Giving Theory Impact.

The Cambridge Cycling Campaign (CamCycle) is a charity with 1280 members run by volunteers and 2 part‐time staff, a Communications and Community Officer and a Cycling Campaign
Officer. Founded in 1995, their aim is safer, better and more cycling in the Cambridge area, where about half of the local population uses a bike at least once a month. Many
of the cycle facilities such as paths, lanes, traffic signals, bridges and cycle parks would not exist without the work delivered by CamCycle members.

The Cycling Campaign Officer was initially motivated to attend the Cambridge CVS workshop ‘Measuring the difference you make: An Introduction to Social Impact’ because she was aware of the emphasis funders put on Impact and she wanted to ensure her organisation was up to speed. She also wanted to explore the use of the Theory of Change (ToC) model to focus campaign efforts and to help move the organisation forward.

At this stage CamCycle had only recently employed her as their first paid member of staff and they were embarking on a new phase of growth and development.

The Workshop provided an opportunity for all those attending to spend time reflecting on what their organisation exists to achieve, and how they are currently working to deliver their aims. Those attending were able to share their ideas and experiences and collaborate in group activities. The workshop helped participants to review some planning models including ToC and, rather than just
viewing impact measurement as a funder requirement, CamCycle realised the benefits of using it to guide how they could prioritise and consolidate their activities to help them deliver their aims.

Following the workshop CamCycle developed their own Theory of Change model, (which features in their annual report) enabling them to create clarity on how the organisation needs to move forward. CamCycle see their Theory of Change as a living model which can be adapted as new factors are brought in to play.

The workshop provoked an important change in the way CamCycle look at project planning. Taking a ToC approach they now look at what needs to happen to achieve the desired impact and develop activities that will deliver defined outcomes. They intend to produce an impact model for each new project they embark on in order to give it the chance to have the greatest impact.


Roxanne De Beaux their Cycling Campaign Officer stated:

The workshop was a great starting point and created a shift in my mindset helping guide my thinking on how we could plan change and communicate why and how we achieve this change to everyone involved.


The Ancient Heart of Hardwick

Hardwick is a village about 8 miles west of Cambridge. The church is located on the southern outskirts of the village in what until now has been a relatively undeveloped area.

Construction is now underway on a new development which will see a significant increase in the population of this part of the village. The school, community buildings, shops and other facilities are located in the northern part of the village.

A cabin was placed on a woodland area behind the church in 1995 as a temporary community facility. Despite the efforts of the volunteer group to maintain it, the condition of
the cabin is poor. It is not well insulated and is heated by electric radiators which are not safe or efficient. The toilet area, which leads straight off the kitchen, is very cramped and has no hot water. The floor is rotting, and the structure is now leaning out of true so that there is sometimes a problem with closing doors. The lighting is unsubtle, but adequate.

The church and volunteer group have a vision to provide a community hub in a woodland garden. As it will be the only fully accessible community building in Hardwick, it will be
available for use by any group, family or individual in the village for activities, clubs, meetings, social gatherings and parties for at least 80% of the week. The fully accessible toilets and other hospitality facilities will support the continued and more frequent use of the neighbouring historic Church building as a community venue, thereby doubling available community space provided by this project.

We want to re-imagine our buildings and land as community and spiritual spaces for the village, restoring its ancient heart as a place where we experience what it means to belong.

Support Cambridgeshire partner Cambridge CVS first encountered the volunteer group when two members attended a funding applications workshop held in March 2015.

The workshop helped them consider what they needed to undertake before any funding applications could be made, including carrying out a consultation with their community. A one to one meeting and resources sent by email helped them shape this and the consultation took place later that year. In the summer of 2016 a funding search gave them some ideas of opportunities for funding applications. They had by this time joined Cambridge CVS as a member and had made good use of the Support Cambridgeshire funding bulletins. They had hoped to receive section 106 money from the development of housing in the village but were disappointed. However, they had achieved a massive outcome for a relatively small Church community and had £95,000 pledged towards the overall project cost of about £300,000.

Further support was given in the summer of 2016 and then in May 2018. Cambridge CVS supported an application to the Garfield Weston Anniversary Fund. At this time Cambridge CVS also worked with the group to enable them to write a business plan. As part of this Cambridge CVS were able to help develop a strong vision for how the building would become a hub for the community, taking full advantage of its woodland setting. The strap-line of ‘Re-imagining the heart of the community’ grew out of this session: The Group started to see how the new building could be re-imagined for the 21st Century.

In October 2018 Cambridge CVS were able to review the business plan and help the group to fine tune their applications. The group is awaiting confirmation of the outcome from these bids and
continues to raise funds locally.

