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Third Sector Interfaces











Third Sector Interfaces provide support, learning and development opportunities for people and organisations through their programmes of work – whether you want to know more about volunteering; setting up and running a third sector organisation; or using social enterprise as a model to deliver social good; the interface is your local starting point.

TSI organisations work across core strategic areas of:

  • Volunteering
  • Social Enterprise
  • Sector Support
  • Empowering & Engaging local voluntary action



Whether you’re an individual wanting to volunteer in your community or an organisation looking to attract volunteers your TSI is your local source of support and advice.

TSIs are key points of support for both volunteers and Volunteer Involving Organisations (VIOs).

Volunteer Dundee are running a ‘Volunteer Outreach Programme’ during summer 2017, encouraging would-be volunteers to come along and find a volunteering opportunity that works for them.

Volunteer Catherine accepts her Shetland Youth Volunteering Award from Tavish Scott MSP

Voluntary Action Shetland are at the centre of youth volunteering in Shetland. Their Youth Development Worker visits all of Shetland’s secondary schools to provide young people with information about volunteering, the Saltire Awards, and volunteering opportunities available in their area. When young people sign up for the Saltire Award scheme through Voluntary Action Shetland, they are supported both with individual and group volunteering and have the opportunity of being nominated for a Shetland Youth Volunteering Award.

Volunteer Midlothian run a quarterly ‘Volunteer Managers’ Forum’ which brings together individuals who coordinate volunteering in local VIOs across Midlothian, giving them an opportunity to share practice and network. Watch our video case study ‘Volunteering Makes Midlothian!’


Social Enterprise

Social enterprise and enterprising third sector organisations are the economic driving force behind our sector locally. TSIs support organisations using social enterprise as a model to deliver social good.

For example, Glasgow Social Enterprise Network (GSEN) is a member of our TSI Network. They offer practical support to social enterprises in Glasgow as part of their wider strategy to develop a vibrant and sustainable social enterprise community in Glasgow. GSEN are one of the three partners that make up Glasgow TSI; TSIs that are made up of partner organisations will have an organisation dedicated to the support and development of local social enterprise. Where TSIs are single entity organisations, this forms a key organisational objective.


Voluntary Action Barra & Vatersay (VABV) runs its own social enterprise, the Guth Bharraidh -‘The Voice of Barra’- a weekly local newsletter with a circulation of around 600. VABV also runs the isle of Barra community transport service, ‘Bus Bharraigh’ providing a vital link for local social enterprises such as the ‘Garadh a Bhagh a Tuath’ – Northbay Community Garden – which relies on Bus Bharraigh to transport its volunteers to and from the garden. Watch our video case study ‘Connecting the Community: Voluntary Action Barra & Vatersay’.

CVS Falkirk have provided help to Stoneywood Care Services, who discovered the range of social enterprise support services that CVS Falkirk could offer at a local Community Care and Health Forum meeting. As a result of this, CVS Falkirk helped Stoneywood Services to create the Stoneywood Community Project CIC (Community Interest Company); a social enterprise which offers work experience for people with learning disabilities. You can read more here.


Sector Support

All types of third sector organisations need support to grow and thrive. TSIs offer advice, support and referrals to specialist agencies on all aspects of organisational development.

Edinburgh Voluntary Organisations’ Council (EVOC) offer various training courses and training grants for the benefit of their local sector. For example, they offer a ‘Funding Applications Workshop’ and courses covering different aspects of governance, such as  ‘Trustees Roles and Responsibilities’. You can view EVOC’s current training calendar here.

TSIs also provide local level support on evaluation. Voluntary Action Scotland worked in partnership with Evaluation Support Scotland to deliver a ‘Train the Trainer – Evaluation Support’ session for TSI staff. 

Voluntary Action North Lanarkshire (VANL) and Voluntary Action South Lanarkshire (VASLAN) have used the learning from the ESS session to deliver an evaluation support training course to their local sector in Lanarkshire.


TSIs provide advice and support around applying for funding. The Little Art School is an organisation which runs art classes for the local community across Ayrshire and Glasgow. It began with an idea to run art classes for dementia sufferers as way of helping them reconnect to learning and experiencing new things. It was through the help of Voluntary Action South Ayrshire (VASA) that The Little Art School was able to successfully apply for an Integrated Care Fund grant and to expand its pioneering programme into more communities. Watch our video case study ‘VASA: Supporting Local Third Sector Organisations’.


