New Regulation on Charitable Trustees and Senior Managers

The final provision of the Charities (Protection and Social Investment) Act 2016 comes into effect on 1 August 2018, automatically disqualifying certain people from serving as Charity trustees or in some senior positions in Charities in England and Wales (regardless of whether the Charity is registered with the Charity Commission).


Since the Charities Act 1992 (now consolidated into the 2011 Act), a person has been automatically disqualified from serving as a trustee of or for a Charity in England and Wales if he or she has an unspent (i.e. still “live”) conviction involving dishonesty or deception; has been declared bankrupt or made an arrangement with their creditors which has not been discharged; has been removed by the Charity Commission, high court or court of session in Scotland from being a Charity trustee; has been disqualified as a company director; or is subject to an order made under the Insolvency Act for failure to make payments under a county court administration order. In most cases, a person in this situation can apply can apply to the Charity Commission for a waiver in relation to a particular Charity or type of Charity, or in general.

It is an offence, punishable by a fine and up to two years imprisonment, to serve as a Charity trustee while disqualified. Any person who serves as a trustee while disqualified may be required by the Charity Commission to repay to the Charity any payments received as remuneration or for expenses while disqualified, or the monetary value of any benefits received while disqualified. For some types of disqualification, trustees of Charitable companies are subject to penalties under company law rather than Charity law.

The existing provisions remain in place. But from 1 August 2018, this list of circumstances triggering automatic disqualification is widened. In addition, and very significantly, anyone who would be automatically disqualified from serving as Charity trustee is automatically also disqualified from holding an office or employment in the Charity with senior management functions, unless the Charity Commission grants a waiver. The changes are controversial, and attracted significant opposition from the Charity sector during consultations on the legislation and on the Commission’s guidance.

“Senior management positions” are defined as:

  • The most senior executive position in a Charity, with overall responsibility for the day to day management and control of the Charity and accountable directly to the trustees; and
  • Where control of the Charity’s finances has been delegated, the person (other than the most senior executive) with overall responsibility for day to day management and control of the Charity’s finance; and is accountable only to the chief executive (or similar) or the trustees.

The designation is based on the functions actually carried out by the person, not their title – so someone could be called coordinator, convenor, general secretary, administrator, development worker or anything else and still hold the most senior position.

The new disqualification rule does not apply to all senior managers – only to the most senior manager or equivalent, and – if it is a different person – the most senior person who controls the finances. The Commission’s guidance refers to such positions as restricted. The holder of a restricted position may be an employee, volunteer, consultant or similar. Where a senior management position is job-shared, or In flat hierarchies where there are several people in senior management positions, each directly accountable to the trustees rather than to another staff member, each of those positions would be restricted.

In addition, if a person has been disqualified as a trustee, and they are involved in controlling or managing a corporate trustee which is itself the trustee of a Charity, they will not be able to be involved in decisions about the Charity’s administration. A corporate trustee is an incorporated body, such as a registered company or a local authority, which serves as a trustee.

Additional circumstances leading to automatic disqualification from 1 August 2018 are:

  • An unspent conviction for specified offences under counter-terrorism legislation, money laundering legislation or the Bribery Act 2010; offences of misconduct in public office, perjury or perverting the course of justice; or attempting, aiding or abetting these offences.
  • Contempt of court.
  • Being designated under terrorist asset-freezing legislation.
  • Being on the sex offenders register.

Since 1 February 2018, a current or potential trustee or senior manager who will be caught by the new provisions has been able to apply to the Charity Commission for a waiver from disqualification. Trustees caught by the earlier provisions, from 1992, have always been able to apply. When considering waiver applications the Commission’s general view is that the disqualification should apply, but there are some circumstances where it will agree to waive the disqualification if it is in the interests of the charity to do so.

A trustee or senior manager who will be automatically disqualified under the new rules and applies for a waiver before 1 August will be able to remain in that role until the Commission makes a decision. If they do not apply before 1 August, they will be committing an offence if they continue as a trustee or senior manager. A trustee should resign effective 31 July or earlier; the other trustees should ensure enough trustees remain to form a quorum, and if not, will have to appoint a new trustee or trustees under provisions in the governing document. The trustee can still remain involved with the Charity, for example as a volunteer, but must not act directly or indirectly as a trustee.

