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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.

Listening to Community Organisations

By Victoria Hopkins

The Support Fenland project continues at pace this week as we met with members of a wide range of community organisations across the district. A key part of our project is to understand the specific needs of Fenland, so we wanted to talk directly to the groups who are already active in the community.

There are a huge number and wide variety of groups supporting Fenland communities, ranging from large organisations supporting the whole county and beyond, to small voluntary based organisations supporting a very specific area within a town or village. Often these groups have been set up in response to a need that is emerging in the community, and so these groups are vital for support organisations such as CCVS and Hunts Form to listen to when we’re planning how we can better support their work.

At this week’s session we had 19 representatives from 17 different organisations of different sizes, and over a fast paced one hour Zoom call we learnt an awful lot!

When asked about the challenges that their groups are facing, there were some common themes emerging. The ability of each group to reach and communicate with their communities has become limited, either due to social distancing or a reduction in funding. Digital services offered within Fenland do not have a high take-up rate. Volunteers have a lack of confidence; whether that is dealing with new Covid measures or just coming back to volunteering after a significant break, the groups are finding that those volunteers need an increased level of support. Finally, there is a lack of awareness of the variety and scale of the issues within Fenland outside of the district.

We then talked about the opportunities that were coming in the future. There was a lot to celebrate and look forward to, and the focus was on ensuring that all of the positive ways of working that have come out of the emergency Covid response, such as new partnerships, closer relationships and new services, continue.

Finally, the conversation turned to how the groups wanted to raise their collective voice. It was acknowledged that networking and bringing people together will be key, and that there will be many benefits of this; knowing which groups are already delivering services to residents and being able to point people in the right direction, enabling increased partnership working on common issues, giving communities a place to celebrate all that is happening and acting as an advocate for all that is great about living in Fenland.

A huge thanks to everyone who joined us for such an open, honest and lively meeting. We’re looking forward to continuing the conversation with even more members of the community at next week’s open event.


Our notes from the meeting are captured on the graphics below – click them to view full-screen.

Cambridgeshire Local Lottery

The County Council would like to hear your views on a Cambridgeshire Local Lottery.

In March, Cambridgeshire County Council councillors approved the proposal for an online local lottery to benefit good causes across Cambridgeshire. This model is one that a number of other local authorities have adopted to create new funding streams for their local voluntary sector. The next five months offer fantastic opportunity to engage with the community and voluntary sector to understand how this lottery can best work for Cambridgeshire. The success of this lottery is dependent on this working for you – the local charities – and therefore your opinion matters.

What is it?

The Cambridgeshire Local Lottery will be administered via an External Lottery Manager, Gatherwell Ltd, an organisation that specialises in Local Authority Lotteries. The ticket draws will be weekly and all tickets will be sold online.

60p from every £1 ticket of Cambridgeshire Local Lottery will go direct to charities, voluntary organisations and other good causes like you, a much higher percentage than other well-known lottery models.

There are two parts to the local lottery scheme – good causes, like yourself, will have your own webpage created, and 50p in every pound spent by players using your webpage will be retained by you. Good causes are paid their income automatically on a monthly basis. A further 10p in every pound will go into a general Cambridgeshire Community Good Causes Fund. It is proposed that this additional funding will be allocated to good causes chosen by a selected panel of county representatives. Note this is additional funding and will not offset any existing council spending. The remaining 40p in the £1 funds prizes, operating costs and VAT (see below).

There are no costs to the good causes and the ELM will provide tailored marketing materials to help attract people to your cause. Unlike other grants, the money is not ring-fenced and can be spent on what is most needed for your charity to flourish.

Players of the lottery can win a £25,000 jackpot, plus smaller prizes.

More details of how you can raise money with the lottery are demonstrated in this video.

How can you be involved?

Although lotteries have long been a way to raise money, this is a relatively new way for local authorities to work with the voluntary sector. The County Council wants to collaborate with the community to understand how this could work for your charity and what support you may need. This is only the beginning of the journey, with a launch not anticipated until autumn 2018, so we would really like to hear your views on the following:

  • Would you be interested in being part of a focus group to discuss how to make the lottery work well in Cambridgeshire?
  • How would you like us to conduct future engagement with you and your charity?
  • Is there any further information you would want as this stage to help your understanding of the local lottery? We will be creating further communication channels and updates.

We now have a dedicated email set up at cambslottery@cambridgeshire.gov.uk so we would welcome answers to the above, plus any other questions you may have.

What’s next?

The County Council is currently applying for a Gambling Committee Licence. We will then be developing policies, procedures and governance for the lottery and we are keen to ensure that the community voice is represented during this part of the journey.

We will also be engaging with the community at a number of upcoming events and will ensure that these dates are circulated to encourage as many people to attend as possible.

Thank you.

Emily Gutteridge
Senior Transformation Advisor
Cambridgeshire County Council