for their help.
We gave each organisation a small sum of money, and they brought some beneficiaries together in a room. Our Research & Engagement Team facilitated focus groups to discuss the proposed restructure, together with a uniformed Fire Office.
We carried out 11 focus groups in different parts of Hampshire with:
- people with chronic lung conditions
- carers (providing unpaid care to adult family/friends)
- Nepali residents, many of whom were recent arrivals
- people with visual impairments and their families
- parents of children and young people with special needs
- transgender or transitioning people
- people living with mental health conditions
- people with learning difficulties
- older people
- British Sign Language users
- people with physical disabilities
“The insights gained from the focus groups were vital to ensuring our plans were fit for purpose and ready to keep everyone in our community safe not leaving anyone behind. The relationships Action Hampshire has with so many different groups allowed us to hear things we would not otherwise have heard, shaping our way of thinking about the future of our Service”.
The project also had unintended impacts…
Focus group participants learnt a great deal about how to reduce their fire risk, and feeling reassured about what they should do in case of fire “thank you. I feel much happier now I know what to do”. Participants also really appreciated the chance to express their views to Hampshire Fire & Rescue personnel “we feel listened to now”.
We help services that provide essential support to those that most need it in our communities
Empowering 2 Change is a cooperative (not for profit) which aims to support people seeking recovery from addiction to drugs and alcohol.
Here’s what Empowering 2 Change had to say about the project…
As part of Community Action Portsmouth (CAP), we suported the set up of a “Recovery Cafe” in Portsmouth to provide a place where people in recovery and those seeking help can come for support, advice, support groups such as ACT, Life Coaching, and other projects which we hope will provide opportunities for people to access training and work experience which will help them enter the job market and move away from benefit dependency.
The team at CAP have been incredibly supportive in helping us make a vision into reality. They are knowledgeable, supportive and accessible. They have helped us by giving advice on many of the practical issues which arise when you are trying to set up a new enterprise. e.g. structure, governance, admin and financial record keeping etc etc.
They have also provided a number of training courses and workshops which are relevant to a range of different types of enterprises. The monthly Action News (now called ‘Things you really need to know’) is also extremely useful in helping to raise awareness of training, funding opportunities and other community issues. We have received invaluable support from all the CAP team and I particularly value the 1:1 support we recieved.
The support from CAP has given us the confidence to do the groundwork on some of the projects we want to set up which will (we hope) provide training and work experience for our clients and ultimately provide a revenue stream which will empower us and our clients by helping to fund services and activities. We have also been given the opportunity through CAP to be part of a consortium which is bidding for £500,000 for recovery activities.
I am particularly impressed by the fact that the CAP team have hands on experience of setting up enterprises and they have a real understanding of what is needed to get an enterprise off the ground.
We supported the promotion of local history in the community
In 1953, Action Hampshire (previously called HCSS) formed the Hampshire Local History Council, with Bishop of Winchester as Chairman. This group was to “act as a clearing house for the activities of the numerous local societies“. Pointing out the danger of becoming too highbrow, he said that they wanted all kinds of people to be concerned about the history of their own village and towns.
First meeting on Saturday 10 October, 1953 with 20 county organisations joining and various other individuals. The intention of the council was to “do everything possible to help local history societies, become a clearing house for their activities and to stimulate interest in the subject in all parts of the county”. They were particularly keen that folklore and oral history be documented.
In 1959 the Council organised a ‘Finds and Treasures’ exhibition at East Meon Institute which displayed “ancient family souvenirs, finds made by children and other objects with historical value”.
See articles from that time by clicking on the links below.
- Hampshire Telegraph and Post, 1953
- West Sussex Gazette and South England Advertiser, 1953
- Evening News, 1953
- Hampshire Telegraph and Post, 1953
- The Evening News and Southern Daily Mail
In 2021 provided support to the community with the digital switchover
In 2012 were commissioned to run two Digital Switchover programmes: the ‘Communities Programme’ and the ‘Community Outreach Programme’ in the Meridian West area (Berkshire, Wiltshire, Dorset, Bournemouth, Poole, Isle of Wight, Southampton, Portsmouth and Sussex). We worked with partner organisations across the area, and together trained 194 community volunteers who engaged with 6,405 Community Supporters.
Quotation from external evaluation of Digital Outreach programme:
“The performance of Action Hampshire stood out for delivering the most relatively productive programme in the region… Action Hampshire also stood out very clearly from the other areas, because of the energised way in which they highlighted the impact of their Community Outreach Programme – very visibly – through their monthly reports, stories and photographs. Additionally, importantly and without fuss or fanfare, CAH administration was very effective and reassuringly well maintained… Organisational attitude/culture played a large part”.
Peter Hellawell, former Project Coordinator at Action Hampshire, talks about what the Digital Switchover Community Outreach project involved in this short film here
We provide all you need to know about running a voluntary or community organisation or group
Re:minds started over 6 years ago when a small support group was set up by one parent, supporting families of children with autism, ADHD or with poor mental health. This very quickly grew and today they have over 1500 members!
After securing funding from The National Lottery Community Fund, they felt they needed to change to a more formal structure and this is where Action Hampshire came in.
“The support we got was invaluable, we signed up for membership and had a very important and practical conversation with the CEO about some of the intricacies of being a community interest company with advice on further actions and support. Moving on from that we wanted some HR support and help with identifying and measuring impact, again Action Hampshire stepped in and ran a bespoke training course for us and put us in touch with Peas in a Pod for a free HR consultation.
We really value the newsletters Action Hampshire send out as they keep us in touch with the community, tell us about valuable training and funding streams and many more opportunities.
