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Frequently Asked Questions
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Being new to SCIPS you may have some questions about who we are, what we do and how we can help.

If you have a question that you cannot find an answer to - use the link at the bottom of the page to ask us a specific question directly.
What does SCIPS stand for?
SCIPS is simply an abbreviation of our full title, Sandwell Community Information & Participation Service Ltd - but it is far quicker to say!
Who is eligible to join SCIPS?

Any tenant or community group working in Sandwell or individual person living in the borough are eligible for membership.

See the Joining section for more details.

Why should we consider joining SCIPS?

SCIPS is very much a grass roots organisation, listening to and responding to the needs of our membership.

Membership provides access to expertise and knowledge (especially around key areas such as seeking funding). Along with numerous opportunities to network and keep your ear to the ground – keeping touch with what is going on locally.

For more information see our Joining section

For Individuals – SCIPS offers the opportunity to develop skills, knowledge and personal confidence.

People actively involved with the Company develop transferable skills that stand them in good stead for the outside world.

Many organisations now have Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) policies and seek to recruit like minded individuals who have demonstrated a commitment to the local community.

How is SCIPS funded?

Some of our funding comes from core grant funding through Sandwell MBC via a Service Level Agreement ( SLA).

Additional funding comes from a variety of sources as grants or contracts to deliver for specific work or projects.

Do members have a financial liability for the Company?

SCIPS is a Company limited by guarantee. Membership means you become a stakeholder in the Company. This brings a very small liability with it.

In the unlikely event of SCIPS being wound up at some point in the future those currently in membership at that time would be liable to a maximum of £1 (per group or individual member) for any debts that existed at that point.

We would like to reassure you though that we have been going for close on 20 years now and plan to be around for a very long time to come!

How could I become a Board member?

Our Board of Directors is elected annually from our membership. A Board place is usually for 3 years and we rotate places up for election to ensure we always have a core of people on the Board who have been around for a couple of years at least and can help support and mentor newcomers. Elections for Board places take place at the Annual General Meeting and members are eligible to stand for election. The Board are the driving force behind the Company and are the ones who steer and guide the direction the Company takes.

For more information see our organisational structure chart.

Can members become actively involved?

Members are always encouraged to be an active part of our company. There are bi-monthly general meetings to discuss topical issues and to consult with the membership when appropriate.

SCIPS also has a long history of project related work and the membership are encouraged to become actively involved - see also the question "What sort of projects does SCIPS take on?"

Members who are also Council Tenants are eligible to apply to join the Tenant Inspector Project we run in conjunction with Sandwell Homes... find out more.

SCIPS has held the coveted Investors In People Status since 2000. Quite an achievement for a Company with such a small staff team and a clear indication of our continued commitment to the development of our team of staff and volunteers.

Is SCIPS part of the Big Society?
SCIPS has been around for more than 20 years now - developing, nurturing and empowering communities to be involved in decision making processes has always been central to our ethos.
How many staff does SCIPS have?
SCIPS has a small staff team of 4 who are highly experienced in the areas of Social Housing, Regeneration and general Community Development.
Is SCIPS profit making?
No. SCIPS is a registered charity. As a registered charity we have an obligation to build up a reserves policy to ensure we have enough money in the bank to ensure our stability. However, any income we generate is ploughed back into the Company for the benefit of our members.
How was SCIPS started?

SCIPS was formed over 15 years ago by tenants looking to form an umbrella organisation for the tenant movement within Sandwell. We were then known as Sandwell Tenants & Residents Federation and membership was restricted to only Tenants & Residents groups.

SCIPS was awarded charitable status in 2002. This change saw us widen our membership criteria to allow any person living in Sandwell to join as an individual member.

We widened the membership again in 2008 and from that point on any Local Community Group can apply for membership. See the Membership Section for more information.

What is the main purpose of SCIPS?

In a nutshell, to serve and support the communities of Sandwell.

See our Mission Statement for a more full response.

What are SCIPS values?

To be a membership led, open and democratic organisation.

See our Core Values for more information.

Does SCIPS have partners that you work with?

SCIPS has a long standing partnership with Sandwell Council who recognise the significance, importance and quality of the work undertaken by SCIPS.

In recent years SCIPS has also worked in partnership with Sandwell Homes the arms length management organisation (ALMO) who manages Sandwell Council's housing stock. One of ongoing projects delivered in conjunction with them being the ground breaking Tenant Inspector Project.

SCIPS is also seen as a key infrastructure organisation within Sandwell’s Voluntary and Community Sector and takes its place in the local Infrastructure Partnership along with Sandwell Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO), Rights Equality Sandwell (RES) and Sandwell Volunteer Centre (SVC).

SCIPS also work with local strategic and thematic groups with SCIPS .

SCIPS works closely with many local groups and forums . Currently including a partnership arrangement with Wednesbury 2000 Ltd to deliver our Big Lottery Funded CHAINS Project - which sees us developing an interactive online Information webtool to benefit Sandwell’s Community sector. CHAINS has been online since the project's official launch in May 2011. Over the summer of 2012 the project was subject to an independent evaluation by CSK Strategies.
Download the report executive summary.
Visit the CHAINS website to find out more

SCIPS has a long history of supporting the Black Asian and Ethnic Minority Tenants Consultation Group of Sandwell (BEAM). Originally through a project set up in 1996 to tackle the then lack of BME representation in traditional forums such as Tenants & Residents Associations. SCIPS and Sandwell Council Housing Department both realising there was a clear lack of involvement from BME tenants - BEAM was our joint response to helping meet this need.

You will also find out more in the About Us section.

What sort of projects does SCIPS take on?

Having a small staffing structure restricts the level of additional work we can take on outside of our Service Level Agreement with Sandwell MBC. However, over the years we have taken on a number of prestige projects such as:

Does SCIPS bring money into Sandwell?
The short answer is yes! In the past decade we have levered in more than £1M in project funding that has been used for the benefit of Sandwell’s communities.
Does SCIPS have money to give out to groups?

Sorry no we aren't a funder! We don’t manage funding grant streams in our own right but we are currently panel partners for the Oldbury Community First Panel who have small grant funding available for local groups until March 2015 BUT to be eligible your project MUST directy benefit local people living within the Oldbury ward....find out more at the Oldbury Community First Panel website.

Although we don't provide groups with funding ourselves we can help you find the right funding stream to apply to through the support section on our CHAINS website...find out more...

Through the CHAINS site we also offer a FREE funding search tool that you can register with and then use as often as you need. Visit the funding search tool registration page to find out more.

Do you help community groups with writing funding bids?

We have only a very small staff team so we aren't able to offer this as a service.

However, on our CHAINS website you will find a funding support section with lots of advice sheets to help you prepare and put together a funding bid. Visit the CHAINS funding support pages to find out more.

You can also download free software from the introductory text on the CHAINS homepage that will help you with completing funding applications AND planning budgets for funding bids.

If you are looking for factual evidence about Sandwell and the local situation to support a funding bid you will find Sandwell Trends have now created a series of pages especially for local community groups - containing all the information you probably need to support such a bid. Visit Sandwell Trends - applying for funding pages to find out more.



If you still have an unanswered question please complete one of our
general enquiry forms
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