Reflections on POP’s AGM Voices Hybrid Event

If the words ‘hybrid event’ are music to your ears or (more likely if you’re in charge of organising one) send you into a panic then I hope this blog might help!

POP works with grassroots organisations, charities and social enterprises by supporting them to work together and take a lead in creating change. We were excited to put together our 1st big ‘in-person’ event early November 2021.


During the planning stages, we realised that due to uncertainty with rising numbers in the Plymouth region the event might need to be cancelled or brought online. However, it’s important to keep planning as if the event will go ahead so that important decisions aren’t left to the last minute.

Although we planned carefully for a socially-distanced event, we wanted to be as inclusive as possible and fully include those who preferred to join via Zoom.


If you’re inviting a speaker, think ahead as inspirational speakers get booked up way in advance. We were thrilled to secure Cormac Russell of Nurture Development Limited who was able to join live from Ireland via Zoom. As a non-profit organisation you need to consider your budget but aim to give members a really useful experience. We also had a Workshop given by one of POP’s Associates, Stephane Kolinsky of Sky Space Team Development and POP’s very own Administrator Deborah Penprase. Throughout the day, we invited some of the Neighbourhood Networks and Collectives that POP has been working with to display some of the great things they’ve been doing in our ‘Marketplace’.

Venue and Tech

Plymouth has some fantastic venues, many of which are available to hire by the hour or day and we decided on The Beacon in North Prospect. The Conference Suite was a great size with excellent ventilation options and a separate kitchen area allowing us to easily manage providing 2 tea/coffee stations and a lunch area for up to 70 attendees allowing socially distancing.

However, it’s important to test your tech in advance of the big event. We booked in for a layout and tech test which made it clear that we needed some extra support. We needed to show up to 70 attendees the speaker on screen and ensure the sound came out clearly. Ideally connection to a TV screen would be best but a laptop connected to a projector worked equally well.

Soundwise though we needed to hire in sound and microphone equipment which was an added expense but vital and would recommend Dave and Simon from Clockwork Audio for providing exactly what was needed.

Unfortunately WiFi was not performing as expected, which was a big problem so we found the solution by purchasing mobile broadband boxes – another big reason for testing in advance! This was an investment for the day and future events.

We also realised there wasn’t the right technical skills within the team so were very fortunate to be able to hire the services of Aaron Monk from Diverse Events to ensure things worked seamlessly on the day. It’s a great relief to have someone overseeing the sound and visual tech on the day!

On the day

Make sure everyone knows their ‘roles’ for the day in advance and have 1 person overseeing things. We were lucky to be able to do a full check in on sound/visual/layout the day before as Martin the Ranger at the Beacon had everything set up ready and was extremely helpful!

Be clear with any housekeeping points eg are you encouraging people to socially distance? We shared our Risk Assessment document prior to the day. The venue did not have any guidelines (as not needed at this time) but we wanted people to feel as comfortable and protected as possible.

Don’t forget to take lots of photos – we were very lucky to have the services of a photographer who volunteered to help.

Try to enjoy and talk to new contacts and old friends!


Claire Law is Core Lead at POP helping organise events and internal operations. She is happy to help if anyone has any questions! Get in touch at

Watch out: Wellbeing Warriors about

Children in Keyham are being urged to transform themselves into Wellbeing Warriors. A new weekly club has been set up for young people between the ages of seven and thirteen. Through yoga, mindfulness, games and crafts the sessions intend to fortify the children with resilience and life skills. Run by Haidee Dampney from The Tree Project, which was set up in 2018 to “explore wellbeing in our lives”, it could not, she says, have come at a better time.

“It’s been such a tough year for everyone,” says Haidee. “With the Wellbeing Warriors club we’re focussing on the children, providing them with a safe space where they can come make friends and have fun and, at the same time, teaching them the means to live a happier life and help manage life’s ups and downs.”

In a world made more challenging by recent events, Haidee firmly believes that one of the things we can do for young people is teach them to be more resilient. Fifteen children are taking part in the weekly Wellbeing Warriors sessions, and despite only starting in September, Haidee can already see a transformation;

“In a relatively short space of time we’ve seen many of the children better able to articulate their feelings and that’s a really good thing at any age. They’re really engaging with the yoga, the mindfulness and the relaxation and, I think, because of this, and the creative and outdoor elements of the sessions, are finding effective ways to care for themselves and each other.”

