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NEW CENTRE TO HELP CRIME VICTIMS

By Ben Pindar, Community Newswire

A national charity dedicated to supporting victims of crime has today unveiled plans for a new service in Somerset which aims to increase the number of victims and witnesses who attend court.

The planned Taunton Witness Care Unit will work to improve the outcome of trials improve victim and witness satisfaction with the criminal justice system.

The centre will be jointly staffed by the Police, the Crown Prosecution Service and the Witness Service - which is part of national charity, Victim Support - and will be operational by December 31 this year.

Charity chiefs behind the project hope the project will cover all criminal cases in the south, centre and west of Somerset by early next year.

A spokesperson said: "The new Witness Care Unit will carry out victim and witness needs assessments to identify problems which could prevent victims and witnesses from giving evidence, such as child care or transport problems, language difficulties, disabilities or concerns about intimidation."

The opening of the new unit is part of the "No Witness, No Justice" project, which will see Witness Care Units opening in all areas of England and Wales during 2005.

ACTIVITIES IMPROVE HEALTH OF HOMELESS

By Rosamond Hutt, Community Newswire

New research monitoring the well-being of homeless people in central London found significant improvements to their health after taking part in social and cultural activities.

The report, which was commissioned by the Westminster Primary Care Trust (PCT) and carried out by Broadway, a charity offering support to people living on London's streets, looked at the potential health benefits for homeless people of activities such as trips to the gym and art classes.

The participants in the study showed reduced anxiety and depression, better sleep patterns and fewer feelings of isolation.

The activities also offered distraction and relief from drugs and alcohol problems and became a way for homeless people to access health and social services.

Anna Waterman, Westminster Primary Care Trust's community health and regeneration manager, said: "The research has found there are clear benefits of social and cultural activities for both the health of homeless people and their capacity to engage with services.

"Several of the potential benefits are relevant to key priority areas in our Health Promotion Strategy such as physical activity, healthy eating, sexual health and substance misuse."

The report makes recommendations based on feedback from 45 homeless people as well as clinicians and others working with homeless people in Westminster, including involving homeless people and health professionals in the development of social and cultural activities and providing a variety of widely advertised activities.

Ms Waterman said: "This evidence will enable the PCT to consider the allocation of funding to projects seeking to provide such activity."

The full report can be downloaded online at www.broadwaylondon.org

FUND INVESTS £35m IN VOLUNTARY SECTOR

By Ben Pindar, Community Newswire

A major new report due to be launched tomorrow will reveal an investment fund created to help voluntary organisations deliver public services has handed out more than £35 million in its first year.

Futurebuilders England, a £125 million Home Office-backed investment fund, was today gearing up to launch the "First Learning Report" which highlights the organisation's successes and areas for improvement after a year in business.

The report will show Futurebuilders has now agreed a total of 90 investments for groups across England ranging from £15,000 for small voluntary and community organisations (VCOs) to multi-million pound investments.

The largest investment package agreed by Futurebuilders is a £5.2-million deal with the Treehouse Trust to help them develop a new national centre for autism education.

Futurebuilders was set up to help VCOs win contracts and earn fees from public sector agencies, such as local authorities, by providing the necessary investment to get their projects off the ground.

The organisation offers tailored investment packages, delivers different types of finance including loans and grants and also offers practical support and advice to help strengthen groups.

The learning report will show Futurebuilders is on track to achieve its target of investing in 250 VCOs to the tune of £110.6m.

Researchers discovered 26% of applicants and 24% of investees are black and minority ethnic organisations, loans and guarantees make up 85% of total investments and 80% of loans are for building or refurbishment projects.

The study also found 70% of organisations had not borrowed before, just over half of all investees received a larger investment than they originally requested and 95% of all investees receiving development grants said they planned to reapply within six months.

The groups who have scooped money from the Futurebuilders fund work in a number of specialist fields including crime, community cohesion, health, education and children and young people.

Of the groups polled many said they had been wary about taking out loans before applying to Futurebuilders and nearly two-thirds believed the investment package had been critical to their success.

More than 75% said they would recommend the scheme to a fellow organisation and researchers discovered Futurebuilders has an impact beyond its investment package with 67% believing it will lead to new contracts and 69% thinking it will generate fresh grants.

Crucially, the report asked all of the organisations the top five factors that influenced their decision to apply to Futurebuilders.

