Blue Lights Brigade and the Connected Communities Innovation Fund

On Wednesday 16th May 2018 the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) media team issued a press release announcing that VANEL has been awarded a grant through the Connected Communities Innovation Fund.

Voluntary Action North East Lincolnshire (VANEL) is one of 16 organisations selected from 400 applicants to take part in the Connected Communities Innovation Fund.

Our Blue Lights Brigade programme has secured £77,500 to scale the work it is doing to harness the skills of retiring and retired blue lights service personnel in helping the community prepare, respond and recover from major incidents and emergencies. VANEL is delighted to announce that it has already raised £25,000 in match funding it needed to secure from various other funding sources to add value to the Nesta and Office for Civil Society grant.

The Connected Communities Innovation Fund is a partnership between innovation foundation Nesta and the Office for Civil Society at DCMS, providing over £2.75 million in grants, alongside significant non-financial support, to the best innovations that mobilise people’s time and talents.

This Fund forms part of a series of live funds from Nesta and Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport to mobilise volunteers alongside public services and grow the most impactful interventions that change lives.

You can find out more information about Connected Communities Innovation Fund here: https://www.nesta.org.uk/project/connected-communities-innovation-fund

VANEL is one of four grantees addressing community resilience in emergencies:

  • Voluntary Action North East Lincolnshire (VANEL) – Blue Lights Brigade
  • British Red Cross
  • Volunteer Centre Camden – Coordinating and Mobilising Emergency Response Activists (CAMERA)
  • North Yorkshire County Council – Enhance North Yorkshire

The Fund is designed to encourage more people to volunteer alongside public services, and inspire new ways of giving for those who have not previously volunteered. It focuses on helping those aged 50 and over, those who want to give time infrequently rather than routinely, and those who want to give their time and skills from the comfort of their own home to good causes.

Paula Grant, Chief Officer at VANEL said: “Fantastic news for our team to be invested in to enable us to recruit and support experienced volunteers to help people and groups in our communities be better prepared for, respond to and recover from major incidents. We anticipate being able to make a significant positive difference to related volunteering projects for the benefit of local people and local communities where the volunteers live.”

Steve Lynn, retired Humberside Police Inspector:…on retirement the closure of the station door has many mixed emotions – for some the transition is simple, but for others it’s much harder to cope with. Such a wealth of experience and talents gained over a lifetime – what a great resource for volunteering I thought – hence my conception of a Blue Lights Brigade. With ever shrinking statutory response capability it is vital talented retired individuals are encouraged to give back some precious time to help others respond where they live.”

Steve Jones, retired Humberside Police Community Cohesion Officer:Having recently retired after 30 years’ service with the police I was attracted to the Blue Lights Brigade as I believe I can help shape and push the project forward so it becomes a well-respected community asset and viewed by other areas as an example of best practice. It will help individual volunteers cope better with retirement by continuing to support others.”

Read the story on the NESTA website here to meet all 16 of the grantees.