If an automatically disqualified senior manager does not apply for a waiver before 1 August and thus will not be able to remain in position from 1 August, the Charity and manager must discuss this urgently, and both may need legal advice about the implications. It may be possible for the person to be employed in an alternative role in which they do not have day to day senior management responsibility, or they may need to resign or be dismissed. A dismissal is fair if a statutory duty or restriction prohibits the employment being continued, but despite this the situation is potentially high risk and advice should be taken.


Charities in England and Wales (whether registered with the Commission or not) which have not already dealt with this issue should:

  • Read the Charity Commission news release and guidance.
  • Identify which of your senior managers will or may be caught by the rules.
  • Explain the changes to trustees and relevant senior managers, provide them with the Commission’s guidance for trustees and senior managers, and provide the relevant declaration form (in the Commission’s guidance for Charities).
  • Check the official individual insolvency register on the Insolvency Service website to see if any trustee or person in a restricted position is bankrupt or has an arrangement with creditors that would disqualify them; the register of disqualified company directors on the Companies House website; and the register of persons removed as a Charity trustee on the Charity Commission website to see if the person is disqualified under the existing rules.
  • If it becomes apparent that a trustee is disqualified under the existing criteria, discuss with them whether they want to apply to the Commission for a waiver (if they do not apply, or they apply and the waiver is not granted, it will be an offence for them to remain a trustee so they will have to resign).
  • If from 1 August a trustee will be disqualified under the new criteria, or a person in a restricted position will be disqualified under the existing or new criteria, discuss with them whether they want to apply for a waiver (but if this is not done before 1 August, or if they apply before 1 August but the waiver is not granted, it will be an offence for them to remain a trustee or in a restricted position);
  • Put trustee and staff recruitment procedures in place to get declarations from prospective trustees and senior managers in future, in good time for them to apply for a waiver, if necessary, before they are offered or would take up their position.
  • Put procedures in place to ensure trustees and senior managers know the events that could trigger automatic disqualification, and are aware they should let you know if any of them occur.
  • Put procedures in place to ask trustees and senior managers to sign the declaration at regular intervals.
  • Review employment or consultancy contracts for senior manager positions, and take advice about whether they need to be revised.

    Source: Legal Update 1819 CHARITY LAW: Governance and Legal Information for Voluntary Organisations.




Small Charities Week – Loves Farm Community Association and Centre 33

Its Friday and the final day of Small Charities Week, a week where small but vital organisations receive some recognition for their work.

We have been doing the same here at Support Cambridgeshire all week, albeit with a distinctly Cambridgeshire flavour.

We end the series with another two-for-the-price-of-one in profiling the Loves Farm Community Association and Centre 33.

Lets start with the Loves Farm Community Association.

The Loves Farm Community Association provides a voice for the residents of Loves Farm, a new build development on the outskirts of St Neots (housing a population of circa 4,000).

The Association is pivotal in bringing people together, in fostering community relationships and representing resident views to Statutory bodies such as District or County Councils.

Being on the outskirts of a major Town, Loves Farm has developed a Village Feel where residents tend to know each other, and regularly come together to support community activities.

And speaking of community actives, the Association plays a major role in supporting and delivering these, and there are many, all of which can be viewed here:

When did they form?

The Association came together in 2009 (the same year that the blade-less fan was invented and Barack Obama was inaugurated as president of the United States).

They acknowledge the support and advice provide by Bedford Pilgrims Housing Association in working with residents in its inception, having now grown to an active committee of 12 members, with others participating as required or needed.

Their website can be viewed here:

What are their challenges?

The Association has been working hard to ensure the correct level of parking restriction across Loves Farm, and have also campaigned tirelessly about the shortage of primary school places at their local Academy, The Roundhouse. The Association are currently in discussions with Developers Urban and Civic about a neighbouring project (Winteringham) which will deliver a further 2,000 homes into the locality.

Ben Pitt, a Community Association Committee Member says:

The Association has played a vital role in giving residents a sense of community ownership and belonging in their local Neighbourhood. We bring people together, air common concerns and hopefully find solutions that meet peoples needs and aspirations.

And now Centre 33.

Centre 33 was formed over 30 years ago to offer help and support to young people on a variety of issues they face, including housing, health, sexual health and social issues. They offer an ‘open door’ every day except Thursdays and Sundays at their offices located at 33 Clarendon Street in Cambridge, where young people can access support and guidance. They also hold further drop ins at Wisbech and Ely, where the same services are available to anyone aged between 13 and 25 years old. This support is offered in a confidential and safe environment.

