Connecting Communities 2019

On the 20th June 2019 Hunts Forum and Support Cambridgeshire (as part of their Think Different Approach) ran their annual Connecting Communities Conference, the topic this year being unwanted Loneliness and Social Isolation.

Subtitled Tackling Loneliness, A Community Response, the conference looked at how volunteering can help reduce loneliness.

Interest in the conference was high with nearly 90 people attending on the day ( a 98% increase on Conference levels from last year) and many unfortunately unable to get a ticket.

The event was far removed from the usual presentational format and emphasised the conversational. Partners wanted to stay true to an ethos in that working and talking together in co-operation and good faith we can achieve more than just the sum of our parts. Through dialogue and openness we hoped that the exchange of information, ideas, comments, observations from the collective experience and knowledge would create the platform for mutual support, and would help organisations to develop, connect and obtain the guidance they needed.

The Key-Note:

The conference began with a passionate and inspiring talk from the keynote speaker, Kate Gordon, from Men’s Sheds UK. Kate explained the origin of the Shed movement in Australia as a way of encouraging men to socialise and discuss their feelings and their well-being. Since the idea first travelled across the world to the UK 500 sheds have opened with 8 active sheds in Cambridgeshire. Cambridgeshire County Council welcome applications to the Innovate & Cultivate Fund to set up Men’s Sheds in communities across Cambridgeshire.

You can apply for a £2000 start-up grant to cover the first two years of your Shed development.

See here: https://data.cambridgeshireinsight.org.uk/sites/default/files/Mens%20Shed%20Cultivate%20Model.pdf for more details.

The Slogan for men’s sheds is Shoulder to Shoulder,  simply shortened from Men don’t talk face to face, they talk shoulder to shoulder.

Kate’s Keynote slides can be viewed here:

The Work-shops:

Later, the main hall buzzed with small groups discussing different aspects of loneliness and how volunteering can help reduce loneliness and social isolation. Different workshops looked at ways to find potentially lonely people and reach out to them  (run by Age UK Cambridgeshire and Peterborough),  ways to communicate with and engage people (run by Care Network’s Open Arms Project), supporting and nurturing volunteers (run by Cambridge Community Arts) while The Wildlife Trust, Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire ran a workshop on ways and ideas for demonstrating impact, something that helps us as organisations and is very important to funding bodies.

We were lucky to have four funding bodies at the conference talking to people about the various funds that they have available to support volunteering and help tackle Loneliness and Social Isolation. Alibhe Kirwan from the People’s Postcode lottery had travelled from Edinburgh to be with us and provided a great deal of information to help people ensure their funding applications are relevant. Alibhe’s attendance at the conference was part of a wider tour of the area visiting projects funded by the People’s Postcode Lottery.

Ailbhe was joined by Fiona Brice from The National Lottery Community Fund, Michael Ruddy from Cambridgeshire Community Foundation and Lianne Parrett from Cambridgeshire County Council’s Innovate and Cultivate Fund.

Thank you to everyone who came to the conference and particularly to Kate Gordon, Andy Morris from Age UK C&P, Adam Fraser from Care Network’s Open Arms Project, Beth McCabe and Jane Rich from Cambridge Community Arts and Louise Rackham from The WildLife Trust Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire for running such excellent and engaging workshops, and for taking time out of their busy daily schedules.

Evaluation:

Over 45 evaluation forms were completed on the day, and feed-back was generally positive, although there are always lessons to be learned.

Here are some quotes:

This was a well organised event, run smoothly and was useful to me for networking. Please continue to do what you do best.

speaking about volunteering with other people from different organisations whose experiences are very different is very useful.

This event is so helpful in the way it supports us to find different organisations and groups who can support us moving forward.

Knowing there is so much ‘out there’ for the lonely is rewarding.

Its always useful sharing experiences with people from other organisations.

Its always helpful to realise how many others are out there that could help reduce isolation for our families.

People’s experiences are a really useful way to learn.

A really enjoyable and informative day.

Great conference, excellent programme, and a strong energy in the room. If this is VCSE power, then the future is bright.

Overall:

Most delegates scored the Conference high in terms of overall satisfaction, with most scoring 3 or 4 (4 being the highest score).

Most delegates said they felt more able to identify loneliness in their communities as a direct result of attending the conference, and the majority of delegates felt they could put some plans into immediate action.

Next Steps:

To work through how we can build on the conference for next year, a small random sample of evaluations will be sent in two months time, asking for delegates to look back and see what could have been done differently, and what they might like to see in 2020/2021.  In addition, the Support Cambridgeshire State of the Sector Survey for 2019 (which will be published in July) may provide further clues on topics, issues and challenges around volunteering – so watch out for that.

