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Community action case studies

Community action is about putting communities at the heart of their own local services. Involving communities in the design and delivery of services can help to achieve several objectives, including:

  • Building community and social capacity – helping the community to share knowledge, skills and ideas
  • Community resilience – helping the community to support itself
  • Prevention – a focus on early access to services or support, with engagement in their design
  • Cross-sector collaboration and partnerships that provide added value
  • Maintaining and creating wealth – for example helping people into employment or developing community enterprises

Commonly asked questions about community action


  • I would like to start a Community group - where can I find advice on how to reduce COVID-19 transmission?
  • How can I start a Men’s Shed?
  • How could I open a community café?
  • How can I support the wellbeing of my community?
  • My volunteers are tired and need help from more people within the village. How do we become more resilient? 
  • My volunteers are dealing with issues they haven’t faced before, like mental health support, hardship and financial worries within the community - how can I enable my volunteers to be more confident in what they are doing?
  • What training and resources are available?
  • What are other groups doing, and how did they achieve that?
  • I want my group to continue without me/I want to hand my work over to someone else - is advice available?
  • My community conducted a Community-led Plan some time ago, but it needs updating as community priorities have changed. How do I go about conducting a new plan?

If you are unsure of any of the answers to these questions and need assistance, please contact us via email. Cambridgeshire County Council have also provided some examples of volunteering opportunities you may wish to consider.

Below is a selection of community-led initiatives, which show how groups can connect and improve the areas in which they live. Such initiatives not only bring tangible, positive benefits to a community, but also can improve the wellbeing, both physical and mental, of those who participate.

If you or a group you are involved with are thinking of starting a new project or initiative in the area in which you live, take a look at the case studies detailed below or our quarterly workshop recordings to see what others have done and how they achieved their goals.

What is a Good Neighbour Scheme?

Good Neighbour schemes are community run initiatives linking people who are in particular need, with community volunteers who are willing to help. They can be set up by a new or existing community organisation, such as a community group, voluntary organisation, residents group, or a Parish or Town Council.

Locally run schemes can help to reduce feelings of isolation and loneliness, creating an environment where people feel safe and secure. It’s about local people helping their neighbours to enjoy a better quality of life. Help might include things such as changing a light bulb, hanging a picture, offering some company, collecting prescriptions, help with filling in forms and much more. If there isn’t a Community transport scheme in your area, you may choose to offer this as part of the Good Neighbour scheme too.

Help given is free of charge, although a reasonable mileage charge is usually made if there is the provision of transport.

Good Neighbour schemes help to build local connections which can also be useful in an emergency, such as extreme weather events. Volunteers will be aware of residents who may need additional support or reassurance and may also choose to get involved in developing a Community-Led Plan.

How did they get started?

The idea for the Balsham Good Neighbour Scheme initially came from work that was done by Steve Jordan as he had been a Community Worker as part of the local Parish Nurse Scheme. The Parish Nurse was asking for people to assist her with her clients so that, when she had completed the medical aspect of the client’s needs, then there were other people available to support the client.

Further work was carried out to explore possible needs of local residents through an online survey, which was also published in the village magazine. As a result of this survey, an initial list of requested support was drawn up such as visiting or befriending residents, providing transport for appointments, form filling, reading to partially sighted or blind people, providing carers a break or preparing emergency meals, to name but a few.

Who helped with advice and guidance?

Research about good neighbour schemes was undertaken and a good model was found in the Rural Community Council of Essex. Steve also made contact with some other groups in Cambridgeshire so he could learn from their experience and duplicate their documentation, such as Health & Safety policy, registration forms, volunteer handbooks, as well as privacy and safeguarding policy. All of these documents are required for grant applications, so a little work to start with will be used in many positive fundraising ways, going forward.

More information on this can be obtained by emailing the Balsham Good Neighbour Scheme group 

Setting up your own local Good Neighbour scheme

A package of support from Care Network Cambridgeshire can help get you started and includes advice and sample documentation.

They can also advise on:

  • Recruiting and retaining volunteers
  • Administration of the scheme
  • Running a committee
  • Insurance and Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks
  • Keeping people safe – safeguarding
  • How to resolve problems
  • Producing publicity
  • Policy and procedures
  • Data protection and confidentiality

For more details, please contact Care Network Cambridgeshire on 01954 211919 or email the Care Network Cambridgeshire admin team


  • Cambridgeshire County Council’s ‘Innovate and Cultivate Fund’ offers a £2000 start-up grant to cover the first 2 years of a Good Neighbour Scheme. To apply, please visit the Cambridgeshire Community Foundation’s webpage.
  • Our Community Chest Grants also offer up to £2000 for projects which further improve quality of life for those living in South Cambridgeshire.

Cambourne Community garden - The outside fence and top of the green house

At Cambourne Village College, the sensory garden project was started in 2019 as part of the school’s RHS School Gardening Awards initiative and after-school gardening club which aim to encourage interest in horticulture and the local ecosystem, get pupils outside and involved in nature, as well as providing a calm sanctuary to aid mental well-being. The sensory garden has been designed by students and the greenhouse and pathways will enable them to take responsibility for day-to-day cultivation of flowers, herbs and vegetables.