The Wellbeing Warriors course is run by The Tree Project in collaboration with Creative Curiosities. If you know someone who might be interested, contact Haidee on 07722 846 879 or at

What would you do with £250?

One of POP’s members Aslan (an inter-church discipleship group of Persian Christians) recently spent their 250 a POP grant taking a group of asylum seekers on a community camping trip over to the lovely Maker Camp at Rame. The two-night minibreak provided the group of ten women and men with some much-needed light relief and fun away from the many challenges and concerns they face each day. As Louise Anderson from the Farsi-speaking community says the trip was a great success;

“It was such a joy to watch everyone relaxing, laughing and having fun together. I think for several of them it was like the sun bursting through the clouds after a long season of stormy weather.”

Without the funding there is no way, says Louise that anyone could have paid for the trip themselves. The funding from POP turned it from a dream to reality;

“Asylum seekers are on a very basic budget and there really isn’t room to put money aside for an event like this. So, the grant made all the difference to us being able to go ahead with this trip.”

The £250 a POP fund is open to members. Membership of POP is free-of-charge. For more information visit

How being ‘too big for their boots’ gave kids a sporting chance

POP gets to hear about many wonderful initiatives that begin because someone somewhere has a good idea: that idea then turns into action and, before-you-know-it, a fantastic grassroots community project has been born.

Take local painter & decorator, Luke Riggs, for example: two years ago he was a Dad helping out with a bit of coaching at his son’s football team (Marjons U14s) the next minute, he’s established a Football-BootBank and providing thousands of boots to hundreds of families across the city free-of-charge. The need for the project has, he says, taken him, completely by surprise:

“It started off with me polishing up my son’s football boots and offering them up on Facebook. And then it just got bigger, now we’ve got about two hundred pairs of boots going out every month; we’re sending to Cornwall and looking at starting one in Exeter.”

Luke reckons that since it began, he has sent out more than 3,000 pairs of boots. The majority – about 90% – stay in the city, the rest travel to Gambia where “they literally play in bare feet”. As a parent, Luke understands that some families will find it hard to pay between £30 and £100 every time their children need a new pair of boots:

“There’s so much pressure on parents with financial problems trying to keep up with expensive uniform and sportswear and this is just a great way of being able to support them.”

With a £1000 grant via POP from the Street-to-Scale fund and the willingness of several local companies to support the project and sponsor a bin, the Football Boot Bank has been able to pay for forty eight ‘collecting’ bins and set them up at schools, sports clubs and businesses across the city. A charity match last year helped to raise another £1800 which has meant that the boot bank can now rent a garage which has helped enormously. With several hundred pairs of boots coming in every month Luke was running out of storage room:

“I’ve got a 4’ by 6’ shed and that soon filled up and then the boots were taking over the spare room as well!”

And there have been a lot of redundant boots: with lockdown, all club sports stopped, and thousands of pairs of football boots sat idle, while, at the same time, children continued to grow. The problem post-lockdown: children had got too big for their boots.

“We passed on a brand-new pair of boots”, says Imogen Potter, “with no games, the boots just hadn’t been worn.” Imogen also gave Luke some advice. As the capacity building manager for POP ideas, Luke had approached Imogen for help with the development of the boot bank. Now, with a committee and a constitution, the Football Boot Bank has evolved into a formal organisation. As Luke admits there’s a bit difference between being a football ‘Dad’ to running a city-wide project:

“It’s been a bit mad at times and it’s taken up a lot of time and effort. But I couldn’t stop now, not knowing that there’s such a demand for it and the difference it makes. And I’ve got to know some of the families and some of them are so grateful they send me photos of the kids in their boots … no, I couldn’t stop now.”

If you’d like to donate a pair of boots; get involved; support the Football Boot Bank in your community or if your child is in need of a pair of boots contact Luke at or visit their Facebook page:

On Your Bike!

An ongoing relationship between the social enterprise, Bikespace and Devon and Cornwall Refugee Support has provided people the freedom to get around; a means of exercise and a little bit of joy.

