In the Loop: Summer 2021

In the Loop - Hunts Forum Member News

 

Summer 2021

Welcome to the Summer 2021 edition of our In the Loop members’ newsletter, where we focus on the work of new members who are joining us at Hunts Forum. Please take a while to learn about these organisations as they introduce themselves. Each one is a possible partner, collaborator and inspiration.

The monthly News Forum now includes the latest news from members. We are always happy to include news linked to stories and information at any time from members in this publication. These are published on the third Thursday of the month. If you have something for In the Loop or News Forum, please get in touch.

In this issue of In the Loop we hear from two organisations with great aspirations for their communities and both in the process of setting up something new.


Brampton Job Club

BJC logoWe are a group of like-minded volunteers whose aim is to help, support and guide people living in Brampton village, who are currently unemployed and are actively seeking and wanting to get into full- or part-time meaningful employment.

The key objective of the Job Club is to support people in a positive friendly manner in overcoming the many challenges associated with seeking a job and guide them towards focusing on achieving a successful long-term employment outcome.

Brampton Job Club volunteers

The Brampton Job Club Volunteers: (back row from left) Brian and John,
(front row) Claire, Lee and James

The range of support on offer includes identifying the key skills of the individual and how best they can be targeted in the job market.

Guidance and support based on those individual needs-led approach will include: Job Search pathways, CV format, cover letter writing, interview techniques (face to face or virtual on-line) and handling interview questions.

Furthermore, if required, the Brampton Job Club is able to access and call on professional expert advice and individual training opportunities through its strong links with Huntingdon District Council.

The Brampton Job Club has up to six volunteers, living in the village, who care about their community and are keen to give back some of their life-long wealth of working experience in order to support and help others to gain employment. This pool of experience covers a wide sector of industries, organisations and capabilities, which enables us to offer proven skills and techniques in guiding Brampton people seeking job opportunities.

That work-life experience is further enhanced by virtue of the fact volunteers have undergone relevant professional training provided by HDC. Additionally, all volunteers have DBS certificates with the service provision being strictly confidential for all individuals involved.

BJC is very much a client-led organisation with the focus on the wants and needs of the participating individual actively seeking employment.

Regular client meetings will be organised with a maximum of two participating BJC volunteers to discuss and track the progress being made towards successful employment. All conversations are confidential and therefore we encourage and welcome open and honest discussions that will help us and the job seeker achieve meaningful employment.

The services of the Brampton Job Club have now started. It is a free of charge organisation and we warmly welcome anyone living in Brampton who is currently seeking employment to contact us to find out more about how we can help.

Please call John on 07746 965171


The Big Stilton Cheese CIC

Big Cheese logoMy name is Tianda Woolner and I was born in Stilton in 1960. At that time the village had a thriving high street with butchers, greengrocers, bakers, farmers, haberdashery and four popular pubs. All but the pubs have gone and so is, somewhat, a reason to get out into our neighbourhoods. I believe change is on the way and we need to take full advantage of it.

We are The Big Stilton Cheese CIC, a newly formed group of people who want something more for everyone who lives in our local area. We hope to re-open The Stilton Cheese Inn, a former pub and restaurant in our village, as a community café, kitchen, retail and workspace. We will also offer meeting rooms and a play area and garden for the benefit of our community.

We have four members of our team to drive this forward but hope to tap into a wealth of support from individuals and small companies who will help us develop the site and make use of the facilities when it is up and running.

Fundraising… The Big Chop for The Big Cheese

Our main aim is to enable and encourage our residents to meet up with friends and family, and to make new friends and form support networks. The work will build upon the wonderful response we had for volunteers to help our less able and isolated residents when the call went out at the beginning of the pandemic. These new friendships have blossomed, and we need, more than ever, a central building to meet in to make sure everyone feels welcomed, included and valued.

