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 Helping people make positive changes in their lives with mentoring, support and personal development 

 Minutes of Annual General Meeting

Date:               20th January 2020

Venue:             Duke Street Church, Duke Street, Sutton Coldfield B72 1RJ

Download Presentation Slides: Presentation 2020 AGM 

Chairman’s report

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Dennis Kennedy welcomed everyone to the meeting. He highlighted the progress made in all aspects of Our Place’s work and in particular, the high degree of care and consideration shown by staff and volunteers to all people seeking their help.

Particular highlights for September 2018 – August 2019

  •  Despite school budgets continuing to be tight we have maintained delivery of 121 mentoring to 11 schools and group-based mentoring to 16 schools.
  • Advice café has developed and has strong coordination with set processes and procedures for managing client’s information and collating outcomes to evaluate the service.
  • Our Training Scheme has developed further, attracting new learners across all programmes, we were particularly pleased to deliver training for Birmingham Children’s Quarter on Child Abuse Linked to Faith and Belief.
  • We have recruited Danielle Williams into a new role, Admin Coordinator with a lead on community elements of Our Place Support and her role has seen her thrive at the centre of recent community/fundraising events, we look forward to seeing this role and Danielle grow and develop – the role is funded through Awards for All
  • Our Team day was a great success at Woodlands Camp. It is great for morale and allows the team to get to know one another better but also acts as a business planning and consultation opportunity
  • Safeguarding has been a key area we have spent time on this year with a higher than usual number of safeguarding concerns and disclosures and a change in the way that Children’s Services want information collected before they accept a referral
  • Thanks go to all of our fundraisers including to Debbie and Maff who raised over £1000 cycling in the Birmingham Velo!

Advice services

Jo Carnegie reported that demand for Advice Café’s services is growing. To deal with this, the fortnightly sessions were supplemented by one-to one meetings to take forward more difficult cases. It was then decided to open every Friday as of October 2019.

IMG_3034 (3)During September 2018- August 2019 Advice Café dealt with 186 cases, at least half of which required 2 or more sessions to resolve. Over half of the people needing help came from Sutton Coldfield; most of the rest came from Erdington or Kingstanding. Welfare rights accounted for over half of the cases with housing and mental health also being major issues. It was rare though for people to have only one issue – mental health worries in particular often needed to be teased out in the course of conversation. Feedback from clients has continued to be very positive.

Two case studies were shared with the meeting; one involved a young man who suffered from severe epileptic attacks in the night and the other a young woman with an incurable gastric condition. Both had had applications for benefits refused, but were successful on appeal with support from Advice Café.

Three legal firms – Bell Lax, Enoch Evans and Pickfords are now working with Advice Café and links are being developed with the Central England Law Centre. Advice Café is also looking to deepen its relationships with other organisations to enable it to refer people to specialist support on issues such as debts and immigration.

The Job Club has also been restructured with sessions by appointment 2 Fridays a month taking the place of open sessions twice a week. Demand has fallen, and it is now proposed to integrate Job Club into Advice Café with a focus on helping people to prepare/update CVs.

Mentoring Scheme Overview


Debbie Clarke reported that constraints on school funding have led to the number of schools taking out subscriptions falling by 58%. She stressed that this does not reflect any diminution in the need for the service, or the regard in which it is held. It is simply a matter of schools having to make difficult choices within tight budgets.

She noted that support for children with mental health problems is under strain generally. Reports suggest that a substantial number of applications to the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services are being turned down and that successful referrals are likely to face long waiting lists.

One of Our Place’s tasks has been to provide support for children while they are on the CAMHS waiting list. Our Place usually has c16 on its own waiting list with an average wait of around 2 months. This partly reflects fewer volunteer mentors which has been a result of volunteers having to find work/increase their hours to balance the household accounts. A further factor is the unusually high proportion of time consuming high risk cases in 2018-19.

In response to the reduction in schools funding there has been a switch to group based mentoring, providing children with support on issues such as building friendships, maintaining positive mental health and keeping safe.

Debbie Clark noted that feedback on both one-to one and group sessions remains very positive with over 80% of mentees reporting positive changes.

Beth Thomas presented a case study about a young boy with challenging family circumstances, suffering from crippling anxiety whose life was changed by help of his mentoring from Our Place.

Training Scheme

Kelly Round said that Our Place ran 20 courses (116 hours of training) during 2018-19. 147 people attended of whom 47% were from outside of the Our Place Support team. These included play workers, counsellors, youth workers, teaching assistants and nursery staff. The courses included training on assertiveness, emotional intelligence, stress, anger and loss & change.

The response to the courses (15 of which are CPD approved) has been very positive with 97% of those attending giving them 4 or 5/5 (64% 5/5) when asked if they were more confident putting skills into practice. 97% gave the trainer(s) 4 or 5/5 (79% 5/5). The scores were significantly improved on the (already impressive) ratings achieved in 2017-18.

It is expected that training will become an ever more important part of Our Place’s work, providing a key source of funds for other areas of work.

Financial report

Robert Green said that the fall in the number of subscriptions meant that 2018-19 had been a challenging year. A combination of hard work and careful management had though resulted in a surplus for the year of £5. Income had been £141.7k (£63.4k from fundraising, £37.8k from mentoring, £33.2k from charges for rooms and £7.3k from training courses).

Election of committee

Dennis Kennedy announced that Simon Cleary had stepped down as a director and thanked him for all his work.

The following people were appointed as directors for the coming year.

Dennis Kennedy (Chair)

Proposed by Kelly Round; seconded by Beth Thomas.

Kelly Round (Chief Executive)

Proposed by Dennis Kennedy; seconded by Robert Green.

Robert Green (Finance Director)

Proposed by Kelly Round; seconded by Beth Thomas.

Debbie Clarke (Director of Mentoring)

Proposed by Kelly Round; seconded by Robert Green.

Beth Thomas (Director of Safeguarding)

Proposed by Kelly Round; seconded by Robert Green

Stella Munro (Director of Community)

Proposed by Kelly Round; seconded by Beth Thomas

Linda Harland (Director of People)

Proposed by Debbie Clarke; seconded by Kelly Round.

Roxanna Modiri (Director of Business and Strategy)

Proposed by Debbie Clarke; seconded by Kelly Round

Dennis Kennedy thanked everyone for coming and encouraged them to share thoughts and ideas after the meeting.