From the start of their journey, this Group of Volunteers have become a strong and capable unit. They have developed a strong vision for how the new building will be the heart of village life.

To serve the community by providing and promoting activities that contribute to building positive relationships and understanding between people of different faiths,
ages, ethnic origin and gender, working together to improve the quality of life in the village.

The working group has made 3 good applications to funders, developed a business plan and raised over £180,000 through their own fundraising. A considerable achievement in a very constrained market=place where funders expect more and competition is growing.


St Mary’s Church in Hardwick began fund-raising for a new community hall back in 2015. One of our group attended a training course led and hosted by Support Cambridgeshire partner Cambridge CVS which was very helpful in terms of enabling us to get a grip on the steps that needed to be taken, and how to go about it. They have always been available for support and advice, and this has made a daunting task seem more manageable – they are a great encourager!

In the early years we talked with them about how to undertake community consultation and get ‘grant ready’ with regard to policies in place. They set us up with a project plan proforma and met with us to review our progress in completing it and suggest the next steps. They also made available the business plans from other similar projects to help us see the kind of document we might produce. 

Cambridge CVS  have always been professional, helpful and knowledgeable. If they say they will find out about something, they do. They take time and trouble on our behalf (reading some quite
lengthy documents and coming prepared with notes and suggestions that are particular to our situation). They have provided an excellent service, for which we are very grateful – as
will all the Hardwick residents be, once we have the hall.

Record attendance at the Town and Parish Council Conference

This year’s event took place at the Marriott Hotel in Huntingdon on the 23rd November 2018, and attracted 227 delegates from 85 different local councils, a significant increase on the previous two years.

The annual Local Councils Conference is the only event in Cambridgeshire to which all local councils are invited.

It provides an opportunity for two way dialogue between local councils and other tiers of local government.

The event had several keynote speakers, including Gillian Beasley the Chief Executive of Cambridgeshire County Council and James Palmer the Mayor of the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority.

In addition, the event held nine different themed workshops:

  • Market Town Master-plans: the Role of Local Councils.
  • Realising the capabilities of parish councils.
  • The role of Community Led Housing in Cambridgeshire’s rural communities.
  • Community Engagement – Challenges and Opportunities.
  • Be Prepared! How you can mobilise your community in an emergency.
  • Undertaking a Neighbourhood Plan in your Parish.
  • Improving collaborative working between Clerks and Councillors.
  • Harnessing nature to power our future; Local Councils and renewable energy generation.
  • Declining Public Transport: What are the options for Local Councils to relieve the impact?

And a market-place where 22 different county wide organisations were exhibiting.

85% of those delegates who attended gave the Conference overall a positive rating (a score of either 4 or 5 out of 5). The average score given was 4.3 out of 5.

Comments included:

  • The multi-session learning events are very valuable (please keep going with these).
  • An excellent event.
  • Good and worthwhile conference overall.
  • More of the same please.

Let’s hope the next Conference brings more delegates, more lively debate and more opportunities for networking…!!

Picture: Mayor James Palmer addresses the County Wide Town and Parish Council audience.

Working with the Oasis

Support Cambridgeshire is working closely with the Oasis Centre in Wisbech thanks to an injection of Neighbourhood Investment income provided by Clarion Housing Association.

The Oasis sits on the Waterlees Ward of Wisbech, often viewed as the most deprived ward in the whole of Cambridgeshire, but residing amidst some 2,500 houses owned by Clarion.

It has been a long held ambition of the Oasis to develop their current building into a new purpose built extension which will better serve the needs of its local community.

Support Cambridgeshire has started to work with the existing Board of Trustees on their skills and confidence through 3 facilitated sessions provided by Taproot consultancy, this making them  better able to navigate the future and its potential challenges and opportunities through an identification of their strengths, merits and areas where they need to improve.

This initial support will translate into longer term hand-holding by Support Cambridgeshire which will help to develop a robust Business and Marketing plan through 2019, in addition to obtaining potential development funding through the provision of a dedicated bid writer.

The Trustee Board now has December 2018 to reflect on their hard work to date, ready to begin again in earnest in January 2019.

Chris Stevens, the Oasis Centre and Trust Manager states:

I think we would all like to thank Taproot for the support they have given to Board Members so far. We would not have got to where we have got without these 3 influential sessions. We have a lot to think about now but I look forward to working with Support Cambridgeshire in the New Year.

Picture: Trustees hard at work thinking about what their new Business Plan might look like, what they need and how they might obtain it.



Whats a funding portal?

