Reflecting on five and a half years of the development and support for the connecting older people programme

21 Jun 2017 Sandra Bailie    Last updated: 20 Jul 2017

Networking event - ROCOP

From October 2011 until March 2017 NICVA has had the privilege of working with the 65 BIG Lottery Fund Reaching Out - Connecting Older People programme grant holders.

There was a wide range of organisations involved in the programme including HURT, Age Concern Causeway, Alzheimer’s Society and Action on Hearing Loss to name but a few. Through the programme we have worked closely with them to help identify their development needs and develop a programme of activity that best meet those needs. The purpose of the development and support programme was to help them effectively manage and deliver their projects as well as provide a legacy by developing capacity in the voluntary and community sector. The video below highlights the impact that the programme has had.

Impact of ROCOP development and support programme from NICVA on Vimeo.

NICVA has responded to grant holders needs by providing bespoke support and training, and in some cases designing specific training courses based on their needs. We have worked with Volunteer Now to develop and deliver the ILM level 3 Award in the Management of Volunteers. Most of the projects involved volunteers providing a range of services and activities like befriending, lunch clubs, fitness and training. Through the course the managers learnt know how best to manage and support the volunteers as well as gaining professional accreditation.

We also delivered several courses linked to sustainability such as Being Enterprise, Writing Tenders, Developing a fundraising plan and diversifying income. Each grant holder completed a sustainability plan encouraging them to consider the future of their project and assess the impact of and need for the service, as well as ways to sustain what they were doing.

We had the opportunity to work with the boards of trustees to help them to improve practice and provided 15 bespoke governance sessions. 

A key part of the programme were the nine networking events all on different themes, such as engaging the hard to reach, getting your message across and measuring your impact. They were a great way of connecting people who all had older people at the heart of what they did. For many these sessions were the most significant part of the programme giving the chance to learn from each other, discuss issues, work together and develop partnership working.

The accredited programmes helped to increase staff and volunteers’ skills and confidence as well as improving best practice. 209 people participated in accredited courses such as ILM leadership and management, ILM management of volunteers, TQUK education and training and CGIL Level 3 Award Health Trainers. The ILM management of volunteers was developed with Volunteer Now in response to the need expressed by the groups that we were working with on the programme. NICVA is the only centre that provides this ILM in management of volunteers in all of UK and Ireland.

The legacy of the programme is people with increased skills and confidence better able to deliver their projects and manage their staff and volunteers. The organisations have benefitted from improved governance, more targeted activities, more effective in measuring impact and better collaboration.

Through closely working with the organisations NICVA has gained a deep insight into the needs and challenges of organisations and have been able develop bespoke programmes and support not just for grant holders but also for the wider voluntary, community and social enterprise sector. We have enjoyed working in partnership with the Big Lottery Fund to deliver a programme that is relevant and useful to grant holders, making a real difference to the way in which they deliver their projects. We have been innovative in our approach to addressing challenges that the organisations faced and providing development opportunities to meet their training needs. Through their investment Big Lottery fund have left a legacy in the sector of organisations that are more equipped and skilled to deliver projects and sustain themselves into the future, as well as learning that the whole sector can benefit from.

Thanks to the Big Lottery Fund(BLF) for funding this programme, to BLF contract managers who we have worked closely with and to NICVA staff, especially Roisin Kelly who has been project co-ordinator over the five and a half years. And finally to all 65 of the grant holders - you have been a pleasure to work with and we wish you every success in the future, keep in touch and connected to all NICVA is doing.'s picture
by Sandra Bailie

Head of Organisational Development

[email protected]

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