Take a look at their website by clicking here:

What are their challenges?

One of the critical issues facing Centre 33 is that of funding. The organisation is commissioned by the County Council to provide their Young Carer Service and the contracts are usually re-tendered every 3 years. This can cause uncertainty and confusion at times, not only within the sector and the provider but especially the carers themselves who the service is provided to.

Another challenge concerns information – particularly getting information out to other voluntary and statutory groups and organisations, to help raise awareness of young carers and their issues. This is ongoing and something Centre 33 feels passionate about, especially trying to find the hidden carers, who have no support and do not know how to access it.

Mandy Brine of Centre 33 says:

Some of the issues these young carers face include bullying, exclusion, isolation, restraints on their free time, issues at school as well as peer pressure.  However, although you can see how much pressure the young people are under, with some input and a listening ear they admit that its vital to have someone to talk to and who is not linked to their family.  We offer a safe place to meet, which can sometimes be out in the community , where we will work through their issues and concerns together. I work with the Young Carers because I enjoy giving them support within their role of carer, which is usually to a family member.  It is such a rewarding role to have.

Support Cambridgeshire Commentary:

The Loves Farm Community Association: Social Action and the very idea of bringing people together to solve common issues or concerns is a fundamental part of the work we do. People in communities readily identify with a place, somewhere they can call home and where they can build and develop relationships with others. Loves Farm is a prime example of this: Supported in its inception by Bedford Pilgrims Housing association, it has grown into a real living and thriving community.

Centre 33: The plight faced by young carers often goes unnoticed. It is estimated that 700,000 young carers exist within the UK. Reports suggest that 68% of young carers are bullied whilst at school: 45% of young carers report some form of mental well-being disorder: 56% of young carers struggle educationally because of their caring role. Young carers need as much support and guidance as they can get, and its good to see organisations like Centre 33 leading the charge. 

The value of small

The value of small recognises the distinct contribution that small and medium sized Charities make across the UK (Quite fitting in Small Charities Week).

The research was undertaken by a team led by the Centre for Regional Economic and Social Research (CRESR) at Sheffield Hallam University, and including Sheffield Business School (SBS), the Centre for Voluntary Sector Leadership (CVSL) at the Open University, and the Institute for Voluntary Action Research (IVAR).

The report notes that: “Stakeholders and smaller charities spoke of the crucial role of an effective local infrastructure organisation”. It goes on to explore examples of formal collaboration and partnership working, acknowledging the role that infrastructure organisations have played in facilitating successful collaborations between Small and medium Charities, larger charities and the public sector.

The value of small captures the very distinct contribution and value of Small and medium sized Charities operating at local level, but it also highlights the major challenges they face, concluding with recommendations and calls to action to both Funding Agencies and Commissioning bodies. The recommendations include funding reform, re-framing and strengthening the role of social value and sustaining healthy local ecosystems.

Click here to access the full report.

Small Charities Week – Cambridge Online and The Cherry Hinton Festival

Its Thursday and day four of Small Charities Week, a week where small but vitally important organisations across the UK receive some recognition for their work.

Here at Support Cambridgeshire we are doing the same, albeit with a distinctly Cambridgeshire flavour.

Its a double whammy today – with two organisations being profiled. As is always the case, Support Cambridgeshire may add some comments to this profile but these will be italicised to ensure clarity and ownership.

Let’s start with Cambridge Online.

Cambridge Online is a vibrant and forward-looking educational charity and social enterprise based in Cambridge taking on the challenge of digital skills for all. They help people from the Cambridgeshire area to get online by teaching those all important digital skills, and then provide a range of courses to help people make the most of being online (including searching and applying for jobs, literacy and numeracy skills, shopping online, using facebook and socialising online, contacting government and health services and leisure and healthy living).

Cambridge online specialises in helping disabled and disadvantaged people, but their services are open to all.

They provide training on personal computers, laptops, tablets and smartphones.  They have a wide range of accessible hardware and software for people to try.

With generous support from Cambridge City Council and personal donors, many of their services are provided free of charge or at low cost.

Their website can be viewed here:

Cambridge Online was established in 1998 ( the year that the Furby was the number 1 best selling Children’s toy).