Empowering & Engaging

The interfaces bring together voices from across the voluntary, community and social enterprise sectors and amplify them to local planning and decision makers. TSIs are the connectors and enablers of the local third sector, leading and driving change.

Voluntary Action South Lanarkshire (VASLAN) hold a regular ‘Third Sector Forum’ across the various localities in South Lanarkshire. The Forum is an opportunity for local third sector and community organisations to come together, encouraging creative thinking and ways of working that address local needs and policy. Such forums also present a networking opportunity.

Glasgow Council for the Voluntary SectorFife Voluntary ActionPerth & Kinross Association of Voluntary Services (PKAVS) and TSI North Ayrshire have all been involved in the Scottish Government funded programme delivered by ESS, Threading the Needle, designed to help health and social care commissioners across the four local authority areas to use third sector evidence to commission outcomes for health and social care. As part of Fife Voluntary Action’s role in Threading the Needle, befriending projects in Fife and local authority Link Officers developed a common model and evaluation system so that, together with the health and social care partnership, they could start to explore when and how befriending makes a difference to individuals and to strategic outcomes.

The interfaces also aim to build empowered, resilient communities with a thriving third sector at their heart. Each operates in ways that reflect local circumstance and need, and are responsive to and driven by their third sector locally.

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Transport Scotland Survey – Connectivity









In May 2017, Scottish Disability Equality Forum conducted a national survey on behalf of Transport Scotland.  This was a baseline survey to allow us to gather information about disabled peoples’ experiences of travelling on public transport.  The survey gave us lots of useful information, and some that we want to find out more about.

As part of our ongoing work with Transport Scotland we are undertaking further research. Here is a short survey about Connectivity.  Connectivity is about your experience of changing between different types of transport.  It also includes journey planning and the timetabling of services so that people can meet a connection.

This survey is intended to find out more about these specific issues and feedback from this survey will be passed directly to Transport Scotland.

We would like this to be completed by as many disabled people as possible, so please share it round friends, families and networks.  This survey will build on the information from the initial baseline survey and add to our knowledge over the lifetime of the Accessible Travel Framework.

Complete the survey by clicking the following link:

The survey will be open until October 31 2017.

We’re here to help so you can contact Emma Scott at the Scottish Disability Equality Forum on 01259 272064 or at 

Alternatively, contact you have any questions or want to get in touch.

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5 Steps to Funding









Be sure you understand what can be funded.  Funders do not usually fund the day-to-day activities of your organisation, though they may contribute to the organisational overheads involved in running a project. Be sure you know what is meant by a project.  A project is a piece of work that is additional to the everyday work of your organisation.

If your project involves extra staff or costs your grant may cover them; or if you are looking to fund a new project, or set up a new organisation, start-up costs, including staff and other core running costs, they will be considered.

In recognition that not all funding requirements can be project based, there are funders that are willing to help pay core costs such as help with overheads and staff salaries.

There are 5 Steps you should think about following when making an application, they are:

  1. Show a need for your project
  2. Plan your project well
  3. Cost the project accurately
  4. Give evidence of good management
  5. Show how the project will make a difference

Show A Need For Your Project

You must show that there is a need for your project and that your project is a good way of meeting it. The three points you should think about are:

  • What needs do your community or users have?
  • How do you know they have these needs?
  • How will your project meet those needs?

Sometimes applications are turned down, not because funders do not believe that the need is there, but because they are not convinced that what you want to do will solve the problem or that your proposed project is what people want.

How much information you need to give depends on how much money you want. If you are looking for a relatively small grant you could conduct a survey among your existing members or users, asking them for their views on the new project. For a larger grant, you may need to do a fully costed options appraisal, perhaps with some research into different ways of meeting the need. You can then explain which option you decide is the best and why.

Plan Your Project Well

It is recommended that you write a project plan listing the main things you have to do to make your project happen and to achieve its aims. You need to explain:

  • What you are going to do;
  • What difference your project will make to the people or organisations that benefit from it;
  • How you are going to do it – including what resources you need (premises, equipment, staff, recruitment and training budget etc);
  • When you will do it;
  • Where you will do it;
  • Who will be responsible for doing it; and
  • How you will know you’ve made a difference.

Your project plan should cover everything from the activities and tasks you have set yourself in getting the project started to the outcomes you are expecting as a result. It is important that you can show that your project will make a difference to people’s lives.

