Lessons from the pandemic

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In September 2020 Support Cambridgeshire were commissioned to carry out some quantitative research into how the sector and statutory partners had adapted and worked together during the period of lockdown as part of this we talked with:

  • 19 groups made up from a range of countywide, small and newly formed community groups and charities;
  • representatives from 6 district/city hubs and the county hub.

We carried out some basic desk research into reports and research carried out by other local and national bodies, we combined these findings with our first-hand experience in working with organisations[1] during the period March to September 2020. This included learning from networking events, from requests for support and from catch up calls with colleagues. The report forms part of a wider document that is available here.

We have witnessed thousands of individual acts of kindness, some small some big, but all important, and all of which have contributed to the fact that people and communities in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough have weathered the crisis up to this stage as best as possible.

The Surprises

It has been a surprise the number of bridges we have seen built. Organisations and statutory partners have reacted in ways that would not have been envisaged without the catalyst of a global pandemic.

Adaption – By the time local government looked up, activity was happening on the ground. Organisations, communities and individuals were the first and the quickest to react to the needs of people across the county. In the main everyone recognised this and went along with it. Statutory partners were able to adapt as they developed their own services and what emerged was a set of co-produced solutions that were different in each area and that built on the infrastructure that existed locally.

Relationships – These have proved vital and are the oil that allowed the machine to function. Where they were better and stronger we often saw better and more co-ordinated responses, but we have also seen new relationships formed and new partnerships entered into.

Very often how well things worked was down to who knew who. This highlighted the importance of connectors – individuals who bridge communities and organisations and can bring people together. It also highlighted the fact that it is essential for statutory partners to engage with local organisations and to build connections and trust.

Equality – Not everyone has been impacted by the pandemic in the same way. The virus has shone a light on issues of inequality; it has amplified inequalities of all type including digital, health, ethnicity, income or any other indicator. We have seen those suffering these inequalities facing additional pressures and barriers to staying safe or healthy, or access services. Much of the work of organisations has been to look at how they can reduce these barriers with their client groups to ensure people are best able to ride out lockdown or other restrictions.

What we learnt

Our overriding lesson was that there was no one correct response to the pandemic. Responses were not perfect, they were sometimes messy, confused and complicated, but organisations and statutory partners innovated, adapted and worked tirelessly to help and support people. Errors were made and these were addressed in positive ways as all organisations found ways to adapt and survive.

On the whole organisations in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough have faired reasonably well. Whilst both CCVS and Hunts Forum have had to help organisations find solutions to difficult problems brought on by loss of funding or other areas, we have not seen large numbers of closures and the groups we work with have avoided large scale redundancies.  Whilst organisations have lost funding, seen demand increase and had issues with volunteers not being available, we have not seen the large scale issues reported by Groundwork in their national research.

Organisations are worried.

We asked organisations whether they could continue to deliver essential services, especially during periods of further lockdown. The overriding answer was yes, but not with the capacity of first-time round, burnout is an issue as are availability of resources and volunteers with the right skills and experience.

Funding is a crucial issue. In an immediate and short-term response funders and councils have stepped in coupled with government grants or furlough payments to enable organisations to adapt services and meet demand. However, there is a growing concern about future funding. There is acknowledgement that many funders have overspent in the crisis, that local councils will be even more cash strapped than before the crisis, and that we are entering into a protracted recession. In addition the restrictions necessitated by the crisis have severely impacted on organisations ability to fund raise. We will never know if locally the sector has lost the £34.5 million predicted. But numerous national research reports say that the sector has lost anything up to £10 billion nationally.

Local is good…

Each district responded differently in response to the very different characteristics of their area and to the organisations active in the location, to geography and to the relationships that were in place and that developed. This tailored response from the local authority was welcomed by all organisations; but it did make it harder for those working across multiple districts to ensure they were plugged in to all the right places.

However, this approach has meant that not all communities have had the same support or services, resulting in a bit of a postcode lottery. Often, we have seen more activity in more deprived areas and this is born out by the groundwork report nationally.

Centralisation nationally probably caused as many problems as it solved, this included ‘Boris boxes’ and the national volunteer scheme. We did not see these issues replicated between county and district functions and organisations working at the different tiers. Essentially things worked well between local partners from all sectors.

Embrace change but maintain the focus

Client services will look different going forward even once the pandemic is behind us. Much of the move to digital delivery will be combined with a return to face to face work for many charities. There is likely to be changes to where and how people work and there is a universal desire from many statutory partners to continue to use video for many of the meetings they convene.

Communication has been key, and especially social media. Facebook and WhatsApp have been pivotal in the setting up and development of groups; they have also played a key role in allowing communities to keep in touch. This change from one central communication path to many creates a challenge in the future for organisations and statutory bodies communicating key messages.  They must also ensure they meet the needs of those not able to access digital communications.

Organisations have faced challenges in maintaining the day to day functions of service delivery and not moving away from their mission.  This is a particular issue for small organisations who have had to alter their services but who have few resources and little time to spend on this. These organisations will need support to enable them to embed essential changes to meet the demands of the new normal.

Moving Forward

Much can be learnt from the pandemic, from the impact it has had on organisations, and from the way that we have seen the best and the worst of society Locally we would like to see the best of this practice encouraged and built on. This will allow real change to come from relationships and partnerships that have flourished due to Covid 19.

Keep reducing bureaucracy

There has been a significant reduction in bureaucracy during the pandemic. Organisations, funders and statutory partners have worked together to implement new services to ensure that people have been given the support they need. We want to keep this new way of working that has seen a more outcome focused rather than output focused partnership. It has been recognised that this is already starting to slip as partners regress back into their old ways of working.

A more equal partnership

We want to continue, and build on, our journey shoulder to shoulder. This means continuing to develop a more equal partnership built around common values, trust and transparency, and an investment into co-produced solutions.

Local is good

Communities have stepped up. They have recognised their needs and have worked with new or existing organisations and structures to ensure the needs were met in the most appropriate way. We want to see more weight given to local knowledge, to social value and to community investment when deciding on how to deliver services.

Empower and invest in communities

We want to see investment into communities and the organisations that sustain and nourish them. This will help to build skills and strengths and ensure truly community led, co-produced solutions. We also need to see real power divested into local communities to ensure they are at the heart of delivering solutions and services.

Support is important

Communities and the organisations that work in them have many strengths and skills, but for them to continue to deliver they will need ongoing support and the opportunity to learn and develop – well-resourced and effective support organisations are crucial to deliver this.

Thank you

Our thanks go to all the organisations we interviewed and to the representatives from the district/city hubs and from the county hub. We have not named the organisations interviewed as we wanted to maintain full anonymity.

We would also like to thank the staff from Hunts Forum, Cambridge Council for Voluntary Service, Peterborough CVS and Living Sport who carried out the research interviews, and to CCVS for collating the results.