The study showed the top five reasons where: the inclusion of grant element in the investment package; Futurebuilders' commitment to the voluntary and community sector and improved public service delivery; trustees and staff do not need to give a personal guarantee; Futurebuilders will lend in advance of contracts and fees being secured; and loans can be unsecured.

Futurebuilders' chief executive, Richard Gutch, said: "We are demonstrating that, with the right kind of investment and support, VCOs can develop excellent public services.

"We are also piloting a completely new investment model which has the potential to transform the way in which many VCOs are funded.

"There are areas we need to improve. These include our approach to outreach, our assessment of 'added value' and the structure of our investment packages.

"There are also some important voices that have not yet been fully heard, such as those who decided not to apply and those we have rejected. And it is too early to know whether the loans will be fully repaid and what impact our investees' services are having on their users.

"I have been very encouraged by our progress to date and I believe that Futurebuilders is one of the most important and exciting initiatives for today's voluntary and community sector."

The official launch of the report was taking place tomorrow in London and will feature an opening address by the charities minister Paul Goggins MP.

For more information about the work of Futurebuilders England or to make an application visit the website at www.futurebuilders-england.org.uk

FUND INVESTS £35m IN VOLUNTARY SECTOR

By Ben Pindar, Community Newswire

A major new report due to be launched tomorrow will reveal an investment fund created to help voluntary organisations deliver public services has handed out more than £35 million in its first year.

Futurebuilders England, a £125 million Home Office-backed investment fund, was today gearing up to launch the "First Learning Report" which highlights the organisation's successes and areas for improvement after a year in business.

The report will show Futurebuilders has now agreed a total of 90 investments for groups across England ranging from £15,000 for small voluntary and community organisations (VCOs) to multi-million pound investments.

The largest investment package agreed by Futurebuilders is a £5.2-million deal with the Treehouse Trust to help them develop a new national centre for autism education.

Futurebuilders was set up to help VCOs win contracts and earn fees from public sector agencies, such as local authorities, by providing the necessary investment to get their projects off the ground.

The organisation offers tailored investment packages, delivers different types of finance including loans and grants and also offers practical support and advice to help strengthen groups.

The learning report will show Futurebuilders is on track to achieve its target of investing in 250 VCOs to the tune of £110.6m.

Researchers discovered 26% of applicants and 24% of investees are black and minority ethnic organisations, loans and guarantees make up 85% of total investments and 80% of loans are for building or refurbishment projects.

The study also found 70% of organisations had not borrowed before, just over half of all investees received a larger investment than they originally requested and 95% of all investees receiving development grants said they planned to reapply within six months.

The groups who have scooped money from the Futurebuilders fund work in a number of specialist fields including crime, community cohesion, health, education and children and young people.

Of the groups polled many said they had been wary about taking out loans before applying to Futurebuilders and nearly two-thirds believed the investment package had been critical to their success.

More than 75% said they would recommend the scheme to a fellow organisation and researchers discovered Futurebuilders has an impact beyond its investment package with 67% believing it will lead to new contracts and 69% thinking it will generate fresh grants.

Crucially, the report asked all of the organisations the top five factors that influenced their decision to apply to Futurebuilders.

The study showed the top five reasons where: the inclusion of grant element in the investment package; Futurebuilders' commitment to the voluntary and community sector and improved public service delivery; trustees and staff do not need to give a personal guarantee; Futurebuilders will lend in advance of contracts and fees being secured; and loans can be unsecured.

Futurebuilders' chief executive, Richard Gutch, said: "We are demonstrating that, with the right kind of investment and support, VCOs can develop excellent public services.

"We are also piloting a completely new investment model which has the potential to transform the way in which many VCOs are funded.

"There are areas we need to improve. These include our approach to outreach, our assessment of 'added value' and the structure of our investment packages.

"There are also some important voices that have not yet been fully heard, such as those who decided not to apply and those we have rejected. And it is too early to know whether the loans will be fully repaid and what impact our investees' services are having on their users.

"I have been very encouraged by our progress to date and I believe that Futurebuilders is one of the most important and exciting initiatives for today's voluntary and community sector."

The official launch of the report was taking place tomorrow in London and will feature an opening address by the charities minister Paul Goggins MP.