Recruiting volunteers from the local community (retired people with expertise and knowledge) interested in supporting young people and working alongside them, as well as mentors from the Royal Horticultural Society (East of England) and the University of Cambridge (Madingley Gardens), Cambourne Village College hope to inspire and motivate the young people involved in this project and guide them on the future and how it will develop.

A view of the Cambourne community garden from a window

Cambourne Village College work with all young people, by directing them into positive community activities such as building and maintaining the garden. They are encouraging our participants to see this as an opportunity for self‐expression. They are hoping in the future to include a mural produced by young people, adjacent to the garden itself. The nature of what will appear here is entirely in the hands of our young people.

The garden will be a source of produce. The college will seek to bundle their produce and sell it to the local community and will offer this opportunity to our young people as a method of making the garden financially sustainable, or as a contribution towards financial sustainability. In summer, when in full bloom, they will use these times to create social events where their young people can welcome their family and friends in to show them what they have achieved and what they have been investing their time in.

All of these concepts aim to improve social capacity – a sense of shared purpose and collective responsibility, that when needed, in times of adversity or hardship could be called upon. The college hopes that all of these methods will mobilise the support of young people and help them to understand the genuine and practical power they have to support the community and, when necessary, enact change and improvement. Taking an active and leading role in community building and by making social contribution through working together in the garden will encourage our young people to experience and enjoy nature. This will be a key factor in influencing and empowering them to adopt environmental stewardship – and will lessen the risk of areas of the town falling into decline or dilapidation.

It is also an opportunity for young people to include their work on their CVs and the project aims to build confidence so that other areas of the town can be cultivated and cared for in a similar way.

Timebanking is a means of exchange used to organise people around a purpose, where time is the principle currency. Timebanks are a great way to promote volunteering and help people get to know and lend a hand to each other.

Benefits of Timebanking

Timebanking is an exchange-based work trading system in which hours are the currency. A person with one skillset can bank and trade hours of work for equal hours of work in another skill set instead of paying or being paid for services. Everyone's time is equal, irrespective of whatever they choose to exchange.

Timebanking also helps to build social networks of people who give and receive support from each other, enabling those from different backgrounds, who may not otherwise meet, to come together and form connections and friendships. Generating 'social capital' in this way can be important to peoples' health, wellbeing and resilience and can prevent ‘needs’ from arising.

Timebanking can also help tackle loneliness and isolation. It is estimated that up to 3,840 people aged 65 and above are lonely in South Cambridgeshire, and similar numbers are also socially isolated.  Whilst loneliness and isolation are generally associated with older people, it can happen at any time in a person’s life. Time banking can create "real life" social networks within communities.

How did they get started?

Cambourne Timebank was set up in 2012 and now has over 100 members. Gardening make-overs and visiting older residents to collect stories from the past years were just two of many projects volunteers worked on.

Cambourne Timebank is co-ordinated by a part-time staff member employed by housing association, CHS Group.

In the early years of the development of Cambourne Timebank, a consortium of Housing Associations employed a full time Community Development Worker. In addition, they worked with one of our Community Development workers.

Early members of the Timebank came from volunteers in other community groups and projects and people who had engaged in activities run by the Community Development worker.

Key members formed a panel to help run the Timebank. They visited other Timebanks to see how they were run.

How is it funded?

The Cambourne Timebank received funding for projects from a range of sources including Greater Cambridgeshire and Greater Peterborough Local Enterprise Partnership (GCGP LEP), Cambridgeshire County Council Innovation Fund, and Skills for Care. They have also joined with other Timebanks in the Cambridgeshire Timebanking Partnership to run fundraising campaigns including an art exhibition and a crowdfunding campaign.

Who helped with advice and guidance?

Somersham Timebank and Cambridgeshire County Council provided advice and support, for example to develop policies for adult safeguarding.

Timebanking UK is a national charity providing inspiration, information and practical support for Timebanking to become a part of everyday life for everyone. Their website is full of useful information including an excellent step-by-step guide to setting up a Timebank.

Further information

A Timebank is set up with a coordinator to oversee activities and local people join as members, they make offers or ask for requests of help.

Anyone interested in joining a Timebank can do so free of charge. When new members join, they are invited to list what help they can offer, and the help they would like to receive, for example:

  • shopping
  • help with form filling
  • help with phone calls
  • woodwork/DIY
  • knitting
  • cutting grass
  • helping with pets

They are then put in touch with others who need their skills, or can help them.

If you think a Timebank could work in your village, please contact us on the email address at the bottom of this page for further information and support.

Other Timebanks in South Cambridgeshire

Marmalade Lane, in Orchard Park is the home of Cambridgeshire's first cohousing community. Cohousing is a form of housing more common in Northern Europe. Cohousing communities are intentional communities, created and run by their residents. Each household has a self-contained, private home as well as shared community space. Residents come together to manage their community, share activities, and regularly eat together. Cohousing is a way of resolving the isolation many people experience today, recreating the neighbourly support of the past.  

How did they get started?

What was initially called the K1 Cohousing Project started after developers withdrew from purchasing a land parcel called K1 in Orchard Park following the financial crash in 2008. The land owners, Cambridge City Council, subsequently decided to explore the feasibility of cohousing for the site as a way of developing the site and achieving, alongside money from the sale of the land, additional policy objectives around sustainability, quality, and community. Some people interested in living in a cohousing community formed a cohousing group and set up Cambridge Cohousing Ltd, a company limited by guarantee in 2013. 

