Its Friday and the final day of Small Charities Week, a week where small but vital organisations receive some recognition for their work.
We have been doing the same here at Support Cambridgeshire all week, albeit with a distinctly Cambridgeshire flavour.
We end the series with another two-for-the-price-of-one in profiling the Loves Farm Community Association and Centre 33.
Lets start with the Loves Farm Community Association.
The Loves Farm Community Association provides a voice for the residents of Loves Farm, a new build development on the outskirts of St Neots (housing a population of circa 4,000).
The Association is pivotal in bringing people together, in fostering community relationships and representing resident views to Statutory bodies such as District or County Councils.
Being on the outskirts of a major Town, Loves Farm has developed a Village Feel where residents tend to know each other, and regularly come together to support community activities.
And speaking of community actives, the Association plays a major role in supporting and delivering these, and there are many, all of which can be viewed here:
When did they form?
The Association came together in 2009 (the same year that the blade-less fan was invented and Barack Obama was inaugurated as president of the United States).
They acknowledge the support and advice provide by Bedford Pilgrims Housing Association in working with residents in its inception, having now grown to an active committee of 12 members, with others participating as required or needed.
Their website can be viewed here:
What are their challenges?
The Association has been working hard to ensure the correct level of parking restriction across Loves Farm, and have also campaigned tirelessly about the shortage of primary school places at their local Academy, The Roundhouse. The Association are currently in discussions with Developers Urban and Civic about a neighbouring project (Winteringham) which will deliver a further 2,000 homes into the locality.
Ben Pitt, a Community Association Committee Member says:
The Association has played a vital role in giving residents a sense of community ownership and belonging in their local Neighbourhood. We bring people together, air common concerns and hopefully find solutions that meet peoples needs and aspirations.
And now Centre 33.
Centre 33 was formed over 30 years ago to offer help and support to young people on a variety of issues they face, including housing, health, sexual health and social issues. They offer an ‘open door’ every day except Thursdays and Sundays at their offices located at 33 Clarendon Street in Cambridge, where young people can access support and guidance. They also hold further drop ins at Wisbech and Ely, where the same services are available to anyone aged between 13 and 25 years old. This support is offered in a confidential and safe environment.
Take a look at their website by clicking here:
What are their challenges?
One of the critical issues facing Centre 33 is that of funding. The organisation is commissioned by the County Council to provide their Young Carer Service and the contracts are usually re-tendered every 3 years. This can cause uncertainty and confusion at times, not only within the sector and the provider but especially the carers themselves who the service is provided to.
Another challenge concerns information – particularly getting information out to other voluntary and statutory groups and organisations, to help raise awareness of young carers and their issues. This is ongoing and something Centre 33 feels passionate about, especially trying to find the hidden carers, who have no support and do not know how to access it.
Mandy Brine of Centre 33 says:
Some of the issues these young carers face include bullying, exclusion, isolation, restraints on their free time, issues at school as well as peer pressure. However, although you can see how much pressure the young people are under, with some input and a listening ear they admit that its vital to have someone to talk to and who is not linked to their family. We offer a safe place to meet, which can sometimes be out in the community , where we will work through their issues and concerns together. I work with the Young Carers because I enjoy giving them support within their role of carer, which is usually to a family member. It is such a rewarding role to have.
Support Cambridgeshire Commentary:
The Loves Farm Community Association: Social Action and the very idea of bringing people together to solve common issues or concerns is a fundamental part of the work we do. People in communities readily identify with a place, somewhere they can call home and where they can build and develop relationships with others. Loves Farm is a prime example of this: Supported in its inception by Bedford Pilgrims Housing association, it has grown into a real living and thriving community.
Centre 33: The plight faced by young carers often goes unnoticed. It is estimated that 700,000 young carers exist within the UK. Reports suggest that 68% of young carers are bullied whilst at school: 45% of young carers report some form of mental well-being disorder: 56% of young carers struggle educationally because of their caring role. Young carers need as much support and guidance as they can get, and its good to see organisations like Centre 33 leading the charge.