We all know that obtaining or maintaining funding streams in the voluntary sector is a real challenge, particularly in an ever competitive and crowded market-place.

Some organisations always require in-depth support in their search for funding, whilst others are able to take advantage of Support Cambridgeshire 4 Communities.

So what is Support Cambridgeshire 4 Communities?

It’s a self -funding portal which organisations can use at no cost. Packed with over 2,500 local, regional and national funding streams which are updated on a weekly basis.

Organisations can browse or perform more detailed searches based upon their particular needs and circumstances.

It’s easy to register, and be used time and time again.

Over the past 12 months, 8,500 searches have been undertaken through this portal, with over 300 groups regularly accessing the system.

And does it work?

Like most issues, Funding is complex, ever changing and difficult to obtain.

The portal is only the first stage of an organisations journey, but as  a resource its invaluable, and sometimes it bears fruit.

Lets take the case of Holywell-cum-Needingworth village hall.

Village hall trustees extended their existing kitchen into a further adjacent room in order to double its size.

New equipment was also purchased, including a kitchen range cooker, extractor, stainless steel work surface and a tall larder fridge.

They further added a new commercial under counter 3 minute dishwasher , together with a new double bowl kitchen sink and a new Tri-flow tap and filter assembly.

The trustees received a grant from WREN to the value of £8,652 (approximately 50% of the entire project cost).

Andy Killoran (one of the trustees) states:

I had already heard of WREN as we had already had a grant from them over two years previously.

However, I took the opportunity of going carefully through the self-funding portal to check out other grant funding opportunities before making a decision and in the end decided to use the link in the self-funding portal to access the WREN site.

I found the portal to be explanatory, easy to use and very helpful.

Little victories:

A number of organisations have also been successful in obtaining funding as a direct result of using the portal.

So try it and see if it works for you: simply click here.







What’s a Myth-buster tour?

It’s exactly what it says on the tin. It busts myths, and on this particular occasion it was about the myths surrounding affordable housing, particularly as it relates to scale, design and quality.

As part of the Support Cambridgeshire peer network offer, the tour was held on the 3rd July 2018, with a fully booked coach tour departing from Warboys on a tour of 7 Rural Exception Sites along the Huntingdonshire and South Cambridgeshire border.

24 local council delegates attended, together with representatives from 6 Housing associations who sit on the Cambridgeshire Rural Affordable Housing Partnership. Support Cambridgeshire partners Cambridgeshire ACRE were in attendance. The event achieved a satisfaction rating of 4.7 out of 5.

Excellent feedback was obtained, some of which are provided:

  • Educational – definitely silenced some of the myths.
  • Interesting and very surprised at the spaciousness of the small development I saw.
  • An eye opener on what can be achieved. Myths were busted.
  • All members with involvement in planning should catch the next one.

If you are interested in catching the next Myth-buster tour, contact Alison Brown at Cambridgeshire ACRE at



Quest for Funding – Volunteers taking the lead

We all know that volunteers can bring idea sand vitality to projects and services:  The Quest for funding is a topical case in point.

The context:

Quest for funding is an example of partnership working between the County council, Support Cambridgeshire and residents of Huntingdon North. With budgets reducing, residents who have used and relied on projects and services in the past wanted to help sustain and support them into the future.  Finding various sources of funding was viewed as key in providing a range of local services and activities, and whilst there was a willingness and motivation to help, the volunteers did not have the requisite skills or confidence to see this plan through to its conclusion without help, support and advice. The creative solution was Quest for Funding, and the model was born.

10 bespoke sessions were provided for volunteers. Subject content included:

What is a unique selling proposition?

What do funders fund?

What do funders want to see?

How can you demonstrate ideas and impacts?

What language should be used and what should be avoided?

How do you research evidence to support an application?

What tools or platforms can help you find funds?

How can Support Cambridgeshire 4 communities assist in funding searches?

The Journey:

The volunteers involved live complex lives, and inevitably keeping the group together was a test of patience and commitment. The group needed refreshing on several occasions until a core group was established. This group now meets weekly and continues to apply for funding collaboratively agreed by HCAP (The Huntingdon Community Action Project).

The Results:

The group have been working on 9 applications to various statutory providers and local trusts. The group have already raised £15,000 and still have applications pending. Each volunteer has contributed to the success, using their abilities as confidence has grown. Support Cambridgeshire now holds a watching brief, ready to support and provide advice when required or needed.

 The added value:

A pipeline of volunteers is now being established to ensure momentum continues. The first ever family life- long learning course has been established around volunteering, what’s involved and why it works.