As part of our venture, there will be room for dozens of skilled artists, makers, bakers and crafters to showcase their wares with us, most of which we were not aware of before 2020. Our food and drink and gifts will be made by local people, and our retail spaces will be occupied by local businesses.

Of course, there is so much work to be done, as those of you who have been successful and opened your own social enterprises know. The landlord of the pub, Tavern Propco, is willing to allow this change of use, but local authority planning is a minefield, and we will need a lot of help there. The building is grade II listed but alongside the extra pressure this puts on us it is a compelling reason for us to look after this landmark on our main street and get it back into use.

I was lucky indeed this year. I was introduced to Hunts Forum and accepted on an Allia Impact Accelerator course. I also joined The Plunkett Foundation, an incredibly friendly bunch. Then our team was offered a course through the Social Echo, supported by The Big Issue Foundation to help complete our business plan and website. We have also been busy fundraising – the most recent was a sponsored haircut that my granddaughter and I braved. The event was well supported, and we raised almost £1,500 towards our initial costs.

We hope that we will be successful in the near future and be able to welcome you all to The Big Stilton Cheese soon.

Tianda Woolner
tianda.woolner@bigstiltoncheese.co.uk
07758 368255

In the Loop: Spring 2021

In the Loop - Hunts Forum Member News

 

Spring 2021

Welcome to the Spring 2021 edition of our In the Loop members’ newsletter, where we focus on the work of new members who are joining us at Hunts Forum. Please take a while to learn about these organisations as they introduce themselves. Each one is a possible partner, collaborator and inspiration.

The monthly News Forum now includes the latest news from members. We are always happy to include news linked to stories and information at any time from members in this publication. These are published on the third Thursday of the month. If you have something for News Forum, please get in touch.

In this issue of In the Loop we hear from two very different charity members, both in their own way integral parts of their communities:


Dreamdrops

Hello, my name is Anne-Marie Hamilton and I am Chairman of Huntingdonshire Children’s Charity, known locally as Dreamdrops.

Dreamdrops’ Chairman, Anne-Marie Hamilton

Dreamdrops was set up in 2005 to make a real difference to the lives of local children who are ill, or have significant health needs, and to support their families, both in hospital and in the local community.

Money raised by the charity helps to buy those little (and large) “extras” that are not covered by NHS public funds, but which make a hospital stay more comfortable for children and their families. We also raise funds to help sick children who are being nursed at home.

Sisters Daisy, Rose and Lily Bell walking for charity

In 2019, we formed The Collins Club, to provide some much-needed help and support to families caring for an autistic child; arranging for some family days out, a Christmas party and a visit to the cinema. When the pandemic interrupted these events, we provided support packs for the children, as they find disruption to their lives particularly stressful. We have also provided several support packages over the last year to frontline NHS staff based in Hinchingbrooke Hospital and in the local community, to help them through these challenging times.

We are extremely grateful to all the local businesses, organisations, Rotary clubs, councillors, frontline staff, families and individuals who help support the charity in so many wonderful ways. For example, sisters, Lily and Daisy Bell, walked 5 miles every day for a month, and their little sister, Rose, who is only 2 years old, walked 3-4 miles a day for the charity and, on her best day, she walked 5.5 miles!

From the time she was born, Daisy has spent a lot of time on Holly Ward at Hinchingbrooke Hospital, and now has community support through Dreamdrops. She and her family wanted to enable the charity to help more families like theirs, and so decided to do the walk to raise funds for us. Without their amazing effort, and those of so many other people in our community, we would not be able to provide for the families in the way we do.

We are also very fortunate to be supported by the Mayor of Huntingdon, Karl Webb, who has selected Dreamdrops as his chosen charity for his Mayoral term.