How is it funded?

Initially, the project was funded with the assistance of government grant funding. This enabled the cohousing group to have the benefit of project management from Instinctively Green, legal advice from Anthony Collins solicitors, and help to develop a client brief and outline scheme design from Cambridge Architectural Research. Once the client brief and outline scheme design were developed the land was put out to tender by the City Council to find an enabling development partner willing to work with the cohousing group and enable the development of the cohousing scheme. 

The K1 land parcel had been designated for market sale homes and so homes in the cohousing scheme were to be sold at market value once developed but with a small discount to recognise the contribution made by early members of the cohousing group.

Who helped with advice and guidance?

TOWN, a new development company, in partnership with Trivselhus UK, a subsidiary of a Swedish manufacturer and development of environmentally friendly timber homes, was appointed as enabling developer in 2015. Mole Architects, an award-winning Cambridge-based architectural practice, were appointed as the architects. Members of the cohousing group were able to work alongside TOWN and Mole in the design and development of the cohousing scheme.

In December 2018 the first residents were able to move in and Cambridge Cohousing Community had a home, in Marmalade Lane, the name the cohousing group had chosen for their car-free lane. The residents now collectively own and run their community.

Other useful information

Sustainability is important to most cohousing communities. The cohousing community has developed a car sharing scheme where an electric and hybrid car are shared by a number of households. They host the Orchard Park Shared Electric Cargo Trike scheme, funded by South Cambridgeshire District Council as part of its zero carbon communities grant scheme and Cambridgeshire County Council from EU grant money to promote use of cargo bikes. Like most cohousing communities, residents of Cambridge Cohousing are active in their local neighbourhood. Each month they organise a monthly rubbish ramble in Orchard Park. During 2021 they organised pop-up cafes in the parks in Orchard Park, with grant money from the National Lottery Local Connections Fund.  

Cambridge Cohousing is open to visitors (ideally for pre-arranged visits) and welcomes sharing ideas and learning with other community-led organisations. Cambridge Cohousing Community is a member of the UK Cohousing Network - a membership network that offers peer-support to cohousing groups at all stages in their cohousing journey. 

More information on this can be obtained by emailing the K1 Outreach Group.  

How did they get started?

Coton, Grantchester and Toft have all set up Community Internet Clubs. The first Community Internet Club was set up in response to council services moving increasingly online in around 2015. Long experience of teaching technical skills told the founding members of the Club that the community needed a regular group for peer support in problem-solving rather than a class. They lobbied for Wi-Fi in the Village Hall, bought a printer and paper/ink, and a couple of devices and asked around in the community for people to come to help and people to come for help. Technical experts were also lined up to help if they got stuck but so far have not been needed.   

How is it funded?

A small grant from the Cambridgeshire Community Foundation was used to set up and cover running costs for the first year, and costs for the last 5 years have been covered by asking for donations of around £1 an hour.

Who helped with advice and guidance?

The group figured things out for themselves as they went along and decided that a place to discuss problems related to phones, devices and laptops would be useful…. five years later the club is going strong.  Problems are worked out together and through online help.

We expected it to be useful, we didn’t expect it to be quite so enjoyable. It is not teaching; it is support to problem-solve in the company of peers and friends.’

Other useful information

The Community Internet Club Presentation can be viewed here at 8:10 into the recording.


Compass Café is a community café connecting people, raising funds for local good causes and providing opportunities for volunteering. It operates every Thursday morning out of the Bethel Baptist Church in Swavesey.

Four organisations run the café (the Anglican church, the Baptist Church, the WI and the Swavesey Festival Committee); each taking a monthly turn to provide volunteers and home baked cakes.

On the occasional fifth Thursday in the month, one of several other village organisations steps in. Health Visitors also run their clinic alongside the café once a month and toys are provided for young children.

How did they get started?

The idea came from Swavesey WI walking group who had seen a community café in another village. They approached local groups to see if there was any interest, then had a meeting to discuss and share their ideas. After, they consulted their local councillor who shared some invaluable knowledge surrounding food hygiene rules which led to them scrapping the lunch idea and settling on cake as the primary source of sustenance!

A venue was found when the Baptist Church offered their building free of charge.

The committee is made up of one person from each of the representative groups, who each take a turn in running the meetings alternating weekly.

The initial price structure was £1 for hot drinks and 50p each for cake and squash but this was later reviewed, by way of a survey to the customers, and cake is now £1 and squash is free.  

The committee chose the name and logo, based on the Greenwich Meridian going through Swavesey. They set about advertising their meetings through posters spread throughout the village as well as an 'A' board outside the Baptist Church on their meeting days.

Visit the Compass Café webpage for more information.

How is it funded?

The Café is a very low cost venture.

Initial funding was provided by the four main groups that run the meetings who put in £20 each. This was later repaid out of the café’s profits.

The Café retains 10% of the weekly takings to top up consumables and the other 90% is kept by the relevant group on the day. Around £3000 is raised each year through the café for the organisations running it and for other good causes.

The Café is such a huge success that the committee no longer need to meet regularly. The only real need to meet now is to discuss who to donate the excess kitty money to. The 10% weekly contributions now more than cover the costs of tea, cake and coffee.    