Cost The Project Accurately

Once you have done your project plan, you should work out how much money

  • you will need to carry out the project.
  • You will need to justify the amount you have asked for. For example, if you want money to pay for staff, you will need to show how you worked out the level of salaries.
  • When you are drawing up your budget, it’s important that you don’t cut corners. Include in your budget everything you need. If funding for your project is granted, funders will generally fund what you need if the evidence is there.

Give Evidence Of Good Management

We must be sure that your organisation is able to deliver the project. Your grant comes from public funds and you must be able to account for the money we give you.

Your management committee will have close contact with your users or your community and they will have the skills to handle the activities involved in delivering your project. This could mean managing staff or working with professionals on building projects.

Funders may ask you who the members of your management committee are and about their skills and experience. You must have established procedures or the election of the management committee and for conducting regular meetings.

It is important that you have procedures in place for handling the finances of your organisation – a proper bookkeeping system, regular financial checks and properly prepared accounts.

Funders will look at your policies on health and safety and employment. If you employ staff they will want to know that you are striving for equal opportunities in your employment procedures.

Show How The Project Will Make A Difference

Funders want their grants to make a long-term difference to the lives of the people who will benefit from your project.  You need to think about this while you are making your application. You  should explain how you will collect information about the difference your  project will make so you know you are achieving the things you set out to do, and show how you will use this information as the project goes on.

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Search Engine Optimisation













Those Panels who use a WordPress based platform for their websites will probably be all too familiar with SEO, or Search Engine Optimisation.  Here, I share seven top tips for maximising your web content to make sure it has the biggest impact possible.

SEO means optimising a website so that people can easily find it when they use search engines like Google, Bing or Yahoo. When you’re writing articles for your website about certain topics it helps to make sure they’re optimised to search engines.

To make sure you give your articles and content the best chance of being found by the right people here are five top tips for SEO optimisation

Get your keyword research on. If you’re going to post content on your site anyway, you might as well take the time to make sure Google takes notice of your effort.
Find out which keywords and phrases people are searching for (as well as what you can be competitive in), and make yourself a keyword spreadsheet. Keep track of how many times you work the keywords into your content, and use the right tools to track where you rank for the keywords you target.

Put the keywords to work.  While it’s still a good idea to include your target keyword throughout your article, peppering your copy with forced keywords won’t really move the dial much.  As is the case with any bit of SEO strategy, you’ve got to be tactical.  Include your keyword in the title, in the first 300 words, and in the first H1 or H2.   After that, you should be trying to use variations of your keyword.  As an added note, it should never be a struggle to fit your keyword in your copy. Ideally, your keyword should feel natural in your writing — if you feel like you’re starting to write jibberish, you’ve gone too far.

Write about something people care about. Before you set out to do any kind of SEO writing, ask yourself this: who cares? We’re not being facetious, here — too often, article writers just pump out content for no real reason, with no real strategy behind it. They forget that actual humans need to want to read this stuff — you’re not really writing for Google’s algorithms, you’re writing for people!  When you’re writing, you should always seek to offer some sort of value to your readers. What can you tell them that no one else can? What service can you provide that’s unique? What knowledge can you share that can’t be found anywhere else?  Nobody knows your Access Panel like you do — so use that to your advantage. If not, you can at least discuss news relating to your Panel. When in doubt, look at your list of SEO keywords and see what kind of list, link bait or in-depth posts you can work those keywords into. Don’t be afraid to interview some experts, either (if you quote them and feature their expertise in your post, they’ll be likely to share your content via their social channels — this way, you can leverage larger networks to increase the size of your own).














Make it long enough to count. 100 words of fresh content is better than no new content at all — but how much value can you really deliver in a Tweet? Search engines tend to give preference to longer blogs and articles, and for good reason. Try to shoot for at least 600 words, but if you can get to 1,000 or more, go for it. There has been a lot of research that shows that search engines tend to favour “in-depth” content of at least 2,000 words — we’ve seen this work for ourselves and our clients, and many  popular blog posts are at least 1,500 words.  The longer your content, the more value you’re going to give your readers, and the better chance you’ll have at lower your bounce rate.

Become your own online PR agency. Once you’ve written and posted the fresh content, the work is only half complete. The final step of all web content writing is acting as your own online PR agency — link to your content all over the place. Comment on blogs and link back to your site. Submit your content to Reddit and StumbleUpon. Social media management and web content writing go hand-in-hand, and as soon as you hit the “Publish” button on your fresh article or blog, you should tweet your heart out. 







