Annual State of the Sector Survey 2018

The Annual State of the Sector Survey for 2018 is now available to view.

The survey informs infrastructure organisations like Support Cambridgeshire of the challenges, trends and patterns taking place across the voluntary sector in Cambridgeshire.

So, what are the headlines from 2018?

  • The voluntary sector is generally thriving, with many confident about their funding for the future.
  • The sector is still relatively small in terms of annual turnover (per Annum).
  • Whilst Statutory Grants are still vital, many organisations are diversifying their income portfolio, raising finance from individual donors or through event fundraising.
  • Support Cambridgeshire representation is highly valued, and provides a voice for the sector as a whole.
  • Organisations wish to assist in producing and defining County priorities, but engagement with statutory stakeholders ranges from good to not good at all.
  • Survey respondents welcomed the opportunity to partake in a new CEO network and a Commissioning Forum.

The full report can be viewed here:


Local Infrastructure and Civil Society

This week saw the launch of the Government’s highly anticipated Civil Society Strategy: Building a Future that Works for Everyone. Support Cambridgeshire contributed to the consultation in two ways; as part of a regional focus group and separately with our own comments.

Encouragingly the strategy made explicit reference to the importance of local infrastructure so we are naturally delighted. It also referenced a renewed commitment to Compact and the principles of partnership working all of which is positive.

Below is a selection of some of the Strategy’s key take-outs with relevance to local infrastructure.

Strengthening local infrastructure:

  • The strategy makes explicit reference to the important role of local infrastructure in strengthening civil society by supporting and representing VCSE groups.  We are pleased to see clear acknowledgement from Government that operational and strategic support (such as networking, information and advice, knowledge and skills and collaboration) is as vital to the survival of VCSE organisations as they are to commercial business. (Page 77).
  • We are also pleased to see that the Strategy sets out a clear commitment by Government to strengthen and increase work in partnership with the VCSE sector, and it’s very encouraging that now Government proposes to renew the principles of the VCSE Compact (Page 16) which suggests commitment to increased joint-working with our sector on policy and programme design.
  • Declining resources have had a long-term, detrimental effect on infrastructure support. Whilst the Strategy does not make overt reference to the financial landscape that local infrastructure has had to endure, it does express a commitment to developing a sector-led approach to further strengthening infrastructure support. (Page 77 – 78).  Interestingly, whilst government makes a clear commitment to engage with our sector, details on where practical and financial resources will come from are missing.

Community- led initiatives, inclusive communities and place based social action:

The strategy sets out an intention to give people more control over the future of the communities they live in, with user-led, community-led services becoming more commonplace in the future.  It also outlines plans to reduce social, financial and digital exclusion Some of the key community led and ideas for place-based social action outlined in the strategy include:

  • An intention to fund training for 3,500 Community Organisers by 2020 (Page 36) and a commitment to reducing financial exclusion, working with the Big Lottery Fund to use £55 million from dormant accounts to fund a new, independent organisation which will work with partners across the private and VCSE (Page 16).   Plans to explore he potential of technology to address complex social issues such as rough sleeping, digital inclusion and healthy ageing are also mentioned.

Supporting Young People:

Key initiatives designed to support young people and strengthen their engagement in civil society include:

  • A plan for government to work with the Big Lottery Fund to use a £90m funding pot for the creation of a new body to provide support to young people with multiple barriers to employment.  Funding for the scheme will be sourced from dormant bank accounts. Alongside this, government pledges around 650,000 new opportunities for young people to get become active on local issues they care about (e.g. environmental action, education, health, loneliness, and sport).  This initiative is being created though the #iwill Fund, supported by the government and Big Lottery Fund alongside 20 new match-funding partners.  (Page 43)

Funding, Commissioning & Contracts:

In our parent organisations response to the Strategy Consultation, NAVCA set out the urgent need for improvements to public sector commissioning.  Government has pledged to address these in the strategy:

  • In our submission to Government, we outlined the need for sustainable, accessible, and diversified funding sources for VCSE organisations and we highlighted the essential role of grant funding.  The Government outlines a planned revival of grant-making, through “Grants 2.0” and the introduction of the Grants Functional Standard to support this, which will set out minimum grant standards for general grants (Page 111 – 112).
  • Using the Crown Representative for the VCSE sector to run an awareness campaign to encourage use of Contracts Finder and Mystery Shopper services to improve engagement in the commissioning and co-design, and to hold statutory organisations to account for poor practice in commissioning and contracting. Government also proposes to explore the flexibilities in contract law (to reserve some competitions to other social purpose vehicles, and an intention to strengthen the Social Value Act is also included (Page 112 – 115)
  • The strategy sets out Government’s intention to encourage collaborative commissioning; a framework for future for joint working across sectors and with communities improve the way that services are funded, created and delivered. Government announces it aims to do this by encouraging the national roll-out of Citizen Commissioners, where local people will be given support to make commissioning decisions on behalf of their communities. It also briefly mentions plans to include civil society representation on the Cabinet Office’s Strategic Supplier Group for public sector commissioning, as well as plans to explore how to support social and community-led organisations to form mutuals to deliver public services.  (Page 105 – 107)
  • Notably, and worrying there is no detail in the strategy of what Government will do to protect VCSE providers and local communities in the face of system failure (as seen recently in Northamptonshire, where financial and management failures by the County Council have led to the immediate withdrawal of agreed contracts resulting in the loss of local infrastructure support for the VCSE sector and huge risk to the viability, the VCSE organisations, local communities and civil society at large).

You can read and download the full Civil Society Strategy on the Government’s Gov.UK website.

Support Cambridgeshire will be using basis of the report at the launch the new Commissioning Forum which aims to break down barriers between Commissioning Unit and VCSE.


2018 Local Council Conference

We are pleased to announce that the 2018 Conference for Cambridgeshire Local Councils will be taking place on Friday 23 November 2018 in Huntingdon (at the Marriott Hotel, Kingfisher Way PE29 6FL).

Based on last year’s feedback, and thanks to sponsorship from the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority and Cambridgeshire County Council, this will now be a full day event from 9.30am to 3.45pm including lunch and opportunities for networking with other attendees. There will also be a marketplace of stalls offering useful information and services to local councils.

The full programme for the event has yet to be finalised but we wanted to give as much notice of the date as possible so that all local councils in Cambridgeshire have a chance to consider sending one or more representatives along.

More details on the programme will be released as it takes shape but we are pleased that the Mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, James Palmer, will be joining us to talk about his ambitions for our rural villages and market towns.

This event will be useful to Councillors and Clerks from local councils, District and County Councillors and representatives from organisations that work with and support local councils across Cambridgeshire. Bookings are now open.

How to book

To book a place or places, please go to: and input your details.

Bookings should be made by Friday 9 November 2018. Joining instructions will be sent to all delegates one week prior to the event.

Who is organising this conference?

This event is being organised by Support Cambridgeshire Partner Cambridgeshire ACRE in association with the Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Association of Local Councils, the Society of Local Council Clerks Cambridgeshire branch, the County’s District Councils, Cambridgeshire County Council and the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority.

Cambridgeshire ACRE are working together to deliver this conference as part of our continued commitment to building a stronger dialogue between all levels of local government.

Any enquiries should be addressed to Alison Brown at Cambridgeshire ACRE on 01353 865029 or




Community First consultation

Cambridgeshire and Peterborough CCG has today launched the ‘Community First’ consultation on proposed changes to the provision of inpatient beds for people with a learning disability in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough.

People with a learning disability and/or autism have the right to the same opportunities as anyone else; to live satisfying and varied lives and to be treated with dignity and respect.

Like everyone else, people with a learning disability and/or autism should be able to expect to live in their own home or another place of care within their local community, to develop and maintain positive relationships, and to receive the support they need to be healthy, safe, and an active part in society.

The CCG’s aim is that hospital admissions for people with a learning disability should be a last resort, of high quality, integrated with community services, and focus on people’s recovery so that they can be discharged back to the community in a timely way.

