Record attendance at the Town and Parish Council Conference

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

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

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

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

In addition, the event held nine different themed workshops:

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

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

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

Comments included:

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

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

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

Join the Board at Healthwatch

Healthwatch Cambridgeshire and Peterborough are looking for new Board members.

Use your local knowledge, skills and experiences to help improve the public voice in health and care services for people in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough.

As part of an innovative and committed Board, you will have a role in strategy development and supporting our staff and volunteers.

This will give you insights into and the opportunity to help influence health and social care systems locally.

We want to strengthen the links we have into Fenland and Peterborough, and the different ethnic communities who live locally.

You will help the Board to better understand and represent the diverse population we serve.

We particularly welcome applications from young people, individuals from minority ethnic communities and those who live in Fenland and Peterborough.

Apply by Friday 14 December 2018.

For more information:

Interviews for the post will be held on either 8 January, 16 January or 17 January 2019.

Contact their office on 0330 355 1285, email or text them on 0752 0635 176 to arrange an informal chat.

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.



Give us your views….!!

Do you live or work in Wisbech? What do you love about the town and what would you do to improve it?

Those are the questions being asked in a new I Heart Wisbech campaign to gather people’s views and use them to help develop future services and projects in the town.

The campaign has been launched by the I Heart Wisbech team, which is made up of a number of local community organisations along with Cambridgeshire County Council, Fenland District Council and Wisbech Town Council.

Team members have been out and about in the town centre gathering views and an online survey has been launched asking three questions – what do you love about Wisbech, how would you make it better and what would you like to do about it?

The survey is available at and is expected to run until January 2019.

Russell Rolph of Support Cambridgeshire (who is managing the project on behalf of the I Heart Wisbech team) said:

Those who live, work and invest in an area are the best people to ask on what’s right about where they live, and what could be improved.

The feedback will be used to develop key themes in community development and to hopefully uncover the next generation of social action champions in the town. So if you have a great idea on how to improve Wisbech we would love to hear from you.

The campaign links to the ongoing Wisbech 2020 Vision and its work to tackle local issues and deliver future health, economy and infrastructure improvements.

Recipes for Success at the Community Cafés Workshop

On 18 October Support Cambridgeshire hosted its first Practitioner Workshop, focusing on community cafés.

There was a great turn-out, with 17 people representing 10 existing and prospective community cafés from across the county. Many of them are involved in plans for a new community building, where it is hoped that a community café will be a central part of the building’s identity.

The workshop was lead by Ben Pitt, Communities Officer at Hunts Forum, who in his spare time has helped to launch a community café at his local community centre, Love’s Farm House.

The workshop started by exploring the benefits of community cafés: to bring the community together, encourage regular use of a community building, provide volunteering and training opportunities and lots more besides. The group then proceeded to discuss what key ingredients are needed to make it work: meeting the demands of the local customer base, ensuring quality produce and an appealing environment, and developing a sustainable business plan with a realistic expectation on volunteers. It also touched on food safety training, kitchen fit-outs, fundraising opportunities and modelling income.

What people said about the event:

Really helpful to hear from people with experience. Particularly please to pick up tips on modelling profit and loss.

Very good to share ideas – so much to think about… Loved the personal experience of setting up a café.

Great formula! This is vital to what we are doing right now.

Really useful, learnt a great deal. Thank you so much. Another event please!

Please keep an eye on our Training page or sign up to our newsletter for future training and workshop events.

I Heart Wisbech 27th October 2018

We all know that those who live, work and invest in an area are the best people to ask on whats right about where they live, and what could be improved.

This very notion is happening in Wisbech on the 27th October 2018 (the day of Halloween celebrations).

The I Heart Wisbech* Team will be in the Market Place engaging with residents, shoppers and passers – by  about the Town.

The team are seeking views on 3 simple questions:

What do people love about Wisbech?

How could people make it better?

What would people like to do about it?

Volunteers from the I Heart Wisbech Team will be on hand to take peoples views and thoughts, and will be encouraging them to participate in an art based project within a Gazebo.

The team will collect peoples answers and collate them into a survey response which will be used to deliver possible future services and local projects.

If you have a great idea on how to improve the Town of Wisbech come and tell us – we will be really pleased to hear from you.

The team will be on hand from approximately 9am through to 6pm, so watch out for the I Heart Wisbech Gazebo and come and say hello..!!

*The I Heart Wisbech Team is made up of representatives from local community based organisations and both the Town, District and County Councils.


18 attend the Commissioning Forum (South)

18 Delegates from across the South of the County attended the first Support Cambridgeshire Commissioning Forum which took place at the Meadows Centre on the 11th October 2018.