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Food Buddies





Food Buddies is a way for people to encourage and support each other around food.  Food Buddies started with the concerns and priorities of a group of people in their community.  Each project builds on the assets of that community – the experience and skills of all the people involved, professional expertise and the resources in the local area.  There is reciprocity, rather than some people receiving a service from others.  The approach focuses on supporting and building relationships.  Food Buddies aims to be sustainable and for the impact to continue beyond a project that gets activities underway in an area.  Food Buddies complements what other food projects and other social inclusion projects do, and works in partnership with them.

 Jan Laing started as the Borders Food Buddies Development Worker in September 2016. Jan previously worked as the Central Borders Area Manager with the Bridge based in Galashiels. Jan will be contacting and meeting with a range of individuals and organisations in the coming weeks and months to explore ways of working together to establish the Borders Food Buddies project so that it best meets the needs of local people.

This project develops peer support for people with dementia and for carers, with a focus on aspects of food and keeping well.
It started in October 2015 with funding over 5 years from Life Changes Trust.

Activities include:

  • Group activities that bring people together such as cooking classes doing food-related things together, and sessions on adapting to people’s changing food needs
  • Encouragement and support for people with dementia and carers on ways to look after yourself
  • One-to-one peer support for people who prefer this and to help people follow up on the group activities
  • Long-term support as people’s circumstances change for people who want this

We will make the peer support work for people across the range of situations and stages of dementia and caring.
A second aim is to share the experience of the people involved in the project:

  • Raise awareness about the benefits of peer support among people affected by dementia
  • Reach more people through Tips, recipe books and the like highlighting practical tips on what can help as well as raising awareness
  • Raise awareness among shops, food producers and retailers on what they can do to help.

Jan will be based at the Scottish Borders Chamber of Social Enterprise in St Boswells. Anyone wanting to know more about the Borders Food Buddies project can contact Jan at

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Access Panel Conference 2017

Access Panel Conference

 After months of planning by the Access team at SDEF our annual Access Panel conference was held last Friday in Aberdeen.  SDEF would like to thank all those who attended and to the people who delivered a presentation to the conference.  We held the conference on board the MV Hjaltland which was moored in Aberdeen harbour before its return trip to Shetland.

We started with an early lunch of soup and sandwiches which allowed everyone to talk with one another and introduce themselves.  We then kicked off the conference and had presentations from James Linklater who is head of customer care at Northlink Ferries, Iain Smith who is the Policy and Engagement team manager for Inclusion Scotland, Ryan McDonald from Euan’s Guide and Dean Eales from Disabled Go.

Access Panels then had the chance to share what they had been doing and what their plans were for the coming months with everyone else at the conference.  There was a brief question and after that the Access Engagement Officer closed the conference by saying that all Access Panels in Scotland are part of a unique and special network not found anywhere else in the UK and that we should all be proud of ourselves, regardless of the size of the contribution we make.

If you didn’t manage to make the conference or would just like to have a look over the notes then you can download a transcript from the day by clicking HERE.

If you have any suggestions for where we should hold next year’s conference then please get in touch with either Ian or Gillian. 

Again, thank you to everyone who contributed to the day and made it a success.  Please scroll down to see some pictures from the day.


Mary Tolmie standing up at the back giving her update on what Cumnock and Doon Valley Panel have been up to

BSL interpreter signing at the front of the conference to delegates

Conference delegates listening to a speech at the front of the room

Conference delegates listening to a speech at the front of the room

Conference delegates eating their lunch

Conference delegates

Ryan from Euan's guide delivering his presentation

Ryan from Euan’s guide delivering his presentation

Iain Smith from Inclusion Scotland delivering his presentation

Iain Smith from Inclusion Scotland delivering his presentation

Dean Eales from Disabled Go delivering his presentation

Dean Eales from Disabled Go delivering his presentation

James Linklater, head of customer care at NorthLink ferries, welcoming everyone to the conference

James Linklater, head of customer care at NorthLink ferries, welcoming everyone to the conference

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Place Standard tool

NHS Health Scotland, with colleagues in the Scottish Government and Architecture & Design Scotland, have created a tool to support communities to design their place.  It is called the Place Standard.  We have evaluated how it has been used in the first year of implementation.  We have also created a short animated film on it.  We are launching both the film and evaluation report today.  Information about this in this web statement

