New home for Kingshurst Caterpillars Playgroup

Around 30 staff, parents and invited guests gathered to celebrate the opening of Kingshurst Caterpillars Playgroup this week following its move to School Close in January. 

Councillor Ken Meeson, Cabinet Portfolio Holder – Children, Education & Skills at Solihull Council, officially opened the playgroup’s newly refurbished and decorated premises located next to Kingshurst Primary School.

Cutting the ribbon: Councillor Ken Meeson 

Kingshurst Caterpillars was set up in 2005 and provides a stimulating environment for 2-3 year olds to learn social skills and develop confidence ready for school.

Welcoming guests: Chair, Elaine Herbert (centre) with Playgroup Manager, Kerie Drinkwater (right)

For over 10 years the playgroup operated from Kingshurst Youth and Community Centre, however, re-development plans for the area meant that a new base for the playgroup was needed. Councillor Meesan and council colleagues were thanked for facilitating a smooth transition to the new facilities.

Elaine Herbert, Chairperson of Kingshurst Caterpillars said:

“Although the move was unplanned, it has been really positive for us. Re-locating has enabled us to increase the number of places from 26 to 40. We now have windows and lots of outdoor space for the children to play and enjoy. We arrived in January with 26 children and we’re now full to capacity. We’re a much needed and valued service.”

Staff and Board Members

The event was attended by a number of specially invited VIPs who have supported the playgroup from its early beginnings to more recent years including Children in Need, Jaguar Land Rover, Solihull Sustain and Development in Social Enterprise.

Thank you Ken Wilkinson and Dean Smith at Jaguar Land Rover. JLR raised £2000 to pay for a new gazebo and will be returning in the summer to build up the kids area. Relationship brokered by June Mole at Solihull Sustain.

Elaine added: “We are so grateful to the support we’ve had from our funders and partners over the years. We would not be here today without them.”

Thank you Children in Need! Melanie Connelly and Anna Ducie (centre) pictured with Elaine and Kerie

The Community Enterprise for Success programme has been guiding the board through the process of registering as a Community Interest Company which will help strengthen its financial footing and ability to provide free pre-school provision to low income families in the area.

Manager, Kerie Drinkwater said: “The majority of the children live in high rise flats or maisonettes and do not have access to safe outdoor play. We take children from their 2nd birthday in order that they can access the benefits and experiences at the earliest age possible.”

New outdoor play area

Kingshurst Caterpillars Playgroup is open weekdays and can be found on School Close, Birmingham, B37 6BN. For more information email Kerie Drinkwater or call 07947 661067.

Directory of Health and Wellbeing Organisations Launched


Community Enterprise for Success has launched a new publication to promote networking amongst voluntary and community organisations in Solihull.CEFS Directory_FINAL_04.04.16

The networking directory provides an overview of key services, client case studies and contact information for 15 organisations delivering public health or adult and community services in Solihull.

All the providers profiled in the booklet participated in a business development programme commissioned by Solihull Council and Solihull Together for Better Lives and identified the need for improved knowledge of one another’s services.

The directory aims to showcase areas of expertise, raise awareness amongst local providers and commissioners, facilitate better referrals between organisations, and create a foundation for collaborative working leading to improved outcomes for Solihull citizens.

Download the directory here or request a printed copy by contacting Development in Social Enterprise CIC – email or call 0121 667 6810.

Young families welcome Small Changes charity shop

Small ChangesA new charity shop that specialises in children’s items has opened in Solihull.

Small Changes, located on Lyndon Road (off Coventry Road), opened on 10 February and sells a range of children’s clothes, baby-wear, school uniforms, sportswear, shoes, toys, books, nursery furniture and equipment.

Karen Davenport, Retail Shop Manager, said: “Parents think it’s a great idea. They are so impressed with the quality and range of items we have for babies, toddlers and older children. Every item donated to us is checked and cleaned onsite and all the funds raised will support our work with local people and families affected by drug or alcohol addiction.”

Small Changes is the first shop to be launched by Changes Charity which supports people to lead healthy and productive lives as they maintain their recovery in the community.

Karen is currently recruiting volunteers for Small Changes and also Changes Coffee shop which will soon occupy the empty unit next door.

Karen adds: “Both shops will be connected so that mums can enjoy a coffee before they collect the kids from school, or pop in on their way home and catch up with friends while the children have fun in our play area. We want to create a family friendly environment where everyone is welcome. Somewhere people can meet, volunteer, access services and gain skills.”

Small Changes is open Monday to Saturday 9.30am – 4.30pm, 242 Lyndon Road, Solihull, B92 7QW.

To find out more about volunteering or to donate items please contact Karen on 0121 742 9616.

Facebook – Small Changes Charity Shop

Twitter – @SmallChangesB92


More information

Changes Charity enables people in recovery to realise that a life free from drug and alcohol addiction is possible. From detox to supported housing, our person centred development programmes support individuals to rebuild their lives and move from dependence to independence.

Our trading arm, Changes UK CIC, creates volunteering, training, education and employment pathways for people in a number of user-led social enterprises including Building Changes, Changes Gardening, Changes Coffee and one stop shop for the recovery community at Recovery Central our new premises in Digbeth.

For more information visit Find Changes on Facebook and Twitter.


New advice service for child Disability Living Allowance

IMG_5461DIAL Solihull is now able to support parents with child Disability Living Allowance claims, renewals and related benefits.

The service has been commissioned by Solihull Council and will enable DIAL to provide families with additional advice and information on grants and other support services.