For most smaller organisations funding and the funding environment is difficult, and Cambridge Online is no different in that respect.

As a small independent charity, Cambridge Online has to raise £72,000 each year to pay for its basic running costs. They currently receive around £30,000 in grants, the shortfall being met through sponsorship, fees and donations. If you feel you can help visit their donations page by clicking here:

Lets leave the final word to the power of technology:

Cambridge Online Profile video:

Cambridge Online New Learners video:

Lets move onto the Cherry Hinton Festival. The Festival is moving towards Charitable status and is definitely worth a mention.

The Festival itself has a long and deep history as a time of celebration for the harvest safely gathered in and of the years work successfully completed.

It started life in the 1930’s, and continued until 1939 when the advent of World War Two interrupted proceedings. Sparked back into life by a group of active and committed volunteers in 1985 (the same year that Madonna topped the charts with Into the Groove) it has continued ever since.

For more information about the Festival click here:

Kate Jones (Event Manager) says:

We are a group of volunteers, mostly local to the area, who are working to keep the spirit of community alive in Cherry Hinton and to maintain a tradition that goes back hundreds of years. In the past, Cherry Hinton Festival was a time of celebration after harvest gathering. We believe that it is as important now as ever to provide events which bring the neighbourhood together, to enjoy spending time with friends and neighbours and to make new connections. We aim to make the Festival in it’s current form (a week of events) a really positive occasion that residents can actively participate in and our hope is that it will increase their sense of belonging to the area. We encourage as many local organisations as possible to be part of the week in order to raise awareness of activities and facilities that may benefit people throughout the year. The present committee of 12 people have been working together for 5 years but will not be able to do so indefinitely. We are increasingly focusing on ways to encourage representatives from local groups to become more involved in helping with all aspects of the work. Our hope is that the Festival will come to be seen as something which is planned by the wider community, rather than a small group, so that it can continue for many years more.

Support Cambridgeshire Commentary:

Support Cambridgeshire is always amazed by the breadth and depth of the voluntary and community sector in Cambridgeshire – and of the people that give their time freely and willingly to help communities. 

Duties of Trustees in Small Charities Week

As its Small Charities Week, Support Cambridgeshire Partners Hunts Forum has run its Duties of Trustees course to highlight the importance of Trustees and their roles and responsibilities amongst the smaller Charities and organisations that deliver services across the County.

The course was led by Louise Prosser and held at the Maple Centre, with 11 local community based organisations in attendance.

Content included:

  • Charitable status and structures.
  • Roles and Responsibilities.
  • Trustee recruitment and training.
  • Organisational development and Board planning.
  • Financial management.

The feedback from delegates was excellent:

The course was great. I have clear objectives to take forward.

Thank you for the course. It was great to network with other small Charities.

This was an excellent and well run course.

It was great. To me, all of it was brand new.

If you require bespoke support for your Trustee Board contact or in the first instance.




Small Charities Week – Beds and Cambs Rural Support Group

Its day three of Small Charities Week, a week where smaller organisations across the UK receive some recognition for the work they deliver.

We are doing the same here at Support Cambridgeshire, albeit with a distinctly Cambridgeshire flavour.

Today its the turn of the Beds and Cambs Rural Support Group.

As with previous articles in this series, Support Cambridgeshire comments will be italicised to ensure clarity and ownership.

So what do they do? 

The Beds and Cambs Rural Support Group is a local Charity that is part of a national network of rural support groups. It is dedicated to combating stress in rural areas.

Farmers and rural people are dealing with increasingly complex and demanding issues.  We all know about the weather, but mix into the equation animal disease, uncertain commodity prices, business, personal debt and ill health and its no surprise that sometimes people need help, support and guidance.

The Beds and Cambs Rural Support Group offer a totally free and confidential service to help and support farming families and people living and working in the rural community.

Statistics show that more than one farmer a week in the UK takes their own life, and the NHS acknowledges rural people are some of the hardest to reach, only seeking help and support when a situation has become desperate.

The Beds and Cambs Support Group provide a much needed link between the rural community and access to Mental Health provisions, which can be both statutory and non-statutory.

When did they form?