To do this they are planning to redesign inpatient services and to invest in community and primary preventative services for people with a learning disability and/or autism.

They are seeking views on their proposals.

The consultation documents and details of how to respond can be found on their website at:

The consultation runs from Friday 10 August 2018 until 5pm on Friday 28 September 2018.


The Civil Society Strategy is launched

Earlier in the year Support Cambridgeshire was involved in consultations over the Governments new proposed Civil Society Strategy.

Today it’s been launched. It’s a massive document but what does it say about the community and voluntary sector?

Here are some snippets.

The social sector is the core of civil society. The government is keen to work alongside the social sector to build a future in which the sector can adapt and thrive, strengthen public trust, as well as find new ways to resource and deliver their work.

The government is determined that charities and social enterprises should be fully confident in their right to speak in public debates, and to have a strong role in shaping policy and speaking up on behalf of those they support.

The government will renew its commitment to the principles of the Compact. The Compact is a document that sets out a series of principles and commitments governing the relationship between the social sector and the government. We will also work with civil society, the Electoral Commission, and the Charity Commission to explore what non-legislative steps could strengthen civil society’s confidence in speaking out.

the government will convene a cross government group to work with civil society to establish the principles of effective involvement in the policymaking process, learning from the examples of good practice that already exist. We also recognise the strong demand from the social enterprise sector for a simpler relationship with the government. The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport will establish a regular forum for social enterprises to coordinate relations with government.

On funding and financing, the government is working with the Charity Commission and UK Community Foundations to release at least £20 million over the next two years from inactive charitable trusts to help community organisations.

The government will explore how to encourage more collective giving, a form of charitable giving where groups of people pool their donations to create larger funds to tackle problems.

On leadership, we will work with civil society stakeholders and the Charity Commission to agree on joint action to open up trusteeship to people from different backgrounds.

There is increasing awareness that increased use of data and digital technology can make charities stronger and even better at what they do. But charities are taking time to adopt opportunities. The government has identified artificial intelligence and the data revolution as one of the four Grand Challenges facing the UK.  We will work with partners to explore how best to  use digital to build a stronger and even more effective social sector.


Volunteers required

Cambridgeshire Hearing Help is looking for more volunteers able to commit to at least two hours per month providing community NHS hearing aid maintenance at one or more of its 43 community Hearing Help sessions. No experience is required, although good eyesight (with glasses) and reasonable dexterity is essential.

The charity has been running since 1978 (previously under the name of CAMTAD) and relies on a team of over one hundred and fifteen dedicated volunteers.

Its work is a lifeline for those who face barriers to accessing mainstream audiology services because they are older, frail, have other disabilities, or live in rural areas.

New volunteers can start at any time and will also need to complete a free two-day hearing loss and hearing aid maintenance training course.

The next course is running on Wednesday 26th and Thursday 27th September 2018 between 10am and 4pm at Abbey Meadows Community Centre, Abbey Meadows Primary School, Galfrid Road, Cambridge, CB5 8ND.

Parking is free and refreshments and lunch will be provided. To book your place please Tel: 01223 416141, Text: 07852 699196, or Email:

Amanda Morgan, Cambridgeshire Hearing Help’s Director, who herself uses an NHS hearing aid and cochlear implant, commented:

Providing NHS hearing aid maintenance in the community is a hugely rewarding volunteering role, and why many of our volunteers have served us for ten, twenty, and even thirty, years. The rewards include; putting a smile on somebody’s face because they can use their hearing aids again, and reducing their risk of suffering from loneliness, isolation, anxiety, depression and dementia. They also include being part of our passionate, caring, and supportive team of staff and volunteers, many of whom have shared experience of hearing loss.

Norman Hardy will be 81 this month and has volunteered for Cambridgeshire Hearing Help for over nine years. His hearing loss started at the age of five in WWII as a result of a V2 rocket bomb blast.