Who helped with advice and guidance?

The café was set up by the 4 organisations and did not require external advice.

Gamlingay saw an increase in car crime in 2018 with cars broken into, wheels stolen off cars, the church roof lead was stolen as well as mindless vandalism.

One evening, after a Parish Council meeting was held to find a solution for these issues, a group of 8 residents exchanged phone numbers and the Gamlingay Community Safety Group (GCSG) was born.

The Gamlingay Community Safety Group’s aim is to drive village-wide schemes and campaigns to help residents and business in being a safe place to live and work. By raising crime prevention awareness through social media and having a display stand at local events, ie the Gamlingay Show, Christmas Fayre, Friday morning Connect Café, Thursday evening Youth Club, Police Community Support Officer (PCSO) surgeries and Neighbourhood Watch evenings, allows them to display and hand out a variety of leaflets, as well as selling crime prevention products. Items for sale include time switches, purse dipping bells, personal alarms, UV marker pens, RFID key blockers, contactless card protectors, as well as number plate anti tamper screws, all supplied by a trusted supplier.

GCSG liaises with appropriate agencies, for example the Police and local government, where they gather trusted and accurate information for their residents. GCSG, through South Cambs District Council, also receive regular updates from Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Against Scams Partnership.

Social media has become such a powerful way to pass on information instantly, so they update their Gamlingay Community Safety Group's Facebook page on a daily basis. Scammers are using such a variety of different technology through text, emails and phone calls every day, GCSG recommend being suspicious and question all uninvited approaches.

Their initial funding came from Gamlingay Parish Council (who sponsor GCSG) and a local village Fund, but they also generate income from sales of prevention items as well as donations. They created a group logo and have printed high-vis vests and identification badges for members and volunteers.

Because the Committee of GCSG are also Gamlingay Neighbourhood Watch coordinators, they have decided to amalgamate the two organisations and in addition, they are now building a close relationship with Rural Watch.

GCSG’s aim is to invite and recruit more volunteers so anyone with a desire to help them with their aims of 'Awareness', 'Liaison' and 'Prevention' is welcome. They need more volunteers to maintain the level of support given. GCSG also want to expand the Neighbourhood Watch Scheme by encouraging residents to join the village Neighbourhood Watch scheme, even to become a local street coordinator, as this will continue to discourage criminal activity.

Gamlingay is one of the safest villages in the county of Cambridgeshire, but Gamlingay Community Safety Group still needs everyone to be vigilant and report anything out of the ordinary by calling 101 or 999 when a crime is being committed.

Food hubs are a great way of distributing food to people in need whilst cutting back on waste from businesses and individual households. They have become more popular since the Pandemic with communities recognising the benefits, taking the initiative and setting them up. Across Cambridge City and South Cambridgeshire there are several food hubs in place and recent additions include Gamlingay and Harston.

Besides providing much needed food to those who benefit from it, food hubs create a sense of community cohesion with people pulling together to help and support each other. They provide a positive atmosphere and focus for both volunteers and residents alike.

Food waste is a serious issue that is bad for the environment and the climate. According to Waste and Resource Action Programme (WRAP) key facts, a semi-governmental entity promoting sustainability, we waste about a third of all food produced for human consumption which would be associated with 36 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions. The wasted food has taken a lot of fresh water, land and labour to produce and for it to go to waste is a waste of energy, resources and money. At the same time food prices are going up and a lot of people struggle with food poverty. The challenge is how we can avoid food waste and feed people in need rather than food spoiling.

The Gamlingay Food Hub is a community initiative and opened its doors to the public on the 6th September 2021. It has so far been a huge success diverting food away from landfill and since it started, over 1,439kg of food has been donated to people in need!

How did they get started?

The Gamlingay Food Hub is run by Reverend Adrian Semerene, who is the lead Pastor at the Gamlingay Baptist church where the hub is operating from. Adrian has taken the key role of running the food hub and oversees the whole project from recruiting volunteers, coordinating food deliveries and managing the budget.

How is it funded?

The food is donated from the local Co-operative, the M&S food shop as well as the local farm shop. Anyone can also donate non-perishable food to the hub such as tins, coffee, sugar, cereal etc. The hub is run by Volunteers from the local Community.

How does it work?

The donated food is delivered to the hub by volunteers between 9am and 10am Mondays to Friday and is then put out on display. The volunteers bag the food up into small parcels and dedicated drivers hand the parcels out to the wider community between 10am and 12pm. People can also walk into the hub to collect food parcels or specific items they want. A large number of volunteers work on the project 5 days a week which gives people a purposeful job to do that serves the community and the well-being of the volunteers themselves. The hub also has a community fridge and a freezer where food is kept fresh for longer.

Since operations commenced, the hub has only had to dispose of a food item once (liquidised salad) which was taken away for composting!

Other useful information

The hub also works in partnership with various organisations such as Cambridge Sustainable Food, The Need Project, South Cambridgeshire District Council and the local Churches.

If you are interested in setting up a food hub in your community then please email for more information or visit the Cambridge Sustainable Food website

2G3S (Green Groups in the Shelfords, Stapleford and Sawston) is a non-party-political group which was set up in 2015 to promote green activity in our local villages and to share green ideas. They hold planning/discussion meetings every six weeks or so, and put on occasional events, including films, Repair Cafes, and talks. They also publish a quarterly newsletter.