The Group formed in 2001 as a direct response to the Foot and Mouth crisis. I doubt if anyone could forget those heart rending images on farms and small holdings across Cambridgeshire and beyond. The outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease caused a crisis in British agriculture and tourism. The epizootic saw 2,026 cases of the disease in farms across most of the British countryside, with over 6 million cows and sheep being killed in an eventually successful attempt to halt the disease. Between 800 million and 2.4 billion was lost from British Agriculture as a direct result of Foot and Mouth, with over 15,000 jobs lost across the UK in rural communities. 

What challenges do they face?

Its a similar theme in Small Charities Week but on-going funding and finding enough volunteer resource is critical to help and support the Group.

If you think you can help contact or click here:

The Group is completely self-funding at the moment and need to publicise their events in order to generate support.

Another key challenge is spreading the word amongst the far flung corners of the rural world. It can be difficult to support people if they simply do not know that advice and guidance is available.

What do people say about them?

“I really couldn’t see a way forward.  Everything became too much for me to cope with.  I am so grateful for all the help and support I received”

“The Support Group helped me to apply for disability payments.  The extra money has made life easier.  I don’t have to worry about affording me heating bills.”

“I really appreciated someone to listen to me”

Further details:

The Beds and Cambs Rural Support Group is a registered charity (no 1092949).

They have a helpline which can be accessed at 0300 323 1244.

Their website can be viewed by clicking here:

Support Cambridgeshire commentary:

I think we all have a view of the rural idyllic. Whilst there may be magnificent and breathtaking views to be had,  more and more research is now available making known the issues of mental well-being, social isolation, anxiety and stress amongst those who live and work in our rural communities. 

In the suicide rankings by profession, farmers are nearly twice as likely to commit suicide as the general population and are ranked fourth, behind veterinarians, pharmacists and dentists: A shocking statistic by any stretch of the imagination. Organisations like the Beds and Cambs Rural Support Group provide a valuable lifeline (often quite literally) to our rural communities, and rightly deserve a spot in our small but vital organisational profiles this week.  


What’s a hub?

A hub is usually a building or place where people meet, take part in activities and deliver projects or services.

Your local community centre or church might be a prime example.

In Brampton* however, the hub has a different context. The hub is a group of like minded Brampton residents who came together following a community based survey which focused on what people liked about where they lived, what they wanted to change, and more importantly what services they wanted to receive.

Take a look at the Brampton* story by clicking here:

If you have been inspired by the Brampton* story and feel that similar could happen in your community, contact Support Cambridgeshire for advice and support.

The hub has some useful supporting documents and literature about their journey. They can be provided directly by contacting


Brampton* is a village in Cambridgeshire, about 2 miles south-west of Huntingdon with a population of approximately 5,000 people.

Peter Menczer* is a Brampton* hub Committee Member.

Small Charities Week – The Cogwheel Trust CIO

Its day two of Small Charities Week, a week where small but vital organisations across the UK receive some recognition for their work.

We are doing the same here at Support Cambridgeshire, albeit with a distinctly Cambridgeshire flavour.

Yesterday we heard about Camtrust – today its the turn of the Cogwheel Trust CIO (Help when life has slipped out of gear).

And similarly to yesterday, any additional Support Cambridgeshire comments will be italicised to ensure clarity and ownership.

What do Cogwheel do?

The Cogwheel Trust provides affordable counselling to financially disadvantaged adults and children in Cambridgeshire. They offer counselling in Cambridge, Ely and Sawston.

People seek help with depression, anxiety, relationship difficulties, anger, and other complex multi dimensional issues. In 2017, The Trust offered weekly one-to-one counselling to over 600 people. The process starts with a senior counsellor assessment about what’s troubling the person and what they hope to gain from counselling. Following this, they are assigned to an appropriate counsellor for weekly sessions. These regular sessions with the same counsellor provide a space, in often hectic lives, for people to explore their difficulties and understand their part in the situations they find themselves in. Research shows that early intervention is the most effective solution to many mental well-being issues.

When did this start?

The Trust was founded in 1988, so for those mathematicians amongst you they will be celebrating their 30th anniversary this year (as an aside 1988 was the year in which the Doppler Radar was invented and the winter olympics took place in Calgary in Canada).

In recent years the Trust has seen a significant increase in the severity of people’s distress. However, counselling at Cogwheel remains very effective, as shown by their outcome statistics and client feedback. There are also some encouraging signs, like the increased public focus on young men’s mental health struggles. This awareness-raising is vital, and Cogwheel is there to help meet these needs, as and when they arise.