The session was introduced by Julie Farrow (the lead CEO of Support Cambridgeshire) and aimed to bring the Commissioning Unit and Community based organisations into a closer working relationship where mutual benefit for all (including the beneficiaries of local services and projects) is established as a key driving principle.

Oliver Hayward and Shauna Torrance of the Commissioning Unit delivered a presentation which covered such topics as the role of Commissioning, the Commissioning Agenda, key financial drivers, the Commissioning Cycle, intentions and future priorities. This presentation can be viewed here: 

The delegates were then divided into 3 groups – with 4 key questions to address:

What is working well in Commissioning?

Where are the gaps?

How can all parties work together to deliver something new or different?

What happens next?

Group responses can be seen here:

What people said about the event:

It was great to get an update from Commissioners. This needs to be regular and on-going.

This was a well presented session with high value and content.

I was happy to observe the engagement from attendees and the openness of the Commissioners.

This was a great event and its interesting to see how things are changing for the better.

Being a small charity this was a really useful event. Understanding the pressures we all face helps to overcome some of our frustrations.

Organisations in attendance:

Link to Change: Connections Bus Project: Papworth Trust: Care Network: Homestart Cambridgeshire: Carers Trust CPN: Care Rooms: Choices: Support Cambridgeshire:

Hunts Forum: CARESCO: St Neots Time-bank: Cambridge City Council: Peterborough City Council: Cambridgeshire County Council.

A Commissioning Forum for the North of the County is now being planned. Dates and times will be published in due course. If you are interested in attending please contact Russell Rolph by E-Mail at to register your interest.

Book a space at our Commissioning Forum (South)

Are you a voluntary or community group working in Cambridgeshire or Peterborough?

Do you know that Cambridgeshire & Peterborough have a new commissioning unit that decides how all contracts and grants are awarded?

Support Cambridgeshire has been working with Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Commissioning Unit on developing better understanding and interaction between commissioners and voluntary groups.  We asked in our annual state of the sector survey if you wanted to learn more about what the Commissioning Unit does, what their priorities are, what impact changes might have on your service and how can we work better together.   The response was overwhelmingly in favour of some kind a regular forum – recognising the difficulties some can have in getting around the county we are proposing to set up two identical forum’s one south, one north.  The first session will see the lead commissioner outlining the units priorities and asking for your comments, we hope the session will be informative and very interactive.

The first Commissioning Forum (South)has been scheduled for Thursday 11th October 9.30 – 12.30 at the Meadows Community Centre Cambridge. 

To register an interest or book your place please contact Trisha at


Support Cambridgeshire Free Training Programme

Support Cambridgeshire is required to deliver a set number of training and networking sessions under our current funding arrangements with the County Council.

Our programme from September 2018 – March 2019 can be found here:

All of these events or workshops are Free to any community organisation that operates within Cambridgeshire.

So book your space today and don’t miss out..!!

In addition, the Partnership can provide information and advice on all of the following:

  • Funding, governance, data protection, finance, recruiting volunteers and more.
  • Topic-based networking opportunities on key issues.
  • Parish Council conferences and peer learning events:
  • Regular eNewsletters, social media and email updates.
  • A website full of useful information:
  • A searchable funding portal:
  • Voluntary and community sector voice and representation at County Council meetings.
  • An annual State of the Sector survey.
  • Support for time banks, time credits, community organising, business engagement and corporate social responsibility.

If you require further information or help and support simply contact



Big Lottery Award in Soham

The Big Lottery has awarded Support Cambridgeshire an Awards For all Grant to help deliver social action projects in Soham, East Cambridgeshire.

The award was granted in July 2018 and the scheme commenced on 4th September 2018.

So whats going to happen:

The Neighbourhood Cares Team of the County Council are already active in Soham, and have been over the past 12 months. Our award enables Support Cambridgeshire to work with that team, and many of the other agencies who are already providing valuable services in the area.

Over the next 12 months Support Cambridgeshire will play an active role in:

  • Mapping the good work that’s already taking place in Soham and ensuring residents know where and how to find services, activities and projects.
  • Having a community conversation with the residents about what they like, want improved or want to shape in their Neighbourhood.
  • Providing the results of this survey and encouraging residents to think about, start or support them in developing ideas about how best to assist their community and neighbours.

Watch out for the survey – its coming soon.

Ben Pitt (Communities Officer) states:

The local residents of Soham are best placed to tell us what’s missing in their local community. I look forward to working with them over the next 12 months, exploring ways of working together and connecting the community.

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