Cambridge Older People’s Network 

By Chris Trevorrow. April 2022.

Networking for charities and services to improve the lives of older people in Cambridge 

So far 16 different organisations and services benefiting older residents in Cambridge have met online to share what they are doing, make useful contacts and collect valuable information. 

The aims of the network are: 

  • to come together to establish an informal network that meets regularly. 
  • find out what others are doing and to examine challenges together and share experiences.  
  • collaborate more effectively and avoid working in isolation  

Attendees have expressed interest in pursuing a number of initiatives including mapping services in the City for older people, sharing communications and creating an event in the Autumn aimed at promoting activities and services for older people in the community.   

The network is chaired by Cambridge United Community Trust following an initiative from U3AC and COPE with organisational support from CCVS.  The next meeting will be in June.  To join the network or find out more get in touch with Christine.

Real Living Wage – what is it and why is it important?

By Sally Page. Development Worker & Digital Partnership Co-ordinator. November 2021.

The Real Living Wage (RLW) is the only UK hourly wage rate based on the actual cost of living and has recently increased by 40 pence to £9.90 per hour. If you live in London, it is £11.05 per hour. The Real Living Wage rates are higher than national minimum wage because they are independently calculated and based on what people need to get by.  

The Real Living Wage Foundation have an accreditation scheme for organisations who pay the RLW to their employees and contractors. This gives organisations a way to demonstrate that they are committed to fair pay and employers’ rights, whilst also helping to raise awareness on a political and national level.  

CCVS are proud to have become a Living Wage Employer and we hope your organisation will join us by becoming one too.  

What did CCVS have to do to become accredited?  

The process of becoming accredited was straightforward for CCVS as the Living Wage was already paid to staff and contractors which meant that we did not need to change payrolls or contracts before applying.  

We expressed an interest in becoming accredited via the Living Wage Foundation website. Once we received more information from the foundation, we completed the license agreement, which is the formal application for accreditation. The form asked for information about our staff and pay structure, but it only took about ten minutes to complete. 

Within a few days, our application was approved, and we received a £60 invoice to pay for the first year, before officially becoming accredited. The payment was made, thanks to a grant by Cambridge City Council. The foundation sent us a wealth of marketing resources, to help us share the good news, including our lovely Living Wage Employer Plaque, which we received in the post and promptly fixed to our office wall.  

Real Living Wage employer plaque. It is a glass plaque with the CCVS logo and Real Living Wage Employer logo. 
The text on the plaque reads; We are a Living Wage Employer. The Living Wage Foundation is proud to award the Living Wage Employer mark to CCCVS. This organisation is an accredited Living Wage Employer.

How can we help your organisation become accredited? 

There are a couple of keyways CCVS can help your organisation become accredited.  

Firstly, we are proud to be working with Cambridge City Council to administrate grants, available to cover the initial accreditation cost for Cambridge based voluntary organisations.  

The grant process could not be more straightforward. Simply contact CCVS to let us know you would like to apply for accreditation. We will double check that the funds are available, and once we have confirmed, you can go ahead with your application. When you receive the invoice for becoming accredited, you forward it to us at CCVS, and we pay the fee for you, easy peasey! 

As always, we are here to help. If you need to make salary changes to pay the Real Living Wage, you may need support with the process, or you might want a sounding board to talk things through, ahead of applying. Whatever your query, reach out and we can have a chat. It might be that we put you in touch with the Living Wage Foundation directly, or answer your questions there and then, but no matter what, we are here to provide support.  

With the cost of living going up, the need to take action to enable better pay across our sector is as vital as ever. Whilst this is just one cog in the wheel, if you join us in becoming a Living Wage Employer you will be contributing towards Cambridge becoming a fairer city, and that can only be a good thing. 

Get in touch  


The Living Wage Foundation website  

Work from Home, Work from the office – five questions for trustees to think about hybrid working

For trustees of many organisations helping staff to navigate their path back to work as we move through the pandemic will be a significant challenge. One key area to think about will be people’s desire to explore hybrid working so they can get the benefits of working both in the office and at home.

A woman wearing a phone headset sat at a computer working from home with a window in the background with pink curtains and plants in pots.

We will all be ‘building back better’ and living in ‘the new normal’. After 18 months where staff have discovered some of the joys (and the pitfalls) of working from home, and as organisations asses if they really need all that expensive office space we are going to see a rise in hybrid working where staff work partly at home and partly in the office. This blog will give trustees some questions to ponder as they decide a way forward.