How did they get started?

The group succeeded the Stapleford Environment Group, which was one of a number of Focus Groups set up under the Village Plan in 2012. The original intention was that it would be a kind of umbrella group, working alongside Sustainable Shelford and Greener Sawston. However Sustainable Shelford has since disbanded.

How is it funded?

They inherited some funds from Sustainable Shelford; otherwise they rely on donations at the events they hold.

Who helped with advice and guidance?

They are fortunate to have several expert and experienced members within the group who can advise on such matters as transport, energy, land use, planning etc.

Other useful information

Mission statement: 2G3S aims to promote a positive vision of a society that enhances, rather than degrades, the natural environment on which we all depend. We hold events in our constituent villages and spread information to raise awareness of green issues and to show how we can work together, both at an individual and at an organisational level, to make changes to our way of life that will lead to a more stable and sustainable future.

Further details can be found on their webpage or by emailing

Haslingfield & Harlton Luncheon Club provides a monthly lunch to over 30 diners in Haslingfield Methodist church.  

It is run by volunteers who prepare the 2 course home-cooked meal in their own homes, and serve it up in the church building followed by tea and coffee. Volunteer drivers collect those who would otherwise be unable to attend. The club is open to all, providing a meeting place for old friends, as well as a chance to meet new ones. 

How did they get started?

When the Methodist Church building was extended the community was keen to make the best possible use of the improved premises. Although there were evening activities available in the village, there was nothing during the day and so the idea of a lunch club was born. There was an enthusiastic response to an initial meeting and the lunch club started up in 2003.

Volunteer cooks, drivers and helpers were easy to recruit. People sign up as to when they can help. 

Each month, one of a number of Team Leaders takes charge of organising volunteers, deciding the menu and buying and distributing ingredients. All the cooks have completed Food Safety courses, which the club organises from time to time.

Diners were easy to recruit when the club started up, and over the years new ones have joined. The average age has got older with more in their 90s, and fewer in their 70s than in the club’s early days.  

How is it funded? 

The club is self-funding with a charge for diners covering costs of ingredients, a small rent for the rooms and public liability insurance.

The local Village Fund provided £200 towards set up costs but the club was able to pay this back.

Who helped with advice and guidance?

Care Network helped the group set up its constitution. 

What is the Histon and Impington Community Minibus?

Histon and Impington Community (HICOM) is a registered charity who run the HICOM Minibus.

The minibus is used to provide door-to-door services for elderly residents, to help them get to local shops and to the Doctors surgery. 

One shopping trip is scheduled per week with the destinations rotating between: Aldi/Iceland, Tesco, Morrisons and the Village centre. Residents book their place by calling the transport co-ordinator. There is also a dedicated Doctors Surgery service that is run on Thursday mornings and residents can call the Surgery in order to book this.

When not in use for regular trips the minibus is available for local community and youth groups, organisations, sport teams and charities. It is usually available in the evenings and weekends.

How did they get started?

Histon and Impington have had a minibus to benefit the elderly in our community since 1976. The Red Cross purchased one using a bequest from a local resident. This was replaced in 1991 using the bequest and funds from the Histon Feast. HICOM was formed in 1998 as a result of the Red Cross bus ceasing operation. HICOM purchased their own bus as a replacement. A legacy was passed down from the Red Cross, along with a successful application to the National Lottery, allowed HICOM to purchase the first of the now familiar blue buses. 

How is it funded? 

A donation is requested from each resident for the shopping trips. The Thursday morning doctors surgery service costs are paid by the surgery.

A mileage charge of 80p per mile is made for group usage.

Who helped with advice and guidance?

Community Transport Association (CTA) and County Council Community Transport

For more information visit the HICOM website or for an informal chat on setting up your own community minibus, contact Neil Davies on 01223 232 514.

Histon and Impington Older Persons Co-ordinators are employed by local charity Histon and Impington Community (HICOM) to work 30 hours per week supporting elderly residents. 

As well as meeting with older people and their families and signposting them to existing services such as meals on wheels, emergency pendants and handy persons schemes, she supports existing voluntary initiatives such as village groups for stroke survivors, singing and exercise, and encourages the formation of new ones. 

She also writes regular articles for the local village newsletter and attends the doctors surgery for a weekly session where she is on hand to meet residents and provide information. 

The Village Older Peoples worker is now supported by a Village Dementia Support worker.

How did they get started?

In 2010, one of the HICOM charity trustees, Neil Davies, put forward an idea for a Village Older Persons Worker to help enhance the quality of life for older residents in the villages of Histon and Impington.

HICOM was already a very active established local charity and in 2011 they recruited a local lady, Jean Newman, to the post of Older Persons Worker.

Her role, to address four key issues:

  • An increase in the number of older people in the community
  • an increase in the elderly being encouraged to stay in their own homes
  • a reduction in wardens in sheltered units, and
  • increased feelings of isolation and loneliness amongst the elderly

How is it funded? 

A mix of the Village Parish Council support plus community fundraising and groups.

Who helped with advice and guidance?

Village stakeholder groups originally met to discuss the project and have been regularly involved since.

