Public Policy & Social Media
Tel: 07779 205270
Cambridge Community Development
These slides contain ***lots*** of ideas that I would
like to weave together into a big community
The ideas are there for people to improve, pick
apart, run with or completely dismiss. For ideas –
hopes, dreams, aspirations are all they are. At the
moment they are in no specific order.
1) An adults’ ‘late starters’ orchestra
Simple concept: Expand the Duxford Workshop (See
Cambridge, with the model of the East London Late
Starters’ Orchestra. http://www.ellso.org/
Book out a school/college. 3 morning sessions
covering group instrumental and choral sessions and
orchestra sessions, bringing together music
teachers, those that gave up in childhood but want
to return, and those that want to learn a new
instrument from scratch & play music with others.
2) A Cambridge Community Digital
I blogged about it at
/ - what should it contain and how could we deliver
it so it covers both the essentials while covering a
broad a spread as possible?
3) A Community Action Summit
Again, I’ve blogged about this at
/ - I’m hoping to pilot something with Transition
Cambridge and the Cambridge Hub in early 2014,
with a larger event later in the year.
4) A Societies’ Fair
Like what the students have, but for the community
groups and community facilities across and beyond
I blogged about it at
5) A Hack Day
Trying to bring together/co-ordinate all of the
various ‘civic online resources’ together so that we
don’t have lots of people doing different things. In
particular improving and upgrading
6) A venues’ booking system for
community halls similar to hotel booking
You know how you can search and filter for hotel
rooms? Can we put together something similar for
all of the community venues for Cambridge?
Filtering for time, date, size, facilities required,
location, cost etc.
A ***very big*** ask – it requires all venues having
the hardware, software and staff/volunteer training
to make it work.
7) Linking up the governing boards and
PTAs of primary and secondary schools
The aim of this is to link primary schools with each other
for a variety of reasons including:
-Smoothing the transition from primary to secondary
-Ensuring fewer event clashes eg fairs/fetes/bazaars
-Wider publicity for events incl drama/music
-Stronger cross-community links
-Sharing skills & knowledge across governing bodies
8) Having community notice boards at all
The simple premise of allowing people to advertise
community events where people happen to be going
This could also become the start of supermarkets
providing support for events in their local
communities too, creating an incentive for staff and
customers to suggest groups and projects to support
9) Science in the city – evening classes?
Much is made of science and technology, but where
are the opportunities for people to learn about
science and technology in a social but structured
format in Cambridge? Can we make it practical,
stimulating and exciting while taking the exams out
of it? After all, there are more than enough
scientists to deliver it!
10) Schools’ & FE colleges’ representation
on council meetings
This is at the ‘in principle’ stage at the moment –
there’s huge potential for this with the current area
committee set up, as well as with the structures of
the UK Youth Parliament. I’m more interested in the
‘how?’ rather than the ‘should?’
11) A sequential programme of civic
education across the city
Re citizenship education, secondary schools in particular
could be encouraged to agree with councils/MPs/MEPs
a series of actions/events for each year group. Eg:
Year 7 – Visit from public services introducing their
Year 8 – A visit to various public service buildings to
meet the people who work there
Year 9 – A visit to the town/guild/shire hall
Year 10 – Work experience
Year 11 – a politics’ question time event which they
prepare in advance for.
12) A single community web portal for
Easier said than done given the efforts that have
already gone into Shape Your Place
http://shapeyourplace.org/ and existing
Can we get something that combines
http://events.onthewight.com/ with the vibrant
community forums at
http://www.urban75.net/forums/ ? If so, how?
Could/should this be combined with the local
13) Reopening the old bingo building by
Christ’s college as a music venue
Easier said than done as this requires persuading the
college, the police and local residents that it will be
for an older clientele. At present, the city centre has
little for those that don’t want a traditional pub/bar
night out. It also means that without a critical mass
of older people about on the streets, they can feel
14) Persuading Cambridge University and
colleges to be ‘good local citizens’
That means looking out for local residents’ needs –
in particular those that have no connection to the
university. See the old bingo building as an example.
What concessions are colleges and Cambridge
University prepared to make to create a city centre
that is good for local residents as well as university
15) Creating a culture of vibrant and
informed local political debate
Who is going to host the local question time events
where the residents and citizens get to set the
agenda rather than the councillors and politicians?
We only seem to have these on around general
election time. If you want to do something about
voter disengagement, give people a reason to turn
up and get engaged.
16) Incorporating other public sector
bodies into council & community actions
Addenbrookes, Cambridge University, Hills Road &
Long Road Sixth Form Colleges, the schools, Anglia
Ruskin, I’m looking at you.
Can we reverse the fragmentation of our public
services so that at a frontline as well as a
management level, people are communicating and
working with each other ***for*** the community?
17) Community notice boards on the
trains’ side of the railways station
There are some on the street side which are easily
missed, but can some be put up where people are
waiting? For example one by each of the coffee bars
at the ends of platforms 1 and 4? For the simple
reason being that ***this is where people are
waiting*** - with time on their hands. In particular
council consultations with shortcut URLs for people
to access on smartphones & tablets on the train.
18) Local agreements between libraries
and local primary schools
Encourage reading at an early age – in particular
with children from low income families who may not
be able to afford to purchase books outright.
Create local cultures where schools and libraries are
supported as being the hearts of local communities,
reaching beyond the traditional communities of the
parents & teachers.
19) Synchronising bus and train times at
In particular at Cambridge Railway Station, is there
any chance that the buses that arrive just as a train
pulls in can be held back to allow passengers to
make a swift move from train to bus?
20) Mapping community groups and
This is one of the earliest actions I think needs to be
undertaken: Can we get a baseline of where we
currently are with community development?
