Congratulations to Camcycle who have announced accreditation as a Living Wage Employer.

By Lorna Gough. April 2022

Camcycle say:

We believe that our staff, including our interns, deserve a fair day’s pay for their efforts and want to support them to live and work locally in the community that they serve. We’d encourage other local businesses to do the same: the process is straightforward with helpful resources and a responsive team at the Living Wage Foundation should you need assistance.”

Did you know that CCVS is able to support your organisation through the accreditation process, and Cambridge City Council will fund the first year of the accreditation fee?

To find out more about what the Living Wage is, how to become accredited, and what that would mean for your organisation, read our previous blog.

Camcycle staff team with the Living Wage accreditation plaque.

Taking volunteering to the public online 

By Chris Trevorrow. February 2022.

Bright yellow table, with computer keyboard and digital tablet
Photo by Georgie Cobbs on Unsplash

The last couple of years has resulted in many of us rethinking how we do things. In early 2022 CCVS decided to host some free online volunteer fairs, aimed at the public, to support local voluntary groups with the challenging task of recruiting the volunteers they need. Our aim was to capitalise on people’s New Year resolutions and the loosening of Covid restrictions and help raise the profile of volunteering for local groups. Although the fairs were tied in with the City Council Volunteer for Cambridge initiative, many of the groups involved are looking to recruit volunteers throughout the county. 

We know from research1 that to attract more people into volunteering groups need to be visible, accessible and flexible. People showed during the pandemic that they were interested in helping others, but now with their lives starting to return to something like normal, many feel they lack time to commit and don’t know where to find roles that are a good fit for them. Our volunteer fairs looked to highlight a few of the many volunteer opportunities available, with varying levels of flexibility and time requirements. It also gave people the chance to put a face to a group and invited them to ask questions and fill in a simple form or contact the group direct to hear more.  

We worked with 10 voluntary groups supporting them to produce 5-minute recordings outlining their volunteer opportunities. We hosted the fairs as two lunchtime sessions to which any member of the public with internet access could sign up and where the groups showed their presentations and answered questions live.  

As a result of a lot of promotional effort nearly 100 tickets were booked for the two fairs. Everyone who signed up to the fairs has received links to all the presentations and the contact form and have been encouraged to share the information with friends and family – we hope this will extend the impact of the fairs beyond the events themselves. 

The Initial feedback from the public suggests they enjoyed being able to easily hear about different opportunities and ask questions without leaving their desks or their homes. Some of the voluntary groups taking part have reported increased traffic to their volunteer pages on their websites and some have already seen an increase in people getting in touch to find out more about volunteering. We’ll be checking in with the groups to see if this increase in interest converts to more volunteers supporting their work in the community. If the feedback is positive, we’ll consider running more online fairs in the future. 

To watch presentations from groups who attended our Volunteer Fair in early 2022 visit this link

The presenting groups were: 

Care Network 

Caring Together 

Cambridge Reuse 

Cambridgeshire  & Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust 

Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Age UK  

Little Miracles 

Red Balloon of the Air  

Safe Soulmates 

Steel Bones  

The Red Hen Project 

We have more information about volunteering available on our website or you can contact us on volunteer@cambridgecvs.org.uk 

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  

Email: enquiries@cambridge.org.uk   

The Living Wage Foundation website www.livingwage.org.uk  

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.