For more information about the work of Futurebuilders England or to make an application visit the website at www.futurebuilders-england.org.uk

FUND INVESTS £35m IN VOLUNTARY SECTOR

By Ben Pindar, Community Newswire

A major new report due to be launched tomorrow will reveal an investment fund created to help voluntary organisations deliver public services has handed out more than £35 million in its first year.

Futurebuilders England, a £125 million Home Office-backed investment fund, was today gearing up to launch the "First Learning Report" which highlights the organisation's successes and areas for improvement after a year in business.

The report will show Futurebuilders has now agreed a total of 90 investments for groups across England ranging from £15,000 for small voluntary and community organisations (VCOs) to multi-million pound investments.

The largest investment package agreed by Futurebuilders is a £5.2-million deal with the Treehouse Trust to help them develop a new national centre for autism education.

Futurebuilders was set up to help VCOs win contracts and earn fees from public sector agencies, such as local authorities, by providing the necessary investment to get their projects off the ground.

The organisation offers tailored investment packages, delivers different types of finance including loans and grants and also offers practical support and advice to help strengthen groups.

The learning report will show Futurebuilders is on track to achieve its target of investing in 250 VCOs to the tune of £110.6m.

Researchers discovered 26% of applicants and 24% of investees are black and minority ethnic organisations, loans and guarantees make up 85% of total investments and 80% of loans are for building or refurbishment projects.

The study also found 70% of organisations had not borrowed before, just over half of all investees received a larger investment than they originally requested and 95% of all investees receiving development grants said they planned to reapply within six months.

The groups who have scooped money from the Futurebuilders fund work in a number of specialist fields including crime, community cohesion, health, education and children and young people.

Of the groups polled many said they had been wary about taking out loans before applying to Futurebuilders and nearly two-thirds believed the investment package had been critical to their success.

More than 75% said they would recommend the scheme to a fellow organisation and researchers discovered Futurebuilders has an impact beyond its investment package with 67% believing it will lead to new contracts and 69% thinking it will generate fresh grants.

Crucially, the report asked all of the organisations the top five factors that influenced their decision to apply to Futurebuilders.

The study showed the top five reasons where: the inclusion of grant element in the investment package; Futurebuilders' commitment to the voluntary and community sector and improved public service delivery; trustees and staff do not need to give a personal guarantee; Futurebuilders will lend in advance of contracts and fees being secured; and loans can be unsecured.

Futurebuilders' chief executive, Richard Gutch, said: "We are demonstrating that, with the right kind of investment and support, VCOs can develop excellent public services.

"We are also piloting a completely new investment model which has the potential to transform the way in which many VCOs are funded.

"There are areas we need to improve. These include our approach to outreach, our assessment of 'added value' and the structure of our investment packages.

"There are also some important voices that have not yet been fully heard, such as those who decided not to apply and those we have rejected. And it is too early to know whether the loans will be fully repaid and what impact our investees' services are having on their users.

"I have been very encouraged by our progress to date and I believe that Futurebuilders is one of the most important and exciting initiatives for today's voluntary and community sector."

The official launch of the report was taking place tomorrow in London and will feature an opening address by the charities minister Paul Goggins MP.

For more information about the work of Futurebuilders England or to make an application visit the website at www.futurebuilders-england.org.uk

NEW CENTRE TO HELP CRIME VICTIMS

By Ben Pindar, Community Newswire

A national charity dedicated to supporting victims of crime has today unveiled plans for a new service in Somerset which aims to increase the number of victims and witnesses who attend court.

The planned Taunton Witness Care Unit will work to improve the outcome of trials improve victim and witness satisfaction with the criminal justice system.

The centre will be jointly staffed by the Police, the Crown Prosecution Service and the Witness Service - which is part of national charity, Victim Support - and will be operational by December 31 this year.

Charity chiefs behind the project hope the project will cover all criminal cases in the south, centre and west of Somerset by early next year.

A spokesperson said: "The new Witness Care Unit will carry out victim and witness needs assessments to identify problems which could prevent victims and witnesses from giving evidence, such as child care or transport problems, language difficulties, disabilities or concerns about intimidation."

The opening of the new unit is part of the "No Witness, No Justice" project, which will see Witness Care Units opening in all areas of England and Wales during 2005.

FUND INVESTS £35m IN VOLUNTARY SECTOR

By Ben Pindar, Community Newswire

A major new report due to be launched tomorrow will reveal an investment fund created to help voluntary organisations deliver public services has handed out more than £35 million in its first year.

