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Reaching your community

Reaching your community

What does community inclusion mean to you? Being inclusive can mean reaching out to those people in your local community who could use just a little help to engage and thrive. It enables communities to communicate and voice their own ideas and concerns, helps the community identify the appropriate responses and together develop potential solutions to problems that affect them locally. If done well, connecting your community can empower residents by enhancing their personal capacities and the capacity of their whole community to transform lives.

Community groups give local people a voice and help to develop local, democratic solutions instead of creating simmering negativity. A well-connected community includes ideas from a diverse range of people, bringing them together locally and allowing the community to support each other. This process can help residents to feel invested in community improvement in all forms, at all levels, creating a sense of place for everyone.

Below are links to many groups in your community, to allow you to consult and include in your project, as well as case studies of successful community groups, operating in South Cambridgeshire.

Reaching and supporting young people in your community

The Youth In Communities Service supports the development of a youth offer for Cambridgeshire.

  • Led by communities
  • Delivered by effective partnerships
  • Informed and enjoyed by young people
  • Youth and community professionals and small project teams across Cambridgeshire deliver the service.

Supporting young people to play a part and be recognised within their communities. This could be through:

  • Volunteering
  • Meaningful social action
  • Speaking out and having a voice
  • Participation in positive activities that support their development, emotional health and wellbeing.

Romsey Mill is a Cambridge-based Christian charity, started in 1980, that works with children, young people and families, many of whom are facing significant challenges in their lives.

The Community ARC is Cambridgeshire's activities and resource hire centre. It offers resources to support clubs, voluntary organisations and projects throughout Cambridgeshire at a reasonable cost.

Cambs Youth Panel has been running successfully since June 2016 and was initially setup to advise the police (Cambridgeshire Constabulary) under the name 'East Cambs Youth Consultation Panel'. Since then they have been approached by several councils, political leaders and others who have chosen to work with then to improve our region.

Case studies 

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.

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."

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.

Reaching and supporting adults and families in your community

Our Child and Family Centres offer groups, events, activities, courses and support for families with children aged 0-19. As well as our network of Child and Family Centres, we provide activities, groups, events and courses in libraries, churches and other community locations across the county.

Encompass Network provides support for LGBTQ+ individuals in Cambridgeshire.

Cambourne Crescent is a local Islamic Charitable Trust established in 2011. Based in Cambourne, Cambridge, Cambourne Crescent was established to fulfil the social and spiritual needs of families living in and around Cambourne Village and to engage with and actively contribute and participate in the wider community of Cambourne.

Beth Shalom is the largest Jewish congregation in East Anglia; the synagogue has a wide mixture of members, made up of families, single people of all ages and students.

Cambridge Gurdwara act as a focal point for the Sikh community in Cambridge and to engage the local Sikh community including students, professionals and the wider local community in order to capture the forward needs of the Sangat.

Cambridgeshire Older People's Network represents the older people of Cambridge, making sure their voice is heard.

How to engage your community

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