You can read more about the impact of COVID-19 on the sector, including additional information on this report on this Sway page. We will be adding to this as new research is published and as we develop further case studies.

Support Cambridgeshire is a partnership between Hunts Forum, Cambridge Council for Voluntary Service and Cambridgeshire ACRE.General enquires info@supportcambridgeshire.org.uk www.supportcambridgeshire.org.uk

[1] When we are talking about organisations, we are referring to charities, community groups and mutual aid groups. We will use this shorthand throughout this report.

Beyond the Inquisition – a reflection on our recent Trustees Question Time event

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Taking part in this joint event with our colleagues at Hunts Forum has been one of the highlights for me, of what has been a challenging year.  The Question Time panel was diverse, informed and inspirational and they sent out some clear messages in response to the varied questions put to them.[1]

On diversity; we can’t sit and wait for it to happen we need to get out there and talk to people, let them see who we are, what we do and how they could make a difference.  We need to ask ourselves:

  • Do we look like somewhere that welcomes people from different backgrounds and experiences? 
  • Are we advertising our opportunities in places that a more diverse audience will see them?
  • Are we removing unnecessary barriers to encourage people to find out more?  Are we set up to recognise people’s potential, offering support and mentoring where needed? 
  • Do we know about the motivations, skills and interests of our fellow trustees?  What are the gaps in our knowledge bank, how will we plug these gaps?
  • Is our culture open to difference? When are meetings held?  Do we encourage trustees to claim expenses so that those on low incomes are not disadvantaged?
  • Can we take advantage of the help on offer?  For example, the Young Trustees Movement  exists to help develop a relationship between organisations and young people so that they can contribute their leadership skills within an open and supportive environment.

To lead our organisations through this crisis we need to be willing to learn and to listen to all our stakeholders. We need to

  • Think ahead to plan effectively 
  • Look for evidence to demonstrate the impact of what we are doing
  • Seek to mitigate the impact of increased stress and isolation on staff and volunteer teams
  • Collaborate with others  

All this needs to happen as we ensure that we keep our charitable purpose at the heart of what we do.

To discuss any of these issues further feel free to contact the development team at Hunts Forum or CCVS.  You might also be interested in upcoming online training our organisations offer, free to the voluntary sector, as part of our Support Cambridgeshire project particularly:

  • Effective Business planning which includes developing a theory of change planning model and putting together a business plan.  26th November 9.30 to 12
  • Essential skills for trustees. A two-part event will take place over 2 evenings one week apart aimed at giving trustees from community organisations and small charities the essential tools to perform their role safely and effectively. 18th & 21st January 6pm to 8pm

Written by Chris Trevorrow training and development worker for CCVS


[1] Out trustee Question time panellists:

Virginia Henley, Head of Charities, Education and Social Enterprise at Hewitsons LLP Northampton. She is a school governor and a trustee. Virginia specialises in advising charities, universities and schools, and a wide range of not-for-profit organisations on the core legal, regulatory and governance issues they face.

Monica Brown, Head of Charity Advisory and Programmes at the Charities Aid Foundation. She is an experienced senior charity executive with extensive experience of working in and with the voluntary sector including 12 years as the National Head of England for BBC Children in Need.

Anthony Wheeler, East of England Ambassador for the Young Trustees Movement and Chair of Trustees of Cambridge Student Community Action. Anthony first became a trustee at 20 and is passionate about empowering young people and breaking down barriers. He’s part of the 1% of trustees under 26 and 3% under 30.

Patricia Rose, The Diversity Trust – Pat Rose is part of the Windrush generation who came from the Caribbean to the UK as child in the sixties. The challenges of growing up in a predominantly white working-class background inspired a lifelong commitment to Equality and Social Justice. In 2014 Pat won the Mental Health Professional Award in the BBC radio 4’s “All in the mind” National Awards.

Voluntary sector and volunteering, Covid 19 and beyond.

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Some thoughts on our survey, the work we do with groups, and the future.

There has been an explosion of volunteers and community spirit across Cambridgeshire as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic. Across the county people are coming together to help others in their community by collecting prescriptions, by doing shopping and by donating to foodbanks. From nowhere new groups have set, old groups have found new activities to engage with charities and community groups have adapted and changed. So, what does this mean for the future of organisations and volunteering?

We have surveyed over 100 local charities to ask them how the pandemic is affecting them and have worked with many more to help them adapt and survive. This has raised a number of questions that I think will be important going forward as we entre a recovery phase, and find out what the new normal is.

We found thousands of staff, volunteers and trustees raising to the challenge to find new ways to support people in these difficult times.

“We have moved all of our services to remote delivery and are offering 1-1 support to LGBTQ+ young people by phone/text/email/video call, and weekly online groups by video call. We have also been distributing relevant books and DVDs to young people by post. We have been investigating how we can move our training delivery online.”

Yet, at the same time some charities are no longer able to deliver services safely and have had to close

“Our small staff group of six are furloughed. The site is closed to co-workers, volunteers, staff and customers.”

Many charities are losing money as they are unable to carry out their usual fundraising, or they are losing income they earn from entrance fees, charity shops or for selling services. We estimate that across Cambridgeshire registered charities will lose over £34.5 million due to the crisis. The total will be even higher if community groups and unregistered charities are included.

Whilst the government has promised charities extra funding this will not plug the gap which NCVO estimate to be £4Billion in England and Wales[1]. Charities that have furloughed workers but are still incurring other costs are not eligible for much of the government support, and we know of groups that will be closing their doors, possibly permanently, when their reserves run out in the next few months.

We know that many charities have benefited from local fundraising, and that many funders including are continuing to support charities. This will not be enough, and most charities do not seem to be eligible for the grants that are being offered to small businesses.

Yet there is still a high level of optimism amongst charities about their future, with 42% being totally confident they will be operating in six months. (These figures should be viewed with a little caution as many of those charities struggling would have furloughed workers, and as such may not have been able to respond.

We also saw that 59% of charities were still using volunteers to deliver services, but only 16% were looking for volunteers. We have heard that many of the local support groups currently have more volunteers than they have roles, and that some are struggling to keep them engaged. What this shows is that volunteers continue to be key to charities delivering services, and that there is an appetite for people to volunteer if they can see a way that they can help.

Moving forward

As we move towards recovery, and as lockdown changes, charities will become even more essential. They will need to be there to support people who have money worries, who have lost relatives, who have mental health problems. They will need to help rebuild communities, and find new ways to bring people together.

“We are very aware that we will experience a significant surge in demand for our services once lock down restrictions have been eased. Many survivors of sexual violence and abuse are unable to reach out to us at the present time due to lack of privacy at home, caring for children, living with abusers etc. So we are trying to plan for how we manage what we will be a significant increase in demand without additional resources or capacity.”

In order for groups to continue to deliver we need to find ways to answer the main concerns that they identified.