Happy 70th birthday Action Hampshire, here’s to another 70 years.”
We support essential services in the community!
In 1981, Action Hampshire (then Hampshire Council of Community Service) undertook a voluntary transport survey which recommended that the county council appoint a broker to act as a contact between community transport services and users. As a result of this, HCC appointed a voluntary transport officer in 1982 – the first role of this nature in the county!
This new and “progressive” model was promoted as a national recommendation in a 1985 report which said, “If greater use is to be made of minibuses within the community, then more resources will have to be made available for advice and coordination on a local basis. The development of such resources and expertise within county councils’ public transport coordination sections is essential and we would encourage the establishment of more posts similar to the Voluntary Transport Officer in Hampshire”.
One of the early successes of this role was to bring 220 minibuses owned by parent-teacher associations for school use under the Council’s insurance scheme, which made these resources available to the wider community. HCCS’s report laid the foundation of all of the community transport offerings in the county today.
We ran a Chiropody service for 40 years!
As part of the work of the Hampshire old people’s welfare committee, Action Hampshire (known as Hampshire Council of Social Services at the time) set up a countywide chiropodist service in 1954, which by 1955 had 26 clinics.
At the time, we were “rather proud that we have been the very first county in the country to develop this service on a countrywide basis”. Chiropody was an innovative service which gave mobility and independence back to older people. We ran that service for over 40 years, supporting countless thousands of older people to remain independent and mobile.
Today, Age Concern Hampshire continues to operate a footcare service, continuing this vital support service first established in Hampshire by HCSS.
See Evening News article here, May 1954
We support social enterprises – changing the future, one business at a time!
Fiona Ollerhead, fellow and associate of AH, founded The Pantry Partnerships (TPP). Fiona talks about the impact Action Hampshire has had on her work over the last several years, particularly the support we have provided during the pandemic…
“As a fellow of the first SSE Hampshire programme I have been associated with Action Hampshire for many years, in various capacities. Most recently and currently as the Learning Manager for that programme alongside which I run TPP CIC in Salisbury, Wiltshire.
I have always known that AH is there to support me whatever I do and the biggest impact for me is knowing this and knowing that I am then able to impact our work in Wiltshire and support our students and fellows at the school.
The most recent impact of course has been through Covid where we at TPP, in 6 months created over 2000 meals, from 8 tonnes of surplus, donating the rest to local community groups across our community. Without AH’s support I would never have even got started, let alone be able to organise 50 odd volunteers and a half dilapidated building sufficiently well to make this happen.”
We support the promotion of equality and diversity in Hampshire
This Toolkit began as a Hampshire Leadership Forum (previously known as Hampshire Voluntary Sector) Consortium initiative and was developed as part of the Diversity Network Project during 2006-2008 and updated during a further project in 2012.
This Toolkit aims to serve as a good practice resource that will help voluntary and community organisations in Hampshire improve the way we promote equality and diversity, and to reach out and engage with people and groups from all communities across the county.
You can view the toolkit 2012 Equality and Diversity Toolkit
What are you doing to promote equality and diversity in your organisation?
We would love to hear from you, please email us here and we will include your tips and resources in our newsletter.
We support others to raise awareness of cancer in their communities
70 participants have attended Communities Against Cancer Zoom workshops!
The Communities Against Cancer (CAC) workshops are friendly, informal, interactive sessions to help people feel more confident in the messages of the CAC project.
We discuss how to reduce risk of cancer, awareness of possible symptoms, importance of cancer screening and the barriers some people face to accessing help and a healthy lifestyle. This is all in the context of trying to improve early diagnosis and highlighting the health inequalities some people experience. The Zoom sessions allow for conversations, questions and discussions around raising awareness of cancer with communities and some of the challenges and opportunities in this.
More information on our training sessions and grant opportunities can be found here
We championed rural craft traders
In 1956, our annual report highlighted the economic contribution rural craftsmen make nationally, noting that there were 613 master craftmen’s shops in Hampshire, with each providing work for 3 men on average and an output of £1.5 million
From 18-21 June 1958, HCSS organised a large exhibition of village craftsmen, who would show off how to make “boats, saddles, bricks, pottery, hurdles, wrought ironwork, sails and furniture” as well as “stone masonry, weaving, bowl turning, thatching and water engineering”, the emphasis of the show being on all of the trades still needed in communities.
Source: Reading Standard, May 1959
In 1959, leader of HCSS described one of its most important tasks was supporting rural industries. At this time, HCSS employed a full-time advisor who “travelled around the county helping craftsmen to improve their methods and their buildings.” HCSS had pioneered the introduction of oil-fired kilns for brickmaking, for example.
Source: Hampshire Telegraph and Post, May 1959
Throughout our 70 years, Action Hampshire has supported community enterprise.
From our support to rural craftsmakers in the 1950s to supporting community shops through the Community Business Trade Up programme (see here) and now our work facilitating Peer to Peer Networks for Solent LEP (find out more here).
We support people who want to build homes in their community
Action Hampshire was part of the team that developed an affordable housing scheme in Twyford, and Anne and Peter were absolutely delighted to be offered one of the properties to rent.
“We are so thrilled and excited to be back where we belong. I am 67 and my husband is 68 and this has meant that we can end our days in the place we love best in the world.” Anne Blake (Twyford resident)
We provide valuable information to the VCSE sector
We provide a weekly policy and information newsletter including local and national news, policy snippets, digital tips, events & funding opportunities. Each week, our newsletter reaches 1,700 people, helping them to make a difference everyday!