Futurebuilders England, a £125 million Home Office-backed investment fund, was today gearing up to launch the "First Learning Report" which highlights the organisation's successes and areas for improvement after a year in business.

The report will show Futurebuilders has now agreed a total of 90 investments for groups across England ranging from £15,000 for small voluntary and community organisations (VCOs) to multi-million pound investments.

The largest investment package agreed by Futurebuilders is a £5.2-million deal with the Treehouse Trust to help them develop a new national centre for autism education.

Futurebuilders was set up to help VCOs win contracts and earn fees from public sector agencies, such as local authorities, by providing the necessary investment to get their projects off the ground.

The organisation offers tailored investment packages, delivers different types of finance including loans and grants and also offers practical support and advice to help strengthen groups.

The learning report will show Futurebuilders is on track to achieve its target of investing in 250 VCOs to the tune of £110.6m.

Researchers discovered 26% of applicants and 24% of investees are black and minority ethnic organisations, loans and guarantees make up 85% of total investments and 80% of loans are for building or refurbishment projects.

The study also found 70% of organisations had not borrowed before, just over half of all investees received a larger investment than they originally requested and 95% of all investees receiving development grants said they planned to reapply within six months.

The groups who have scooped money from the Futurebuilders fund work in a number of specialist fields including crime, community cohesion, health, education and children and young people.

Of the groups polled many said they had been wary about taking out loans before applying to Futurebuilders and nearly two-thirds believed the investment package had been critical to their success.

More than 75% said they would recommend the scheme to a fellow organisation and researchers discovered Futurebuilders has an impact beyond its investment package with 67% believing it will lead to new contracts and 69% thinking it will generate fresh grants.

Crucially, the report asked all of the organisations the top five factors that influenced their decision to apply to Futurebuilders.

The study showed the top five reasons where: the inclusion of grant element in the investment package; Futurebuilders' commitment to the voluntary and community sector and improved public service delivery; trustees and staff do not need to give a personal guarantee; Futurebuilders will lend in advance of contracts and fees being secured; and loans can be unsecured.

Futurebuilders' chief executive, Richard Gutch, said: "We are demonstrating that, with the right kind of investment and support, VCOs can develop excellent public services.

"We are also piloting a completely new investment model which has the potential to transform the way in which many VCOs are funded.

"There are areas we need to improve. These include our approach to outreach, our assessment of 'added value' and the structure of our investment packages.

"There are also some important voices that have not yet been fully heard, such as those who decided not to apply and those we have rejected. And it is too early to know whether the loans will be fully repaid and what impact our investees' services are having on their users.

"I have been very encouraged by our progress to date and I believe that Futurebuilders is one of the most important and exciting initiatives for today's voluntary and community sector."

The official launch of the report was taking place tomorrow in London and will feature an opening address by the charities minister Paul Goggins MP.

For more information about the work of Futurebuilders England or to make an application visit the website at www.futurebuilders-england.org.uk

FUND INVESTS £35m IN VOLUNTARY SECTOR

By Ben Pindar, Community Newswire

A major new report due to be launched tomorrow will reveal an investment fund created to help voluntary organisations deliver public services has handed out more than £35 million in its first year.

Futurebuilders England, a £125 million Home Office-backed investment fund, was today gearing up to launch the "First Learning Report" which highlights the organisation's successes and areas for improvement after a year in business.

The report will show Futurebuilders has now agreed a total of 90 investments for groups across England ranging from £15,000 for small voluntary and community organisations (VCOs) to multi-million pound investments.

The largest investment package agreed by Futurebuilders is a £5.2-million deal with the Treehouse Trust to help them develop a new national centre for autism education.

Futurebuilders was set up to help VCOs win contracts and earn fees from public sector agencies, such as local authorities, by providing the necessary investment to get their projects off the ground.

The organisation offers tailored investment packages, delivers different types of finance including loans and grants and also offers practical support and advice to help strengthen groups.

The learning report will show Futurebuilders is on track to achieve its target of investing in 250 VCOs to the tune of £110.6m.

Researchers discovered 26% of applicants and 24% of investees are black and minority ethnic organisations, loans and guarantees make up 85% of total investments and 80% of loans are for building or refurbishment projects.