At the beginning of 2020 DCRS acquired some funding to rent out part of the Bikespace workshop for a new project one day a week to repair old bikes which would then be given to members of Plymouth’s asylum seekers community. The project ran for several months and during that time more than twenty bikes were repaired by Ronnei, a trained mechanic and Kurdish refugee, who helped to devise the programme with Suvi Rehell, project manager with DCRS at the time. Almost immediately, Suvi saw how the project was making a difference;

“I was going for a walk and I saw two guys cycling by the seaside and I knew that they had got their bikes from us. So, not only are they able to get to their appointments and college and where they want to be for free, but they could cycle to the seaside and get some fresh air and that made me very happy.”

And it worked out well for Ronnei too. Once the project with DCRS came to an end he was taken on at Bikespace. Now, after completing a course at the City College, he is once again working as a qualified mechanic in one of the city garages. As Suvi from DCRS confirms: Integration of refugees through sport is about more than sport.

Wheels keep turning: if you have a bike that you no longer require you might like to donate it to Bikespace.

Community sector provides rapid response to food insecurities

Voluntary Sector organisations from the South West launch a report revealing the impact of collaboration on vulnerable communities

Food insecurity has been on the rise in the UK for several years. Many issues surrounding it have been exacerbated by the pandemic. For many people living with food insecurities, things are about to get worse. The £20 top up to Universal Credit is set to come to an end in October, coupled with the end of furlough. A group of voluntary sector organisations collaborated to commission a report, examining food vulnerability. This is particularly prevalent in Cornwall, which is the most deprived area in the south west region.

The Food Insecurities Report, completed by Rose Regeneration demonstrates the importance of collaboration in the pandemic. Food insecurity provides a lens through which to understand a wider range of impacts linked to the Covid-19 pandemic. In particular, food insecurity demonstrates the role that the voluntary and community sector (VCS) has played in the pandemic – not just in helping to provide food support, but in linking this support to mitigate the effects of the broader social and economic impacts on local communities. Many of the issues identified in this report and the response to them predate the pandemic, which has brought them to a head. A huge civic effort, organised at the local level, has demonstrated the significant capacity of local people to solve big challenges when faced by a crisis without undue direction and, in some cases, with very little external funding.

The report was prepared for the Voluntary and Community Sector Emergencies Partnership (VCSEP SW) and is intended to support them move away from emergency and towards recovery, in a space where ‘business as usual’ will not be an option for many communities.

Read the full report here:

Key features of lived experience

· An inability to build and draw on financial safety nets – low-paid work, zero hours contracts, mixed self-employment/salaried work, and/or work in unpredictable sectors left people financially exposed under Covid-19

· Caring responsibilities which limited income potential and raised outgoings – particularly but not only for women and single parents.

· Health and mental health challenges – 70% were experiencing chronic health issues prior to Covid-19; 65% long-term mental health issues.

· Elimination of social food sharing – many had previously counted on meals with others (e.g. a family Sunday roast) to stretch their weekly food budgets.

· People struggling to afford supermarket delivery fees – e.g., if isolating; c.£4-£6 for grocery delivery is a big percentage of a £25/£30 weekly food budget.

· Reduced access to ‘budget’ shops and not being able to ‘bargain shop’ – the inability to reliably access preferred supermarkets increased costs.

· Increased competition for ‘value’ and ‘budget’ brands – cheaper items were often already taken by others, leaving only expensive branded items.

· Price increases by shops which charged more for basics when Covid-19 hit.

· People relying on others to help with food shopping – but feeling too ashamed to dictate brand choices or supermarket choice, raising spend

A positive example is the Cornwall VSF Food Access Alliance. The Alliance has created a networking forum for food banks, community larders, distribution orgs and community growers to collaborate. This level of collaboration ensures that support (through donations and food surplus) is maximised and redistributed to those people/communities where there is demand. Insights from on the ground help contribute to the overall Food Security strategy. Cornwall VSF shares this with multiple stakeholders locally and nationally to advocate for a more sustainable food strategy for all.

Helen Boardman, CEO of Cornwall Voluntary Sector Forum said, “The response to the pandemic here has been phenomenal. There are possibly too may community organisations to mention, for fear of missing some out. What these demonstrate is that it an emergency, we can rely on communities.”

