Improving the NHS for people with autism and learning disabilities

Healthwatch Cambridgeshire and Peterborough has produced an Easy Read version of its report  on what people think about local NHS services.

People with autism and learning disabilities say they need much more support and help to live full, healthy and productive lives, reveals a new report from Healthwatch.

Healthwatch asked people in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, including those with autism and learning disabilities, how they would spend extra money on the NHS to improve services. And the findings in the What would you do? report published a few weeks ago, highlight problems ranging from getting a diagnosis, treatment and support to not enough appropriate services and problems accessing services that are there – particularly mental health.

People with autism and learning disabilities told Healthwatch they would like:

  • Care from familiar nurses and GPs
  • Services and care closer to home
  • Better communication
  • Easy-to-understand information using simple words and pictures

One carer, in their late 60s, said: “There is no other help at all. Nothing proactive. Need to fight, remind, explain all the time. We three feel utterly abandoned now.”

Another carer said her sons had amazing minds and if they had support to deal with anxiety and sensory difficulties they could “maybe live productive lives.”

Give your views

Like to give your views or need information about local NHS services? Healthwatch, the independent champion for people using health and social care services, wants to hear from you.

Get in touch via the website, call on 0330 355 1285 (local call number) or email

Read more

Read the full What would you do? report

Read our Easy Read version of the main findings

Read a summary of the report


State of the Sector Survey 2019

Support Cambridgeshire’s annual State of the Sector Survey for 2019 is now available to view here.

The survey informs infrastructure organisations such as Support Cambridgeshire, local authorities, funders and others of the challenges, trends and patterns taking place across the voluntary sector in Cambridgeshire.

So, what are the headlines for 2019?

  • A lack of funding is a major concern for voluntary organisations of all sizes, closely followed by the ability to recruit volunteers.
  • Most of the groups we work with are small, with 50% having a turnover of less than £50,000 and 66% with five or fewer staff.
  • There is an appetite for training in project development and management and strategic planning.
  • There is an appetite for networking opportunities, particularly in groups of people working in a similar field.
  • 89% of respondents feel it is important or very important that Support Cambridgeshire is there to represent the sector.

The full report can be viewed here.

Zero Carbon Communities Grant from South Cambs District Council

What is the Zero Carbon Communities Grant?

The Zero Carbon Communities Grant supports voluntary and community sector groups, charities and parish councils seeking to deliver bold, ambitious projects that engage communities and support the aim of zero carbon emissions by 2050.

If you are interested in applying please come to a networking and information event on Wednesday 4 September from 6pm to 8pm in the Council Chamber at South Cambs Hall.

Applications are invited for grants of between £1,000 and £15,000 for projects which are intended to achieve:

  • community engagement around climate change and the environment, and
  • one or more of the following:
    • reduction in carbon emissions
    • reduction in energy use
    • generation of renewable energy or heat
    • promotion of sustainable travel
    • reduction in use of resources
    • increased recycling and/or waste reduction

Grant funding can be used for capital items and/or for project costs including staff time.

Applications will be assessed according to the following headings:

  • The extent proposals align with the aims of the scheme as listed above
  • Value for money
  • The extent to which organisational capacity, resources and timescales for the delivery of proposals are considered realistic
  • How bold, ambitious and imaginative the proposal is

We wish to encourage communities of all sizes and levels of experience in running community projects to apply for these grants.  Where a proposal would benefit an area of the district not otherwise reached, this will also be taken into account.

The Zero Carbon Communities Grant will open for applications on Monday 05 August 2019.

The application deadline is 5pm on Thursday 31 October 2019.


Match funding

There is no requirement that proposals are match funded.  However, if, as expected, the fund is oversubscribed, proposals with match or top-up funding from other sources will be looked at favourably.  Match funding can be of monetary and/or in-kind value.

Who can apply?

Applicants must:

  • Be a non-profit group or organisation based in South Cambridgeshire or benefiting South Cambridgeshire residents, OR a South Cambridgeshire parish council.

Applications from partnerships are encouraged provided that the lead applicant is an eligible organisation as listed above.  Partnerships could include parish councils, informal and constituted groups, established voluntary sector organisations, schools, local businesses and/or community interest companies.

Where a proposal anticipates financial savings or income, the applicant will need to show this will be for the benefit of the community.

  • Have a written constitution or mission statement
  • Have an elected committee or representative steering group
  • Have a bank account
  • Be able to provide an up to date copy of their accounts and any relevant protection policies.   Parish councils can signpost us to relevant online documentation and do not need to submit hard copies.