1.    Is it right for the organisation?

Home working or Hybrid working will not be suitable for all organisations. Where it isn’t you need to have a clear justification for why it is not possible in case you are asked by staff, you also have to ensure that all staff are treated fairly, but this does not mean there can not be different rules for different roles. But in the case of much desk bound work hybrid working should be considered. Simply because you as trustees or the senior manager don’t like it and are not familiar with it is not a reason to insist on everyone being in the office.  

Ann Francke, the chief executive of the CMI, argues that the most successful models of working will be the most flexible ones. “Command and control isn’t the way we work now, the pandemic has knocked presenteeism on its head. Work should be output-focused – about what you do, not where you do it,”.

There is a good chance you will, or have, been asked about hybrid working, and if you haven’t you might well be. It makes much more sense to speak to staff and have a clear proactive answer for when the question comes. And at the same time there are many benefits to choosing a hybrid model. These could include

  • Increased efficiency – staff are judged on their results rather than on their behaviour – they no longer have to ‘look busy’ when the manager is around but set out to achieve their objectives in their own time. This instils trust in staff and gives them a sense of self-motivation; it will lead to higher levels of job satisfaction and reduced absence and turnover rates
  • A reduction in costs – With fewer staff in the office at any given time, less office space is required, this will also reduce other on costs associated with being in the office. It’s not just the charity that will save money, either. Staff will see big savings on daily commuting, as well as potential savings on food expenses and those on-the-go coffees.
  • Improved well-being – Allowing staff to work from home helps them prioritise their wellbeing and family. It’s a chance to focus on staff morale and ensure they have everything they need to work at their best.

2.    Is it right for the staff?

Commissioned by London-based startup YuLife, a YouGov survey of more than 2,000 British adults looked into workplace wellbeing. It found that four in five (79%) of those who could work remotely would like to do so at least two days per week.

According to the Charted Institute of Management (CMI) 48% of managers feared that team members would quit if they could no longer work remotely.  People have got a taste of remote working and many like it. But not all do, many find it isolating and may not live somewhere conducive to working from home.

If you as an organisation have decided to move down the hybrid working route you must do this in partnership with the staff. It is highly likely that any change from an office based model to a hybrid model will involve a change in people’s contracts, as such you need to consult with them about the change.

Hybrid working will not suit everyone, you need to be flexible and understand different positions.

3.    Do we mandate a number of days in the office and other procedural stuff?

The research from the CMI found that about half of managers expected staff to be in the office two to three days a week, but experts agree there is no one-size-fits-all model for hybrid working. While some companies are insisting on a set number of days a week in the office, or even full-time if you work for Goldman Sachs, others such as Tui are stipulating a minimum of one day a month.

At the same time it is essential that you work out travel and expenses policies

  • For travel, where can staff claim mileage? From their or the office to their destination, and what about travel to the office?
  • Are you going to pay a working from home allowance towards costs such as heating and internet etc?
  • Who will pay for kit that is needed at home? Will this also include special kit for those that may have a disability?
  • What about insurance for any of your equipment that is used at home, do staff have to include this in their insurance?

On top of this you will need to decide if certain staff or teams are in the office together. Are there enough desks and if not do you need a booking system and will there be a space for staff to store personal items. How will rules differ for part time staff, especially if you stipulating minimum days in the office, will these be pro rata?

Hybrid working is probably not the easiest option, but it will be the one that has the potential to reap the greatest rewards. There will be lots of issues that you need to work out including manning the phone, sorting the post and looking after the building if you have one. You will be unlikely to get all these things right straight away and the hybrid working arrangements should be reviewed on a regular basis.

4.    How do we make sure people are working safely?

You will need to consider how and where people are working when they are at home. You retain a duty of care to staff but obviously you are more reliant on them completing their own assessment of their working environment. You should look to check each staff members home working environment, this can be done remotely or online. It is also important that you are clear with staff about safe home working, both with regard to their physical workspace but also with regard to not meeting clients or contacts at home etc.

When setting up home work spaces you need to think about reasonable adjustments and providing equipment, this could be proper seats, laptop stands, foot rests etc. there has to be a clear agreement with staff about how your equipment is used and that it remains the property of the organisation.