For further information, contact Neil Davies by telephone on 01223 232 514.

What are Men's Sheds?

Men's Sheds are places to enjoy making and mending in a sociable environment, where members can build friendships as well as share knowledge and skills. Men’s Sheds are an idea from Australia where several were set up in the 1990s in order to promote greater social activity, improved mental health and better physical well-being for men.  Despite the name, they don’t need to be men only, and they don’t need to take place in a shed. 

RamShed is a Men’s Shed in Ramsay, which is open 3 times a week, with its members working on various projects for their local community. 

How did they get started?

Mick Arthur set up Ramsey’s Men’s Shed following a trip to Australia in March 2017, where he saw one in operation. He returned to England with inspiration to start his own shed and started RamShed. He initially consulted with The Royal Voluntary Service and UK Men's Shed Association, in order to get set up. He successfully applied to ASDA for a start-up grant then advertised in the local paper. He found 4 enthusiastic “shedders” to help him set up a committee and spread the word. Mick has been extremely lucky with premises, a local farmer offered the group space in an empty barn which they have renovated.

They now meet 3 times a week doing various projects for their landlord, the council and local community groups.

How is it funded?

Ramshed was really lucky with funding, successfully applying to ASDA for £1000. They used this to install the electrics and buy some basic tools and equipment. Members are asked to pay a £30 per annum subscription.

A £1 per visit levy is requested if they are working on personal project, this levy is waived when working on Ramshed projects.

RamShed pay £15 per annum to maintain their membership to the Men’s Shed Association.

Who helped with advice and guidance?

RamShed got support from the UK Men’s Shed Association and the Royal Voluntary Service.

Guidance for setting up your own Men's Shed

Excellent support is available from the UK Men’s Shed Association, who can help you find existing Sheds in your area, provide advice and guidance on starting a shed by phone and email and provide access to their Starting a Shed guide and health and safety templates. Joining the Association is inexpensive and brings additional benefits.

Support is also offered by the Royal Voluntary Service. They have a Sheds Grants Fund, thanks to funding from the ASDA Foundation, which provides small scale funding to Sheds looking for help with either set up or early development costs.

You may be able to get a grant for start-up costs such as training or furniture from our Community Chest Grant

For more information contact Alex Barrett on 07990 525 810 or

The Well-brahams is a mental health and well-being initiative in Great and Little Wilbraham. A group of people with different experiences and qualifications have come together to organise activities and provide information and help on mental health issues for local residents.

How did they get started?

A group of villagers in Great Wilbraham were interested in mental health and this led to a Mental Health First Aid training course being in the village over a weekend. 

In the words of the Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) Centre, mental health education "empowers people to care for themselves and others, and by reducing the stigma through understanding, breaks down barriers to the support that people may need to stay well, recover, or manage their symptoms – to thrive in learning, work and life".

The course was very popular and led to creating the group, the Well-brahams.

So far, the group has created an online directory with information on where to get help for mental health issues and organised speaker events on Adolescent Mental Health, Dementia and Anti-depressants.

They have also held a painting workshop and set up a walking group.

How is it funded? 

The parish council provided £200 for the costs of the initial training. This covered hiring the meeting room, refreshments and providing each course member with the official MHFA book which the course is base on. The training itself was provided at no charge by a local resident trained in delivering MHFA. 

Subsequent expenses have been minimal – just meeting room hire and printing of publicity. Members donate refreshments and their time, for example to develop the website. Speakers have not charged for talks.

Summer garden parties held by a local benefactor have raised sufficient funds to cover all costs allowing the surplus to be donated to two local mental health charities.

Who helped with advice and guidance?

The Well-brahams has not needed external advice and guidance. They have been able to find help and skills within the group, such as website design, advertising, event organising and more.

It is not a formally constituted organisation – expenses are minimal and it has been possible to keep everything informal.  

Other useful information

For Mental Health First Aid courses in Cambridgeshire, call the Changepoint Team at Everyone Health on 0333 005 0093.

They may be able to run a course free of charge as part of their contract with Cambridgeshire County Council. Courses usually have up to 12 places. It’s good to have a mix of gender and background and a range of ages on the course. 

Otherwise Mental Health First Aid England can put you in contact with a local trainer. 

A 2-day course normally costs around £750. 

More information can be found on The Well-brahams website. They also have a Facebook page and are on Twitter.

Mobile Warden Schemes support older people to live independently in their homes and in the community they know.

Melbourn is the largest of around 12 Mobile Warden (sometimes known as Community Warden) schemes, operating in South Cambridgeshire.

The Melbourn scheme serves around 50 mobility impaired clients in Melbourn, Shepreth and Meldreth. It employs 6 wardens, and is operated by a local charity run by a committee of volunteers.

As well as making regular visits and phone calls to provide social contact and friendship, carrying out errands and helping clients access other support, the scheme also organises regular outings and activities including a lunch club.

How did they get started?

The Melbourn Mobile Warden Scheme was taken over, in its current guise, in 2010 with the help of Cllr Jose Hales. At the time it was serving 17 people with only the 1 warden.

Funding was secured from Cambridgeshire County Council, South Cambridgeshire District Council and their local Parish Council.

The scheme is registered as a Charity, this allows the scheme to access certain funding and gives security to ensure the scheme is compliant with rules and regulations.