It would be great if you could help promote the film and evaluation?  We will be issuing a series of tweets from @NHS_HS today.  If you could retweet that would be great, or, you might like to use any of these:

  • Where we live and work impacts our health and wellbeing. Watch this film on how the #placestandard can help design better places
  • Leads in every LA in Scotland are promoting the #placestandard to engage & create better places: watch this film on how to use it
  • “We reached more people than we ever have”. Just 1 view on usefulness of #placestandard in designing places: more here
  • The #placestandard has reached over 11,000 people – have you used it yet? Watch this film to see how



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Blue Badge Pilot Scheme








Scotland’s blue badge scheme has been extended to allow people who may have difficulties and pose a risk to themselves or others in traffic to get a badge, provided they meet eligibility criteria.  People who think they might be eligible are being invited to contact their local authority.

The blue badge scheme provides an essential service for disabled people, allowing parking access that can often make the difference as to whether disabled people live their lives as fully as they can.

Some people with a diagnosed mental disorder (a legal expression including conditions like dementia, autism, and Down’s syndrome) may lack awareness of danger from traffic, which is likely to compromise their safety, or the safety of others as a result. It’s these people who are covered by this extension to the Blue Badge scheme.

People applying for a Blue Badge under this extension need to demonstrate eligibility by completing an application form, be claiming certain social security benefits at certain rates, and getting a healthcare or social work professional to provide information about the risk posed.

It’s the job of local authorities to check applications and they may ask the applicant to come for an assessment.

Local authorities are responsible for the administration and enforcement of the scheme in their area. They will provide a separate application form and assistance to apply under the pilot scheme.  A decision on permanent changes to eligibility criteria and associated rules will be made at the end of the pilot, in the Autumn.

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Funding Update

Funding news logo










Voluntary Action Fund

Funding Strand 1 – Care and Wellbeing.  Improving the quality of life for those affected by physical and/or mental health issues and their carers.  If you or someone you know is a carer or has a mental or physical disability then click the link above for more information.

The Hospital Saturday Fund

 The Fund provides assistance for: individuals with a medical condition or disability who would benefit from assistance with the purchase of specialised equipment or from particular forms of treatment; or registered health charities such as hospitals, hospices and medical organisations which are in need of grants for medical projects, care, research or support of medical training

Greggs Foundation – Local Communities Project—local-communities-project

 Helps organisations based in local communities to deliver projects or provide equipment to people in need at the heart of our local communities. They are interested in projects that improve resilience within your community of interest. This can include sessional activities/respite support, equipment for sessional activities, trips and residential breaks. They are more likely to make grants to local organisations based near Greggs shops.

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Changing Places Toilets campaign

Changing places toilet logo







Both Falkirk Area Disability Access Panel (FADAP) and Renfrewshire Access Panel (RAP) are leading the way amongst Access Panels in the Campaign for Changing Places Toilets.

Standard accessible toilets do not meet the needs of all people with a disability.  People with profound and multiple learning disabilities, as well people with other physical disabilities such as spinal injuries, muscular dystrophy and multiple sclerosis often need extra equipment and space to allow them to use the toilets safely and comfortably. Changing Places toilets meet these needs.  They come fully equipped with a hoist, changing bed and peninsular toilet plus the space and items needed to properly change and care for someone with profound and multiple disabilities.

Renfrewshire Access Panel has managed to get agreement from Renfrewshire Council for ten new Changing Places toilets over the next 5 years with the first two coming this year.  FADAP has also managed to secure agreement from Falkirk Council for a new Changing Places toilet in the Howgate shopping centre, with work due to start soon.

Access Panels can play an important role in developing the network of Changing Places toilets.  Everyone has the right to be able to go to the toilet in dignity.

 The requirements of a Changing Places Toilet as in the British Standards: BS8300:2009 are

  • adequate space for a disabled person when they are not in their wheelchair, their wheelchair and one or two carers – 12sqm (3m x 4m)
  • an adult sized, height adjustable changing bench, wall mounted or free standing
  • a ceiling tracking or a mobile hoist
  • a peninsular (centrally placed) toilet
  • a privacy screen or curtain
  • a large bin for pads
  • an emergency alarm
  • a paper roll
  • a non-slip floor

If you’d like to find out where your nearest Changing Places toilet is then click on the link below.  It will take you to a map of all the Changing Places toilets across the United Kingdom.

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