As well as physical safety it is important that you consider data and digital security. As staff work from home and move from one place to another there is an increased risk of data breaches. All staff must be aware of your data protection policy and taking all steps to reduce the risk of accidental data breaches, this includes not letting any family members use work IT equipment, and staff not using work equipment for personal use.

Finally make sure that any of your equipment is insured, either through your policy or through staff members home policy. Many insurers extended cover for IT to include home use at the start of the pandemic but for most this was a temporary change and has come to an end. Check with your provider.

5.    Do people have the skills?

Hybrid working will involve new skills, this will include

  • learning new ways to communicate,
  • being more organised
  • increasing our flexibility and resourcefulness
  • learning to use new software

But perhaps the biggest learning curve will be for managers without a doubt a hybrid worker’s most important asset will be a good manager. As Ann Franke states the days of command and control are over, managers will need empathy and emotional intelligence. There will be a need for more collaboration, greater trust and space for staff to find their own best way to achieving shared outcomes.

As trustees it is essential that you promote, encourage and model good management practices. How you behave will filter down to all the staff and it may be that management training is need for trustees as well as staff.

Hybrid working will be a journey for all involved and it is essential that you give the space, the tools and the resources to ensure that the whole organisation is able to travel together to the ‘New Normal’.


Hybrid working should be better for staff giving them improved work/life balance and improving mental health.

It will be better for the planet if commuting is reduced (but for those of us who commute by bike it will be worse for our waistline).

It will take work but it will also help to increase productivity.

We need to ensure that we are taking people on a shared journey and that we build trust and collaboration.

We will need to invest in skills as well as in the equipment and software that enable hybrid working.

The £10 million poisoned chalice – and the rush to drink anyway….

alms to the poor Once upon a time the overlords of the people decided to reward hard working communities with a small pot of funding, a friendly fairy godmother saw this and happily agreed to double this money and help communities to spend it wisely. Despite the overloads only setting aside the minimum amount of funding, this still amounted to a small fortune as far as the people were concerned. They wondered at what amazing work they could do to make people’s lives better, to improve learning and to reduce poverty. For to them £10 million was a truly wondrous bounty. Then reality kicked in and everyone realised it was European funding. They came to realise that it was not going to be that easy for the people to get their hands on the cash….. By now many of you will have heard that the latest round European funding has been announced, and you may even have found the calls for proposals on the government website. You may well have heard that the Big Lottery is matching funds. You may well have attended meetings to find out more, and you may well be thinking about how you can use some of the money. I believe that we need to stop and think about some of the issues before we all enter the bun fight / beauty parade. (My thanks to Big Society Funding who are our regions recipients of lottery funding to promote the ESF funding to the sector for some of this information). What are my issues?

  1. This is not a done deal yet. According to the government website “We expect the ESF and ERDF Programmes to be agreed by June this year.” That said it will more than likely be signed off by the new government unless something very strange happens at the election.
  2. This funding is for the Greater Cambridge, Greater Peterborough Local Enterprise Partnership (GCGPLEP) area. This covers a very wide area. Whilst projects will not have to cover the whole LEP area they will have to work across a significant part of it, possibly with a greater focus on Cambridgeshire, Peterborough and Rutland as they are not in other LEP areas.
  3. The Big Lottery is indicating they want to see minimum grant sizes from £1/2 million (although this may well have been doubled according to the last meeting I attended). This means that most voluntary organisations will not be able to lead a bid or bid on their own.
  4. There is an expectation that voluntary groups will form partnerships to bid for the money with lead partners who have the financial muscle to take on significant funding. Given the need to cover large areas, and the complexity of managing this type of partnership I can not see partnerships with more than five or six members being feasible.
  5. Lead partners will be expected to be able to show they have the financial history to manage this type of funding. This may well preclude newly formed consortia bidding without the need for a lead partner.
  6. This is still EU funding so the reporting and risk issues will not disappear. According to Big Society Funding Big Lottery will take on some of the risk and will ensure that this money is a grant. There will still need to be usual record keeping and monitoring as the lottery will have to report back.
  7. There is only £9,928,620 available across the whole region for 6 years. When you think about this it is not a lot. If you remove 15% for management costs which will go to lead partners this leaves £8,439,327. If this is split evenly across all LEP districts (which it won’t be) this would be £703,277 a district. If this runs over the five remaining years of the ESIF programme it means £140,655 per district per year. Suddenly the funding does not look as exciting. Larger organisations would be better off putting in a Reaching Communities application that would be more focused and easier to manage and report on etc.