If you have questions about these requirements please contact us on or 01954 713070

If your organisation does not have a written constitution, mission statement and/or relevant protection policies please contact Cambridge Council for Voluntary Service for advice in meeting these requirements.  Please call 01223 464696 or email


Examples of what can be funded

  • Community initiatives and events that promote sustainable lifestyle choices For example, circular economy (A circular economy is an alternative to a traditional linear economy (make, use, dispose) in which we keep resources in use for as long as possible, extract the maximum value from them whilst in use, then recover and regenerate products and materials at the end of each service life. Initiatives such as repair cafes, sustainable fashion and food projects, waste reduction and community allotments.)
  • Energy saving improvements to community buildings For example external wall insulation, cavity wall insulation, loft/roof insulation, secondary glazing, replacement windows/doors, replacement energy efficient lighting, replacement energy efficient boiler/ heating system, battery storage for solar panel or other low carbon energy generation measures. Buildings could include village halls, scout huts, libraries, shops, social clubs, leisure centres, schools or church buildings, so long as they are available for use by the wider community.
  • Community energy projects such as solar arrays or community wind turbines or community hydroelectric projects, which provide economic and social benefits to the community. Applicants for funding such projects will be expected to have explored the possibility of funding through the Rural Community Energy Fund which provides support of up to £40,000 for feasibility studies for a renewable energy project. Applications for funding to cover development costs not covered through this scheme are welcome.
  • Electric vehicle charging points for community use For example installation of an electric car charging point in a village hall car park, tourist destination or area that attracts lots of visitors. Applicants for funding for EV charging points are asked to contact before submitting their application as it may be possible to secure up to £7,500 of government funding through OLEV towards their project.
  • Purchase of electric vehicle for community use For example community car club schemes, transport for disabled people, community minibuses, electric bike hire.
  • Community tree planting for absorption of carbon and increasing biodiversity Applicants for funding such projects will be expected to have explored the possibility of funding through the  who contribute up to 75% of the costs if you plant the trees yourself.
  • Projects that tackle fuel poverty For example providing advice and guidance
  • Cycling infrastructure For example improvement of existing cycle paths or installation of cycle racks. Other examples could include projects to raise awareness of local cycle routes, refurbish old bikes for re-sale, provide specialist bikes for use by disabled people, provide bike maintenance sessions for young people or set up a cycling club to encourage older people to take up cycling.


All proposals must demonstrate an element of community engagement.  This could include community participation in decision making or information sharing.

This list is not exhaustive.  Applications are encouraged for projects not listed which meet the criteria.


What cannot be funded?

Grant funding cannot be awarded for/to:

  • Renewable energy installations where it is intended to claim Renewable Heat Incentive payments or any other payments where the use of public grants renders the installation ineligible for such payments.
  • Projects that replace funding by other public sector bodies (although it can be used to top up funding from other public sector bodies) For example, projects or services that would otherwise be provided by other public sector bodies
  • Items that would only benefit individuals rather than community groups
  • Kitchen appliances such as cookers and fridges (these may be fundable through the Community Chest)


How much can be applied for?

Applications are invited for a minimum of £1,000 and up to £15,000 per organisation.


When can groups apply?

Applications for Zero Carbon Communities Grant will be open 5 August 2019 until 5pm 31 October 2019.


What supporting documentation is required?

  • A copy of your organisation’s constitution or mission statement (except parish councils)
  • A copy of your latest accounts (audited if available)
  • A quote for the project


In addition, the following will be required if relevant to the project:

  • Public Rights of Way consent from landowner
  • A copy of your organisation’s Safeguarding policy (see
  • Any other material you feel would support this application (this may include a professional energy survey or audit if you have had one completed).


How will the grant be paid?

A funding agreement will be prepared for all successful applicants. This will include arrangements for payment of the grant, staged where appropriate.


Please click here for more information and to apply.

Innovate and Cultivate Funding – new rounds

Cambridgeshire County Council is pleased to announce that the next deadline for Innovate & Cultivate Fund applications is 1st November. 2019.

A pre-application advice session will be held on 19th September  2019 – and details are provided below.

The aim of the fund is to support initiatives that strengthen Cambridgeshire communities and reduce pressure on County Council services, thereby giving a return on investment.

Council services that are inviting applications are adult social care and children & families services. 

The fund is open to voluntary, community and social enterprise sector organisations based in and outside of Cambridgeshire, and public sector organisations in Cambridgeshire.

There are two funding streams: a ‘Cultivate’ fund for smaller projects that build community support networks and an ‘Innovate’ fund for bigger, bolder and more innovative initiatives.

New Cultivate ‘Seed’ Fund Projects

The County has developed guidance on starting Cultivate Seed Fund Projects that can help people to remain independent and active within their community, encourage volunteering and complement more costly Council services.  Projects include Time-banks, Good Neighbour Schemes, Dementia-Friendly Communities and Men’s Sheds.

See their webpages for details.

Quarterly application deadlines

1st November 2019 – Cultivate grants only (£2,000 – £19,000)

1st February 2020 – Cultivate grants (£2,000 – £19,000) and Innovate grants (£19,001 – £50,000)

1st May 2020 – Cultivate grants only (£2,000 – £19,000)

Pre-application advice session

If you want to talk through your ideas before you submit your application, bookings are now open for their Innovate & Cultivate Fund Advice Session on Thursday 19 September 2019 between 9:30am and 12:30pm at Ely Community Centre (also known as Larkfield Day Centre). Please book here.

Applications and further information about fund priorities and criteria may be found on the website.

