North Northumberland Voluntary Forum (formerly Berwick Voluntary Forum), supported by Simpson McCreath Trust, will be hosting their annual VCS awards to acknowledge the valuable work carried out by the voluntary and community sector in Berwick-Upon-Tweed and North Northumberland.
The Awards will take centre stage at an invitation-only award presentation evening to be held at The Black and Gold, Shielfield Park, Berwick on Thursday 5 July 2018.  Entry to the North Northumberland Voluntary Forum Awards 2018 is free.  Download a nomination form or visit for more information.
Please return completed application forms no later than 5pm Monday 4 June 2018 by either emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or posting to North Northumberland Voluntary Forum VCO Awards 2017, Berwick Voluntary Centre, 5 Tweed Street, Berwick-upon-tweed, Northumberland, TD15 1NG.


Northumberland CVA has been funded to provide support to VCS organisations in Northumberland over the last 4 years under a Northumberland County Council commission. 
In light of budgetary pressures, the new Administration conducted a consultation with the sector on the efficacy of this service, how it should be delivered in the future, what services were considered the most important, and what budget was appropriate in order to help inform future discussions around budgets for 2019/20 and help shape the outcomes of any possible future commissions.
Key findings show that there are high levels of satisfaction with existing provision and that generally the range of services are what people want. There is little appetite for change on how the commission is delivered, with one countywide commission being clearly identified as the preferred option going forward.  Unsurprisingly, the majority of respondents expressed a wish that the current level of support should be retained or increased, but there was also recognition that times are difficult.
Download the results of the consultation

Vulnerable people left with “nowhere else to turn” after experiencing problems with universal credit helped fuel a big increase in food bank use over the past year, according to the Trussell Trust.

The UK’s biggest food bank network, whose annual figures provide a broad index of social hardship, gave out a record 1.3m food parcels to an estimated 666,000 people in 2017-18, up 13% on the previous year.  However, food banks in areas where the full universal credit service had been in place for 12 months or more were four times as busy, recording an average 52% increase in the number of three-day emergency food packages distributed.

The trust said many universal credit claimants had come to food banks after long waits for payment and administrative problems pushed them into debt, ill health and rent arrears.  Read more.

Whitehall should reverse its cuts to local authority public health grants in order to tackle the increase in drug-related deaths, doctors say. 

The Royal College of Physicians (RCP), supporting the view put forward by the Royal Society for Public Health in their report Taking a new line on drugs, argued that drug addiction must be considered a health issue.  In line with this view, the RCP said that people who were addicted to drugs needed physical, psychological and social support and care.

However, they warned councils were facing an ‘unprecedented squeeze’ on their budgets which has led to cuts to alcohol and drug addiction services.  Citing a survey carried out in 2016 by the Association of Directors of Public Health, the RCP said 40% of responding directors said drug services would be decommissioned or reduced in the coming year.  The Government has slashed public health budgets in recent years. According to the Local Government Association (LGA), between 2015/16 and 2019/20 collectively councils have seen their health budgets cut by £531m.

Read more at:

The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse published its Interim Report last week.

The Interim Report provides an overview of the work undertaken by the Inquiry to date and progress so far, including what the Chair and the Panel consider to be the key emerging themes.  The report brings together themes emerging from the five public hearings we have held over the past 18 months and our analysis of existing research and seminar discussions. Over 1,000 victims and survivors have now participated in the Truth Project.

Download the report.