Key findings of the report:

1. The voluntary and community sector has played a central role in the local food response to the Covid-19 crisis

2. Whilst the nature of the response in each locality reflects the geography, demographics and capacity of each area, there are key common themes

3. The Covid-19 crisis has allowed new approaches to develop quickly, with VCS organisations often having increased agency to make decisions and shape approaches within cross-sector partnerships

4. The challenge now is to ensure that local food strategies move effectively from emergency response to providing sustainable support that links to wider agendas around poverty, health, and local sustainability.

5. Future approaches should be based on a clear, evidenced understanding of need at a local level

Robyn Knox VCSEP Director said, “This report supports the vital inclusion of voluntary and community sector organisations in building a resilient society. It also highlights how existing social inequalities can so easily be exacerbated in an emergency situation. We hope to see more inclusion of the voluntary and community sector in local resilience building and in influencing and co-creating positive health outcomes for all.”


Notes to Editors

Background information

VCSEP South West

The Voluntary and Community Sector Emergencies Partnership is a partnership of local and national voluntary and community sector organisations, formed in response to learnings from several national crises in 2017. It was recognised that a more coordinated response amongst the voluntary and community sector was needed when responding to an emergency and the Emergencies Partnership is supporting the sector to make this a reality.

The Emergencies Partnership provides space and opportunity for 230 local and national voluntary and community organisations to come together and build connections that will ensure support reaches those in need more effectively.

The South West alliance is comprised of • Voluntary Action Swindon • Plymouth Octopus • Reading Voluntary Action • Gloucestershire VCS Alliance • Spark Somerset • West of England Rural Network • Cornwall Voluntary Sector Forum • Community Action Network: Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole

With local lead liaisons in:

1. Bristol, Bath NE Somerset

2. Cornwall

3. Devon, Torbay & Plymouth

4. Dorset/ Bournemouth, Christchurch, Poole

5. Gloucestershire

6. Somerset

7. Swindon and Wiltshire

8. Thames Valley

Cornwall VSF

Cornwall Voluntary Sector Forum (VSF) is the voice of VCSE organisations in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. Our aim is to work with others to create a thriving and effective voluntary sector.

G7 Summit

For more information, please contact Laura Barnes at Cornwall Voluntary Sector Forum

Laura Barnes

VCSE Communications, Marketing and PR Officer

Tel: 07990633615

Uniform Shop Has No USP

There is nothing for sale in the Children’s Uniform Shop Plymouth (USP) which is up and running again for a second time.

Launched last summer, more than three thousand school uniform garments were provided free-of-charge to about four hundred families. Now, the USP has made a welcome return. The project, which is jointly run by Plymouth Vineyard Church and Redeemer Church Plymouth, has opened up in the former Lawson’s shop (near M&S) until August the 26th for people to drop off donations and chose children’s uniforms for the new school year.

The shop will be open between 10am & 3pm on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. Funded by the National Lottery Community Fund, it is also being supported by some of Plymouth’s city councillors enabling children to receive (new) pencil cases and rucksacks.

Donations of clothing will be welcomed.

For more information visit the shop or

Pioneering one-stop-donation-shop helps city provide united response to COVID

The Aid Redistribution Centre (ARC) radically improved the way donated food is being collected from supermarkets; stored and redistributed across Plymouth. Since then it has effectively and efficiently provided more than seventy tons of food to local charities and causes.

Acting as a central point from which food could come and go, it has changed the way local food banks; community projects and voluntary organisations work for the better.

The ARC has evolved rapidly and today it’s not just about food: more than sixty diverse organisations are being supported, for example, the (newly established) Hygiene Bank with toiletries; the Uniform Store with clothes for school children and Bramble’s Pet Food Bank with… pet food!

Meanwhile, as word has spread about its role, donations are arriving every day from all manner of businesses, such as, sun cream & sleeping bags from Service Design Solutions Engineering Consultants; kitchenware from national retailers and eggs from local farms. Ayshea Cross, the Plymouth Food Aid Coordinator, says all donations are passed on;

“”The challenge is to be creative, we recently had, for example, thousands of black flower buckets donated by the Coop. The Arc gave several hundred to gardening projects supporting people with loneliness and isolation and sent loads more to refugees living in Greece via a Plymouth-based humanitarian charity OHOB.”

An unexpected outcome of the project has been the willingness of people to work together. For example, drivers from the Co-op, en route to the ARC, are now stopping off at Marsh Mills and delivering Sainsbury’s donated goods as well as their own.