They marketed the scheme using many local channels including the doctor’s surgery, building society, local churches, leafleting and the Melbourn magazine.

They now have around 50 clients and have just recruited their sixth warden to the team.

How is it funded?

The main cost in running the Melbourn Mobile Warden Scheme is warden salaries.

Additional costs include:

  • insurance
  • Disclosure & Barring Service (DBS) checks (previously CRB checks)
  • events
  • transport 
  • a small amount of advertising and the costs of printing the newsletter

The scheme is successfully funded by a combination of grants (from Cambridgeshire County Council, South Cambridgeshire District Council and local parish councils), donations and client fees.

Clients pay a monthly charge of £28 for a single person or £32 for a couple.

Melbourn Mobile Warden Scheme accounts can be viewed on the Charity Register.

Who helped with advice and guidance?

The committee worked closely with the Charity Commission in order to make the necessary changes to become a registered charity.

They also worked with Care Network in the initial set-up.

Other useful information

Several local Mobile Warden Schemes (but not the Melbourn one) are managed by Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Age UK. They employ the warden, deal with safeguarding and training issues and liaise with a local committee. 

Care Network Cambridgeshire can provide free help and advice on setting up a mobile warden scheme.

To contact them, please ring or email the main office on 01954 211919 or and ask for the South Cambs Development Officer.

Find out more information on our Mobile Warden Grant scheme webpage.

We may also be able to help with set up costs for new schemes. Contact the Development Officer for your patch.

Find contact details for the Melbourn Mobile Warden Scheme on their website.

New Age Kurling is a form of the original curling game, but adapted so that it can be played indoors on any smooth, flat surface, such as a sports hall, rather than ice. Kurling can be played when standing or sitting by people of all ages and abilities. This makes it a great choice for involving everyone.

The Papworth group meets on Fridays, 10.30am to 12pm, in the Village Hall.

How did they get started?

New Age Kurling sessions at Papworth Village Hall were started up by Ellen Bridges, our previous Physical Activity Coordinator. She wanted to set up a sporting activity which was particularly inclusive in Papworth, New Age Kurling seemed ideal. Working with the parish council, Ellen arranged local publicity to recruit members, organised the kit and booked the venue. Six participants attended the first Kurling session at Papworth, now they get an average of 15 participants each week. Whilst many participants see the activity promoted in their local magazine, some find out about the session through friends and family and others are signposted by their General practice (GP).  

The group has now become sustainable with a couple of participants volunteering to take over the organisation of the session.

How is it funded? 

The kit used for the initial sessions was supplied free of charge by us. Hall rental was £30 per session for the initial sessions, this was also covered by us.

Now that the group is up and running, participants pay £3 each per session. The main set-up cost is for the New Age Kurling set, which costs £235. 

The Parish Council purchased three New Age Kurling sets to enable the group to continue.

Who helped with advice and guidance?

Support with all aspects of setting up a new group, including funding towards start up costs was provided by the Council’s Physical Activity Locality Coordinator.

The Physical Activity Locality Coordinator is the district co-ordinator for the Let's Get Moving Cambridgeshire initiative funded by County Council Health Committee.

For more information please email

Longstanton and Northstowe have joined a network of communities across the UK who are leading the way to tackle throw away plastic at source. In a Cambridgeshire first, the area has been awarded Plastic Free Community status by marine conservation charity, Surfers Against Sewage (SAS), in recognition of the work it has done to start reducing the impact of single-use plastic on the environment.

How did they get started?

Chris Poultney, local campaigner and community lead of Plastic Free Longstanton and Northstowe, started working on this in 2019 after visiting Cornwall on holiday and was inspired by all the actions that were being taken to remove single use plastic and make changes.

How is it funded?

It is entirely volunteer and community led.

Who helped with advice and guidance?

Registering with the SAS Plastic Free Communities movement, Chris pulled together key organisations and businesses in the local area to put in place a five-point plan. The objectives included; setting up a community led steering group, instigating the SAS Plastic Free Schools education programme, getting local council commitment and working with local businesses, organisations and community groups to spread the word and minimise the amount of disposable plastics they use.

Other useful information

Members of a community sustainability group arranged for a pop-up refill station stall in the main Northstowe square to sell cleaning and personal hygiene products in containers costumers brought from home. On both occasions there was a great turn out from residents from the local area and surroundings, helping save about 180 bottles. After such successful pilots, the organisers decided that the refill station should come back on a monthly basis.

You can find out more about Plastic Free Longstanton and Northstowe on their Facebook page or by emailing

Hildersham Parish Church employs a Parish Nurse who works 3 days a week, serving the needs of residents in Hildersham and 6 nearby villages.

The project is funded by charitable donations from local residents, trusts and parish councils. 

The Parish Nurse has an average of 80 patient contacts each month, working in various ways, for example:

  • Accompanying a patient to a health appointment
  • Giving simple advice about a health issue over the phone
  • Checking a patient fully understands and can carry out clinical instructions
  • Helping in the planning of end-of-life care
  • Co-ordinating the support of friends, family and local volunteers

The Parish Nurse works closely with statutory agencies, including the local GP surgery where she has an honorary contract allowing access to medical records.

How did they get started?

