Connecting Communities 2021

It’s that time again for the annual Connecting Communities conference, a time to bring a range of good practices and thoughts together to talk about volunteering across the county.

This year’s theme is Volunteer Management and how the voluntary and community sector can move forwards from the past year. The event is hosted online, and as with last year’s conference, each day we will be taking on a different format and theme.

Redesigning Recruitment

Tuesday 8 June // 10:00 – 11:30 am // Zoom Webinar

The first day will revolve around Redesigning Recruitment, looking at how organisations have taken the traditional format and mixed it up a little. We have speakers from The British Red Cross, Arthur Rank Hospice Charity and FoodCycle Cambridge.

To Book:

Reviewing Retention

Wednesday 9 June // 10:00 – 11:30 am // Zoom Meeting

On Wednesday, we will be welcoming Rob Jackson, a well respected expert on volunteer management, to talk to us about Reviewing Retention in our organisation. This event will be a presentation followed by breakout rooms with questions and reflections from Rob.

To Book:

Re-examining Volunteering

Thursday 10 June // 1:00- 2:30 pm // Zoom Webinar

Finally, we end the conference on Thursday with a general panel hot topic discussion. We welcome Laura Hamilton, a Volunteer Management Consultant, who will chair a panel of local voluntary and third sector speakers, discussing the topic, Can we make volunteering a realistic option for everyone?

To Book:

The three-day event hopes to bring ideas, thoughts and even more good practice to Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, giving those working with volunteers the confidence to face the challenges following the pandemic. We are excited for you to join us.

Support Fenland: Reflecting on our Public Event

By Victoria Hopkins

This week was another busy week for the Support Fenland project, as we hosted another of our engagement events.

On Wednesday evening we met with people from community groups and organisations from across the district. We wanted to start with a huge thank you to you all for giving up your evening to join us. It was great to have such an engaging discussion on the challenges that you are facing, and how we can help you over the next year of our project.

As you might remember from last week’s post, we have been running a series of events with individuals and organisations from the community. They have a much clearer understanding of and insight into Fenland-specific issues. These insights are important for us to consider as we plan our next phase of support.

At this week’s event (the third in our series) we had funders, council officers and staff and volunteers from charitable organisations. (And some were wearing many hats!)

We talked in depth about the challenges of Covid on our organisations. It has stopped our fundraising efforts, prevented us from meeting face to face and, for some organisations, meeting at all. We talked about the concerns of both our volunteers and the people who come to use our services at being back in the room together. We talked about the challenges of engaging with our communities – how we can use social media to help, but that it can be time consuming and difficult to get right. How to get more money is another big challenge. It is difficult to know who we can go to for funding. Once we know where to go, the processes for funding bids are often complex. To tap into larger funds our organisational structures mean that we are putting all the burden on to the larger groups to be the lead, and they are becoming ever more stretched as a result.

Despite all the challenges we talked about, there was a sense of positivity in the room. More money is being made available in Fenland to help communities recover from Covid. There are more partnership opportunities, if we can create the time and money within organisations to be able to lead them. The groups are beginning to link together to share their best practice and resources and are hoping to be able to do more in the future.

The final part of this week’s session was a discussion about how those attending wanted to be involved in the project over the next 12 months. More opportunities to talk to both CCVS & Hunts Forum and other groups within the community was a big focus. Helping each other to grow our presence on social media to share the good that we are doing was another. Finally, specific help with financial planning and grant funding applications would be welcomed.

We started with a thank you, and we are ending with one too. The amount of support in the room is incredible to see. As well as learning how we at CCVS and Hunts Forum can help, we have also seen a lot of offers of support between groups, and new relationships are being built. Knowing that we are helping to build that long-term support network reassures us that we are on the right track.

From everything that we have heard, we are starting to see emerging themes, and we have one more event still to go. Soon we will start pulling all the thoughts together and planning phase 2 of the project, where we start to deliver Fenland-specific support.

If you would like to keep up to date with those plans, then please follow this blog, as well as our social media accounts.

Our notes from the meeting are captured on the graphics below – click them to view full-screen.

Queens Award Nominations Open For 2022

The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service (QAVS) is the highest award given to local volunteer groups across the UK. It was created in 2002 to celebrate the Golden Jubilee of the Queen’s Coronation. 2022 marks the 20th anniversary of the award, coinciding with the Queen’s Plantuim Jubliee. As part of this, we would like Cambridgeshire and Peterborough groups to celebrate the fantastic work they contribute to our communities.

Cambridgeshire and Peterborough tend to receive less nominations than other parts of the country, so we would like to build awareness of this prestigious award among our volunteer-led groups. Over the past year, we have seen a great surge in communities coming forward to support each other and stand together to create opportunities, support and impact within their communities.


