Am I a Group?

I’d like to put a question out there, I am doing my own advice provision,I am in a Forum set up for group funding bids,I have my own constitution that has a treasurer,a secretary,and a chair (names only I do it all) yet I need 2 signatures,myself and one named to access funding I have gained, yet I have been brushed off in the forum as I’m “not a group” am I? I am thinking of resigning,because of this as I don’t feel I’m taken seriously,yet I’m the only one that offers advice, and can improve someone’s financial status,any help welcome as I want to challenge this, PS there are councillors on the Forum,and a lot of internal politics

Yesterday I resigned from the Forum giving my reasons, however I have also copied in some high ranking council officials,something just wasn’t right,and if someone who offers welfare/tribunal/appeals/generalist and housing benefit help has to argue his case to a Forum to be acknowledged,then I want no part of it, I’m not giving up my advice at the Link, in fact I’m more determined than ever,I think that’s where the problem may have been,there’s some animosity within certain parts of the Forum, and I have neither the inclination or reason to play such games, I’ve been helping on my own now for over 2 yrs,I guess I’m just going to have to carry on in the same way. advice within community organisations may be the way forward,especially after further cuts come in (whoever wins in 2015 legal aid will be further hit) I was hoping for structure in the forum to show it could be done, there are other forums in Sheffield,maybe they’ll see what was offered, and the potential to create something new and needed

My Resignation

Dear XXXXXXXX Forum,

After attending the meeting on the 17th November, I would like to say I have concerns regarding my status within the forum; the concerns arose when the question of funding by XXXXXXX Forum was discussed, please note I have absolutely no issues with the funding bid being placed, I fully agree with striking early and I think the Xmas lunch is a worthwhile cause and I still would like to support it in anyway I can.

My concern stems from when it was mentioned if I could have placed a bid for funding by way of the Forum, I found the response “No I am not a group” a little concerning, and I felt as though I was brushed aside.

May I take this opportunity to raise a few points, firstly apart from the use of a room I have no connection to the Link, I have a separate constitution address, I heard about the Link during a radio show and I approached them, not the other way around, secondly I have been placing bids for funding on my own and the rules state I cannot submit them unless I am a group, I have a management committee including a Chairperson, Treasurer and Secretary, I have a community bank account, and any funding I wish to release needs 2 signatures, as per any other group.

Currently through my group I offer advice on a nationwide basis, I am currently a consultant Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) along with the UK Veterans Affairs League (UKVAL) and I have also offered advice on Sheffield Uncut and 38 Degrees, I currently offer my services for referral to Clive Betts MP and have made the same offer to the new candidate for Heeley, not to mention the assistance given to many other organisations and individuals covering many topics . I suppose I could technically argue that I may be one of the biggest groups within the ward through the work I do, and the people I reach yet my efforts to explain this seemed to have been brushed aside very easily

I am concerned that not being recognised as a group within this Forum would not only limit the potential funding the committee would tender for, but also limit the possibility of being allocated any funding and support the Forum I may gain due to not being acknowledged as a group. In essence I feel I would always be at the back of the queue, not to mention the fact I feel I would have little or no voice within the Forum, granted I did express a possible future interest regarding possibility of a place on the committee but if I’m not accepted as a group now I doubt I will be at any future date

At the last meeting I enquired about the blog, in the future I was hoping to propose that an advice provision be placed on this, The CAB has an on line advice section called Adviser Guide, but no online Q&A blog provision I was hoping that I could cover the areas the CAB doesn’t within the ward and offer 1-1 help for those without internet access and an advice blog for those who do, this is one of the reasons why WiFi is badly needed at the Link

Throughout the country access to advice/aid is being severely cut, before I undertook the Link project, I did discuss this with others nationwide in the advice sector, they have taken on board the idea and basically considered my set up as a form of template for the future of advice provision within communities.

It is because of this that I feel I should tender my resignation to the Forum with immediate effect, If I am not accepted as a group I feel I run the risk of being deemed not fully part of the Forum.

I fully intend to continue offering my advice provision within the Link for the residents of Stradbroke, but after the last meeting I feel continuing in the Forum, wouldn’t benefit any party, so I intend to contact other Forums offering an advice/advocacy/basic counselling service and see if they acknowledge me as a group organisation

I feel no anger to the Forum or any of it’s members I am just disappointed, so as I will not be  attending the next meeting I would like to wish all within the group all the best for Christmas and next year and the best of luck for the challenging times ahead


Neil Vaughan

Link Community Assistance Section

Any comments???? On a personal level I have found that the further I got into “discussions” I came across  a playground mentality of “He said/She said” almost borderline a “My daddy can fight your daddy” mentality even at the end of the meeting several broke off and had a “mini-meeting” ,all this pulling rank and forming little gangs,forgetting the idea is to help the community, I’m due a heart operation in December, I’m under enough stress, I have neither the time nor the patience to play such games, I want an organisation that helps,,,, not a crèche


3 thoughts on “Am I a Group?”

  1. A member of the local community has written a letter to senior councillors expressing concerns about Ward funding and how it’s allocated, she raised the point of the Link (where have my surgery) not even having WiFi,she raised the issues that not only would be of great help to my project, it would also benefit with the job club and adult learning projects in the future an example today, a vulnerable person has been sanctioned due to confusion about his latest appointments-he missed 1 and was sanctioned immediately (so much for last resort eh IDS) he saw me today,turns out he hasn’t asked for Mandatory reconsideration so because I have no internet of phone line he had to ring himself along with an application for a hardship payment to tie him over the next 4 weeks,luckily I have copied the new appeal form so he can come to me later, this gut lives on nothing for next 4 weeks than £57 a week and lives alone, if I had the internet I could have done the mandatory reconsideration for him,assisted with the hardship payment and even copied his MP on it.

    The cost for WiFi for the Link is @£400 for a year and the member of the community who wrote the letter was told that WiFi for the Link (including me) was “unsustainable”


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