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Joining the dots

A case study into how we are developing support for groups working with children and young people across Cambridgeshire

The issue

We have long recognised that there is a gap in Cambridgeshire around specialist support for organisations working with Children and Young people. Many other areas have a specialist county support group or a funded project in a bigger support organisation, but Cambridgeshire has lacked this since the closure of Young Lives nearly 10 years ago. Our work with the sector had identified the need to support these groups as well as how we can encourage more to form.

We know that there have been drastic cuts to youth work and to activities for young people both in the statutory and the voluntary sectors. At the same time, we recognise the growing need for services of all types and across all geographies that support young people. We know that many existing groups suffer from a lack of funds and a lack of volunteers, and that some local voluntary groups have not reopened after the pandemic.

Support Cambs are clear that we are not in a position to help with support in delivering youth related services as we are not funded for this and do not have the expertise. We can help groups to find funds, look at new ways of working, and we can help new groups to form. We needed to talk to groups and to those working with them to look at what and how we can help and how we can support others providing support in this area.

Joining the dots

We did not have to start from scratch with our work in this field. The County Council has a statutory duty to young people. They no longer have a big youth work team but they do still do some targeted work in this area. Importantly for us they have a team of Youth and Community workers who coordinate district level meetings with local groups.

Support Cambs staff were able to attend these meetings as well as attend a team meeting with the county team. This allowed us to understand where we can work with the team and what some of the specific issues are for groups are. Importantly it also allowed us to refresh what our offer to groups is with both the groups we spoke to but also with the county team.

As well as these meetings we have also set up a number of meetings with some of the larger groups working in this field to look at what else we need to do. We are lucky in that we can call on the services of other partners to fill in the gaps that local groups need, and that is where we have started to join the dots.

What we know

We are hearing that the two main areas of concern for groups mirror those of the wider sector. There is a lack of volunteers and especially those that might have some youth work experience or qualifications. This is also shown in issues where groups are looking to employ qualified sessional workers.

There is also an issue with funding, especially with finding ongoing and core funding to keep clubs open.

We are also seeing very patchy coverage of opportunities across the county. This is resulting in a real postcode lottery for young people looking to access services or activities. When talking to communities the lack of activities is an issue often related to people’s perception of young people causing problems and engaging in low level ASB. We also know that communities are brilliant at addressing their needs when given the resources and motivation they need.
These issues are compounded as national reports show increased levels of need for young people to access all sorts of different services especially those related to mental health and wellbeing.

Moving forwards

Working with the county team we have agreed to the following.
• Attendance at county level meetings.
• Attendance at district level meetings on an ‘as needed’ basis.

We will look at how we can promote the youth work training that the county provide/fund to encourage more people to access this. Support Cambs partners will look at how we can promote our offer to help develop new groups supporting young people to parish and district councillors. We will look at developing a resource section for groups on the Support Cambridgeshire website.

We need to look at if the county is falling behind in supporting groups and young people working in, or wanting to work in, this area. This might be especially true from a VCS perspective and we may need to look at how we fund a new specific service using some of the learning from neighbouring counties.

Managing Volunteers – a package of support

Introduction
Addenbrooke’s Charitable Trust (ACT) is dedicated to supporting innovation in patient care at the Addenbrooke’s and Rosie hospitals. We are the only registered charity dedicated to supporting innovation in patient care across Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

 

Thanks to the immensely generous support of our donors, Addenbrooke’s and the Rosie hospitals can provide a level of patient care beyond that which can be delivered by NHS funding alone and make projects happen sooner or to a greater degree than might have otherwise been possible.

ACT have a team of dedicated volunteers who often give their time to say thank you for the care they experienced at our hospitals. Their roles include, Fundraising Volunteers, who help to raise awareness of ACT, in their communities and/or the hospital as well as Office Volunteers, who support us with administration tasks.

This case study has been written by the new Volunteer Coordinator.