Photograph: 

Kate in action at Connecting Communities 2019.

More than a Giving Machine

For longer than the term Corporate Social Responsibility (or CSR) has been coined, charities have reached out to businesses for support. But charities can find CSR difficult to access, often being uncertain who in an organisation to contact, knowing if a business is receptive to being approached and the best way to do so, thinking that a business is only interested in publicity for its donation. Businesses too can find it difficult knowing how to deal with so many approaches made to them, not understanding the language that charities use and the hurdles and uncertainties they can go through.  However, when it works, it works well and makes a great difference to both sides and especially to the people the charities are working with.

Coming from a desire to see this work better, have greater intention and impact, and create greater benefit for our communities, Rachel Briant (the Founder of Get Synergised) and Keith Johnson from Hunts Forum (on behalf of Support Cambridgeshire) organised a workshop: Corporate Social Responsibility: More than a Giving Machine.

The title was deliberately chosen to emphasise that often the relationship can be about more than money and can include skills exchange, learning, mutual understanding and respect. The event took place in the boardroom of Barons Cambridge BMW in Cambourne, hosted by Kevin Appleton, their Head of Business.

Sixteen Charitable Organisations and social enterprises from across Cambridgeshire joined three businesses at Barons Cambridge BMW to explore how businesses and charities can engage better together to  impact communities. Sharon Livermore from Kameo Recruitment and Sue Rowley from PwC Cambridge joined Kevin Appleton to facilitate discussion groups exploring key themes. Interest from the charitable sector far exceeded the number of places available.

The workshop aimed to bridge the divide of language and ways of working between business and the charitable sector, helping charities to move beyond the idea of approaching businesses for funds and to explore and enter into dialogue with receptive businesses to develop stronger, meaningful and more sustainable partnerships.

The day saw both sides eager to develop better and stronger relationships whilst learning from each other about the issues each faced. By understanding each other’s positions, needs and intentions better, the workshop was able to break down many of the barriers for both and boost the confidence of charities to approach businesses and for businesses to have greater understanding around the challenges and needs of charitable organisations.

Charities and businesses ended the event wanting to see more opportunities for dialogue and engagement between each other, something that the organisers intend to follow through. Ideas that came from the workshop day include a space for Dragons’ Den style pitching to businesses by charities, informal network gatherings, more dialogue sessions to help each side continue to understand the languages used, the pressures each side is under and the mutual benefits.

Any businesses or charitable organisations interested in taking part in future events should contact either Rachel at Get Synergised, rachel@getsynergised.com or Keith at Hunts Forum, keith@huntsforum.org.uk .

 

 

Reviewing the Community Plan

Wilburton is a small village in East Cambridgeshire which comprises 550 houses (and over 1,000 inhabitants), sitting 6 miles south west of Ely.

It is well known for its fundraising events (The Wilburton Beer Festival and the Wilburton Fireworks Night being prime examples) and has an active Parish Council.

The Parish Council adopted its local Community Led Plan in March 2016. The plan can be viewed here:

Being a Parish Council, Wilburton naturally looked towards Support Cambridgeshire partner Cambridgeshire ACRE for support and advice in refreshing their plan and making it even more fit for purpose.

Cambridgeshire ACRE were happy to help, providing a Good Practice Guidance Document which allows Wilburton Parish Council to take a staged approach to reviewing their plan.

Cambridgeshire ACRE also commented on the draft community survey, with suggestions on how it could be improved. Armed with this, the Council feel they are in an excellent position to obtain better survey data sets and review their plan.

We look forward to seeing it..!!

Commissioning Forum – The view from the North

14 Delegates attended the second Commissioning Forum held at the South Fens Business Centre in Chatteris.

The Forums have been established by Support Cambridgeshire to ensure the right level of dialogue and problem solving exists between the Commissioners of local services, and those organisations that provide projects and activities. The first Commissioning Forum was held in the South of Cambridgeshire in October 2018.

This latest session in the North of Cambridgeshire was facilitated by Julie Farrow and Russell Rolph from lead Support Cambridgeshire partner Hunts Forum, with Fiona Davies representing the Commissioners. A mix of organisations attended, some from Peterborough and some from Cambridgeshire, and whilst their experiences of commissioning were slightly different a common mix of concerns were raised about how commissioning is currently being conducted. Amongst these were:

  • How Commissioning was interpreted and enacted across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, and how different rules appeared to apply depending upon location or Commissioner.
  • What value are Commissioners placing on local organisations, as this appears to require clarity?
  • How is added value being interpreted by the Commissioning Unit, and how do they evaluate contracts already in place?
  • Can the Commissioners provide a timeline of contracts up for revision or re-commissioning as this would help community based organisations in their preparation and possible partnerships with others.