Furthermore, as project volunteers coming to the ARC are finding out about the other organisations so donations are being passed directly between the groups, speeding up the process.

“Blankets donated by Suited to Help, came into the ARC,” says Ayshea “and then our volunteers immediately passed them on to the volunteers from the soup run who were in the ARC to collect food for that night’s soup run. Several hours later, those same blankets were spotted out on the streets with a person who was homeless.”

The evolving collaboration has also led to changes across the voluntary and community sector with the ARC now acting as a one-stop-donation-shop for organisations; businesses and charities to both give and receive. This, in turn, has had a significant impact on the sector saving time and money and enabling volunteers to do what they do best – supporting local people.

“Being able to offer a whole range of items to a whole range of projects makes for greater efficiency. A lot of those smaller grassroots groups have been started by individuals who saw there was a need for helping people and just got on with it; connecting in with the ARC enables all of us to work better and support more people.”

The ARC has rapidly established itself as a fundamental part of the city’s solution to supporting people through COVID and triumphed as a centre of excellence for efficiency and connectivity.The ARC has received funding from the National Lottery and the Government-funded COVID Grant. The project is supported by Food Plymouth CIC; The Plymouth Food Aid Network and Plymouth City Council. To find out how you can support or to donate items, contact

Keyham Support

We are shocked and saddened to hear of the incident in Keyham last night. If you need support today, there are several community safe spaces including Ford Primary School, St Thomas Church (Royal Navy Avenue), St Marks Church (Cambridge Road), Sunflower Women’s Centre and Plymouth Methodist Central Hall (Admiralty Street).

Counselling & support services are available in person at the Jan Cutting Healthy Living Centre or at these phone lines:

• Victim Support: 0808168911

• Samaritans: 116123

• First Response Service: 08081968708

• Livewell Southwest: 0800 923 9323

• Sunflower Women’s Centre: 01752 977614

• The Zone (for young people aged 13-25): 01752 206626

• Text support: text SHOUT to 85258

• Bereavement Counselling Service: 01752 349769 (leave a message and all calls will be returned

• Torpoint Counselling (Emma Thornton): 07961017194 

• Childline – 0800 1111

• NSPCC Helpline – 0808 800 5000

• Together for Childhood – 01752 422 577

• Keyham Green Places – 01752 260323

Please get in touch if you would like us to share your own offers of support or if there’s anything else we can do to help your efforts. You can also reclaim any associated costs through £250 a POP:

From Together for Childhood Plymouth:

Together for Childhood’s thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of everyone affected by this week’s tragic events in Plymouth.

Childline is always here for any young person – no matter their worry or concern. And our helpline is also here to offer advice to adults.

Online, there is advice on processing death and anxiety through as well as further support for parents via

Our Together for Childhood Team remain available should anyone wish to talk to a practitioner if you are feeling upset, afraid or anxious.

My Support Space is an online resource designed by Victim Support with a selection of resources and suggestions for those who are supporting someone affected by harm

From Suited to Help:

Suited to Help will offer any support we can for immediate family members and those close to those who have sadly lost their lives in such awful circumstances. You can call us to discuss this further at 07752 719185.

From Plymouth Centre for Faiths and Cultural Diversity:

As with many other Faith communities in the city, we would like to be there should individuals wish to remember loved ones with prayer and reflection. We can make it time appropriate to the interested parties. Contact Arezoo at

From Art, Craft & Laughter:

We want everyone to know that we’re here for them. Whatever it might be. A place to talk or a place to feel safe. Give us a call on 07880 327022.

From Jeremiah’s Journeys:

This week we will be focusing on supporting children and families in Keyham in the aftermath of the tragic events of last week.  To do this we will be opening our helpline from Monday to Friday from 10am to 4pm to talk to anyone who would like to talk about how to care for themselves and their children after a traumatic event or bereavement. We can be contacted on 01752 424348 or via email at   Two of our Clinical team will also be in the Keyham, at Ford Primary School every morning to offer support and information to any families who would like someone to talk to.  We’ll be at Ford Primary School if you want to come along and speak with us. A few ideas for supporting yourself and children and young people can be found on our website:

From Plymouth & Devon Racial Equality Council:

PDREC are happy to be contacted by any one from Black, Asian, and Ethnically Diverse communities who has been impacted by last night’s tragic incident and feels that they need any support. If we are not the right organisation, we will refer people on to the relevant organisation. Contact Julie on 07552784245.