As face to face work becomes harder or impossible groups are looking at how they can move their support on to digital platforms. For some this has been a painless experience, but for many it has proved much harder.

Groups are struggling with out of date IT systems and a lack of funds to replace these or invest in the software packages they need. Groups are also struggling with the skills to move to digital delivery and to update their systems.

There are also serious issues with many communities of a growing digital divide, with many people that groups could help digitally not having the technology, skills or data to engage.

As previously mentioned many charities are losing money, however even those that have benefited from new funding support worry about the longer term future. As funders open their coffers to address the crisis this will inevitably impact on the funds available going forward. At the same time the public has dug deeper into their pockets to support local and national campaigns but Caf[2] report that fewer people are saying they will donate in the next months as people are concerned about their own income.

Funding as we move into the recovery phase of the pandemic will be equally as important as it was to meet the initial emergency. If funders have seen endowments reduced, and have offered additional funding immediately then there will be less money available than normal, this will be compounded by local authority and government belt tightening as they seek to address the extra spending they have had to make during the crisis. This will be further compounded as charities continue to lose income from events and activities that will not be able to start for a while, and as the country moves into a recession and donations are impacted.

Volunteers have played a massively important role in the current pandemic and many more people would have had serious problems if it hadn’t been for the army of good neighbours who have stepped forward to help. But there have been problems, locally there have been more volunteers than roles, but also volunteers have been asked to carry out roles without the proper training and support. Nationally the plans to have volunteers run the testing stations went quiet after uproar from the sector, but it is important that volunteers receive the support and training they need.

What the pandemic has shown is that people will volunteer given the right opportunity and a way to do it. Moving forwards if we as a sector are to make the most of this we are going to have to adapt the volunteer roles we have and allow people to volunteer on their terms and not ours.

Mental health services, both those provided by the voluntary sector and those provided by the health sector have done an incredible job in moving their support online or to the phone. Despite this there is a recognition that the mental health impact of the pandemic is likely to last much longer than the physical health impact.[3] The BMJ state

“Early research has brought attention to the psychological impacts of such viral epidemics and protracted physical distancing measures, including those that are expected (such as loss of identity, disruption to usual activity, increases in feelings of loneliness) and those that may be unintended (including increases in domestic violence, child maltreatment and cyberbullying). For many, several coping strategies to deal with this psychological impact can be detrimental to mental health; including alcohol and drug misuse, and online gambling.”

This will impact on staff and volunteers as well as the clients and organisations have to recognise this and adapt to it.

Coming out of lockdown and the immediate crisis charities and community groups will become even more important. As individuals and communities struggle to find their ‘new normal’.

The CAF Coronavirus Briefing shows that in April there was a mixed reaction to this question with only 1 in 4 charities reporting an actual increase in demand. Our research saw charities that might have reduced services due to the virus recognising the fact that there was likely to be increases in demand as they reopen. This will coincide with organisations potentially having reduced capacity or having to find new ways of working. It is important that where possible organisations address this before any surge in demand.

There are two issues here, the first around those organisations that have formed as a direct response to the pandemic, and the second for those organisations that have had to furlough staff to be able to survive.

In the first case groups of well meaning volunteers have suddenly had to think about health and safety, safeguarding, and other issues that keep both the volunteers and those they are helping safe. No one signs up to volunteer around these things, but they have to be there and they have to be understood and acted on.

The second area is where trustees and volunteers are suddenly trying to keep an organisation functioning without staff input. This can be very hard as they are often not connected enough with the operational side of the charity. We have spoken to trustees that have stepped up to take on staff roles and groups where services have been turned round and adapted with little staff input. It is essential that trustees are given the support to do this, but that they also have the time to keep staff on board.

The ‘New normal’

Charities and community groups are doing fantastic work to make a real difference to individuals and communities, I don’t think anyone would disagree with that. Times are hard and confusing, again this is a given. Charities don’t need support because they need to survive, they need support because of the work they do with people and communities across Cambridgeshire and the country. There is no ‘right’ to continued existence.

But charities will need to adapt, and those that do will come out of this pandemic stronger and able to make a bigger impact.

I believe charities need to think about

Volunteering – It has been proved that people want to and will volunteer, it needs to be on their terms and that means we need to offer more flexible, short term, local opportunities that fit with people’s lives and passions.

Technology – We have all become more digital out of necessary. This will impact on how and what we deliver, but this has to recognise that not everyone has, or wants, access to digital tools or data. Whilst working to incorporate digital delivery we have to reduce the digital divide, and this includes working with our staff and volunteers to give them the skills and confidence to embrace and champion technology.

Partnership – This is going to be increasingly important as we struggle to address complex issues, but also as resources get scarcer. We are going to need to find ways of learning from others as well as thinking about joint work. Organisations that think they can ‘go it alone’ will find themselves being marginalised by funders as well as excluded from policy making and delivering solutions.

At the same time there will need to be a recognition that things have changed for who we work with. We know that behaviours will change, research is showing that inequalities are growing because of the pandemic, and simply winding the clock back to February isn’t, and shouldn’t be, an option. Organisations like CCVS will be there, we will be able to act as a sounding board, we will be able to bring people together, but we don’t have all the answers. I believe that the local charity sector can emerge


[1] https://www.ncvo.org.uk/about-us/media-centre/press-releases/2748-every-day-counts-as-charities-still-wait-for-government-support#footnote1

[2] https://www.cafonline.org/docs/default-source/about-us-publications/caf-report-coronavirus-how-charities-and-donors-are-reacting.pdf?sfvrsn=15276c47_2

[3] https://blogs.bmj.com/bmj/2020/05/05/the-long-term-mental-health-impact-of-covid-19-must-not-be-ignored/

A #SmallCharity manifesto

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This is our manifesto for #SmallCharities, short and sweet and only one point!

Loads of charities are writing manifestos in the run up to this election and I hope that whoever enters No 10 in December takes a look at these as they all make excellent points in a far more crafted way than I can. You can find some of the best here.

Good practice states that your manifesto should not be too long, and I read somewhere it should have an uneven number of points and have five or less demands. So this works!

To all prospective candidates, to all political parties and to all who are elected this is our #SmallCharity manifesto.

Give #SmallCharities more money.

That’s it! I really don’t care how this happens, but there should be a variety of opportunities to enable funding to flow to different organisations in different places doing different things. So maybe think about

  • Unfreezing all the dormant assets and find a way to spend the money on #SmallCharities, maybe through community foundations (thanks to NCVO for this one)
  • Repaying the lottery money used on the 2012 Olympics (thanks to DSC for this one) and while you are there increasing the percentage of money going to good causes.
  • Increase funding to local authorities and Clinical Commissioning Groups so they can reinstate and increase grants to local groups.
  • Increase tax and ring fence some of the money to be used to improve local communities.
  • Give us a money tree.

If you do this #SmallCharities will carry on being the powerhouse for good that they have always been.