Some of the these questions need to be answered directly by the Commissioning Unit as a whole, and will be sent by Julie Farrow for direct responses.

Feedback from the event was very positive:

It was great to get an update from Cambridgeshire County Council and have an opportunity to talk to other providers.

I enjoyed talking to other voluntary sector organisations and getting a better understanding of what the Commissioning Unit does and is.

I think the delivery of this event was spot – on. It was an opportunity to hear directly from a Commissioner and understand the issues and challenges they face.

I did not know that much about the Commissioning process before I came, so it was fantastic to get an overview of the issues that all parties face.

I loved this event and support the idea of regular get- together’s between the Commissioners and the sector.

Next Steps: 

Whilst it is clear that the Commissioners are working to some pressured financial constraints, the voluntary sector within Cambridgeshire as a whole now needs to respond. Two further forums will be advertised to do exactly that, and will take discussions further hopefully to a fruitful conclusion.

If you wish to book an advanced space for these two events (probably late May or early June) please contact russell@huntsforum.org.uk

The Power of Pro-activity

The Stapleford Village Hall Fund was set up after the sale of Stapleford Village Hall: The decision was taken locally not to build a new village hall and this charity was set up with the proceeds (£15,000) from the sale of the old village hall to the Local Education Authority. The charity may provide financial support to organisations in the area of benefit who apply to them for a grant. This charity came to Support Cambridgeshire partner Cambridgeshire ACRE’s attention after a search on the Charity Commission website which identified organisations are overdue with their annual returns.  Cambridgeshire ACRE contacted the trustees to see if they could offer any support to bring their organisational records up to date.

It was clear from initial telephone conversations and a subsequent meeting that this charity has not been running in accordance with the governing document for some time.

Cambridgeshire ACRE are now working with the charity to get legal advice and support from the Charity Commission. This case is ongoing as the charity trustees now have two options on a route forward.

These are to run the charity in accordance with their governing document and seek an exemption from the annual return as their annual income and expenditure is low OR formally close the charity and distribute the funds with the assistance and permission of the Charity Commission.

Support Cambridgeshire partners pride themselves on a level of pro-activity. Stapleford Village Hall would never have come into contact with the support and advice offer provided to Village Halls if Cambridgeshire ACRE had not reviewed the Charity Commission website to remind Village Hall charities to complete their annual returns.

If you require any information, support or advice as a Village Hall Trustee then please contact Lisa.Chambers@Cambsacre.org.uk.

Village Hall Trustees can attend any Support Cambridgeshire training or networking event free of charge (of which there are 22 in each year).

For more information visit our Training and Events page on the Support Cambridgeshire website.

Return of the Portal

Support Cambridgeshire 4 Communities (our self-funding Portal) has just helped Magpas Air Ambulance achieve £20,000 pounds worth of Funding from the Postcode Community Trust.

This will enable Magpas Air Ambulance to deliver their brand new training ‘Hearts Matter: Community CPR’.

There are approximately 30,000 out of hospital cardiac arrests attended to by medical professionals every year, of which only 40% of victims receive bystander CPR. For each minute that goes by without defibrillation, the chances of surviving an out of hospital cardiac arrest decreases by 10%. The current survival rate of cardiac arrests in the UK is 7-8%.

Recognising a cardiac arrest, calling 999 and administering CPR are crucial elements of the chain of survival. Bystander CPR has been shown to double a person’s chances of survival, while defibrillation within 3-5 minutes can increase survival rates to 50% – 70%.

Magpas Air Ambulance believe hearts matter, and the charity wants everyone to have the confidence and knowledge to intervene when someone is suffering a cardiac arrest, to provide them with CPR and to deploy a defibrillator in the vital minutes before the emergency services arrive.

To make this reality, with the help of the incredible grant from the Postcode Community Trust, they are launching their own community training session. Hearts Matter: Community CPR is available to schools, businesses and community groups across Cambridgeshire and Bedfordshire – for free.

To find out more, or book a session, email heartsmatter@magpas.org.uk  

Magpas Air Ambulance are looking to train over 1,000 individuals by January 2020.

A bit more about Magpas:

Magpas Air Ambulance is a charity which brings crucial lifesaving care by land and air to patients in life-threatening emergencies in the East of England and beyond, 24/7. Based in Cambridgeshire, Magpas have treated over 60,000 patients in the last 48 years and rely on generous donations from the public to continue saving lives.