From Exim Dance Company CIC:

Exim Dance have today sent out an email to our database of young people’s parents/guardians to say we can provide additional 121 & group counselling sessions led by external professionals at our premises, Oxford House Creative Hub and our team members are on hand to provide wellbeing sessions/social hours wherever required. 

From Cognivity CIC:

If anyone affected would like to join our Arts As Theraphy (Creative Wellbeing Programme), it’s a weekly group which offers the arts & creative forms as a support to help those managing mental health concerns. Additionally, Eileen (Specialist MH Facilitator /Coach) is happy to work with individuals to support trauma/recovery/MH aspects.

To find out more, contact Eileen on 07742312828 or

From Keyham Green Places:

A leaflet with details of what we are offering is enclosed and our website link is below.

Keyham Green Places offers counselling, a place to chat and a garden to relax in 163 Renown St, PL22DT 01725 569340.

We have been and continue to offer supporting services to those living in Keyham and have been here since 2002.

Of particular note is our foodbank that has been in operation since the start of the pandemic and now serves over 150 people a month most of those in the PL2 area but also anyone that has asked in Plymouth were we have been able to deliver to them.

We have a trained counsellor on Mondays from 10am to 3pm ready to listen to anyone affected by the recent tragic incident in our community.  They can sit in our gardens in a quiet spot or talk to someone that will listen.

We have talked to BBC radio Devon who are promoting those helping here:

Contact them to add anything missing.

If you are in a position to help and have something that you’d like us to share, get in touch:

Email: and put “Make a Difference” into the subject title.

Phone: 01752 260323

Funded Student Support for POP members

Students from the University of Plymouth are looking to undertake free consultancy projects in the coming academic year.  The University would like to offer this to POP members.

Offer 1 – Fundraising event or a one-off awareness raising activity

There is an opportunity to have a group of 5-6 students plan and carry out a project activity on behalf of your organisation. This could be, for example, a fundraising event or a one-off awareness raising activity etc. Projects must be low risk, not be business critical, not incur any costs on behalf of the University and take place in early-mid December 2021.

The students are studying a ‘Project Management’ module as part of the undergraduate BSc (Hons) Business Management degree programme at The University of Plymouth. The module starts at the end of September and runs until mid-December 2021. Projects have to be completed within that timescale, so the event/activity must be achievable within that timeframe.

You will be required to meet with the students to determine the precise objectives/outcomes desired and be available to answer ongoing questions throughout the project’s duration.
Whether meetings and the activity/event will take place virtually or in person, will be determined by Covid-19 restrictions nearer the time.

Offer 2 – Creative, collaborative project (film, animation, sound, photography to web design)

Our final year BA (Hons) Media Arts students at The University of Plymouth are looking for opportunities to work creatively, in a collaborative context, with a client. The module runs from Thurs 30th September until 16th December 2021. The students have access to appropriate technology in order to produce high quality products. They work in a variety of media, from film, animation, sound, photography to web design. The projects they take up range from creative collaborations, to promotion and community projects.

Within the teaching on the ‘Collaborative and Contextual Practice’ module, students are encouraged to think about skills needed in collaborative work: how to negotiate, work flexibly, and think creatively. We expect the client to meet and give feedback on the student’s progress approximately once a week/once a fortnight (this can be via email, Skype, Zoom etc.) and to be involved in giving an interview to camera for a reflective, behind the scenes video, which is produced as part of the student’s self-promotion. This interview can be recorded via Skype or Zoom.

Offer 3 – Creative, written content for a webpage, blog, leaflet, social media campaign etc.

Would you be interested in having a student write some compelling copy for your organisation?  
e.g. They could create content for a webpage, blog, leaflet, social media campaign etc.

The programme leader of ‘BA (Hons) English and Creative Writing’ and ‘BA (Hons) Creative and Professional Writing’ at the University of Plymouth is keen for his students to gain some extra-curricular work experience. Do you have a small project a student could help you with? They would work remotely, starting sometime in September.

If you are interested in applying for any of these offers, please email for further details and an application form.
Please indicate which offers you are interested in. You may apply for more than one.