The need

My role as Volunteer Coordinator is new for ACT. I joined a year and a half ago and got in touch with the CCVS for support in re-envisioning how ACT involve volunteers and to put in place a formal volunteer programme.
The ACT volunteer team at the Chariots of Fire race 2019

What was done

The CCVS have supported ACT in developing its volunteer programme through the Volunteer Management forums, training and 1-on-1 advice. The Volunteer Manager Forums have provided a welcoming environment to talk to others in similar roles to myself as well as giving a valuable opportunity to learn from how they work with their volunteers. In addition, I have attended training sessions, in-person and online, on topics such as volunteer recruitment, supervision skills and legal issues. This has helped to build my knowledge base and develop a reference library of good practice guidance, that I can
share with colleagues and use on a regular basis. Finally, and importantly, being able to ask for expert advice from the CCVS on a 1-on-1 basis, is extremely helpful. The team have always provided informed and considered feedback quickly and professionally and this has been invaluable when working on bigger projects, such as putting in place the charity’s first Volunteer Policy.

The Impact/change 

The CCVS has helped ACT put in place a supportive supervision structure for our volunteers, introduce a Volunteer Policy and has given me greater confidence in championing the need for a considered approach to volunteer recruitment and management. ACT is now able to grow and extend the reach of the volunteer team whilst having a structure in place that ensures existing volunteers are valued and provided with development opportunities.

Testimony

“The support and quality of training provided by the CCVS, whilst developing and delivering ACT’s volunteer programme, has been exceptionally helpful and of great support. It’s wonderful to feel part of a wider team through the Volunteer Manager Forums and the training has enabled me to make informed recommendations to colleagues and implement positive change. I am also extremely grateful for the additional support offered since the Covid-19 pandemic. This has helped me in my approach to communicating with our volunteer team, whilst physically dispersed, as well as reminding me to maintain an awareness of my own wellbeing when working under difficult circumstances.
Thank you CCVS!”

 

September 2020

To download this case study click here

ACT volunteer management support sc logo

Peacocks Meadow Secures Funding as it Provides a Safe Space for Local Residents

Some downtime during lockdown – plus Support Cambridgeshire’s Funding Alert emails – gave this community garden the impetus to go on a fundraising blitz.

Family Learning at Peacocks Meadow community garden

A local family in the Peacocks Pop-up Library

We recently received a lovely email from Deborah Curtis, in which she wrote, “I thought you might like to know that here in the Peacocks Meadow community garden in Littleport, we have achieved £18,000 in grant funding in three months, using your wonderful monthly funding lead newsletter! The funds will enable us to create a sensory garden and woodland play area for our diverse residents.” We were delighted and intrigued, so we got in touch with Deborah to find out more.

Peacocks Meadow is a community garden, tucked away beyond the car park on Limes Close in the centre of Littleport, East Cambridgeshire. It was originally farmland owned by the Peacock family, which was donated as allotments in the 1930s. It is currently owned by Sanctuary Housing, leased to Littleport Parish Council and managed by a community group called Friends of The Woodland Garden (Peacocks Meadow).

In 2017 they received a Facilities Improvement Grant from East Cambs District Council to turn it from a neglected space into a community garden. It’s been well used and looked after since then, but when COVID-19 hit, everything stopped. Funding opportunities dried up as funders raced to support pandemic relief projects.

That left committee member Deborah Curtis with some time on her hands to think about the garden’s future. She is on the mailing list to receive Support Cambridgeshire’s Funding Alert emails, which provide a round-up of the latest funding news plus on-going funders arranged by theme such as Education, Environment and Small Grants.

A weekend of inter-generational nature-based learning, thanks to a Family Learning Grant from Cambridgeshire Skills

This inspired Deb to fire off some funding applications in early 2021, hoping that some of them might be successful. The timing turned out to be fortunate. At the beginning of the pandemic, funders had focused on responding to people’s basic needs, but by 2021, there was much more of a focus on recovery.