What are their challenges?

Their waiting lists are currently longer than they would like and their children’s work is heavily over-subscribed. More support will enable Cogwheel to employ more counsellors so that they can reduce the time people must wait before they are seen, and expand their valued children’s service.

To be able to do this Cogwheel need funds to subsidise the cost of their services. Clients are all asked to contribute, and most pay between £10 – £15 a week (self-declaring an annual family income of under £20,000). This leaves Cogwheel with a shortfall of £20-25 per session. Counselling at Cogwheel is extremely cost-effective because it is provided by volunteers, some of whom are in the final stages of their counselling training.

If you wish to help or donate visit their website by clicking here: 

What are people saying about them?

In 1991 they were married but, as time went by, all was not well, “when the children were small we found that we were getting out of synch with each other “.

They approached The Cogwheel Trust for help and, Cogwheel’s “Christian-inspired counselling service offered just the help we needed. Our marriage was put back on track, and we haven’t looked back. Our relationship has just got richer.”

On their 25th Wedding Anniversary they celebrated with family and friends and invited them to donate to The Cogwheel Trust in gratitude for help they had received, and the impact it had had on their lives.

Cogwheel relationship counselling is not just for couples who are experiencing difficulties, but also for those who would like to understand each other better. Talking together with a qualified professional can make a real difference to a relationship.

Cambridgeshire couple (Undated).

Support Cambridgeshire commentary:

We all seem to live very hectic lives, and most research shows that our concerns or issues are becoming more complex and multi dimensional. If we find it difficult to cope as adults on occasions, imagine how children must feel. Research studies have shown that 1 in 10 children who live in the UK aged 5 to 16 years have a clinically diagnosable mental disorder. Boys were more likely to have a problem than girls and prevalence increased with age. Girls were more likely to have emotional problems whereas boys were more likely to report conduct or hyperactivity problems.

In March 2015 the government pledged £1.25 billion to improve children and young people’s mental health services over the next 5 years. In tandem with this announcement the Department of Health and NHS England published ‘Future in mind’, detailing the work of the children and young people’s mental health and well-being taskforce, which was set up to identify ways of improving mental health services and access to these services for children and young people.

Organisations like The Cogwheel Trust CIO play a vital role in providing advice, support and a listening ear when people need it most. Life can slip out of gear for most of us from time to time, so its only right and proper that Cogwheel feature in our series this week. 

A day in the life of a Parish Council

Support Cambridgeshire Partners Cambridgeshire ACRE work closely with Town and Parish Councils across the County.

Part of this work is to showcase best practice amongst the many Town and Parish Councils, but also to provide opportunities for the sector to meet and learn from each others experiences.

In addition to the Annual County- Wide Town and Parish Council, Cambridgeshire ACRE are also beginning to profile Town and Parish Councils as a way of identifying their challenges, concerns and areas of success.

The first profile is that of David Lyon, the Chair of of Haddenham Parish Council.

Check out what David had to say by clicking here:

The second is that of Jenny Manning the Parish Clerk. Read what Jenny has to say by clicking here:


Small Charities Week – Camtrust and The Cambridge Rare Disease Network

It’s the start of Small Charities Week (18th – 23rd June 2018) which specifically highlights the work of small but vital community based organisations across the UK.

We are doing the same here at Support Cambridgeshire (albeit with a distinctly Cambridgeshire flavour) and the first two organisations being profiled are Camtrust (For lives less ordinary) and The Cambridge Rare Disease Network (Valuing- Celebrating- Supporting).

Please note that throughout this article Support Cambridgeshire will be adding some commentary to these profiles. These comments will be italicised to ensure both clarity and ownership.

Lets start with Camtrust.

Camtrust is a Cambridge charity providing specialist training and education for adults with learning difficulties and physical disabilities. They offer programmes in employability and independent living, and provide work experience in the local Cambridgeshire community. They encourage social interaction, building on client confidence and well-being in an inclusive and supportive environment.

So how did they start?

Camtrust began life in 1993 (the same year that Dyson sold its first ever bagless vaccum cleaner and Whitney Houston topped the charts with I will always love you for those who are interested).

The main objective of Camtrust is to offer training for adults with learning disabilities. They give clients better opportunities when it comes to living independently and gaining employment, whether this is paid or voluntary. Their clients and users are aged 18 and over and their courses are open to all.