Cambridgeshire Community Foundation can answer questions about applying for the Fund

Its Very Hot..!!

The Met Office have today issued a Level 3 Heat wave warning across Cambridgeshire.

The warning will stay in place until the 27th July 2019.  Temperatures are predicted to remain over 30 degrees over the next few days, with warm and humid conditions expected to continue overnight. Hot weather can be uncomfortable for most people. However for the old, very young and those with an ongoing health condition it can have very negative effect upon their health. There some key actions people can take to reduce the ill effects of very hot weather.

If you know or work with these and any other vulnerable people who may be at risk of becoming unwell in high temperatures please check on them and take action to lessen the effects of the heat.

Here are some practical tips on how to stay cool:

Shade or cover windows that are exposed to direct sunlight during the day, and open windows at night when the temperature has dropped.
Drink plenty of water as sugary, alcoholic and caffeinated drinks, including tea and coffee can make you more dehydrated.
Make sure you take water with you if you are travelling. If you are working or going outdoors during the heatwave make sure you are protected with sun screen.
Walk in the shade if possible.
Never leave anyone in a closed, parked vehicle, especially infants, young children or animals.
Try to avoid the sun between 11am and 3pm.
Avoid physical exertion in the hottest parts of the day.
Wear light, loose fitting cotton clothes.

For more information visit

Cinnamon Micro – Grants

Cinnnamon invites churches in Cambridgeshire to participate in an exciting pilot partnership with either Cambridgeshire County Council  or Cambridgeshire Police in which targeted social action projects will be established  in high-need, low-capacity communities.

Cinnamon believe that churches are well placed to offer support for those most likely to be impacted by the reduced budgets of local authorities around the country. 

In this exciting new partnership with Cambridgeshire County Council and Cambridgeshire Police, local churches will have the opportunity to reduce demand on services by making a lasting difference in the lives of the vulnerable and marginalised. 

Participating churches will receive: 

Depending on the project selected and the location, participating churches will be partnered with either Cambridgeshire County Council or Cambridgeshire Police.

Cinnamon regional advisor Nick Amis, will contact any interested parties with further information. 

Following the learning from this pilot, Cinnamon seeks to help churches partner with local authorities and police forces throughout the UK, to change lives and transform communities. 

This grant round runs from 1 April to the 31st May and the next round will follow on 3rd June to the 31st July.

For more information or to contact Cinnamon click here:

Cambridgeshire Local Councils Peer Learning Event

On 3 July, the annual Rural Affordable Mythbuster Tour took place and 19 local council representatives joined Cambridgeshire ACRE staff, District and County Council officers and representatives from several Housing Associations to learn more about the provision of affordable homes for local people on rural exception sites. The tour started and concluded at Bluntisham Village Hall and took in sites at Colne, Earith, Willingham and Swavesey. The tour allowed local councillors to see for themselves how small housing developments that provide vital housing for local people in perpetuity (i.e. they cannot be sold off for private housing) can be incorporated into a rural village without affecting its character and allowed them to share experiences regarding provision of housing in their parishes with each other. Feedback from the tour was excellent with people calling it ‘enlightening’ and ‘inspiring’ and noting their pleasant surprise at the high quality of the homes built.

For anyone unable to attend the tour, please click here for a copy of the tour programme that supplies interesting information on each site. If any local council would like to learn more or be interested in talking to Cambridgeshire ACRE regarding rural affordable housing, please contact our Housing, Planning and Economic Development Officer Mark Deas, on 01353 865035.

Further peer learning events are planned for the Autumn. Please look out for details on the Support Cambridgeshire website.

Have your say on the future of March, Chatteris and Whittlesey

The Growing Fenland project has produced draft masterplans for March, Whittlesey and Chatteris, which aim to bring jobs, infrastructure and growth to each of the towns.

These masterplans set out a long-term vision for each place and a set of ideas for making that vision a reality. Now is the time for residents to have their say. You can read the document for each town, have your say on which ideas are the best and what else should be included in them via the links on the Fenland District Council website. The consultation finishes on 26 July.

A masterplan for Wisbech is also being developed and will be consulted on as part of the I Heart Wisbech project. An over-arching strategy document is also being developed by Fenland District Council and local partners. The strategy document will address the wider issues that are common to towns and villages across Fenland.

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: 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.


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.


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.


Kate in action at Connecting Communities 2019.

Cambridgeshire Local Lottery

Cambridgeshire Local Lottery is launching in Autumn 2019.

In March 2018 Cambridgeshire County Council councillors approved plans to launch a local lottery, where 60p in every £1 spent will go to local good causes (more info here). After various consultation events, the team is gearing up to launch the lottery to local organisations with an event on 24 July, 7-9pm in the Kreis Viersen Room, Shire Hall, Cambridge CB3 0AP.

The event will provide an opportunity for local community groups to find out more about becoming a member of the lottery and to either register on the day or take away information to register later. If you are interested in attending the event or would like more information on the Cambridgeshire Local Lottery please email The official website ( will be open to local groups to register from 24 July. Tickets can be brought from 3 September and the first draw will take place on 12 October.

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