“We’ve been astounded at how successful we’ve been,” said Deb, “because the target for many funders now is children – getting them outside, getting them active – and our garden is ideal for that.”

In just three months, she has had seven successful applications. They received £3,000 from the Police and Crime Commissioner’s Youth and Community Fund to engage young people in the creation of a sensory garden area for the benefit of adults and children with learning disabilities. There was £500 from East Cambs District Council’s Covid Recovery Fund for ground clearance and rubbish removal, £500 from Littleport Rotary for skip hire and ground clearance, £9,975 from Awards for All for the creation of a woodland play area, £1,000 from Persimmon Homes Community Champions fund for timber play equipment, £400 from Warburtons Family Grants for balance stones and a mini picnic table, and £900 from Sanctuary Housing for a living willow den. The latter included a certified landscape tutor, incorporating community learning in willow construction. Most recently, Deb secured £1,800 from Cambridgeshire Skills for nature-themed family learning workshops.

Funding has been secured for a sensory garden area, which should be ready to open in September

This impressive list is a testament to Deb’s hard work, but it also goes to show that funders often like to see an organisation or project that has a healthy amount of co-funding, along with a clear vision for how the funding will benefit local people.

Their socially distanced community event at Easter was a great success. Organised by The Port, a local youth club, it welcomed 250 people to the garden in a single day.

Deb sees the pandemic as a time when Peacocks Meadow really found its purpose. “In those months of lockdown, the visitors and volunteer engagement improved astronomically and people really took it to their hearts. We’ve created a safe space for people – people with disabilities, people with young children, older people. That discovery of the garden and the pleasure in it has continued as lockdown has eased.”

Deb has just been awarded Citizen of the Year by Littleport Parish Council – a fitting way to thank her for bringing so much happiness to the residents in her village.

Find out more about Peacock Meadow via the Facebook page.

Sign up for Funding Alert emails here.

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.

   

More than a Giving Machine

For longer than the term Corporate Social Responsibility (or CSR) has been coined, charities have reached out to businesses for support. But charities can find CSR difficult to access, often being uncertain who in an organisation to contact, knowing if a business is receptive to being approached and the best way to do so, thinking that a business is only interested in publicity for its donation. Businesses too can find it difficult knowing how to deal with so many approaches made to them, not understanding the language that charities use and the hurdles and uncertainties they can go through.  However, when it works, it works well and makes a great difference to both sides and especially to the people the charities are working with.

Coming from a desire to see this work better, have greater intention and impact, and create greater benefit for our communities, Rachel Briant (the Founder of Get Synergised) and Keith Johnson from Hunts Forum (on behalf of Support Cambridgeshire) organised a workshop: Corporate Social Responsibility: More than a Giving Machine.

The title was deliberately chosen to emphasise that often the relationship can be about more than money and can include skills exchange, learning, mutual understanding and respect. The event took place in the boardroom of Barons Cambridge BMW in Cambourne, hosted by Kevin Appleton, their Head of Business.

Sixteen Charitable Organisations and social enterprises from across Cambridgeshire joined three businesses at Barons Cambridge BMW to explore how businesses and charities can engage better together to  impact communities. Sharon Livermore from Kameo Recruitment and Sue Rowley from PwC Cambridge joined Kevin Appleton to facilitate discussion groups exploring key themes. Interest from the charitable sector far exceeded the number of places available.

The workshop aimed to bridge the divide of language and ways of working between business and the charitable sector, helping charities to move beyond the idea of approaching businesses for funds and to explore and enter into dialogue with receptive businesses to develop stronger, meaningful and more sustainable partnerships.

The day saw both sides eager to develop better and stronger relationships whilst learning from each other about the issues each faced. By understanding each other’s positions, needs and intentions better, the workshop was able to break down many of the barriers for both and boost the confidence of charities to approach businesses and for businesses to have greater understanding around the challenges and needs of charitable organisations.