The study also found 70% of organisations had not borrowed before, just over half of all investees received a larger investment than they originally requested and 95% of all investees receiving development grants said they planned to reapply within six months.

The groups who have scooped money from the Futurebuilders fund work in a number of specialist fields including crime, community cohesion, health, education and children and young people.

Of the groups polled many said they had been wary about taking out loans before applying to Futurebuilders and nearly two-thirds believed the investment package had been critical to their success.

More than 75% said they would recommend the scheme to a fellow organisation and researchers discovered Futurebuilders has an impact beyond its investment package with 67% believing it will lead to new contracts and 69% thinking it will generate fresh grants.

Crucially, the report asked all of the organisations the top five factors that influenced their decision to apply to Futurebuilders.

The study showed the top five reasons where: the inclusion of grant element in the investment package; Futurebuilders' commitment to the voluntary and community sector and improved public service delivery; trustees and staff do not need to give a personal guarantee; Futurebuilders will lend in advance of contracts and fees being secured; and loans can be unsecured.

Futurebuilders' chief executive, Richard Gutch, said: "We are demonstrating that, with the right kind of investment and support, VCOs can develop excellent public services.

"We are also piloting a completely new investment model which has the potential to transform the way in which many VCOs are funded.

"There are areas we need to improve. These include our approach to outreach, our assessment of 'added value' and the structure of our investment packages.

"There are also some important voices that have not yet been fully heard, such as those who decided not to apply and those we have rejected. And it is too early to know whether the loans will be fully repaid and what impact our investees' services are having on their users.

"I have been very encouraged by our progress to date and I believe that Futurebuilders is one of the most important and exciting initiatives for today's voluntary and community sector."

The official launch of the report was taking place tomorrow in London and will feature an opening address by the charities minister Paul Goggins MP.

For more information about the work of Futurebuilders England or to make an application visit the website at www.futurebuilders-england.org.uk

FUND INVESTS £35m IN VOLUNTARY SECTOR

By Ben Pindar, Community Newswire

A major new report due to be launched tomorrow will reveal an investment fund created to help voluntary organisations deliver public services has handed out more than £35 million in its first year.

Futurebuilders England, a £125 million Home Office-backed investment fund, was today gearing up to launch the "First Learning Report" which highlights the organisation's successes and areas for improvement after a year in business.

The report will show Futurebuilders has now agreed a total of 90 investments for groups across England ranging from £15,000 for small voluntary and community organisations (VCOs) to multi-million pound investments.

The largest investment package agreed by Futurebuilders is a £5.2-million deal with the Treehouse Trust to help them develop a new national centre for autism education.

Futurebuilders was set up to help VCOs win contracts and earn fees from public sector agencies, such as local authorities, by providing the necessary investment to get their projects off the ground.

The organisation offers tailored investment packages, delivers different types of finance including loans and grants and also offers practical support and advice to help strengthen groups.

The learning report will show Futurebuilders is on track to achieve its target of investing in 250 VCOs to the tune of £110.6m.

Researchers discovered 26% of applicants and 24% of investees are black and minority ethnic organisations, loans and guarantees make up 85% of total investments and 80% of loans are for building or refurbishment projects.

The study also found 70% of organisations had not borrowed before, just over half of all investees received a larger investment than they originally requested and 95% of all investees receiving development grants said they planned to reapply within six months.

The groups who have scooped money from the Futurebuilders fund work in a number of specialist fields including crime, community cohesion, health, education and children and young people.

Of the groups polled many said they had been wary about taking out loans before applying to Futurebuilders and nearly two-thirds believed the investment package had been critical to their success.

More than 75% said they would recommend the scheme to a fellow organisation and researchers discovered Futurebuilders has an impact beyond its investment package with 67% believing it will lead to new contracts and 69% thinking it will generate fresh grants.

Crucially, the report asked all of the organisations the top five factors that influenced their decision to apply to Futurebuilders.

The study showed the top five reasons where: the inclusion of grant element in the investment package; Futurebuilders' commitment to the voluntary and community sector and improved public service delivery; trustees and staff do not need to give a personal guarantee; Futurebuilders will lend in advance of contracts and fees being secured; and loans can be unsecured.

Futurebuilders' chief executive, Richard Gutch, said: "We are demonstrating that, with the right kind of investment and support, VCOs can develop excellent public services.