Cllr Patrick Kadewere, Mike Andrews (vice-chairman, Dreamdrops), Christine Luckman (Dreamdrops committee member), Karl Webb (Mayor of Huntingdon) and Mayoress of Huntingdon, Hilary Meers-Webb

Our most recent campaign has involved the provision of refurbished laptops and tablets for primary and secondary schools across Huntingdonshire. The project has involved the whole community, with local companies and individuals donating unused laptops and tablets which were collected up for us by community support groups in Ramsey, Huntingdon and St Neots, and by the members of Riverport Women’s Institute in St Ives. The machines were then wiped and refurbished by a specialist computer company, I-Dash, in Eaton Socon and PAT-tested by their next door neighbours, CambsPAT UK. We are very grateful to everyone for the very generous contribution that each has made, as these donated devices will give Huntingdonshire school children the lifeline they need to stay in touch and interact with their school, and have proved particularly helpful during the recent lockdown.

The aim of Dreamdrops is to make life a little easier for children, their parents and NHS staff, when it can be at its most stressful.

For more information about Dreamdrops, or to make a donation, please call, visit or email:

07790 911541
dreamdrops.dreamdrops@nhs.net
www.dreamdropschildrenscharity.org
#CCSdreamdrops
Huntingdonshire Children’s Charity (Dreamdrops – Charity No 1108920)


St Neots Museum

St Neots Museum is a friendly, local museum serving the people of St Neots and the surrounding villages. Located in the town’s Victorian Police Station and Magistrates Court, the permanent displays tell the story of the town from prehistoric times to the 1990s. The museum opened in 1995 and aims to preserve the history of the area and tell the stories of local people. From Stone Age hunter gatherers to the Tudors and Stuarts, to the Eynesbury Giant, Victorian industry and new growth after two devastating World Wars, the area has a rich story to tell.

The museum collects objects, photographs, ephemera and information and has become an important community asset, welcoming over 11,000 visitors in 2019. With three part-time members of staff and over fifty volunteers, we serve local schools, community groups and people of all ages and abilities, including tourists to the town. We run regular sessions for local groups, including carers with toddlers, Beavers and Brownies, overseas students, dementia sufferers and their carers, paranormal groups and more. The museum has a thriving activity and events programme running family activities, town walks, talks to local groups and an annual living history festival held on the market square.

History comes alive: re-enacting the 1648 Battle of St Neots

The museum is a charitable company and is partly financed by a grant from St Neots Town Council as well as by donations from local Parish Councils, from the Friends of the Museum and by other fundraising initiatives. We also run a popular museum gift shop selling souvenirs, local history books, jewellery, cards, textiles and our ‘Made in St Neots’ range of handmade gifts by local artists and makers. Volunteers are an essential part of the museum workforce, running the museum reception, documenting the museum’s collections and carrying out weekly maintenance.

An Edwardian police cell: find out about local crimes and criminals

In 2019 the museum was voted ‘Cambridgeshire Small Museum of the Year’ at the Museums in Cambridgeshire Awards. Whilst a thriving museum for over 25 years St Neots Museum is now facing growing challenges. The Victorian building needs major repair and its small public spaces make hosting groups of over 30 people difficult. The museum displays need updating as new communities grow in the town and new items are donated and new archaeological discoveries made. Financial resilience is also becoming more challenging as times change and the museum is currently developing exciting redevelopment plans to make us fit for the 21st Century. Thank you to Hunts Forum for providing support in these challenging times.

For further information contact:

Liz Davies, Curator
8 New Street, St Neots, Cambridgeshire, PE19 1AE
Charity No. 800074
Website: www.stneotsmuseum.org.uk
Museum Tel: 01480 214 163
Email: curators@stneotsmuseum.org.uk
Follow on Facebook or Twitter @StNeotsMuseum

In the Loop: Winter 2021

In the Loop - Hunts Forum Member News

 

Winter 2021

Welcome to the Winter 2021 edition of our In the Loop members’ newsletter, where we focus on the work of new members who are joining us all at Hunts Forum. Please take a while to learn about these organisations as they introduce themselves. Each one is a possible partner, collaborator and inspiration.