Alice Singleton, Chief Executive of DIAL Solihull said: “We are delighted to be able to provide this specialist package for parents so that they can access the extra support they need to look after their children. We have in place an experienced worker and two sessional staff to carry out this much needed support.”

Families can access DIAL’s services by calling 0121 770 0333 or visiting the advice centre in Kingshurst.

DIAL Solihull is a free, impartial and confidential information and advice service for disabled people and their carers. For more information visit

WBC Fit Club moves to Grace Academy

Operating from the basement of a butcher’s shop in Chelmsley Wood Shopping Centre had served WBC Fit Club well for many years. “It was a good old fashioned boxing gym, cheap, no frills, and everyone loved the place. But unless you knew about us, you wouldn’t know we were there,” says Paul Webb, instructor and founder of the community boxing club.

Paul set up WBC Fit Club in 2009 and provides children’s boxing classes to encourage young people to take up the sport, keep fit and active and in turn help curb anti-social behaviour.

Paul was on the look out for larger premises when the invitation to teach kids at a local secondary school came knocking. “In passing I mentioned to the principal and vice principal at Grace Academy that I was searching for larger and more accessible premises and within 48 hours we’d worked out an affordable package. Best of all we could move without putting up our prices which I didn’t want to do”

Although Grace Academy has a gym, and Paul had taken students there in the past for fun days, demonstrations and gradings, there was still the issue of raising funds for a new boxing ring.

“We decided to hold a sparathon where the kids sparred professional boxers. The deputy principal Mr Spina was very hands on! He sparred pro boxers including two time world kick boxing champion Waine Turner and helped us with one of our boxing shows.

“We held our year end grading and presentations at Grace Academy, just before Christmas. Right at the end we announced to parents and our students that the gym we were in was now our new home. Everyone was over the moon.

“The move means that we have more space, better changing facilities, and easy access. But best of all, somewhere to hold our own boxing shows. It also means that the Grace Academy students have somewhere to continue their training after school.

“This partnership is going to grow. I strongly believe that it will benefit my classes/programme, the school and most importantly, the local community. We have exciting times ahead.”

To find out more about WBC Fit Club visit


Solihull My Life Portal – is your organisation listed?

socialactivities_nmenuLaunched in 2015 – – has been developed to help individuals and families to find information, advice and support about services in Solihull as well as learn how to get involved in and participate in local activities.

Local providers of health and social care services can list details of what they offer in the ‘Solihull Directory’ free of charge. Search categories include ‘Health & Wellbeing’, ‘Housing’, ‘Difficult times’, ‘Advice agencies’ and ‘Things to do’.

Register for the portal here

If you’re already on the portal, is your entry up to date?

Could your organisation offer a supported work placement?

advance_group_logoA new supported employment programme designed to help disabled people to gain skills and experience is looking for host employers in Solihull.

The Supported Business Placement programme is being run by Advance – a charitable organisation and prime contractor for the ‘Work Choice’ programme in Birmingham, Solihull and the Black Country, working on behalf of the Department for Work and Pensions.

The programme helps disabled people and people with mental health issues to receive the same employment opportunities as everyone else. Applicants are matched to six month placements and a dedicated ‘in work’ adviser is on hand for the employer and individual throughout the process – initial work skills assessments, development plans, regular review meetings and in-house training are part of the package. The main aim of the Supported Business Placement is for host employers to be able to take on the trainee as an employee at the end of the 6 months.

A wage incentive of 16 hours per week (at minimum wage) is paid to trainees who are employed by Pluss (Advance’s delivery partner and supported business provider). 

The model means employers get the support and encouragement they need to recruit, manage and progress disabled people and people with long-term health issues, leading to rewarding, independent and unsupported employment for Advance customers.

For more information about the scheme contact:

Donna Dind – Supported Business Placement Team Leader

Tel: 07920 793942 or 0121 711 1044


Procurement opportunities with Solihull Community Housing

AnnekeWe were delighted to welcome Solihull Community Housing’s procurement team to the CEFS Networking Event on 18 November at the new Enterprise Zone in Smith’s Wood. 

Solihull Community Housing (SCH) is an Arm’s Length Management Organisation (ALMO) that was established in April 2004 to takeover the management of housing services on behalf of Solihull Council. SCH’s responsibilities include the management and maintenance of the Council’s housing stock which consists of approximately 11,000 properties. This portfolio includes houses, maisonettes, high rise and low rise flats, sheltered accommodation and community centres.

Anneke Clarke, Procurement Manager at SCH, gave a short talk on how they buy services, the procurement stages and timescales, and ended with her top tips for completing PQQs (Pre Qualification Questionnaires) and Tender applications. 

If you couldn’t make it, don’t worry. Here are the presentation slides and a useful handout which includes a list of tender opportunities which are going to be issued in 2016:

Never miss a tender opportunity by signing up to receive e-alerts from CSW-JETS – Coventry, Solihull and Warwickshire’s joint e-tendering system. It’s free and anyone can subscribe.

Anneke will be back on 13 January 2016 to co-deliver a more in-depth workshop on public sector procurement. To attend this session, register here.


Funding and Commissioning for Social Care and Health

Just a quick post for our health and social care VCSE’s in Solihull.

VCSE representatives alongside the NHS, Public Health and the Department of Health, recently published a review of VCSE commissioning in health and social care which can be downloaded here.

For those of you who want to gain further insight into the review findings and the key issues and considerations it has raised, there is a free webinar being held on: 29th October 12:00- 12:45.

The webinar is hosted by NCVO and will have insights from NCVO’s

  • Public Services Manager Nick Davies and
  • Senior Policy Officer Michael Birtwhistle.

See more and book on through this link