"We are also piloting a completely new investment model which has the potential to transform the way in which many VCOs are funded.

"There are areas we need to improve. These include our approach to outreach, our assessment of 'added value' and the structure of our investment packages.

"There are also some important voices that have not yet been fully heard, such as those who decided not to apply and those we have rejected. And it is too early to know whether the loans will be fully repaid and what impact our investees' services are having on their users.

"I have been very encouraged by our progress to date and I believe that Futurebuilders is one of the most important and exciting initiatives for today's voluntary and community sector."

The official launch of the report was taking place tomorrow in London and will feature an opening address by the charities minister Paul Goggins MP.

For more information about the work of Futurebuilders England or to make an application visit the website at www.futurebuilders-england.org.uk

TIMBER BLOCKADE SET UP IN LOGGING PROTEST

By Ben Pindar, Community Newswire

A leading environment charity was today dumping a tonne of timber outside a Government office in London in protest over the illegal logging of rainforests.

Greenpeace campaigners were placing the plywood, which is secured with large chains, in front of the entrance to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) in central London.

Two environmental activists were also chaining themselves to the wood and erecting a banner reading "Ban Illegal Timber".

The charity claims illegally logged timber from Papua New Guinea has been made into plywood in China and ended up on British building sites.

Campaigners want the Government to impose a ban on the import of all "laundered" wood from protected rainforests.

Nathan Argent, a Greenpeace campaigner, said: "The Government have known about this problem for years and they've done absolutely nothing about it.

"We were easily able to pick this illegal timber off the shelf of a builders' merchant despite the fact that it's been illegally logged.

"There are perfectly good alternatives to this timber. Buy timber certified by the Forest Stewardship Council - it's the best way to guarantee that timber has come from environmentally and socially responsible sources.

"The Government must ban this criminal trade immediately."

To support the ongoing campaign or to find out more about the work of Greenpeace visit the charity's website at www.greenpeace.org.uk

STUDENTS JET OFF ON SPACE TRIP

By Community Newswire reporter

Ten Birmingham students were today embarking on a trip off a lifetime after winning a competition to visit the Kennedy Space Centre in America.

The pupils, aged between 13 and 16-years-old, all secured their place on the mission by putting together multi-media packages about the future of space travel.

The competition was organised by the International Space School Education Trust (Isset) and was designed to raise interest in space and science.

Chris Barber, director of Isset, said: "The students produced great work and thoroughly deserve this opportunity of a lifetime to meet and work with the people that drive NASA's human space programme, the biggest science and engineering initiative in the world."

The winning pupils come from Kings Norton High School, King Edward VI Camp Hill Boys School, Kings Norton Girls School and Language College, Lordswood Girls School and Sixth Form Centre, Bartley Green Technology College, Colmers School and Sports College, Ninestiles School Technology College and Archbishop Ilsley Catholic Technology College and Sixth Form Centre.

Councillor Les Lawrence, cabinet member for education and lifelong learning at Birmingham City Council, congratulated the winning students.

He said: "This will be a unique experience and the pupils will have the opportunity to work closely with rocket engineers and astronauts at the Kennedy Space Centre, Florida, and Johnson Space Centre, Houston.

"The pupils have a busy itinerary and will be attending a Rice University lecture about space and solar science, visiting Cape Canaveral Air Force Station and taking part in astronaut training sessions."

For more information about the work of Isset visit the trust's website at www.isset.org

FUND INVESTS £35m IN VOLUNTARY SECTOR

By Ben Pindar, Community Newswire

A major new report due to be launched tomorrow will reveal an investment fund created to help voluntary organisations deliver public services has handed out more than £35 million in its first year.

Futurebuilders England, a £125 million Home Office-backed investment fund, was today gearing up to launch the "First Learning Report" which highlights the organisation's successes and areas for improvement after a year in business.

The report will show Futurebuilders has now agreed a total of 90 investments for groups across England ranging from £15,000 for small voluntary and community organisations (VCOs) to multi-million pound investments.

The largest investment package agreed by Futurebuilders is a £5.2-million deal with the Treehouse Trust to help them develop a new national centre for autism education.

Futurebuilders was set up to help VCOs win contracts and earn fees from public sector agencies, such as local authorities, by providing the necessary investment to get their projects off the ground.