The latest news from our members now appears in our monthly NewsForum e-newsletters, sent by email. We are always happy to include members’ news and links to stories and information in this publication. Please send your contributions to keith@huntsforum.org.uk.

In this issue we hear from:

Cogwheel Counselling

Cogwheel Counselling is the only service in Cambridgeshire providing affordable counselling to couples, families and to individuals of all ages: children, teenagers, young adults, adults and the elderly.

The availability of counselling through the NHS is limited and can involve long waiting times. Those who can afford private counselling can readily access counselling, but those living on low incomes or are financially disadvantaged have little hope of getting the counselling support they need.

Cogwheel Counselling was founded in 1988 to provide counselling that was accessible and available regardless of anyone’s financial situation. Over the years there has been an increasing awareness of the important role that mental health plays in wellbeing and the benefit of talking therapies to aid people on the road to recovery from their mental health problems.

Thirty three years later, Cogwheel still provides affordable counselling and this has always remained at the heart of everything that Cogwheel does. Nearly 5,000 counselling sessions are provided annually, benefiting nearly 400 people of all ages. Cogwheel provides a maximum of 20 sessions for all clients. They are asked to make a payment contribution for a session based on their income.

Thousands have personally benefitted from this service. Cogwheel’s own data shows the dramatic difference that its counselling makes to people’s wellbeing and distress by the end of their counselling.

Cogwheel operates from premises in Norfolk Street, Cambridge and has satellite locations in Ely and Sawston. The Head of Counselling Esther McNeill is responsible for a team of 40 counsellors consisting of both employed and self-employed professional, volunteer and trainee counsellors. Cogwheel is one of only a few counselling providers in the county that is accredited with BACP (The British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy).

At the start of the first Covid Lockdown in March 2020 many mental health charities including Cogwheel had to stop providing in-person counselling and transform their operation overnight to provide online counselling so as to continue to support people of all ages. Over the last 10 months, Cogwheel has seen clients referring themselves with higher levels of anxiety than seen previously seen.

The charity has an ambitious vision to continue to provide counselling for all, regardless of their financial situation. Income from client session contributions provides about 60% of the funding to meet the charity’s operating expenses so fundraising is vital to Cogwheel’s viability. Cogwheel is grateful for its continuing support from its regular and new grant funders and its other long-term supporters.

Cogwheel is outward looking in its approach and welcomes opportunities of conversation with other mental health charities. If this may be of interest please contact Neil Davies, Business Support & Fundraising Manager on 07502 372852 or email neil@cogwheel.org.uk.

www.cogwheel.org.uk


Diamond Hampers CIC

Diamond Hampers provides emergency food aid to vulnerable families and individuals across the wider community. In 2020 it provided over 108,000 meals to people living in poverty. It operates seven days a week and provides support to hundreds of people every week.

A team of 50 dedicated volunteers assist with delivering essential food items to people across the district. Alongside this, they provide essential household items to support young people leaving care and support hostels and rough sleepers in and around Peterborough.

The team support families each half term by providing activity and snack bags for children, and during October 2020 provided over 1,000 school lunches. Over Christmas, more than 600 gifts and 600 meals were provided to those in need.

Diamond Hampers launched in January 2020 and over the course of the year have built relationships with the District, County and City councils to work together in the fight against food poverty.

In February 2020, the founder, Lianne Simpson, now the newly elected chair for emergency food provision across Huntingdonshire, was joined as a director by Charlotte Heritage. Together they ensure the organisation runs as effectively and efficiently as possible.

Diamond Hampers rescues a large amount of good quality food waste from supermarkets each week, saving it from landfill and instead ensuring it can be used by people in need to feed themselves nutritious meals. In 2020, over 90 tonnes of food was saved from rotting in landfill sites.

Working in partnership with Social Echo and Food For Nought, Diamond Hampers develops ideas and the tools to help the most vulnerable in society.