If you do this #SmallCharities will continue to make the communities we live in better, stronger and more resilient.

If you do this #SmallCharities will be able to grow and prosper and not wither and die.

It may seem a bit crass or simplistic just asking for money, but national research has shown that small charities have suffered more financial pressures in the last 10 years than bigger charities.

“Over the last decade, small charities have seen a 20% decrease in their overall income while income has increased by 30% for major and super-major organisations. At the same time, the proportion of income from government going to small charities has also decreased from 2.7% of the total in 2006/07 to 2.1% in 2015/16.”

https://blogs.ncvo.org.uk/2019/01/21/small-charities-key-findings-from-our-data/

“There is no disguising the fact that the cuts have been dramatic and that there is now far less money to go around.”

https://www4.shu.ac.uk/research/cresr/sites/shu.ac.uk/files/value-of-small-final.pdf

Coupled with the loss of funding smaller charities are more susceptible to short term funding decisions and to fluctuations in funding.

“Instability associated with short-term funding streams appears to be a more critical issue for smaller charities, for whom the removal or retention of single funding awards can be the difference between survival and closure.”

http://www.ncvo.org.uk/images/documents/policy_and_research/funding/financial-trends-for-small-and-medium-sized-charities-ncvo-lloyds-bank-foundation-2016.pdf

Not only have #SmallCharities seen disproportionate drops in funding, but by their nature they are less able to deal with these fluctuations. I would therefore ask that while you are finding us the extra money can you also ensure that this can be accessed by charities over longer periods; five years would be good 10 years would be better.

That’s it, my single point manifesto.

Give #SmallCharities more money.

  • With more money we will recruit, manage and train more volunteers.
  • With more money we will deliver more projects to reduce inequality, loneliness and ill health.
  • With more money we will waste less of our time on fundraising and devote more to doing what it is we are best at.
  • With more money we will run more clubs, activities and events for people.
  • With more money we will still be here in the future.

It really doesn’t matter how you do it – just make it happen.

What do you do when your lottery funding stops?

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Or Is sustainability an urban myth?

There is no doubt that lottery funding has revolutionised how organisations are funded across the country, and that it has supported countless good causes. (Why not see what they have funded in your area on 360 giving). But what happens when your lottery funding runs out?

NCVO state that of the £50billion funding that comes into the sector in a year the lottery is responsible for 1% of this, so given the number of organisations that rely on this funding it is a surprisingly small amount. I have not analysed who is funded but this article concentrates on those organisations with incomes between £10K and £1million, that make up just under half the sector.

On the whole these organisations are relying on paid staff as well as volunteers to deliver predominantly local projects. Organisations work across the whole range of issues and causes that charities cover, and unfortunately NCVO research shows that these organisations have been disproportionately impacted by austerity, seeing income drop especially from statutory sources but also in other areas.

Apart from the biggest most of these organisations will not have a fundraiser, or, if they are lucky, they may have a part time fundraiser. Otherwise fundraising falls to other staff and to volunteers or trustees.

So, when these organisations get a three-year Reaching Communities grant, they breathe a sigh of relief and start concentrating on delivering services that make a difference. This funding will often cover the bulk of the programme that is being delivered. It will ensure a vital service continues and the organisation has a (by our terms) long term future. These days the money may also come with a Building Capabilities grant to improve how the organisation works and their sustainability.

But what happens when the funding starts to reach its end? How is this money replaced? What does sustainability mean?

If groups are very, very lucky they may get a second round of lottery funding, but this puts off the problem for another three years or so. But if this is not the case how do groups replace a single significant grant.

Earn your income. According to NCVO the biggest amount of money coming into the sector is from earnt income. This could be from selling services or a charity shop or from contracts. This is not long term income unless you are lucky to be able to get a contract which in the current climate is getting harder for small organisations. Couple this with the fact that many of these organisations are delivering to individuals and communities that can not afford to pay, earning significant income is not going to be a big source of new money. And to be fair the organisation was probably already maximising this to top up their lottery funding!

We have heard of groups being advised to try Social finance, but let’s get real this is a niche funding stream that the vast majority of organisations in this size range will not be able to access even if the trustees have reached the ‘we will try anything’ point to keep the organisation afloat. You can read one take on Social Impact Bonds here

Corporate sponsorship. If I had a pound for everyone that came to CCVS with the idea that this was going to solve their funding issues we could return all our grants! This is not a panacea as business does not have lots of free cash they are waiting to give to worthy causes. Building better relationships with business is extremely positive, many organisations benefit from financial and other support, but this type of fundraising takes time and energy. If you want to look at how business can help there are ways but it is more than simply sending them a well written email.

The public is the biggest external funder of the sector. But most of these organisations do not have the expertise, staff, or time to fund themselves in this way. Raising money from donations or legacies is time consuming. As technology moves on many organisations do not have the wherewithal to collect as much as they did in the past. Even in my local sandwich shop most people pay by card which means less change going into the collection tin on the counter. Fundraising from the public takes time and effort and you need to invest to make it happen. Maybe those organisations who get Building Capabilities funding should include investing in the skills and the technology to facilitate and grow this type of funding.

Statutory grants and commissions. This was a way many organisations were funded in the past but we are seeing grant levels going down, commissions getting bigger and services being taken inhouse. https://neweconomics.org/uploads/files/NEF_Local_Government_Austerity_2019.pdf. The truth is they are not in the money so neither are we.

This leaves the staple for many of these organisations, grant funding! But many of these are for small amounts, often they want to fund something new and anything more than one years funding is unusual. We regularly see organisations trying to raise money this way. It didn’t take long to find a local group getting money from 45 different funders to find the £180K needed to run. The time and effort to apply and report to these is phenomenal and it has to be repeated year in year out. No wonder we are seeing burn out, organisations cutting projects and organisations closing.

What is sustainability in the real world. It is something we aspire to, something we pay lip service to because we have to, or something we can only dream about? How many of us are one funding decision away from partial or total collapse? People want our services, so do the professionals, it is not the need that is the issue it is the expectation that we will be there to deliver whatever. How much energy in the sector is wasted in getting the money and reporting and measuring? Energy that would be better used in delivering solutions and solving problems. Pretty much every organisation has the most senior person in the building not actually delivering services but filling in forms and writing reports.

What is the answer?

We need multi year grants from all providers three years minimum, 5 is better.

We need all funders to stop demanding their own reports. Organisations do financial reporting for trustees, they should also be reporting on activities and impact. Let us tell you as funders what we are already reporting and only ask for something different if you desperately need it.

We need more standardisation across how we apply for funds. This is the CV vs application form debate. If organisations have written project plans with budgets, needs analysis, outcomes etc. there should be an easy way to apply using them along with a covering letter about how you meet the funders particular priorities.

We need funding to enable small charities to catch up digitally and technologically with bigger charities in order to allow them to raise funds more effectively.

