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Eastern Community Homes Launch Event and Offer to Communities

Eastern Community Homes, the new community-led housing hub in the East of England, have recently opened booking for their launch event, ‘Eastern Community Homes: We Do Housing Differently’.

They are holding 5 free, online sessions from 16th-18th March 2021 including:

  • Community-Led Housing and Local Authorities
  • Community-Led Housing and Housing Associations
  • An Introduction to Community-Led Housing
  • Case Studies in the East of England
  • Expert Q&A Panel

Click to find out more details about the individual events, including speakers, and to book onto the sessions.

All sessions are also being recorded and will be made freely available on the Eastern Community Homes website once the events have concluded.

As well as the event, Eastern Community Homes have also in February launched their Communities Offer. This outlines how Eastern Community Homes can provide advice, support, and practical resources for local community groups to help them achieve their housing ambitions. The support they can offer includes aiding groups to build networks (including strengthening relationships with local authorities) 1:1 group support, and access to the Eastern Community Homes Small Grants Fund.

Read the Communities Offer.

In Cambridgeshire, Eastern Community Homes are working in partnership with the Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Combined Authority. Read the Cambridgeshire Communities Offer.

If you are a community group requiring support from Eastern Community Homes please contact them at enquiries@easterncommunityhomes.com or fill out this form.

Support Cambridgeshire Events Cancelled until May

Due to the current situation around Covid-19, the agencies that are part of Support Cambridge have agreed to cancel events until the end of April.

Within this time staff will be working from home, Please visit each organisations website to be advised the best way to make contact with the relevant staff.

Hunts Forum: www.huntsforum.org.uk

CCVS: www.cambridgecvs.org.uk

ACRE: www.cambsacre.org.uk

Supporting People with Cancer in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough

Local community development organisation, Cambridgeshire ACRE, is working on behalf of Macmillan Cancer Support to understand the needs and experiences of community groups and organisations in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough who may be called upon to support people affected by cancer.

We know that those who run local community groups and organisations are sometimes asked to provide support either to individuals affected by cancer or to their families/carers. Cambridgeshire ACRE is undertaking some research on Macmillan’s behalf to understand the type of support groups are asked to provide, where they get their support from and whether they would be interested in future training or advice from Macmillan to allow their group or organisation to better support people affected by cancer.

Please spare 10 minutes to complete this short online survey.

Thank you so much for your support with this important work. The survey will remain available to complete until the end of the March.

If you have any queries please email alison.brown@cambsacre.org.uk or call her on 01353 865029.

Support and Advice for Village Halls

We all know that Village halls in our local communities do not run themselves: Village halls need dedicated volunteers and by default those volunteers need support and advice to ensure that their Village hall grows and thrives. Support Cambridgeshire is lucky to have Cambridgeshire ACRE as part of its Partnership.

The support, advice, guidance and information provided by Cambridgeshire ACRE ensures that Cambridgeshire village halls are getting the best service possible, all within the constraints of the current Support Cambridgeshire contract.

And to prove the point here’s a list of testimonials:

The Arkenstall Centre in Haddenham has been a centre of village activities for over 40 years: Converted from school buildings into a (then) modern village hall comprising a main auditorium with a permanent stage, two meeting rooms, a kitchen and other ancillary facilities, the Centre has evolved so it still provides essential entertainment and meeting spaces for the local community. The Centre has always had a good relationship with Cambridgeshire ACRE, seeking advice and support on occasions.  However, as time has progressed, the statutory requirements relating to the management of village halls have become more complex, and the needs of the community have changed, so the demands on the expertise of Trustees have become greater and more varied.  This has meant that the guidance and resources which ACRE professionals have been able to offer directly, as well as through the networking and training events which they organise, have become not just ‘nice to have’, but essential to the Centre’s management.

John Shippey (Trustee).

The work of Cambridgeshire ACRE is very important in many aspects, not least by provision of informative and updating communications, which serve as a stimulating reminder to community members and charitable trustees alike of the importance of their community efforts. Cambridgeshire ACRE’s role as co-ordinators results in networking and interaction between different community groups at meetings where a wide variety of ideas and experiences are discussed, shared and developed. Invariably such meetings incorporate specialist advice, case studies and sometimes commercially based expertise on insurances, legal statuses, financing, management expertise to name a few. These opportunities I view as extremely valuable based on the fact that it is easy as a trustee to lose touch with the realities of trustees’ responsibilities because so many of us lead busy working lives, meet quite infrequently and easily become out of touch. The services, information and meetings play a very important role in serving existing trustees, stimulating and updating new trustees as well as providing an opportunity for charitable employees to meet with groups of trustees and other managers to exchange experiences, develop skills and improve their expertise, all of which contribute to better understanding of their roles, enhance their often very low paid employment, but most importantly contribute to the efficiency of the community services that many small groups provide, ultimately to the benefit of the communities they serve.

Roy Swain (Chair for the Board of Trustees).

Little Downham Village Hall has been a member of ACRE for many years now and the Trustees have always found information and support from ACRE invaluable. We have achieved Hallmark 2 now and will be working towards Hallmark 3 early in 2020. ACRE appreciates the diversity of village halls, their usage, management and need to raise funds.  Our hall was originally built as the workhouse in 1779 so is a Grade 11 listed building.  We do not have the luxury of an all singing, dancing hall but we have managed to raise £160.00 towards the refurbishment of parts of the hall, such as a new roof, new kitchen, refurbished the toilets, flooring and new stage extensions, lighting and sound which has greatly enhanced theatre style productions. We seek ACRE’s advice on many matters (employment law, planning, insurances, fire safety and sourcing relevant funding). The networking sessions and visits to other halls have been most helpful for us plus training that is often offered at these sessions has made us take a closer look at all our policies and procedures.

Avril Hayter-Smith (Treasurer and Fundraising Officer).

If you are a Village hall in Cambridgeshire and require help and support (no matter how small or large) then please contact the Support Cambridgeshire Partnership by contacting Lisa Chambers at lisa.chambers@cambsacre.org.uk.

   

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.

Reviewing the Community Plan

Wilburton is a small village in East Cambridgeshire which comprises 550 houses (and over 1,000 inhabitants), sitting 6 miles south west of Ely.

It is well known for its fundraising events (The Wilburton Beer Festival and the Wilburton Fireworks Night being prime examples) and has an active Parish Council.

The Parish Council adopted its local Community Led Plan in March 2016. The plan can be viewed here:

Being a Parish Council, Wilburton naturally looked towards Support Cambridgeshire partner Cambridgeshire ACRE for support and advice in refreshing their plan and making it even more fit for purpose.

Cambridgeshire ACRE were happy to help, providing a Good Practice Guidance Document which allows Wilburton Parish Council to take a staged approach to reviewing their plan.

Cambridgeshire ACRE also commented on the draft community survey, with suggestions on how it could be improved. Armed with this, the Council feel they are in an excellent position to obtain better survey data sets and review their plan.

We look forward to seeing it..!!

Village Halls Week

Village Halls Week runs from the 22nd to the 28th January 2019. Its an event aimed at celebrating the role played by village halls in our local communities.

Locally, Cambridgeshire ACRE will be facilitating a programme of events to demonstrate the role played by village halls and Trustees across Cambridgeshire.

They will be looking at themed areas throughout the week, highlighting different aspects of why village halls are so important to our local communities.

For more information on both the launch event and other activities taking place throughout the week simply click here:

This years launch event will be taking place on Tuesday 22nd January at Little Thetford Village Hall. The event will have a national and local focus which features the history of village halls and community buildings in Cambridgeshire over the last 90 years. To book a space to the launch event click here:

 

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.