In 2012 some villagers in West Wratting identified considerable gaps in care, rehabilitation service provision and problems with existing services. Neighbours and friends did their bit, but their efforts were uncoordinated.

Carers needed information, as well as help and support in caring for people with dementia, long-term conditions, terminal illness, people with disability. They knew there were also people with alcohol dependency, mental illness, who were being abused and needed help.

They approached the local vicar to see if something could be done. A group of local people met to discuss the issues. They wanted to develop something holistic, encompassing physical, mental and spiritual health and well-being, which worked for and with local communities. A group meeting was held at the village hall, looking at a variety of options.

They chose the Parish Nurse model because they felt it was the safest and best option. It functions under a professional body (RCN), provides supervision and training, focuses on the person as a whole and covers all age groups.

Although attached to the Church, the nurse will serve all, whatever their faith or if they have none. 

The local Anglican Ministry team covering the villages of Great and Little Abington, Hildersham, Weston Colville, Balsham, West Wratting and West Wickham undertook to lead this process. With populations ranging from 200 to 1500, no one village was large enough to develop an initiative on its own, but the seven villages together, with a total population of 4500, created significant opportunities for learning as well as development.

They agreed the post would be paid (unlike many other Parish Nurse posts) so that it could be sustainable in the longer term, and that it would be part time (all that could be afforded).  To learn and better understand how this post works within and between villages and other agencies, they decided it would be set up as a 3-year project with inbuilt evaluation. 

A formal Steering Group was set up to progress the work. After a considerable amount of work, Hildersham Parochial Church Council agreed to employ (and be responsible for) the nurse and project, on behalf of the other churches.  

How is it funded? 

All funding needed for the 3 years had to be secured before the project could start. The Steering Group had naively assumed they could obtain all the funding from Charitable Trusts, but feedback from Trusts indicated they would have to demonstrate local support, not only in principle, but financially.

They were fortunate to have access to excellent practical advice pro bono from an independent fundraising company on how they might progress. By September 2015, they succeeded in raising enough of the total budget to proceed with the appointment process. More than a third of funding came from local individual contributions, about a half from (local and other) Charitable Trusts, local Churches, the Ely Diocese, and three Parish Councils also contributed.

Who helped with advice and guidance?

Numerous individuals and organisations helped with advice and guidance. 

The independent fundraising company has given advice which was crucial in enabling the project to progress.

Parish Nursing Ministries UK – through their Regional Co-ordinator - provided advice which enabled the project to become an accredited Parish Nurse Service, as expected.

A voluntary Management Team brings considerable knowledge and skills to the project. The team comprises a local GP, a retired Director of Addenbrooke's Trust, a retired Public Health Medicine Consultant and a nurse who is also a Trustee of Hildersham PCC, (the vicar of Hildersham was included until she left her post). 

The Parish Nurse benefits from continuing support from the Parish Nurse Ministry, the management team, the primary care team, other organisations with which she has established links, the Church Ministry team and from volunteers in the communities she serves.   

Find out more about Parish Nursing on the Parish Nursing Ministries UK website.

An unused eyesore area of copse at Great Shelford Recreation Ground, transformed into an outdoor natural play space and woodland trail in 2017, will be further developed with a £7,681 grant adding permanent play dens, paths, plants and equipment.

Shelford & Stapleford Youth Initiative’s (SSYI) project Copse#2 at Great Shelford Recreation Ground will also see young people getting outdoors and enjoying nature.  

The scheme began three years ago when SSYI, in conjunction with Great Shelford Playscape, transformed a disused area of land into an outdoor wild play area for the community with willow structures, benches, planting and landscaping.

This will now be enlarged with permanent den structures, more woodland pathways and places to explore and socialise in the open air, while local young people working on the project can develop new skills and feel a valued part of the community.

Lead worker for SSYI, Zac Britton said work had already begun with everything to be completed by summer 2021. "The space is there to be used by all ages - young children will enjoy hiding in the dens, exploring the plants and wooded areas and seeing wildlife up close with the magnifying posts we are installing, while walkers will be able to appreciate nature as they exercise."

How did they get started?

A small group of people came up with the idea of starting a Northstowe community group on sustainability, zero waste and other green issues. The initial ideas were a  community-run refill station (household products, food, skincare/hygiene) & and non-plastic products, and a 'sustainability hub' to host a repair café & share library (e.g. tools, toys, cookware), but after the first meeting in September 2020, they expanded to other topics such as recycling, toys/clothes/plant swaps and trees, wildlife and gardening. They held monthly online meetings until May when they had their first physical meeting where they became formally constituted.

How is it funded?

Grants and donations (none received/applied for yet). In addition, they receive a small amount from the pitch fees from monthly refill station and a stall with plastic-free household products.

Who helped with advice and guidance?

They received help and tips from our community development and Project Officers, Climate & Environment, Cambridge Council for Voluntary Service, Care Network, and other local groups in Northstowe (e.g. Northstowe Foodies, Northstowe Social) and like-minded groups in neighbouring towns (Histon and Impington Sustainability Group, Sustainable Cottenham).

Other useful information

The group takes part in the Northstowe Community Networkers monthly meeting where community groups, churches, community developer officers and relevant stakeholders update each other co-ordinate events and actions. More information can be found on their Facebook page.

Contact Details