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  • What is SkillsBridge?

    SkillsBridge (part of Newcastle CVS, Support and Development team) exists to support organisations in the voluntary, community and social enterprise sector, by providing them with access to a range of professional skills and expertise at no direct cost. This expertise is volunteered by individuals working or recently retired from the private and public sectors.

    SkillsBridge is about knowledge transfer and skills sharing. Our SkillsBridge Advisors are there to guide and act as a critical friend to individuals and organisations in the voluntary, community and social enterprise sector, as they take on new challenges and address emerging issues.

    Central to the ethos of the project is creating alliances between sectors and developing long-term relationships based on trust and mutual respect.

    skillsbridge logo big CMYK 2   NCVS colour 72dpi      NCVS Support and Development for online use

  • Who is SkillsBridge aimed at?

    • Support is available to voluntary, community and social enterprise sector (VCSE) organisations based in North East England
    • Organisations should have an annual turnover of between £100K and £1 million, however exceptions may be made in certain circumstances e.g. for organisations with a lower turnover in receipt of in-kind support
    • Organisations that work for the relief of poverty and unemployment will be given priority for support
    • Organisations that exist to promote a religion or a political party are not eligible for support
    • Animal charities are not eligible for support unless it can be shown that their work is of benefit to the wider community
    • Private sector enterprises are not eligible for support
    • SkillsBridge will not support applications which involve litigation or arbitration
  • How does SkillsBridge work?

    To make the best use of the support you receive through SkillsBridge, we will work with you to determine what the priority issues are for your organisation. Generally, these will fall into one of two categories: business/strategic planning with the CEO and board or where this has been carried out effectively or operational support in one of a range of areas including finance, marketing, IT, HR etc.

  • Case Study - Kielder Observatory Astronomical Society (KOAS)

    Kielder Observatory is a public outreach astronomical facility located in Kielder Forest, which boasts some of the darkest skies in Europe and the third largest protected Dark Sky reserve in the world. The goal is to bring in members of the public of all ages, from primary school children and upwards to engage in discussions and observations of the Universe.

    The organisation has been going through a period of rapid growth and the team were struggling to efficiently deal with emails and IT systems. Patti Purcell, Office Manager, approached SkillsBridge to have an initial discussion around the issue. In her own words, “SkillsBridge visited our offices and after an in-depth discussion about KOAS and its needs, we decided that initially, help with our IT systems seemed to be the priority.”

    SkillsBridge paired KOAS with Lee Richardson from Coast Technology, a small technology organisation based in Morpeth, Northumberland who supported KOAS in setting up their IT systems to allow every team member to have their own email address.

    The difference Lee’s support made has been felt throughout the organisation. Patti commented, “We went ahead with Lee’s plan in full and now we have a fully integrated system using Microsoft 365, which has made a massive difference to us as a professional business. Lee’s unstinting help and subsequent support since the new system was put in place in November 2015 has been invaluable, the full costs of which would have been impossible for us to fund ourselves.”

    As a direct result of support from Coast Technology, SkillsBridge managed to save KOAS £3,000.

    Keilder Observatory

  • Case Study - Go Local Food

    Established in 2009, Go Local Food Ltd. is a cooperative, based in the rolling hills of the Tyne Valley at Ovington offering members regular bags of fresh vegetables. The organisation is a Community Supported Agriculture Scheme (CSA) which aims to reconnect local communities with the food they eat and the land on which it is grown.

    With support from SkillsBridge, Go Local Food recognised that in order to develop the business side of the organisation, they would benefit from external professional support. SkillsBridge matched the team with Mark Henderson, CEO of Home Group, whose skills and experience around business planning and strategy helped the organisation to understand the options available for future income generation. 

    In working with Mark, Go Local food has developed a more focussed and planned approach with effective decision-making processes. The organisation has developed a ‘team’ of associate consultants and advisers that provide specialist support to the group.

    Christine Morrison of Go Local Food said: “It has been extremely valuable to have someone so experienced from outside of the organisation to cut through all the difficulties we put in our own way. Mark’s input has been an important element in Go Local Food being successful in getting a grant of £11,500 to explore a Community Share Issue in which business planning was a key area we needed to demonstrate.”

    Go Local Food1

  • Case Study - FILMBEE

    FILMBEE is an artist-run film community interest company based in Burnlaw, Northumberland. They work creatively with analogue film but also offer specialised documentary and education services in analogue and digital filmmaking. The group have decided to curate film programmes of artist’s moving image work and specialised cinema.

    FILMBEE approached SkillsBridge for support to help them to develop a new, more efficient financial system within the organisation and SkillsBridge was able to find the perfect match for the team in Darren Ferguson of Haines Watts in Newcastle. Darren helped FILMBEE create new systems and procedures within the organisation which has helped them become more efficient in their bookkeeping, have better, more robust accounting practices and save on accountant's fees.

    Christo Wallers from FILMBEE said: “We are now able to start from ‘ground zero’ with our accounting and feel a lot clearer about our financial management. One of our main objectives is to run the centre and be able to feed money back into the resources of the community. The support Darren provided has given us a more strategic way of looking at the final quarter as a time to invest in the business, rather than ending up paying tax and accounting fees which tend to wipe out our surplus.”

    In total Darren has saved FILMBEE £6,000 through his professional skills and support.


  • Case Study - Age UK Gateshead

    Age UK Gateshead is a local charity that has been in operation since 1972, supporting on average 800 older residents in the Borough of Gateshead each week. The charity offers various services including day care centres and social groups for older people, as well as a range of activities and services that help to reduce social isolation and promote independent living.

    Having recognised the need to maximise their potential for developing good quality applications to funders, Ian Wolstenholme, CEO of Age UK Gateshead, approached SkillsBridge for support. SkillsBridge introduced Ian to Nikki Wilkinson who specialises in supporting third sector organisations develop their funding strategies.

    Nikki delivered training to the team at Age UK Gateshead and provided lots of hints and tips around developing successful funding applications. Ian told us: “Working with SkillsBridge, and Nikki has given me the professional support needed to invest in the organisation and make a tangible difference.”

    As a direct result of working with Nikki, Age UK Gateshead were successful in securing an additional £30,000 of funding which will be used towards the continuation of delivery services to their beneficiaries.

    Age UK Gateshead

  • Our impact 2015-16

    On charities: 

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    On Individuals: 

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    On businesses: 

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  • Downloads

    adobe PDF icon cropped  SkillsBridge Brochure

    adobe PDF icon cropped  SkillsBridge Annual Review 2015-16

    adobe PDF icon cropped  SkillsBridge Annual Review 2014

  • How do I find out more?

    If you’d like to find out more about SkillsBridge support please contact:

    Andrew White (SkillsBridge Coordinator): 
    E: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
    T: 07966 017884

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Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 8AF

Tel:      0191 232 7445

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