-Where are all of the venues that community groups
can hire out?
-Where are all the community groups that exist and
how do residents get in touch with them/find out
Then we can start making progress on increasing
21) Persuading language schools to be
This is actually about how language schools and
their students interact with local residents, so it
needs the input of all. The questions I have are:
1)What are the areas of existing tensions between
residents and language students?
2)How can those tensions be reduced?
3)What are the opportunities that resident young
people are missing out on re: interaction?
4)How can we overcome the barriers in 3)?
22) Restore the organ in the Cambridge
Yes, it will cost £35,000 to restore the organ, and
£25,000 to put some decent kitchens in there, but
(I got the figures from
Can we set up an official fund-raising campaign for
both, so as to transform the Guildhall and increase
the diversity of events we host there?
23) Restore the Victorian Tiles at Morley
School, South Cambridge.
They were taken down as part of County Councilfunded works in the late 1980s and they’ve been
sitting in a secret location ever since. (I know where
but am sworn to secrecy).
Can the council help make good what has been a 25
year hole in a local Cambridge Community? Perhaps
as a joint fundraiser?
24) Parliament week events for young
I’m not too fussed about age or qualifications, but
am thinking along the lines of having a Dunchester’s
Millions half-day policy event run for potential civil
That along with a Young Persons’ Question Time
event, with 1 panel made up of student activists in
political parties, & the second of elected
representatives – council or parliaments.
25) Links between employers & the
Prince’s Trust Team programme
Having done this programme myself (see
http://www.camre.ac.uk/school-leavers/princestrust/) is there something where employers
interviewing and rejecting those with low skills and
low confidence can refer them to the Prince’s Trust
Team, with the offer of another interview if they
complete the course? Is this something where
employers can also sponsor some of their young
staff with basic skills/qualifications to do elements
of this programme too?
26) Further education community
The larger sixth form colleges in Cambridge have
them. Is there something we can do to get some
level of co-ordination across the public and
voluntary sectors with these so that institutions
know when to expect young people looking for
experience and placements?
27) Consolidating and improving existing
community and business networks
Other than bringing them all into a big room and getting
some skilled mediators & facilitators to smooth over
The list from 2011 at http://www.cabume.co.uk/thecluster/networking-in-cambridge-the-definitiveishguide.html is ***massive*** - but isn’t there some
duplication? Doesn’t the sheer number mean that
impact is reduced if there is not the co-ordination &
communication to go with it? If you’re new to networks
in Cambridgeshire, where do you start?
28) Have a rethink on where our
community notice boards are
The City Council has them, but what about
surrounding areas? Who looks after them? To what
extent do communities know how to use/access
Furthermore, where are the best places to have
notice boards? I’ve mentioned the railway station
and supermarkets previously. With the council,
could they double up?
29) Improve how we connect business in
the community networks with charities
In particular moving away from some of the ‘big
branded charities’ towards supporting local causes.
Also, having a much wider and consistent structure
for communications in our communities so that such
networks can reach out to more people. This may
-Actions around graduation/college leaving time
-Having firms incorporating the logos of such
networks in their adverts
30) A city-wide skills-audit
Always a tricky thing to do given the turnover of the
population, but would it be a worthwhile exercise
getting some robust data on a bi-annual basis where
anonymously people can fill in surveys (with backing
of employers) stating what skills they have and what
skills employees think they need.
Ditto with employers on what skills they think their
firms/employees need. Then put these results to
skills providers to tailor to their needs. Basically, can
we co-ordinate things to get a decent evidence-base
to work with?
31) Consolidate and open up the
voluntary & community sector
I’m thinking about structures, systems, processes,
cultures, skills and overall vision here.
Why do we have a separate:
http://www.cam-volunteer.org.uk/ which is
How does this look to the general public & to
32) Mainstream Addenbrookes & health
service centres into community networks
…because at the moment I have no idea where to
start with Addenbrookes, despite having wandered
into the hospital and looked on their websites too.
There are individual groups such as the ACT Choir
calling-all-choristers ) that do great things, but it’s
not clear to those of us outside of health circles
33) Co-ordinate and consolidate sport and
leisure in the city
Think of all of the sports clubs for example. Think of all
of the facilities. If you wanted to get fit again but didn’t
know where to start…exactly.
Is there something we can do to take people through
the processes, do the introductions to people etc to
make the whole process less nerve-wracking for those
new to sports/activities? Also, should there be specific
times of the year where we have ‘festivals of sport &
leisure’ where the clubs & societies come together to
reach out to the city & beyond en masse?
34) Standing lists/databases of volunteer
speakers/workshop hosts for schools
This would help with head teachers and teachers
when planning their annual and termly schemes of
work for their students and children. Part of the
problem is the information gap: Not all schools may
know who is on their doorstep, let alone know or
have the confidence to get in touch with them. How
can we overcome this?
Basically http://www.speakers4schools.org/ but
35) Rollerblading/rollerskating classes in
Because we have Romsey Rollerbillies
(http://rollerbillies.com/) on our doorstep and I have
a pair of rollerblades gathering dust.
Wouldn’t it be great to make more use of
community assets that are our playgrounds – and
generating much needed funding for schools as well
as getting more of us active? Classes for adults as
well as children.
36) Community workshops explaining the
planning system for buildings
Because it’s not clear to the community how it
works and all too often it’s too late for the
community to intervene when it becomes clear a
planned development is something they do not like.
Think Wilton Terrace.
37) Community welcome packs for new
We’ve got lots of new homes going up and lots of
people moving to the city. Can we have a brochure
introducing people to all the community groups,
services and activities going on in the city,
encouraging people moving here to get involved?