If you or someone you know may be in need of support, please contact Diamond Hampers in complete confidence. You can reach Lianne Simpson on 07769 312711 or diamondhampers@yahoo.com.

www.diamondhampers.org


Godmanchester FoodBank

Godmanchester FoodBank (GFB) is a practical, community-based project providing food parcels for people in our area who are in food crisis.

Their operating area is the administrative county of Huntingdonshire. GFB provides short-term emergency help to people who find themselves for whatever reason (for example job-loss, benefit problems, ill-health etc) unable to feed themselves or their families.

The FoodBank is entirely dependent on voluntary help and donations of food and money. It operates under the auspices of Godmanchester Baptist Church and is supported by other local churches. GFB is part of the Trussell Trust FoodBank Network, an anti-poverty charity founded on Christian principles, but works with people of all faiths and none.

The foodbank does not ask intrusive questions nor seek personal information beyond a necessary minimum: name, age, address, number of people etc. They aim to provide ‘a hand up rather than a hand out’.

GFB uses a referral agency system to connect people to food help. Their network of around 100 registered agencies (statutory and voluntary groups, schools and other professionals) work with local people. Agencies can refer people to the FoodBank and so remove one difficulty in the pathway to improved circumstances for those people. The FoodBank offers help and support to people by ‘signposting’ them to agencies that can help.

From quiet beginnings about 10 years ago at Godmanchester Baptist Church, GFB has grown and in ‘normal times’ around 30 volunteers play a part in running things: collecting food from donation points, sorting and checking food, packing parcels, working face to face with people who come to the Foodbank. Behind the scenes the Management Team keep things running smoothly.

Foodbank al fresco 2020

However we currently live in different times! The Foodbank has reduced its volunteer staffing level and four small, isolated teams keep the service running in a socially distanced, Covid-secure, ‘foodbank al fresco’ in the car park of their base building. This has lost some of its attraction over the winter months, despite the provision of a gazebo as a shelter from the elements!

Last year GFB distributed food parcels (containing sufficient food to provide three meals a day for three days) to help over 1,800 adults and over 1,300 children, distributing around 36 tonnes (36,000kg) of food. This equates to 10,000 meals for a family of four people.

GFB provided additional food support to families during the school summer holiday and produced over 180 Christmas Hampers to make things better for families in the area. They continue to provide food support for other groups including people and families in temporary accommodation and are currently working with partner schools to make sure that families (especially those who are just outside the scope of Free School Meals provision) have access to food for their children.

Volunteers taking a break

Godmanchester FoodBank continues – although they would like to see an end to the need for our service.

Anyone interested in finding out more about GFB or becoming a referral agency should contact GFB  at admin@gbcfoodbank.org.uk or visit their website.

www.godmanchester.foodbank.org.uk


Hunts Community Cancer Network

Hunts Community Cancer Network (HCCN) is a local charity founded in 2015 by Susan Moore, working with a patient networking group. Now run by volunteers, the HCCN charity works alongside the NHS community cancer nurse specialists. Their aim is to support people across Huntingdonshire who are coping with a diagnosis of cancer to feel in control of their lives and be able to fully participate in questions about their health.

Susan Moore was the driving force behind the charity. Based on her own experience and needs, she had the vision to create a charity providing an holistic approach to managing a diagnosis of cancer. She worked tirelessly to improve the wellbeing of cancer patients, wanting people to take control for themselves. She was passionate about giving people the information and tools to remain in control of their diagnosis and not be dictated to.

The wonderful nursing team identified that having some portable drip stands would enable them to undertake more treatments in the community, cutting down hospital admissions. They asked, and the charity supplied!

The HCCN nurses, led by Karen Moseley at Hinchingbrooke Hospital, provide specialist oncology nursing interventions and support to cancer patients and their families. The team offers a different way to deliver cancer care – working in, with and for the community – reducing costs for the NHS and demand on clinics. Their aim is to deliver the best in oncology care against the National Strategies set out for cancer care and to continue to develop innovative ways of working to overcome increased service demands.