The organisation offers tailored investment packages, delivers different types of finance including loans and grants and also offers practical support and advice to help strengthen groups.

The learning report will show Futurebuilders is on track to achieve its target of investing in 250 VCOs to the tune of £110.6m.

Researchers discovered 26% of applicants and 24% of investees are black and minority ethnic organisations, loans and guarantees make up 85% of total investments and 80% of loans are for building or refurbishment projects.

The study also found 70% of organisations had not borrowed before, just over half of all investees received a larger investment than they originally requested and 95% of all investees receiving development grants said they planned to reapply within six months.

The groups who have scooped money from the Futurebuilders fund work in a number of specialist fields including crime, community cohesion, health, education and children and young people.

Of the groups polled many said they had been wary about taking out loans before applying to Futurebuilders and nearly two-thirds believed the investment package had been critical to their success.

More than 75% said they would recommend the scheme to a fellow organisation and researchers discovered Futurebuilders has an impact beyond its investment package with 67% believing it will lead to new contracts and 69% thinking it will generate fresh grants.

Crucially, the report asked all of the organisations the top five factors that influenced their decision to apply to Futurebuilders.

The study showed the top five reasons where: the inclusion of grant element in the investment package; Futurebuilders' commitment to the voluntary and community sector and improved public service delivery; trustees and staff do not need to give a personal guarantee; Futurebuilders will lend in advance of contracts and fees being secured; and loans can be unsecured.

Futurebuilders' chief executive, Richard Gutch, said: "We are demonstrating that, with the right kind of investment and support, VCOs can develop excellent public services.

"We are also piloting a completely new investment model which has the potential to transform the way in which many VCOs are funded.

"There are areas we need to improve. These include our approach to outreach, our assessment of 'added value' and the structure of our investment packages.

"There are also some important voices that have not yet been fully heard, such as those who decided not to apply and those we have rejected. And it is too early to know whether the loans will be fully repaid and what impact our investees' services are having on their users.

"I have been very encouraged by our progress to date and I believe that Futurebuilders is one of the most important and exciting initiatives for today's voluntary and community sector."

The official launch of the report was taking place tomorrow in London and will feature an opening address by the charities minister Paul Goggins MP.

For more information about the work of Futurebuilders England or to make an application visit the website at www.futurebuilders-england.org.uk

FUND INVESTS £35m IN VOLUNTARY SECTOR

By Ben Pindar, Community Newswire

A major new report due to be launched tomorrow will reveal an investment fund created to help voluntary organisations deliver public services has handed out more than £35 million in its first year.

Futurebuilders England, a £125 million Home Office-backed investment fund, was today gearing up to launch the "First Learning Report" which highlights the organisation's successes and areas for improvement after a year in business.

The report will show Futurebuilders has now agreed a total of 90 investments for groups across England ranging from £15,000 for small voluntary and community organisations (VCOs) to multi-million pound investments.

The largest investment package agreed by Futurebuilders is a £5.2-million deal with the Treehouse Trust to help them develop a new national centre for autism education.

Futurebuilders was set up to help VCOs win contracts and earn fees from public sector agencies, such as local authorities, by providing the necessary investment to get their projects off the ground.

The organisation offers tailored investment packages, delivers different types of finance including loans and grants and also offers practical support and advice to help strengthen groups.

The learning report will show Futurebuilders is on track to achieve its target of investing in 250 VCOs to the tune of £110.6m.

Researchers discovered 26% of applicants and 24% of investees are black and minority ethnic organisations, loans and guarantees make up 85% of total investments and 80% of loans are for building or refurbishment projects.

The study also found 70% of organisations had not borrowed before, just over half of all investees received a larger investment than they originally requested and 95% of all investees receiving development grants said they planned to reapply within six months.

The groups who have scooped money from the Futurebuilders fund work in a number of specialist fields including crime, community cohesion, health, education and children and young people.

Of the groups polled many said they had been wary about taking out loans before applying to Futurebuilders and nearly two-thirds believed the investment package had been critical to their success.

More than 75% said they would recommend the scheme to a fellow organisation and researchers discovered Futurebuilders has an impact beyond its investment package with 67% believing it will lead to new contracts and 69% thinking it will generate fresh grants.

Crucially, the report asked all of the organisations the top five factors that influenced their decision to apply to Futurebuilders.