The oldest emergency medical charity of its kind in the UK, Magpas Air Ambulance started life as a voluntary service in 1971 when two GPs took action to help victims of road accidents. Now, the Magpas Air Ambulance specialist medical team can offer procedures and treatments at the scene, like general anaesthetic, which are usually only available in hospital. This means the frontline care the team delivers doesn’t just save lives, it helps seriously ill and injured people return to a good quality of life.

In 2018, Magpas responded to 1,512 emergency calls, flew for 330 hours in total, performed 91 surgical procedures at the scene of life-threatening emergencies and brought critical care to 80 children.

Their website can be seen here: www.magpas.org.uk

A bit more about Support Cambridgeshire 4 Communities:

The self – funding portal sits at https://www.idoxopen4community.co.uk/supportcambs

Organisations can register and search for available funds, for Free and for an unlimited period. The portal holds 2,400 funds it total which are regularly updated and includes National, Regional and Local funding opportunities. Over 77,000 has been raised from organisations using the portal to date.

Sarah Green of Magpas said:

I always look through the funding alerts we receive from Support Cambridgeshire, and regularly check the self-funding portal. This fund was a match made in heaven, and I would advise any organisation to regularly trawl and browse the site as you never know what funds are available.

Ramshed – A Place of Innovation

Support Cambridgeshire partner Hunts Forum recently had the good fortune to visit and meet the inspirational members of Ramshed in Bury.

Ramshed is celebrating its second anniversary on the 17th April 2019.

Ramshed is a little different from many of the ‘Sheds’ in the Men Sheds movement because they are not a Men only Shed. From its inception Ramshed has been a shed for both men and women.

John, one of the founding members, explained to Hunts Forum how the Men Shed national organisation (Men’s  Shed Association UK) had been a great help and support in getting Ramshed established and had made the process relatively easy. The hardest part was the hiatus between setting up Ramshed and finding a space to meet. Fortunately, members had good local contacts and it was through these that the space they now use was found.

In the two years since forming they have been very active in the local community re-purposing two old phone boxes, refurbishing three village noticeboards, making an Oak Memorial bench, refurbishing parts of a sensory garden, and undertaking many personal projects in the meantime.

An amazing project that they undertook last year was creating the Ramsey Ram that now sits on the traffic island near to Tesco in Ramsey. Apparently, the Ram now has its own Facebook page.

On the day Hunts Forum arrived and stepped into the relaxed and friendly atmosphere, people were busy transforming old donated tools into lamps. The room was full of old pieces of wood, electrical wiring, tools and electrical equipment (lathes, drills and saws). Members happily help and teach each other to use the different pieces of equipment all of which had been donated.  It was simply your typical workshop.

Seeing an old hand-drill being transformed into a vibrant, shiny new and novel lamp seemed almost a too perfect metaphor for Ramshed.

A little later John displayed some more of the old tools that are donated to them. Gesturing at the mix of tools, John smiled and said this is a museum, we are not.

The men and women of Ramshed are eager to use the latest equipment, with no room for nostalgia for tools they were happy to see the back of in their working lives. These are people eager for the latest technology and with big plans if they can get their hands on some.  There was a lot of talk about lasers during our visit. Their enthusiasm for cutting-edge technology stood in stark contrast to the usual old trope of the older generation being technophobes.  Perhaps those who concentrate on helping people in their third age embrace technology should stop for a moment and consider if they are approaching the issue from the correct perspective.

In the small tea area, the tables are strewn with Catalogues (Screwfix, Tool Station, QVS, Electric Fix and others). It’s a paper repository of ambition and desire.

For many of us John explained this gets us up in the morning. It’s not just about having something to do, it’s talking with people- more than that, it’s the banter, the friendly mockery (the original phrase has been edited) that makes this so worthwhile. We do it for us and to be able to give something back to the community.

Sheds such as Ramshed demonstrate a very positive way of reducing unwanted social isolation in retirement. The members of Ramshed each have their own reason for being there and not all feel or have ever felt isolated, but to all the members the shed is a very important part of their lives. John had a great way of putting it: Being isolated doesn’t mean you don’t know how to make friends, it just means that something  has happened in our lives that has caused us to be isolated for a while: Places like Ramshed simply help bridge the social gap.

Hunts Forum would like to thank John, Chris and Richard for making us so welcome, showing us around and taking the time to tell us all about RamShed.