So if the work you do fits the proposed criteria of Barriers to Work, Financial Inclusion and Social Isolation and Poverty; and you are up for partnership working; and you feel you can manage European funding (even with the help of the Big Lottery and a lead partner) then you need to find out more. I suggest that you look at the following websites.

I suggest that you read the GCGP LEP strategic economic plan as it sets down the priorities for work in this area. (or maybe the summary) I suggest that you complete this pro forma to register your interest that Big Society Funding are collecting and sharing. I suggest that you attend one of these events

CCVS will keep attending meetings and are there to help with any questions you might have, or to try and link you up with partners. We would dearly have loved to see the lottery involvement translate this funding into a small grants programme but that was never on the cards. We would have loved to see the funding going to groups that were working at the grassroots making a real impact, and while some of you will benefit from this funding it is not for everyone. Remember we are there to help you identify suitable funding opportunities so do drop us a line.

South Cambs Local Health Partnership

South Cambs Local Health Partnership

The papers for this meeting are not made publically available on the South Cambs website.

This meeting discussed 4 different topics. To some extent many of these issues overlap and all feed into the various priorities of the health and wellbeing board strategy. The VCS is playing an important role in delivering services in these areas and will have to adapt to the changing environment, but at the same time we need to make sure our contribution is recognised.

Please let me have your thoughts on the questions posed, and the blog in general, as the more information and feedback we have the stronger our arguments are and the better we are able to spot opportunities and issues that are emerging.

Housing related support in South Cambs

Housing related support services have always been offered to those living in council accommodation. They are designed to help people remain in their homes and to stay healthy and fit whilst there. They are offered to people across the age range, however in South Cambs the majority of those assisted are elderly. That said there are links into services for those suffering homelessness, domestic abuse or other problems that might see them unable to maintain their tenancy. The Housing Related Support Team is a county wide service based at CCC.

For more info see here

New plans are afoot to expand the service to everyone who needs it. This has some potential problems despite the fact that it is a good idea. My issues are, what is the budget and what happens if money runs out; what are the criteria for getting free help and for being told where to access the same, but paid for, help.

My questions for you:

Is this a treat to the services you supply or could it be an opportunity?

What services to supply that help people stay in their homes and stay healthy that you think the team should know about so they can refer people to you?

The impact of the new growth areas

The problem of what happens when we build lots of new homes is on many peoples minds at the moment. People in those houses need access to services and amenities, there needs to be a community to help improve peoples wellbeing and ideally there needs to be an integration with existing communities.

Many of the physical amenities and payment for some of the services comes from the developers in return for being allowed to build. What I do not understand is how the power has shifted into the hands of the developer and away from the planners etc. so that the developers are dictating what they will supply. The meeting highlighted that all the statutory partners can not get their act together to come up with a single definitive plan to build healthy communities, and that  the tension between different teams in some statutory bodies often seem to result in mixed messages coming out of one authority, so adding to the lack of a single voice talking to the developers. Surely if we all speak as one we can build for communities and not for profits!

There needs to be shift back to ensuring that the services and amenities that make a community are put in place and can be maintained. We have many good examples (as well as bad ones) both nationally and locally and these should be built on and the developers made to pay where that is appropriate.

My questions for you:

How do we stand up to the developers to ensure that the facilities and funding is put ahead of profits?

What is it that makes a successful new development?

Access to services by Young People and Families

There are considerable numbers of services being supplied by the VCS, many are recognised and supported, however much of the work is under the radar and with those families and individuals who have not reached the thresholds for intervention by health, social services, the local authority or the Police etc. A great deal of the work is preventative and stops issues escalating and as such helps reduce the costs to statutory services.

This will be an on-going topic of conversation for the LHP and it would be good to have your views on what you are doing, how it is funded, and whether it is recognised as saving people money.

Issues affecting the elderly community (this incorporated the Ageing well agenda that has been joined to the LHP agenda)

The growing problem of an aging population keeps raising its head. There is undoubtedly going to be big changes to the services and what is on offer as well as what people want and expect. What is clear is that there is no long term plan within any of our statutory partners; even Addenbrooks only really looks to 3 or 4 years in the future, despite the fact it takes upwards of 8 years to develop new facilities that may be needed.

We need to start to think about what our services will look like in the future and how they may be delivered.

Upcoming opportunity – The young peoples sexual health service tender will be put out soon. Check out the Cambridgeshire Source website where it will be announced.