HCCN believes that good care is underpinned by mutual respect, valuing diversity, understanding and support. Cancer affects the whole family, not just the person with the diagnosis. It can be a frightening time, leaving people feeling unsure about the future and coping with the consequences of treatment. Having a designated nurse who can provide emotional as well as medical support – to reassure and offer treatment at home, act as advocate, enabling those seeing multiple consultants to move information around the NHS systems – makes that an easier path to navigate.

Increasingly cancer can be lived with in the same way as other long-term conditions, particularly when individuals are actively involved in managing their health. The HCCN charity creates opportunities for people to come together with others in a similar situation to offer mutual support, as well as delivering a range of activities proven to mitigate the side effects of cancer treatment, such as exercise, emotional well-being, nutrition and education. All their activities are provided free of charge and they rely on fundraising, donations and grants to fund this work.

www.hccn.org.uk


RAF Benevolent Fund

The RAF Benevolent Fund has been supporting the RAF family for over 100 years. Their aim is that no member of the RAF family (serving, veteran and immediate family members) will be alone in their hour of need. As such the Fund provides a wide range of support.

Financial assistance

The Fund can cover costs for a range of issues including mobility aids, adaptations to the home, support with unexpected costs (such as white goods), support with priority bills or regular financial payment for care costs, gardening, social engagement and respite.

Assessment for eligibility is usually carried out by a visit from a case working organisation such as RAFA or SSAFA. During 2020 the Fund added a simpler self-referral application form for applications up to £750, which can be completed online.
Eligibility for financial support is savings under £12,000 (or £23,250 relating to those in care).

The Fund also provides benefit advisors and advocates as well as the recent addition of a Legal Advice Line to answer a range of issues.

Emotional Wellbeing

All the Fund’s emotional wellbeing assistance is non means-tested, providing a range of counselling and social isolation support.

A ‘self-help’ counselling option has been added online, alongside regular counselling support for issues such as relationships, low mood, self-esteem, bereavement, anxiety and for times of crisis. A 24-hour Support Line provides professional counselling wherever and whenever it is needed. Counselling support has now been extended to cover children aged 5-18.

Unfortunately, the COVID crisis affected the Fund, as with most charities, and sadly led to the closure of their respite facility, Princess Marina House. However, the Fund continues to provide support and funding for welfare breaks and is looking to extend this provision post lockdown.

During 2020 the Fund has had to continually adapt to support the RAF Family. ‘Check & Chat Calls’ were started to provide regular telephone contact with beneficiaries who were isolated. Fund staff stepped up to host ‘RAF Telephone Friendship Groups’ run in partnership with Silverline, enabling a doubling of groups provided. Currently they host over 20 groups of between 6-8 people for a weekly hour of chat and friendship. For some this has been the only social contact they have had during lockdown. It has proved so beneficial that these groups are now a regular feature of the Fund’s support.

Community Engagement Worker, Cambridgeshire

Community Engagement Worker Matt Rowe during a group visit to Duxford

In 2019 the Fund began a pilot project for Community Engagement Workers (CEW) in four counties across the East of England to promote the work of the Fund and engage with the RAF family experiencing social isolation. Matt Rowe is the CEW in Cambridgeshire and over the past two years has supported over 160 veterans and their partners. The role proved a great success and has been extended for a further four years.

For further details of support available from the RAF Benevolent Fund visit our web site at www.rafbf.org or call the Welfare Line on 0300 102 1919.

If you wish to make a referral regarding social isolation or would like advice about other types of support, contact Matt directly at matt.rowe@rafbf.org or call 07784238185.

www.rafbf.org


Sports Connections Foundation

The vision of Sports Connections Foundation (SCF), based in Peterborough, is to use sport to help and inspire children and young people to develop positive futures for disadvantaged children. They support children in their formative years with a particular focus on transition, inclusion and young people who are facing the challenge of poor mental health, social isolation and economic deprivation.