Charities and businesses ended the event wanting to see more opportunities for dialogue and engagement between each other, something that the organisers intend to follow through. Ideas that came from the workshop day include a space for Dragons’ Den style pitching to businesses by charities, informal network gatherings, more dialogue sessions to help each side continue to understand the languages used, the pressures each side is under and the mutual benefits.

Any businesses or charitable organisations interested in taking part in future events should contact either Rachel at Get Synergised, rachel@getsynergised.com or Keith at Hunts Forum, keith@huntsforum.org.uk .

 

 

Ramshed – A Place of Innovation

Support Cambridgeshire partner Hunts Forum recently had the good fortune to visit and meet the inspirational members of Ramshed in Bury.

Ramshed is celebrating its second anniversary on the 17th April 2019.

Ramshed is a little different from many of the ‘Sheds’ in the Men Sheds movement because they are not a Men only Shed. From its inception Ramshed has been a shed for both men and women.

John, one of the founding members, explained to Hunts Forum how the Men Shed national organisation (Men’s  Shed Association UK) had been a great help and support in getting Ramshed established and had made the process relatively easy. The hardest part was the hiatus between setting up Ramshed and finding a space to meet. Fortunately, members had good local contacts and it was through these that the space they now use was found.

In the two years since forming they have been very active in the local community re-purposing two old phone boxes, refurbishing three village noticeboards, making an Oak Memorial bench, refurbishing parts of a sensory garden, and undertaking many personal projects in the meantime.

An amazing project that they undertook last year was creating the Ramsey Ram that now sits on the traffic island near to Tesco in Ramsey. Apparently, the Ram now has its own Facebook page.

On the day Hunts Forum arrived and stepped into the relaxed and friendly atmosphere, people were busy transforming old donated tools into lamps. The room was full of old pieces of wood, electrical wiring, tools and electrical equipment (lathes, drills and saws). Members happily help and teach each other to use the different pieces of equipment all of which had been donated.  It was simply your typical workshop.

Seeing an old hand-drill being transformed into a vibrant, shiny new and novel lamp seemed almost a too perfect metaphor for Ramshed.

A little later John displayed some more of the old tools that are donated to them. Gesturing at the mix of tools, John smiled and said this is a museum, we are not.

The men and women of Ramshed are eager to use the latest equipment, with no room for nostalgia for tools they were happy to see the back of in their working lives. These are people eager for the latest technology and with big plans if they can get their hands on some.  There was a lot of talk about lasers during our visit. Their enthusiasm for cutting-edge technology stood in stark contrast to the usual old trope of the older generation being technophobes.  Perhaps those who concentrate on helping people in their third age embrace technology should stop for a moment and consider if they are approaching the issue from the correct perspective.

In the small tea area, the tables are strewn with Catalogues (Screwfix, Tool Station, QVS, Electric Fix and others). It’s a paper repository of ambition and desire.

For many of us John explained this gets us up in the morning. It’s not just about having something to do, it’s talking with people- more than that, it’s the banter, the friendly mockery (the original phrase has been edited) that makes this so worthwhile. We do it for us and to be able to give something back to the community.

Sheds such as Ramshed demonstrate a very positive way of reducing unwanted social isolation in retirement. The members of Ramshed each have their own reason for being there and not all feel or have ever felt isolated, but to all the members the shed is a very important part of their lives. John had a great way of putting it: Being isolated doesn’t mean you don’t know how to make friends, it just means that something  has happened in our lives that has caused us to be isolated for a while: Places like Ramshed simply help bridge the social gap.

Hunts Forum would like to thank John, Chris and Richard for making us so welcome, showing us around and taking the time to tell us all about RamShed.

If you would like to know more and/or can help the inspiring people at Ramshed please contact them at ramshed.pe26@gmail.com

For more information about setting up a Men Shed visit  https://menssheds.org.uk/

For information about possible funding from Cambridge County Council’s Innovate and Cultivate Fund go to https://www.cambscf.org.uk/icf.html