Norman says:

During the war a V2 rocket bomb landed across the road and the blast lifted me off the toilet seat and blew me through the bathroom door. From that day onwards I had ringing in the ears and a problem with my hearing, although I didn’t realise it at the time and often wondered why the teachers sat me at the front of the class when I was the tallest pupil. It was only when I was 16 and had my medical ready to go in to the forces that I was told I had a perforated eardrum. I consequently failed the medical and therefore became a printer’s apprentice, and, in those days, we weren’t provided with ear protectors in an environment that was so noisy we had to learn to lip-read to communicate with each other, so this further damaged my hearing.

I started wearing hearing aids at the age of 60, and they made such as difference. This resulted in my joining Cambridgeshire Hearing Help because I wanted to give back and help others with hearing loss. I love the volunteering because there is a great camaraderie within the team and huge appreciation for the work that we do, and it gives me the opportunity to tell people about assistive technology that could improve their hearing further, such as the Bluetooth streamer I use every day.  


Innovate & Cultivate Fund (Autumn)

Cambridgeshire County Council is pleased to announce that bookings are now open for the Innovate & Cultivate Fund Advice Session on 24 September 2018 (between 9:45am and 12pm) at March Community Centre.  Please book here.

The fund supports initiatives that strengthen communities and reduce pressure on County Council services, thereby giving a return on investment.

Council services that are inviting applications include 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.

The Innovate & Cultivate Fund has two funding streams: a ‘Cultivate’ stream for small grants of £2,000-£10,000 and an ‘Innovate’ stream for larger grants of up to £50,000.

The next application deadline for both funding streams is 1 November 2018. It is highly recommended that organisations intending to submit an application attend the advice session on 24 September to receive one-to-one advice on their project ideas.  Please note that only one application per organisation may be submitted for this deadline.

Application forms and further information may be found on the Cambridgeshire Community Foundation website. Cambridgeshire Community Foundation can also answer questions about applying for the Fund – or 01223 410535.

Postcode Lottery Grants

The People’s Postcode Lottery has made more than £3m of grant funding available for local charities and community groups.

Charities in England, Scotland and Wales will be able to apply for grants of between £500 and £20,000 when applications open from 1 August for two weeks.

The People’s Postcode Lottery said it would award funding through three trusts, one of which (The People’s Postcode Trust) will focus on projects promoting human rights and employability, and those that combat poverty. Click here for further information.

A second trust (the Postcode Community Trust) will concentrate on grass-roots health and well-being programmes. Click here for further information.

The third trust (The Postcode Local Trust) will support programmes that aim to improve biodiversity and outdoor spaces. Click here for more information.

The Lottery states:

We are very excited to see the applications come in this year from across Great Britain. Across the three trusts, a huge variety of projects can benefit and we urge groups to take a look at the websites, see where their projects fit and get applying.

Free Practitioner Meeting – October 2018

Support Cambridgeshire is running a free Practitioner meeting on the subject of community cafes on the 18th October 2018 between 12.45pm and 2.30pm at the Maple Centre in Huntingdon.

Lunch is provided and will be served at 12.15pm, before the session begins.

The discussion will be facilitated by Ben Pitt of Love’s Farm House in St Neots, and will be an interactive session where people can discuss their thoughts, ideas and challenges on the subject.

If you have run a community cafe, or are thinking of running one then this session may be of interest.

To book your space contact

Numbers will be limited to 20.

Details on the Maple Centre can be found here: 

Parking is available off Nene Road. Simply walk across the pedestrian bridge to access the centre.


Building Connections Fund launches

The new Building Connections Fund has been launched for projects that aim to reduce loneliness and social isolation.

The fund is a partnership between Government, The Big Lottery and the Co-op Foundation and aims to:

  • Increase social connections, helping people form strong and meaningful relationships and creating a sense of community and belonging, and helping people feel more connected.
  • Support organisations to build on their existing work (by reaching more people, or working in a new area or with a different method or group of people).
  • Encourage organisations to join up with others locally and work in partnerships.
  • Improve the evidence base and use learning to inform longer term policy and funding decisions.

The fund is valued at 11.5M.

For more details, including how to apply, please visit:

If you need any data to help support your bid please contact


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