The Challenge:

Quest for funding has seen many iterations and false starts.  Trust and transparency existed between the volunteers and the advice and service providers before the group began, and this is seen as a crucial element in success. Without this close relationship (that has existed over many years) the Quest for Funding model may not have succeeded.

Patience and perseverance is also a key component. The ability to reboot, re configure and work with the skills and strengths that people possess is paramount so too is building confidence over time and confronting each obstacle that arises for the good of the collective.

The Future:

It is difficult to predict. Early signs are extremely promising. A pipeline of volunteers with different skills and perspectives will clearly help, as will a continued trusting relationship between statutory, voluntary and community partners.

Here’s a quote from one of the volunteers working on the project:

It’s been really fulfilling to learn how to apply for grants to help people in the community. To then see that grant money being put to use for people I know makes me feel that I have made a real difference to their lives.


What’s a hub?

A hub is usually a building or place where people meet, take part in activities and deliver projects or services.

Your local community centre or church might be a prime example.

In Brampton* however, the hub has a different context. The hub is a group of like minded Brampton residents who came together following a community based survey which focused on what people liked about where they lived, what they wanted to change, and more importantly what services they wanted to receive.

Take a look at the Brampton* story by clicking here:

If you have been inspired by the Brampton* story and feel that similar could happen in your community, contact Support Cambridgeshire for advice and support.

The hub has some useful supporting documents and literature about their journey. They can be provided directly by contacting


Brampton* is a village in Cambridgeshire, about 2 miles south-west of Huntingdon with a population of approximately 5,000 people.

Peter Menczer* is a Brampton* hub Committee Member.

A day in the life of a Parish Council

Support Cambridgeshire Partners Cambridgeshire ACRE work closely with Town and Parish Councils across the County.

Part of this work is to showcase best practice amongst the many Town and Parish Councils, but also to provide opportunities for the sector to meet and learn from each others experiences.

In addition to the Annual County- Wide Town and Parish Council, Cambridgeshire ACRE are also beginning to profile Town and Parish Councils as a way of identifying their challenges, concerns and areas of success.

The first profile is that of David Lyon, the Chair of of Haddenham Parish Council.

Check out what David had to say by clicking here:

The second is that of Jenny Manning the Parish Clerk. Read what Jenny has to say by clicking here:


Cam Care UK – Finding the right structure

Cam Care UK runs events and activities to improve understanding of different cultural traditions and bring people together to have fun and learn.

It works in Cambourne, a multicultural village in South Cambridgeshire.

In order to achieve their aim they use events such as dance festivals and the promotion of culture through food, regularly supported by the entire local community.

Cam Care UK also seeks to break down social isolation by running cookery activities which includes the Cambourne Experimental cookery club and the international cookery workshops. The charity also has plans to help older people learn digital skills so they are able to engage with online opportunities more readily.

Cambourne has a high proportion of young families, and Cam Care UK promotes extra-curricular educational activities for young people including a science festival and an electronics club.

Cambourne is a new town where nearly 30% of the population originate from outside the UK and 33% are aged under 17. As a new town there is a lack of services to support social integration across different ethnic groups, and thus address the sense social isolation people report. There is also limited provision of extracurricular science and arts activities for young people.

Cam Care UK founder, Shrobana Battacharyra met with Support Cambridgeshire partner Cambridge CVS to discuss her group’s ideas for pulling together their activities and registering as a charity. Cambridge CVS were able to outline the different types of charitable organisation they could consider, and Shrobana and her fellow trustees decided on a CIO Foundation model (Charitable Incorporated Organisation).

This model enabled the group to limit their trustees’ liability, keep the governance of the Charity manageable by limiting voting to the trustees, and enabled the organisation to qualify for grant funds to extend their work. Cambridge CVS supported the trustees to write their constitution, and then to complete the application to the Charity Commission for registration.

Cam Care UK is now a registered Charity with all the benefits and opportunities this gives. With Cambridge CVS help and the Support Cambridgeshire training programme they were able to make an informed decision about the best model of registration, and they were fully supported throughout the process. Cambridge CVS worked flexibly with the trustees to provide support as necessary to help them achieve registration, and to move forward as rapidly as possible.

Cambridge CVS has continued to work with Cam Care UK to advise on policies and guidance to support their work in promoting racial and social integration and the advancement of education particularly in science for young people in Cambourne.


Shrobana says:

It was only possible to achieve registration as a Foundation CIO because of the guidance Cambridge CVS provided throughout the process. They helped us develop our constitution and our policies and  have been instrumental in helping support our work promoting racial and social integration and the advancement of education particularly in science for young people in Cambourne.”


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