Since 2010, they’ve been raising opportunities and aspirations and engaged with over 500,000 children and young people nationwide through four established programmes:

  • Inspire Through Sport; developing positive futures for disadvantaged children, raising life aspirations, providing positive mentors and exit routes for young people facing poverty cycles and social isolation mainly throughout Peterborough and Huntingdon.
  • Sporting Wishes; helping to make dreams come true for some of the bravest children who are facing life-limiting illnesses, and providing respite from gruelling treatments and providing long lasting memories for families.
  • Pro-Kick School Challenge; a programme run in partnership with schools, developing teamwork and participation in sport, while teaching about global citizenship across the UK.
  • Inspire Through Sport International; using sport and education to guide children away from a life of poverty.

SCF co-founder Junior McDougald was raised in Huntingdon and is an ex-professional footballer. He has access to professional athletes who motivate and inspire the children and young people that they support. SCF are also able to utilise this network to help to deliver Sporting Wishes.

It’s a big thumbs up for a spot of rock climbing

The charity is a very small team of two full-time and two part-time staff, plus an amazing team of six volunteers who support with office and administration tasks, grant and trust applications and research projects for corporate partnerships and other engagement projects.

Sports Connections Foundation would welcome opportunities to work with other charities in conjunction with our Inspire Through Sport programme, either via our referral scheme or investigating possibilities of working on trust applications to secure and develop new projects in Huntingdon.

Please contact karen@scfchildrenscharity.org.uk if you have any questions or would like to discuss any opportunities.

www.scfchildrenscharity.org.uk

In the Loop: Autumn 2020

In the Loop - Hunts Forum Member News

 

Autumn 2020

Welcome to the revamped In the Loop members’ news. This quarterly publication from us will now focus on new Hunts Forum members, so they can introduce themselves to our growing family of community organisations.

We will continue to publish news from our members in our monthly News Forum e-newsletters. Please send your contributions to keith@huntsforum.org.uk.

In this issue we hear from:

Peterborough Environment City Trust

The team at PECTPeterborough Environment City Trust (PECT) is an environmental charity promoting sustainable practices to help protect our environment now and to leave a legacy for future generations. It does lots of great work in Peterborough and has recently branched out into Huntingdonshire and Fenland with its Warm Homes project.

The project helps improve the lives of vulnerable households that are suffering from or are at risk of fuel poverty. If you live in Huntingdonshire or Fenland, then PECT can help you with its free energy advice service. The Warm Homes campaign supports residents who are struggling to pay their energy bills or cannot keep their home heated at a sufficient temperature.

With overwhelming evidence that inadequately heated homes can have a detrimental effect on the wellbeing of residents, PECT offers help by providing free energy advice and information packs, as well as signposting to other available resources and support.

“Ultimately we want to help cut energy costs and carbon for the benefit of people and the planet,” explains Project Officer Nikki Dekker. “People’s ability to keep their homes adequately heated has been further exacerbated by the economic, health and social challenges created by Covid-19. This is a time of great uncertainty, and we want to support people to live healthily and happily.”

Huge numbers of homeowners are unable to adequately heat their homes, and this has significant health implications and places enormous pressure on the NHS. PECT’s project seeks to tackle this growing issue by providing householders with a free helping hand to make their homes more energy efficient and to help save money on their energy bills.

The service offers help and advice on behavioural changes, choosing the best energy tariff and supplier, managing your water bills, and – where eligible – can assist you to access the national £140 Warm Home Discount, the Government Green Homes Grant (where households can get a voucher up to £5,000 to make their homes more energy efficient), and other funding opportunities.

To access PECT’s Warm Homes service, please contact 01733 568408, email warmhomes@pect.org.uk or visit www.pect.org.uk/WarmHomes.