Camtrust is like most small but vital organisations that service local Cambridgeshire communities – its unique. The programme is undertaken within a commercial print and design environment, and provides a happy and relaxed atmosphere where the clients can make friends and develop many skills.

What are their main challenges?

Like most community based organisations, Camtrust are always looking for volunteers and have a variety of roles available. For more information click here:

Funding is always a pressing issue for smaller organisations (and is likely to be a recurring theme throughout this series) and is particularly acute at present given public sector restraint.

If you wish to donate to Camtrust or provide support please click here:

What are people saying about them?

Camtrust is the place where you can achieve if you believe. If you wish on a star then you will go far. I feel I can be myself at Camtrust. I love going to the community café whilst at Camtrust: it gives me great experience with members of the public serving teas, coffees, cakes, toasted sandwiches and soups. I get to go singing at Bramley Court fortnightly and I like going shopping with Steve for ingredients for lunch club. Everyone is really friendly.

Martin (15/01/ 2018).

I like coming to Camtrust because I like to go singing on Mondays at Bramley Court and working on the computer. On Thursday we have lunch club which I especially enjoy, along with all the other activities with my friends.

Paul (15/01/ 2018).

I enjoy coming to Camtrust because I can spend time with my friends. I also enjoy working on my computer skills, helping Len fix the bikes and on Thursdays we cook our own lunch.

Michael (15/01/2018).

Lets move onto the Cambridge Rare Disease Network.

The Network is a newly established Charity working to build a regional community of people in Cambridgeshire to address the unmet needs of rare disease patients, their families and the professionals who work with them. They do this through community activities, awareness raising events and closer collaborations with scientists and researchers in the development of new treatments. The Network gives patients and carers a united regional voice to help develop user-led services.

One in 17 people will develop a rare disease at some point in their lives – that’s 3.5 million in the UK alone. Most of these diseases manifest in early childhood and many are life-limiting conditions.

Currently no regional community groups exist for rare diseases, individually their unmet needs are seen in isolation, collectively patient and their families can form a powerful regional voice influencing service delivery at every level and ensuring their collective needs are met. The Cambridgeshire pilot has the potential to become a model for many other regions across the UK.

What are their main challenges?

The Network’s challenge is to create a climate that fosters innovations in health, education and social care by providing widespread community events and activities and stimulating interest and awareness in the unmet therapeutic and support needs of those still without treatments and cures. Their ambition is to bring rare disease into the mainstream and push the many issues faced by our community further up the political and social agenda. Their rare community faces an average of 6 years to diagnosis, only 5% of rare conditions have a treatment, 75% of those with rare disease are children and 50% of these die before they reach 5 years of age. They strive for quicker diagnosis, more treatments and cures, the best support in education and health and a reduction in isolation and related mental health issues.

What are people saying about them?

The Network runs an activity group for children and their families living with rare disease. One of their parents said “all children need is a little help, a little hope and people who believe in them and beautiful things can happen. Unique Feet had definitely provided this for us.

A delegate at their 2017 summit said “Brilliant to see all approaches working together. patients, families, clinicians, pharmaceuticals. A relief to find a community who understands the issues of being rare. It was like coming in from the cold, scary wilderness”

Support Cambridgeshire Commentary:


According to Government Statistics on Learning and Physical difficulties there are over 11 million people with a limiting long term illness, impairment or disability.

1.2 million people are deemed to have a learning disability. The most commonly-reported impairments are those that affect mobility, lifting or carrying. 

The prevalence of disability rises with age. Around 6% of children are disabled, compared to 16% of working age adults and 45% of adults over State Pension age. 

A substantially higher proportion of individuals who live in families with disabled members live in poverty, compared to individuals who live in families where no one is disabled.

So in this context Camtrust undertake a pivotal role: Giving people the confidence and ability to take part in civil society and feel both empowered and valued is vital.

The Cambridge Rare Disease Network:

Another worthy addition to Small Charities Week. There are in excess of 6,000 rare diseases, but those who have them often wait years for a diagnosis and can find very little peer network support as they simply do not know anyone else who suffers from the same condition. A Network which brings practitioners, carers and patients together is crucial. Established in 2015, lets hope that the Cambridge Rare Disease Network grows and develops into the future.    


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