If you would like to know more and/or can help the inspiring people at Ramshed please contact them at ramshed.pe26@gmail.com

For more information about setting up a Men Shed visit  https://menssheds.org.uk/

For information about possible funding from Cambridge County Council’s Innovate and Cultivate Fund go to https://www.cambscf.org.uk/icf.html

Its a One stop shop

The work of Support Cambridgeshire partner Cambridge CVS ( or CCVS for short) is about far more than giving groups the confidence and skills to flourish or providing training. One of their key roles is to bring people together, and one of the most popular types is when they introduce groups to funders.

CCVS runs events throughout the year in various locations across the county creating opportunities for groups to meet with potential funders.

One of their regular events put three very different groups in contact with a well-known high street name.

The funder:

John Lewis & Partners shops run a charitable giving scheme called Community Matters located in their shops’ restaurants. Over the last year CCVS has developed increasingly close ties with Christine Shaw, community liaison coordinator at the John Lewis and Partners shop in Cambridge. CCVS has invited Christine to participate in events with other funders across the county. The funders we work with not only donate funds, but are hugely generous with their time coming out to venues across the region both daytime and evening.

As a result of one of these events two of their members, Steel Bones and the Cambridge Hard of Hearing Club have been selected for the funding scheme. As Christine explains,

I had a fantastic chance meeting with CCVS at a volunteers’ week event last year and we have worked together ever since to get the word out to local groups that John Lewis and Partners have funds and skills that we want to use to help our local communities. CCVS have created the opportunity for us to meet groups we didn’t know existed and who knew nothing about what we had to offer. As a result of the CCVS ‘Meeting the funders’ event in December I’ve identified 3 groups: Steel Bones, Cambridge Hard of Hearing Club and Cornerstone to feature in our Community Matters Scheme in our Cambridge store.

Every three months we select three community groups who will be awarded a share of £3000, the percentage received is dependent on the number of tokens each group is awarded by customers. In addition to the token scheme I’m in discussion with the groups to see how else our partners can get involved to help.”

Cambridge Hard of Hearing Club:

The Club is a well-established community group for people with hearing loss. The group arranges speech to text facilities so that the members can read dialogue on a big screen in real time and take part in live talks and debates, something their hearing impairment normally prevents. Hearing Club members are mostly people whose hearing has become impaired in later life so that they are unable to lip read or understand sign language and can struggle with hearing aids. Hearing loss can be hugely isolating and can impact on people’s mental well-being.

Club chair Peter Teich said:

We heard about the Meeting the funders event through the monthly newsletter we receive from CCVS and they suggested I talk to John Lewis. I filled in the Community Matters form immediately and we’re now participating in their scheme this February to April. The funding will go a long way to paying for the equipment we need and will make a huge difference to our members.

Steel Bones:

Steel Bones is a more recently established charity set up to support individuals and their families across the region and beyond, who have become amputees in a non-military context. Steel Bones provides one to one advice, social events, signposting, and lobbies on behalf of families who are often left traumatised by their experiences. They help families address a sense of isolation and the emotional and economic hardship that can follow this life changing event.

 Emma Joy-Staines Co-Founder of Steel Bones:

CCVS enable the smallest of charities, like ourselves to feel confident in approaching the big name funders thorough their training and one to one support. CCVS made sure I felt confident to attend their Funders event and was ready to ask the right questions to help us get the best support.

We met several funders at the event including John Lewis, who are offering funding through their Community Matters scheme. John Lewis are also looking to collaborate with us on a styling event for our amputees and their families which will boost our families’ morale and self-esteem no end and there are a number of other ideas in the pipeline. It simply would not have been possible without CCVS.

CCVS have been hugely helpful supporting us with our funding strategy in general and with their support we made applications to several other funders, fingers crossed!”

Cornerstone Pregnancy Advice Centre:

Cornerstone Pregnancy Advice Centre offer support to women in Huntingdonshire facing unplanned pregnancies to give them the time, space and non-directive information so they can fully informed choices. Cornerstone offer on-going support whatever decision women make. The women Cornerstone support are often anxious, distressed and confused and the charity works to offer support to find the right outcome for them.

Helen Turley Centre Manager said:

Thanks to CCVS we able to build a relationship with John Lewis which will make a real difference to the women we work with. As well as the Community Matters Scheme John Lewis are looking to support us with other fundraising events later in the year.”

The complete package of support:

CCVS know how difficult it can be to make the right connections, and how crucial this can be. The old adage “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know” is true in all forms of fundraising.

CCVS and other partners under the Support Cambridgeshire umbrella run events that enable funders and groups to meet up, to speak together in person, and to better understand one another.

Its a form of One stop shop.

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.

Testimony:

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.

Testimony:

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.

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