Who can be nominated

Key eligibility requirements are:

  1. The group must have 3 or more members.
  2. It must be based in the UK, Channel Islands or Isle of Man.
  3. It must have been operating for a minimum of 3 years.
  4. It must provide a specific local benefit (QAVS are not intended for national organisations, although a branch can be nominated).
  5. QAVS are looking for evidence that volunteers are initiating and driving the group’s work. It may have some paid staff, but we expect at least half of the people who work in the group to be volunteers.
  6. Groups operating solely for the benefit of animals are not eligible.

To read the full criteria, CLICK HERE


How are you nominated?

The group can only be nominated by three individuals with no direct link to the group. This means they can’t be working or volunteering for the group, including those who sit on the committee or trustee board.

There needs to be one primary nominator who fills the form out, and then two individuals who are happy to supply a short supporting letter.


The Process

The process is pretty easy once the three individuals have submitted their nomination. The organisation will be contacted. There will be a visit by someone from the Lord Lietunet of Cambridgeshire who will ensure your organisation has essential health and safety, safeguarding and finance procedures and policies in place.

All awards are announced as part of Volunteers Week which is between 1st and 7th June, through The Gazette.  Read about the winner for 2020 here


Want to know more?

The online guidance notes and application form can be found HERE

Hunts Forum will be holding some one-hour workshops that will cover the basics of the award a little more.  Introduction to the Queen’s Award of Voluntary Action Workshop: 15th June at 18:30 till 19:30, and again on 20th July at 17:00 till 18:00 – BOOK HERE


If you would like some more support with your policies and procedures, please contact your local CVS or infrastructure organisation:

Hunts Forum Any organisations working within Huntingdonshire
CCVS Any organisation working in Cambridge City, South Cambs and Fenland
Voluntary Community Action East Cambs (VCAEC) Any organisation working in East Cambs
Cambridgeshire ACRE Any voluntary community groups linked with community buildings.

Job Opportunity in Fenland

Community Engagement Lead

Are you a proactive self-starter with a passion and drive to help communities find solutions for themselves?

We are looking for an experienced and enthusiastic community development professional to join our small team and lead on Covid recovery work supporting targeted communities as we move into the next phase of Covid recovery.

Based in Fenland, the ideal candidate will have good knowledge and understanding of the various Fenland communities to lead an engagement programme working closely with community coordinators based within partner VCS organisations to lower infection rates and increase vaccine take up through developing community-based solutions.

Key components of the role:

  1. Build positive relationships with partner VCS organisations and key stakeholders to ensure a joined up approach.
  2. Coordinate support to target communities to increase vaccine take up and reduce infection rates.
  3. Support the development and empowerment of the voice of Fenland communities and the voluntary sector in relation to Covid, building community resilience.
  1. Lead in providing community-based intelligence and linking groups/individuals into relevant taskforce groups where necessary including VCS Forums.
  2. Lead on expanding communication with priority groups and communities via VCS Community Champions and support the generation and collation of feedback into Rapid Response Teams.
  3. Disseminate best practice (national, regional or local) and share learning.


Job Details

There are two roles available.

Hours : Flexible minimum 21 up to 30 hours pw

Contract length: 1 year fixed term

Based: Home and in the community

Salary C. £24K to £25K pro rata



Community Engagement Lead. JD & Person Spec


The application can be made via CV and covering letter to 

Closing Date: 19 May

Interviews: 24 May


We are an equal opportunities employer and are especially keen to encourage applications from people currently under-represented in the voluntary and community sector.

We do reserve the right to close this advertisement early if we receive a high volume of suitable applications.

Opportunity for Voluntary & Community Groups in Fenland

Does your organisation have the skills, knowledge and experience of working with and supporting local marginalised communities?

Support Cambridgeshire is working in partnership with Cambridgeshire County Council to deliver crucial work supporting Fenland communities to recover as we move into and through the next stage of Covid recovery.

We are looking for VCSE partner organisations who know their communities well to reach out and engage with these communities in order to help them better protect themselves from the dangers of Covid-19, to increase vaccination take up and lower infection rates in communities where research has found these to be a concern.

Funds are available for organisations to employ/host Community Engagement Co-ordinators for one year who will perform a vital role in generating behaviour change of most vulnerable people and places by working with local community leaders to share relevant messages in an accessible way and to provide a voice to the Council, improving the council’s understanding of our communities.

This opportunity is for two Community Engagement Co-Ordinator roles. If you are interested in exploring being part of the solution to aid these communities to help themselves download the pack below and for more information and to take this further please contact 

All expressions of interest must be done by the 19th May. 



Community Engagement Information Pack

Expression of Interest

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