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.”


The Power of a Time-bank

Time-banks are a way of bringing people and communities together.

Time-bank members give their time, skill or knowledge to others, and in return receive something they need or want.

No money changes hands – and with it people meet people and form new bonds.

If you have ever doubted the power of a Time-bank take a look at this story: It’s the story of Mary and Carla.

Mary got in touch with her local Time-bank to ask if they could arrange a visitor to spend time with her mother Sue.  Sue has dementia, she forgets what has been said, and so she repeats questions and statements frequently. She has mobility problems and spends much of her time sitting in her chair, and rarely leaves the house.

She has carers to help with washing and dressing. Her husband and her daughter care for her the rest of the time but she was getting lonely when her daughter and husband were working and she wanted someone to talk to.

Enter Carla:

Carla has been visiting Sue for an hour once every 2 weeks since October for a chat. Sue is very happy to see Carla and welcomes her in her native Arabic and says ‘you are the light of my eyes’. Mary is pleased that her mother is having company and variety in her routine. Sue remembers Carla’s name and that she is Hungarian. They talk about Sue’s children and grandchildren, music and how she used to teach, important therapy for someone who lives with dementia.

Carla states:

Working with the Time-bank in order to help people who genuinely need support, is one of the most enjoyable things I can imagine spending my free time with. Visiting Sue for just a bit of chit chat lights up her day and that lights up mine. I’m fortunate to have a community that is engaged with such a compassionate volunteer base.

Cambridgeshire has a vibrant Time-banking network. For more information on Time-banking, how it works and what’s involved click here:

Time-banks rely on the goodwill of people, organisations and communities to work. Click here to find out how you can help.

Railways are living memories, even model railways

According to evidence from The Alzheimer’s Society, over 800,000 people currently live with Dementia in the UK.

Triggering previous experiences is seen as an important way of connecting and engaging with those who have the condition.

With that in mind, let’s take you to March in Cambridgeshire…..

March has always been a railway town. The March and Railway Model Club hit on an idea of connecting model railways to the topical and ever present issue of Dementia.

The club have been thinking about model railways, layouts, trains and wagons as more than just that: After seeing an article in a national model railway magazine they decided they wanted to explore the possibility of running a project directly aimed at helping people who live with dementia.

The idea was simple: using a portable railway layout could they trigger important past memories in Dementia sufferers, and as a result improve their engagement and well-being.

They approached Support Cambridgeshire partner Cambridge CVS to help with creating a proposal that:

  • Evidenced the need.
  • Set out the objectives.
  • Described the outcomes.
  • Obtained funding.

The club had already received support from three model making companies who donated models, and a national model railway magazine who wanted to publish an article about the project. The club recognised the importance of working in partnership with others and they had already developed links with the Dementia Café in Wisbech run by Alzheimer’s Society and PHAB Wisbech.

Cambridge CVS helped the club obtain funding from sources, including the Healthy Fenland Fund and with this the club began to build their larger mobile layout.

After a successful first session at a Dementia Cafe, one Dementia carer said that she was now buying a model railway set for her husband as she has not seen him so animated and engaged for ages.

And interest in the club’s activities is growing. A group of Care Homes are now seeking the support of the club.

But with success comes pressure: The club is only small and in need of more members.

Take a look at their web-site:




Bryony’s journey

Social action is a term often used by professionals. You see it in contracts, on project management plans and in funding applications.

But social action is about real people in real communities taking advantage of what’s on offer and using it to do good stuff (in all its forms) within their community.

Let’s talk about Bryony.

Bryony is 27 years of age, has 2 children (aged 4 and 2) and lives in Huntingdon, where she has resided for the past 5 years. Bryony is an accountant by trade, but has a number of long term health conditions, which makes any form of future planning difficult. Despite this, she joined her local Parents Forum and is passionate about local services, particularly the Children’s Centre which supported her through a very difficult part of her life.

If anything, social action is about people talking to people, it’s about the power of networking and partnership forming: The more that Bryony spoke to people the more she became convinced that in some way she could help her local community. The community organisation, Huntingdon Community Action was a perfect foil, and Bryony started to attend the Quest for Funding sessions, an innovative approach between the Children’s Centre and Support Cambridgeshire around local volunteers applying for funding to sustain important community initiatives.

Bryony readily admits that at the very first session she was anxious, concerned and felt there was very little she could offer. But with regularity comes confidence, and through the next 2 Quest for Funding sessions Bryony felt empowered to take the lead and form a group looking at potentially larger funds to sustain existing projects. Bryony recognises that on-going support is crucial, particularly whilst volunteers develop their skills and knowledge, and this is amply provided by both Support Cambridgeshire and the Children’s Centre staff.

So where is Bryony now: Working hard to find funds which can help her local community: Giving something back. Bryony has also become a Treasurer for a small local community organisation, adding to her growing levels of confidence.

Bryony states:

Without aiming for it, I have started on a journey which is giving me both confidence and skills. I feel like I can give something back to help others. Without our local services, mums like me would have no- where to go.

The support and advice I have received to date has been really helpful. Here’s to the next Quest for Funding Session.

Enough said………..


Is there anything wrong with this page?

Help us improve our website