We need a long term, high profile campaign to change the narrative about charities so that the public recognise charities as the majority and not the minority of mega charities. That way they will think about smaller local organisations when they fundraise, donate or leave a legacy.

We need to reverse cuts to local government and other statutory services and ensure that they are funding local services and groups.

We need the HNS and local Clinical Commissioning groups to put their money where their mouth is about the importance of non-clinical and preventative services. We need to start to fund this to save money in the future.

We have to address inequality as a country in order to reduce its impact on people across all aspects of their lives.

Lottery funding is fantastic (if you are reading this we could do with some here at CCVS) but with it comes the inevitable cliff edge of what happens when it runs out. Fundraising is taking more time, energy, and resources away from delivering solutions. This is especially true in the smaller organisations who have been most impacted by austerity and reductions to income. We really need to address this or more organisations will be forced to close projects or simply cease to exist.

“They heard me… but they listened to you”

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Some wise words from Julia Campbell.

Julia is one of my favorite experts. Despite the fact that she is from ‘across the pond’, and despite the fact that we do very little non grant funding it is worth signing up for her emails etc. The reason for this is because she is fantastic in helping you think about how you communicate and how you tell your story, and whilst these skills are often seen as being those of a great fundraiser I think they should be skills everyone working or volunteering for a small charity or community group should be looking to improve. Check out her website here.

This was the introduction to one of her recent email newsletters, and I love it!

Have you watched the fantastic HBO show Chernobyl?

In the last episode (no spoilers), one of the characters says to another, regarding their influence during the disaster:

“They heard me… but they listened to you.”

One was a scientist, who had all the data, info, and hard facts to back up his hypothesis about the explosion that caused the tragedy.

They heard him, they processed all the facts that he relayed to them patiently, somewhat in disbelief.

One was a career government man, but one of integrity, one that people felt good about listening to.

He carried the weight of trust and credibility, and people literally went into the fire for him.

This reminds me of the famous Maya Angelou quote:

Maya Angelou

You need statistics and data to demonstrate that there is a problem, that it is urgent, and that it needs to be solved.

You need information and education to be seen as credible, and to build trust with your audience.

But if people don’t feel GOOD about the person telling the story, about the people delivering the message, it won’t resonate, and it won’t change hearts and minds.

The truth of human nature is that we trust our guts much more than our heads.

Getting people to pay attention is challenging.

But attention can be manipulated, through irrelevant but eye-catching imagery, click-bait headlines, and other unsavory digital practices that steal attention and interrupt and annoy people.

While getting attention may seem like an uphill battle, it can be purchased, stolen, or exploited.

However, getting people to CARE – that’s much more difficult.

In all of our communications, we need to aim to go deeper than just a click, or a like, or a view.

Attention is great. But action is better.

How are you working not only to get people to hear you, but to listen?

Julia Campbell https://jcsocialmarketing.com/

I suggest you check out Julia’s website sign up to her emails and follow her on twitter @JuliaCSocial or on your social media platform of choice.

And before you ask, no she hasn’t paid me!

Struggling to recruit volunteers, it may be your fault!

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If CCVS had a pound for every group we hear about who are struggling to find volunteers then we would be rich (or at least have a much lower fundraising target)!

As the local support organisation for the sector we get many calls from groups looking for new volunteers or new trustees. I covered some of the issues with trustee recruitment in a previous blog and in this blog I am looking at volunteering.

One of the scariest slides I use when talking about volunteering is from NCVO via the Third Sector Research Centre and this states that 9% of the population are responsible for just over half of formal volunteering. 9% of the Cambridgeshire population equates to 58,340 people which sounds a lot but is only 17 people per square kilometre, so this means those committed volunteers are pretty spread out. I am sure many in the sector will recognise that ‘serial volunteer’ in their community, and in fact my experience is that many who work in the sector are those serial volunteers.

The NCVO research into Volunteering, Time Well Spent, shows that 7 in 10 of us have volunteered at some time in our lives, but only 40% have done so in the last 12 months, and only 7% see volunteering as something that has consistently run through their lives. It also shows that older people are more likely to have volunteered recently, and that those in the higher social classes are more likely to volunteer.

We know we need more volunteers; we also know that people’s lives are changing. And yet are we as organisations changing our volunteering offer and what we are asking of them? All the surveys show that people do have free time, but we are competing with many new distractions and leisure opportunities that take people away from volunteering.

This gets me to the heart of what I think is the issue. I think that some of the problem, and perhaps most of the problem, with the lack of volunteers lies with us, the people looking to engage them and get them on board. I think we have to change two key things. This won’t be easy; it won’t be the same for everyone; and it may mean we have to compromise a bit on what we do.

We have to change how we ask people to volunteer.

Time well spent showed that 35% of people who had never volunteered had not been asked or had not thought about it. This is a ringing indictment of the sector. We need to be asking more people to volunteer, we need to be making this ask engaging, and we need to ensure that the ask stands out from all the other messages people receive.

There are any number of great volunteer recruitment ads doing the rounds. For me they need to concentrate on the impact the volunteer will have or the difference they will make. They need to engage and draw interest so there has to be an eye-catching photo or strapline. An advert should give the basic information about where and what the opportunity is about. There needs to be somewhere for the volunteer to go for more information – a website, the other side of the leaflet, a phone number.

Initially you need to make sure you have grabbed the attention of your audience; this means that you need to know the audience and what will grab their attention. You probably need a series of adverts and asks that appeal to different groups. You will have to invest some time and thought into this. The scout and guide movement have done this, check out some of these images.

I have collected some examples in this Pinterest board but to be honest there are probably more bad examples than good out there, and what I find engaging will not be engaging for everyone. Get creative and understand your audience.

We are not offering the right things

For too long we have had a Henry Ford approach to volunteering offers “You can have any colour as long as it is Black.” In other words organisations develop and define the volunteering opportunity they want, then try and recruit to it. Too often this does not fit with how people want to volunteer or what they are able to commit to. If we are doing this then no wonder we find recruiting hard work. People want to enjoy their volunteering, not feel guilty that they have missed a session.

I volunteer for Junior Parkrun as my youngest enjoys running it. But with young kids and a busy life we do not go every week, so we are probably at 60% of the runs. Luckily the way that Parkrun manage volunteering if I don’t turn up then the run still happens. There is a flexibility that suits me. This may mean a little extra work for those volunteers that organise the runs (and who do have to commit more), but if I had to commit to being there every week, I wouldn’t be able to and I would not volunteer at all!

What I am saying is that organisations have to think about how people want to, and are able to, volunteer and design the volunteering around that. That does not mean that volunteers can mess organisations around. If you have made a commitment it is important that you keep it, as in those weeks where I have signed up to volunteer but on waking up and seeing the rain my daughter decides she is not running – I still turn out and don’t just ‘not bother’.