Craft4Smiles C.I.C.

Craft4Smiles C.I.C. is a crafting community whose members are passionate about crafting and intent on ensuring that as many people as possible have the opportunity to participate in the activities that have been of significant benefit to their own wellbeing. We specialize in paper crafting and mixed media work, offering a range of courses:

  • 1 – 2 Years: From Beginner to Advanced Crafter (4 x 10 weeks per year);
  • Short Courses (5 weeks);
  • Pop-up/tasters (one-off events).

Established as a social enterprise to work with adults aged 18 years and over, we aim to:

  • Help to improve the mental health and wellbeing of those who are excluded and/or experiencing mental health problems;
  • Respond to the needs of those who are lonely/isolated and/or experiencing mental health problems arising from the Covid-19 pandemic.

Our craft groups offer the opportunity for the development of sustained and supportive relationships between participants and between participants and the tutor. We are developing an online Gallery where members of our community are able to display and sell the things they have made. Participants have the opportunity to train to become assistants and then craft tutors for Craft4Smiles C.I.C. and, potentially, to set up their own crafting businesses with support if needed.

Fiona and Gray Adley are the co-founders and directors of Craft4Smiles C.I.C. The organization was borne out of a two-year crafting project funded by the People’s Trust and delivered for Lifecraft by Gray as craft tutor.

When the funding ended in August 2019, Fiona and Gray decided that the activity had been so successful and enjoyable for everyone, that they would continue to run the group voluntarily while setting up a business. In November 2019 they registered with Companies House as a C.I.C. Many of the original members of the Lifecraft group have continued their involvement. Despite the challenges presented by the Covid-19 pandemic, they are working hard to develop the range of activities on offer, delivering courses online in real time. This allows them to continue to develop the all-important relationships with participants. They are now able to offer crafting activities across the UK!

Their website – www.craft4smiles-cic.org.uk – has recently gone live, actively promoting courses. Fiona and Gray also work with key local community organizations to identify the people who will most benefit from the funded (free) courses, following successful bids to the Co-Op Bank and Peterborough Community Voluntary Service. They are awaiting the outcome of a second bid to the latter and bids to Cambridgeshire Community Foundation and the National Lottery Awards for All Covid Response fund.

The funding already secured covers the first term of the Long Course – Beginner to Advanced crafter – to be held weekly on Thursdays from 11am to 1pm from 11 February to 29 April, for people living in Peterborough and the surrounding area. These sessions will be held online for the foreseeable future.

Some people may need help understanding how online craft sessions work, so Fiona and Gray would be very happy to talk to members/clients of other Hunts Forum member organisations about the courses – please contact them at info@craft4smiles-cic.org.uk if you would like to arrange this.

If you know anyone who might like to participate, please refer them to the website or suggest they email info@craft4smiles-cic.org.uk for information. Also, if anyone might be interested in crafting in general, tell them about the website – courses and Gallery!

Fiona and Gray are new to the community/voluntary sector in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough although not new to Mental Health services in the area, and are keen to develop strong working relationships. Please do get in touch if you can see opportunities for joint working or mutual support.

Godmanchester Baptist Church

Here at Godmanchester Baptist Church we have a plan to redevelop their Large Hall to become fit for purpose. It seats 200+ people but needs some work to modernize it; it is a single-skin brick building with a leaky tin roof. It was a former print works but we are looking to transform it into a better space for both church and community use. The rest of the premises were refurbished in 2015 and we host and run various community activities and groups in those.

We would be really interested to hear from other groups who are in need of a space to meet. If you would like to hear more, or tell us your views on our project we would be delighted to hear from you – we have a short questionnaire here and you can find out more about us at www.godmanchesterbaptist.org.

You can also get in touch by phone. Ruth Blakey is our administrator, on 01480 458565. Officer hours are Tuesday-Friday 9am-1pm.