Support Fenland Focus Group

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.

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