The study showed the top five reasons where: the inclusion of grant element in the investment package; Futurebuilders' commitment to the voluntary and community sector and improved public service delivery; trustees and staff do not need to give a personal guarantee; Futurebuilders will lend in advance of contracts and fees being secured; and loans can be unsecured.

Futurebuilders' chief executive, Richard Gutch, said: "We are demonstrating that, with the right kind of investment and support, VCOs can develop excellent public services.

"We are also piloting a completely new investment model which has the potential to transform the way in which many VCOs are funded.

"There are areas we need to improve. These include our approach to outreach, our assessment of 'added value' and the structure of our investment packages.

"There are also some important voices that have not yet been fully heard, such as those who decided not to apply and those we have rejected. And it is too early to know whether the loans will be fully repaid and what impact our investees' services are having on their users.

"I have been very encouraged by our progress to date and I believe that Futurebuilders is one of the most important and exciting initiatives for today's voluntary and community sector."

The official launch of the report was taking place tomorrow in London and will feature an opening address by the charities minister Paul Goggins MP.

For more information about the work of Futurebuilders England or to make an application visit the website at www.futurebuilders-england.org.uk

FUND INVESTS £35m IN VOLUNTARY SECTOR

By Ben Pindar, Community Newswire

A major new report due to be launched tomorrow will reveal an investment fund created to help voluntary organisations deliver public services has handed out more than £35 million in its first year.

Futurebuilders England, a £125 million Home Office-backed investment fund, was today gearing up to launch the "First Learning Report" which highlights the organisation's successes and areas for improvement after a year in business.

The report will show Futurebuilders has now agreed a total of 90 investments for groups across England ranging from £15,000 for small voluntary and community organisations (VCOs) to multi-million pound investments.

The largest investment package agreed by Futurebuilders is a £5.2-million deal with the Treehouse Trust to help them develop a new national centre for autism education.

Futurebuilders was set up to help VCOs win contracts and earn fees from public sector agencies, such as local authorities, by providing the necessary investment to get their projects off the ground.

The organisation offers tailored investment packages, delivers different types of finance including loans and grants and also offers practical support and advice to help strengthen groups.

The learning report will show Futurebuilders is on track to achieve its target of investing in 250 VCOs to the tune of £110.6m.

Researchers discovered 26% of applicants and 24% of investees are black and minority ethnic organisations, loans and guarantees make up 85% of total investments and 80% of loans are for building or refurbishment projects.

The study also found 70% of organisations had not borrowed before, just over half of all investees received a larger investment than they originally requested and 95% of all investees receiving development grants said they planned to reapply within six months.

The groups who have scooped money from the Futurebuilders fund work in a number of specialist fields including crime, community cohesion, health, education and children and young people.

Of the groups polled many said they had been wary about taking out loans before applying to Futurebuilders and nearly two-thirds believed the investment package had been critical to their success.

More than 75% said they would recommend the scheme to a fellow organisation and researchers discovered Futurebuilders has an impact beyond its investment package with 67% believing it will lead to new contracts and 69% thinking it will generate fresh grants.

Crucially, the report asked all of the organisations the top five factors that influenced their decision to apply to Futurebuilders.

The study showed the top five reasons where: the inclusion of grant element in the investment package; Futurebuilders' commitment to the voluntary and community sector and improved public service delivery; trustees and staff do not need to give a personal guarantee; Futurebuilders will lend in advance of contracts and fees being secured; and loans can be unsecured.

Futurebuilders' chief executive, Richard Gutch, said: "We are demonstrating that, with the right kind of investment and support, VCOs can develop excellent public services.

"We are also piloting a completely new investment model which has the potential to transform the way in which many VCOs are funded.

"There are areas we need to improve. These include our approach to outreach, our assessment of 'added value' and the structure of our investment packages.

"There are also some important voices that have not yet been fully heard, such as those who decided not to apply and those we have rejected. And it is too early to know whether the loans will be fully repaid and what impact our investees' services are having on their users.

"I have been very encouraged by our progress to date and I believe that Futurebuilders is one of the most important and exciting initiatives for today's voluntary and community sector."

The official launch of the report was taking place tomorrow in London and will feature an opening address by the charities minister Paul Goggins MP.

For more information about the work of Futurebuilders England or to make an application visit the website at www.futurebuilders-england.org.uk

The Press Association
All content copyright 2005 by The Press Association.


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