I understand that in some settings it is important for clients to see people they know so volunteers have to be a bit more consistent, but there are ways of sharing a role or organising an organisations volunteering opportunities so there are a variety of roles that require different commitment levels – this is what the Parkrun model has done.

There are examples of organisations that run regular events like Parkrun but with a different volunteer team each time. Foodcycle https://www.foodcycle.org.uk/ is one, every week they put on meals using volunteers who sign on when they can and for roles they are interested in.  There are systems being developed to help manage this, one example of which comes from the museums sector.

If our volunteering opportunities do not reflect the lifestyle and availability of the potential volunteers then we will struggle to recruit. Similarly if we do not support and train our volunteers and make the activity enjoyable then we will not retain our volunteers. It is up to us to adapt to what potential volunteers want and not expect them to adapt to us. If we do not change potential volunteers will decide to re-watch Game of Thrones, or go for a run, or pop to the pub or do any one of the things people choose to do with their free time.

To Conclude

If 70% of the population have volunteered at some stage, and half of those who have never volunteered are prepared to give it a try that is a lot of potential volunteers.

We need to reach out to the lapsed volunteers and those that have never tried it. We need to ensure that volunteering is fun and flexible as well as rewarding and impactful. We need to create volunteering opportunities that fit with the lifestyles of those we are looking to attract, and adverts that make opportunities stand out.

If you want to get more information on all aspects on Recruiting and retaining volunteers then keep an eye on our training pages we also have a few tips on the website.

Who would be a trustee or committee member?

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Attribution: Alpha Stock Images – http://alphastockimages.com/
Original Author: Nick Youngson – http://www.nyphotographic.com/
Original Image: http://www.thebluediamondgallery.com/wooden-tile/t/trustee.html

If you ask many small charities and groups, the answer to the above question is “not enough people”. If you ask most members of the public, they would probably look at you blankly and ask what a trustee does. Almost nobody volunteers for a charity because of the quality and excitement of their trustee meetings. People get involved because it is a cause, an organisation, a mission they are passionate about; people want to make a difference by doing, campaigning, interacting and not by meeting to check the safeguarding policy is up to date or the annual returns have been posted! Too often trustees are press-ganged into the role, I have lost count of the number of trustees I have met over the years who were dedicated supporters and/or volunteers of a charity and have been co-opted (coerced) onto the board because there was a need for more bodies.

Lots has been written about diversity on boards and this is something that should be encouraged, but too often the reality for most charities is that ‘we will take anyone who offers’. I know any number of charities who are so desperate for a treasurer they would happily accept the Count from Sesame Street as at least he understands numbers. Sometimes diversity or skills are less important than warm bodies who will turn up. We need to think about how smaller groups can turn this around given that there is no budget, and that there is less kudos and more work in small organisations, often trustees have to take on the day to day management tasks as there are not the staff or volunteers to do this. Arguably the role of say the secretary in a small organisation with a £50,000 turnover is more time consuming than it is in a multi-million pound one. In the small organisation you are doing it all, in the larger one you are checking that someone has done ‘it’.

Without a doubt a diverse, highly skilled, and well recruited trustee board is a positive benefit to an organisation. There are lots of people thinking about this at the moment, but I wonder how many will do so in a practical way for small organisations. How much of the advice will take into account the reality of working in rural or more deprived communities?

Recently Susan Elan Jones, the Labour MP for Clwyd South and co-chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Charities and Volunteering introduced a 10 minute bill that has passed the first stage in parliament. This would add trustees to the list of activities that organisations have to give employees reasonable time off to attend, putting trustees on a par with councillors, magistrates and school governors. This is a good thing but there has been a recent issue with these bills making it through the parliamentary process. And anyway parliament seem to be obsessed with something else at the moment! – We can hope this is successful and you can find out more in this article.

If we assume that this happens will it help our small groups? Yes but …. What is reasonable time off? What does it mean to smaller local firms who may employ the local trustees? What does it mean for those in low income or temporary work who may be the trustees of the grassroots organisations? Will this mean more trustees for small local charities?

Should we pay them

My answer is and always will be no. This may seem idealistic but if you start paying people then motivations change and so does the whole ethos of charities IMHO. So, no payment but let’s be better about expenses. Encourage people to take them, if all do it, it won’t make that person who does need to take them feel stigmatised. If those that don’t need them donate the money back to the charity or another charity great, and we can claim gift aid, so great with a perk! Also remember expenses might include paying for child care or to overcome other barriers to coming out like a carer or interpreter. We all say we pay expenses but how many of us are doing it as no one has asked?

Open recruitment will make us more diverse.

That is what the research says, and I have to agree. But (and there is always a but), how practical is this for small groups with no budget and little experience. Luckily there are lots of resources available including a new guide from Getting on Board called ‘How to recruit trustees for your charity’ This has lots of advice that builds on the ‘Taken on Trust’ research. This included work to support 30 charities to recruit new trustees of which 74% were successful. Whilst this is great if only ¾ were successful when given significant help and support then it shows how difficult it can be for small organisations.

CCVS is there to offer some support so do contact us if you need help, but you have to sell your organisation and the role! Few organisations do advertise, and when they do it is generally in the free places where they are appealing to the ‘usual suspects’. By putting your advert on Reach or on Do-It, or for that matter on the CCVS website, you are advertising to people who are engaged. By advertising on social media, you are competing with all the other noise. This is a start but if you are looking to diversify your board you are going to have to invest time, energy and resources into this then. Use the above guide to try and get it as perfect as possible and be creative with your ad and where you place it..

Why do no diverse people come forward when we advertise?

There is an issue about diversity on boards. The Charity Commission has been (unhelpfully) highlighting this for a while. I am pretty sure that most of those working in the sector are aware of this. Unfortunately, open recruitment will not solve this alone. We need to address some fundamental issues which stem from the ‘that’s not for the likes of me’ syndrome. We need to look at any issues that exist about why some people do not see themselves as trustees. We need to look at why those from the working class or those from lower income groups do not see them selves as trustees. We need to address why there are fewer people from BAME communities who are trustees. We need to think why young people are not becoming trustees. We need to spread the word that trusteeship is about them, that they do have skills, insights and experiences that are important, we need to highlight the things that people can gain from being a trustee (there is a whole blog about what I have gained from it, but do check out this). If whole sections of the community do not see themselves as potential trustees no amount of open advertising is going to improve things.

So what can we do?

I think that there is a disconnect in the advice and the reality for small charities (those with an income below £100K). I also think that there is more that we as a sector can do, and more that we as a local support organisation can do.

  • We see many adverts that list the skills needs for trustees as HR, finance, management, social media etc. and less that stress the need for commitment, passion, interest, lived experience. We need to get better at appealing to a wider group of people, we have to work to write better adverts.
  • We need to find ways to make more people see themselves as trustees. This means that groups working with these individuals need to look at how we educate and inform people that charities want them.
  • We need to find funders that will fund grassroots programmes to provide advice, support and training to get more people to become trustees.
  • Charities have to want diverse boards and not just say they do. Often boards become ‘clubs’ and this is very off putting if you do not naturally fit in. It is important that all organisations look for new ideas and disrupters, and are able to engage with and encourage the change that they bring.
  • We need to think where we are advertising and not simply use the usual channels, and this is where open recruitment needs to be better – if we have an advert that appeals to a certain group, we need to put it in front of that group.
  • We need to put in place appropriate training and support for new trustees. This has to be from infrastructure organisations and also from the trustee’s own organisation. We need to make this support and training flexible and appropriate to trustees from all backgrounds.
  • We need to be better at articulating both the difference that trustees make and the personal benefits that being a trustee brings. Many volunteering opportunities are couched in this way and sometimes it feels that trustees are looked at differently than volunteers when in fact it is simply one form of volunteering.
  • We need to make our meetings accessible to different people, this means looking at the times and venues but also at the use of technology and how we structure meetings.

Without trustees the sector grinds to a halt, yet for many small groups getting trustees is an ongoing struggle. We need investment that will both help the groups look in new places as they recruit, and will also help more people to see themselves as potential trustees. We need good quality advice, support and training for new and existing trustees to ensure they are kept informed and up to date with best practice and legislation. We need everyone, including the Charity Commission, promoting the fantastic work charities do and how trustees contribute to this.

What I need to move my charity forward and be the best it can is someone committed and passionate about our vision. I can’t teach that, I can teach a bit of charity law, or finance or strategic planning.

Advert to a page to find out more about being a trustee on the CCVS website
Advert to Duties of trustees training to be held on 30th April in Cambridge

A response to the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Independent Commission on Climate initial report.

Introduction

The Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Independent Commission on Climate website states that the commission

The logo of the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Independent Commission on climate

“was created by Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Combined Authority in 2020, on the recommendation of the Combined Authority Board. The task of the Commission is to provide authoritative recommendations to help the region mitigate and adapt to the impacts of climate change, enabling us to meet the commitment to eradicating net carbon emissions across the area by 2050.”

More about the commission can be found on their website including who the commission members are and more detail about what they hope to achieve. The commission have recently produced their initial recommendation report and the response to this can be found on the Combined Authority website.

This response from Cambridge Council for Voluntary Service (CCVS) addresses some issues about the process and the make up of the commission, and does not address the detailed recommendations that the report makes. We at CCVS are not qualified to speak about the ambition or impact of the recommendations, but we fully support the need to make a significant and radical difference to how we use energy in the short, medium and long term in order to reduce the impact of climate change. We believe that climate change poses a significant risk to Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, and the wider planet, and that we all need to look at what we can do to reduce this.

Individual and community action will be key

Whist it is essential that government at all levels brings in the necessary legislation and funding to make change happen, and whilst it is essential that business of all sizes makes changes to their energy use, a significant part of addressing the need to reduce non sustainable energy use will fall on individuals.

“The engagement of residents is particularly important: the Climate Change Committee estimates that almost 60% of the changes we need to reach net zero will involve people changing their behaviour to some extent and making positive decisions to support emissions reduction.”

The report is clear that

“In the CPCA area we have over 350,000 existing homes that will need to be converted to low carbon heating”

It also has a target that there will be a

“Reduction in car miles driven by 15% to 2030 relative to baseline”

The desire and ability of individuals and communities to make major changes to their lives to address climate issues has to be there or we will not reach the targets that have been set. These changes to lives have to be done in a way that does not increase the already considerable inequalities that exist across the county. The report recognises this but must do all it can to ensure that any changes are

“delivered through a just transition, that does not leave marginalised communities behind.”

Recommendation – Any changes, proposals or ideas have to be measured against an equality index to ensure that no one is disadvantaged.

Where is the community engagement?

My first issue with the commission is that the voice of the community and the community sector is not represented at the highest levels of the commission. If the last 18 months have shown us anything it is the ability of communities and community organisations to deliver real support and services based on local need and local knowledge. It was individuals and small charities that reacted quickest to the outbreak of the pandemic, it was communities and community organisations that found solutions to help those in need, it was these groups that marshalled and motivated an army of volunteers to deliver. All this was done before government at any level was able to start to help out. What then emerged was one of the most equal partnerships between communities and small organisations and local government that has been seen. This delivered the support to those that needed it.

Recommendation – That the commission invites a new member from the local community or charity sector to become a full member.

Recommendation – that a local network of other organisations and groups that have an interest is formed and resourced to feed views to the representative.

The report recognises that

“there are ways in which individuals, families and communities can contribute positively to this change”

The commission has to find a way to get a voice from this level heard at the highest level.

We need new community solutions

Radical change is needed if we want to avoid the impact of climate change. To achieve this we have to work in true partnership across all levels of community and government. Legislation and top-down solutions will only change so much. It is only through co-production that significant changes in how we live and work can be developed and become the new normal.

There have to be resources put in place to allow communities to identify how they can address issues; new ways of working have to be embraced and power has to be moved to the local level. The commission have to address this if they are to take individuals and communities on a shared journey to a shared destination.

Recommendation – that the Commission look at how power, resources and wealth can be given to, and retained by, communities to allow them to find local solutions that work.

Conclusions

Many people will have ideas and views on this, and as the report highlights this is a topic close to the hearts of many in the area.

“Residents responding to both surveys wanted to see council leadership on climate change, nature prioritised, improved education and information to support behaviour change and a leading role for the area nationally. A strong engagement and listening programme will be needed to ensure residents are both keen and able to make the changes needed.”

We need to make sure that there is wide engagement and that this is about more than listening, but about devolving power and resources. CCVS are not the experts and it is not for us to comment on the practical way forward. We will do all we can to play our part as an organisation and as a membership body. What we can, and will, do is to push for all voices to be heard, not just through consultations but also at the highest levels of the commission.

The solutions that local, regional and national government come up with have to be co-produced with communities and individuals if we want to see real change to how we live. A top-down approach will fail, and will also increase inequality and leave marginalised communities more impacted by climate change etc.

The Supported Volunteering Project and beyond

Hello! My name is Ellie and for those who don’t know me, I worked at the Supported Volunteering Project (SVP) for 6 years.

I recently came back from maternity leave and found many changes to the sector, and to my role, so I often feel I am starting a new job altogether.  From the tools we use, to the ways we communicate – working from home rather than at the hub in Arbury Court, to the needs of the community, and a new inspiring willingness for the voluntary sector to work together.

The SVP was set up in 2012 by Cambridge and District Volunteer Centre (CDVC) to help those needing extra support to get involved in volunteering. When the CDVC closed, CambridgeCVS recognised the need for the support and took over the project.

It has been a beautiful journey so far enabling me to witness people from all backgrounds, putting their hearts into new challenges and helping create a more just and balanced community. I’ve had many opportunities to grow and learn, both personally, and professionally.

What I particularly enjoyed in my role was the ability to listen to people and their stories, being inspired by them and working out how to best utilise their lived experiences, their skills (that often they did not even identify as skills) and their passions. Working together with professionals enabled us to discover as a team, that the prospective volunteer often had the best answers themselves all along, and encouragement and guidance was all they needed to reach their potential and in turn to encourage and teach others to do the same.

Being passionate about community and people, I am full of admiration for the projects and people I meet every day. Cambridge is a melting pot of cultures and skills and people can, with the right support, achieve incredible results once they connect with their community.

During my years at the SVP, people came to us, to some degree, in waves, responding to events in the community, or in their own lives, that made them feel increasingly isolated or unable to connect with others. I have worked with people struggling with poor mental health, those who were new to Cambridge and the country and people who had been unemployed long term, as well as people with disabilities, stay at home parents, carers, and young people considering a gap year.

When the pandemic hit, I was on maternity leave and trying to get along like everyone else during such an upsetting time. But I was amazed by the community response to the emergency, and my heart was full of hope and wonder how people just got on and helped each other, getting to know their neighbours and community in time of need.

For some, it was the first opportunity to volunteer. I interviewed several residents and found that people who had never volunteered before, did so during lockdown, as “a way to keep mentally healthy and feel useful”. Others, who had volunteered before, found their role had changed as had the needs of their clients, some just started helping neighbours and built connections, albeit socially distanced, that they “should have made years before.”

At CCVS, we realised we need to rethink and reshape our volunteering support, to respond to needs and changes that the pandemic unearthed. Volunteering is for all: everybody can volunteer, and everybody needs the voluntary sector and its army of volunteers. It is our intention, as a community development organisation, to work towards accessible and barrier free volunteering opportunities for all.

It is very exciting for me to be back at work with a strong and caring team of colleagues, who, like me, believe in community and its potential.  We aim to support long, mutually beneficial, meaningful relationships with local community groups and volunteers.

For now, we have restarted 1:1 support by phone, email and online. We have begun a new activity: “Walk and Talk about Volunteering” which is a chance for people (potential volunteers, volunteers and voluntary organisations) to meet, walk, and chat about all things volunteering – such as opportunities, projects and application processes.

We already deliver training, currently online, and facilitate volunteer manager forums. We give advice to those in support or caring roles who would like to become volunteers. We work with organisations and offer guidance with volunteer recruitment and management and encourage recruitment from all parts of the community. We plan to restart group presentations and participation in events promoting volunteering. Finally, we encourage the care and kindness that our sector best represents and push for change where needed to empower everybody to become the volunteer they want to be.

If you would like to know more please get in touch with me ellie@cambridgecvs.org.uk or call 07840989719.

Cambridgeshire Digital Partnership, this is only the beginning

Picture shows Andrew Entecott, CEO for Cambridge Online and Sally Page, CDP Coordinator, at a socially distanced meeting.

Hello! Firstly, let me introduce myself. I’m Sally and like many, I wear a couple of hats. I have two part-time jobs with CCVS, as a Development Worker and Cambridgeshire Digital Partnership Coordinator. I have been in the coordinator role for about a month. As I am settling in, I would like to share a little about the partnership, why I am so excited to be involved and why you should watch this space.

The Cambridgeshire Digital Partnership (CDP) is a network, currently made up of six Cambridgeshire based organisations, who are working around digital exclusion. At the moment we are; Cambridge Online, Cambridge Youth Panel, Cambridgeshire Libraries, the CHS Group, the New Horizons service and CCVS. At regular steering group meetings, each organisation shares knowledge, resources, and skills. They, like many, have had a very busy year.

The Covid-19 pandemic saw work around digital exclusion pick up pace. As we stayed home to reduce the spread of the virus, millions across the country found themselves disconnected from their education, communities, and support services. Many did not have digital skills, access to kit or internet connection. It was the local charities and organisations, who acted quickly to try and reach and support the most vulnerable. In Cambridge alone, over a thousand laptops were repurposed and delivered to people without devices, and this is just one example of how organisations stepped up.     

During the pandemic, the partnership has worked together to raise awareness of the digital divide in Cambridgeshire, to enable and encourage joined-up action. In addition to their day to day work they set up this website, social media and facilitated conversations across the sector, through an online conference, but that was only the beginning.

I have joined at a time when the steering group are thinking about the future, what the partnership is, whatit should become and how it could best enable change. The digital divide is a social issue that was there before Covid-19. It has been accelerated by the pandemic and given a more prominent, national profile. There is a need to maintain this momentum and to develop a strong, joined-up local response.

We will need your help with this.

We will soon be raising our voice, reaching out to more organisations, asking them to join the conversation. So, watch this space, follow us on @CambsDigi and let’s tackle the digital divide together.

Get in touch with Sally via email: hello@cambridgeshiredigitalpartnership.org.uk

The Cambridgeshire Digital Partnership is supported by:

Are you looking for funding?

Cambridgeshire ACRE's Community Buildings Service

CCVS are organising an online event on Finding Funding for your community running on 15th July 2021 – 12:00 to 13:30 free to any group.

The following organisations will be presenting their funds and answering questions:

  • Cambridgeshire County Council cultivate fund – The 1st August funding round (£2,000-£15,000) is for projects that build community support networks for vulnerable people. Particularly Mobile Warden Schemes, Community Youth Worker, Digital Inclusion, Timebanks, Good Neighbour Schemes, Dementia-Friendly Communities and Men’s Sheds – that can help people to remain independent and active within their community, encourage volunteering, and complement more costly Council services. You can find guidance on how to apply for a start-up grant for each of these projects here.
  • Cambridgeshire Community Foundation – manage a range of funds offer small grants(under £3499) and large grants (over £3500) the next deadline for general applications is 1st August.
  • Community chest grants (South Cambs…

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Online Event for Village Hall Trustees

Cambridgeshire ACRE's Community Buildings Service

ONLINE NETWORKING SESSION

We are now taking bookings for our July online trustees networking session is taking place on Tuesday 20 July at 10am please see the details below, if you would like to book to attend this session please contact me at lisa.chambers@cambsacre.org.uk

Food hygiene in Village Halls
The training session covers basic food hygiene and includes certificate of attendance for participants. Ticket price £15.00 (members or £20 for non-members) per person only 12 places available.

This session will be delivered by Debbie Dawtry MIH, FRSPH, ACIEH Equally if you would like to catch up with some of our previous sessions you can view the recordings from our webpage, please click the link to see the full programme and recorded events.

SPACES ARE LIMITED SO PLEASE BOOK EARLY

https://cambscommunitybuildings.wordpress.com/training-events/

We will be announcing more session over the coming months please keep an eye out for our communications.

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