Pay It Forward Vouchers Cambridge

Theresa Feetenby is a woman on a mission.  In fact, I don’t know when she sleeps!  Originally from Birmingham, this Cambridge mum of two works full time at Addenbrookes Hospital, is a Beaver Scout leader and volunteers with Cambridge 105 Radio.  And now she’s masterminding a new scheme in Cambridge … Pay It Forward Vouchers.

Pay It Forward Vouchers Cambridge

Pay It Forward Vouchers CambridgeTheresa feels compelled to find a way to help the the city’s homeless and people in need.  Like many, over the years she had given money to those begging on the streets before switching to buying food for them.  She knew of the suspended coffee scheme where people can leave money for a person in need to get a hot drink but she wanted to go beyond that and contacted Cambridge cafes to see what might work.  Theresa also particularly likes the concept of people paying forward kindness to others through this scheme.

It’s early days but at the time of writing, five cafes and two stalls in Cambridge Market have joined the project.  Early adopters include Black Cat Cafe on Mill Road, La Latina Bustaurante and Kingwraps Foodstall.  Theresa gives each business personalised vouchers and posters and publicises their involvement on social media.

Pay It Forward Vouchers Cambridge

You can then buy a voucher from the cafe or stall and either leave it there for distribution by a volunteer or take it to give directly to someone in need.  There’s advice about getting off the street printed on the back of each voucher although these vouchers are not only for the homeless.  As Theresa comments, there are many people in the city who are in need and/or vulnerably housed who can benefit from the scheme.

Several Cambridge organisations have already got behind Pay It Forward including Streetaid, who have sponsored voucher printing, Wintercomfort, Romsey Mill and Cambridge Homeless Outreach Project.  Theresa is keen to get more cafes and volunteers on board and to grow the scheme so that vouchers can be exchanged for toiletries and sanitary products.  She’s making a website, would like to create an App and hopes to sell vouchers online.

Pay It Forward Vouchers Cambridge

Things are moving quickly for Pay It Forward Vouchers so if you’d like to get involved and spread some kindness around this city of ours, keep an eye on their social media for the latest news and developments.

Facebook:    @PIFgiftvouchers

Instagram:   @pifgiftvouchers

Twitter:         @PIFgiftvouchers

 

Cambridge Literary Festival – Spring 2019

The Box Office is now open for Cambridge Literary Festival which runs from 5 – 7 April, bringing together novelists, scientists, politicians, broadcasters, campaigners and thinkers in lively conversation and engaged debate.

Cambridge Literary Festival logo

You’ll find a wealth of new fiction, world literature, memoir and more as well as a fabulous children’s programme which includes “Happy Birthday, Elmer!”, an interactive story time to celebrate everybody’s favourite multicoloured elephant.

Cambridge Literary Festival
Image credit: Chris Boland

From the New Statesman Debate, “This house believes identity politics is an impediment to progress”, to afternoon tea at the University Arms Hotel with broadcaster and author Jenni Murray, the Spring Festival has something for everyone.

For the full Festival line up and to book tickets, head to  www.cambridgeliteraryfestival.com

To read more about the Cambridge Literary Festival and its founder, Cathy Moore, click here

Cambridge City Foodbank Christmas Hamper Collection

Cambridge City Foodbank opened in 2010 and helps local people, providing three days’ worth of nutritionally balanced emergency food and support to those who are referred to them in crisis.  With Christmas just around the corner, the Foodbank has launched its Christmas Hamper Collection and hopes to make up 500 hampers of quality food and products to give to families who are struggling to make ends meet.

Cambridge City Foodbank logo

Contributing to this couldn’t be easier.  Go on to the Foodbank website (details at the end of this post), register and choose one of the two hamper drop off dates.  This helps the Foodbank team with their logistical planning.  Then fill a good sized carrier bag with items from their list of suggestions.  Don’t add in any perishable or home made food and please make sure all items have a use by date of 25 December or later.  Then simply drop off your bag of goodies at the Foodbank warehouse in your registered drop-off slot.

Cambridge City Foodbank
Image: Cambridge City Foodbank

The Foodbank is, of course, supporting local people year round.  Jon Edney, Foodbank Co-ordinator, tells me that from April to September this year, there’s been a 13% increase nationally in people using foodbanks.  Here in Cambridge, the figure is a 46% increase during that period, compared to the same period last year, so the need is huge.

People can find themselves in crisis at any time for a multitude of reasons.  The Foodbank works on a voucher referral system with vouchers being issued by agencies such as Citizens Advice, housing support officers, children’s centres, health visitors, social services and some local charities.  Agencies can also help with longer term support to address issues behind the reasons for crisis.  You can exchange your voucher at your nearest Foodbank centre in the city where you’ll find a warm welcome and a chance to chat with trained volunteers.

Cambridge City Foodbank
Image: Cambridge City Foodbank

The Christmas hamper distribution arrangements are different; they are distributed through family centres rather than through the Foodbank centres.  If you are not already connected with any of the referring agencies mentioned in the paragraph above, then you can make contact about the possibility of receiving a Christmas hamper through the C3 Church at Coldham’s Lane.

Cambridge City Foodbank
Image: Cambridge City Foodbank

With the enormous increase in Foodbank use, there’s a constant need for food donations throughout the year, with collection points in supermarkets city-wide.  The Foodbank website has a list of urgently needed food items which you can also drop off at their food collection points.  Financial donations of any size, given either regularly or as one-offs, help this vital work to continue.  And maybe you could give your time …. why not consider joining the volunteer group of around 140 people who work in all sorts of roles and are the life blood of the organisation.

For more information about the work of Cambridge City Foodbank as well as details of how to get help and how to give help, check out their website.

http://www.cambridgecityfoodbank.org.uk

http://www.thec3.uk

Cambridge Literary Festival

One of the things I love most about writing for my blog and this column is the people I meet.  People who are getting on with their daily lives, have that light bulb moment and just go for it to create something wonderful in the city.  People like Cathy Moore, founder of the Cambridge Literary Festival.

Cambridge Literary Festival logo

Cathy first came to the city to read History at Newnham College and was only the second person from her Liverpool comprehensive school to make it to the University of Cambridge. She also loved English and books so after graduation, Cathy built a career in publishing before taking some time out to be with her young family.  A spell in teaching followed but Cathy returned to Cambridge and books, working part time in Waterstones and running their programme of events.  That’s where she met writer Ali Smith and as the two of them chatted about the Hay Literary Festival, they wondered why there wasn’t a similar event in Cambridge.

Cambridge Literary Festival
Image credit:  Chris Boland

Within months, Cathy had created Wordfest, doing everything herself and setting up twenty four events in three venues.  That was back in March 2003.  “There were about sixty literary festivals then”, Cathy tells me, “and now there are around four hundred in the UK, so we’re all in competition for the authors.”  Wordfest grew, events regularly sold out and initiatives like the debut writers panel made it truly a festival for writers as well as readers.  After gaining charitable status, Wordfest rebranded as Cambridge Literary Festival in 2014.  It now brings Spring and Winter festivals to the city as well as one-off events through the year and since 2017 has delivered the Wimpole History Festival in partnership with the National Trust.

These days, Cathy isn’t doing everything herself!  She and her small team have an office in Downing Place and they have strong support from patrons, media partnerships and sponsors.  A band of volunteer stewards welcomes the many thousands of festival goers and enables events to run smoothly for both authors and audiences.  More volunteers are always welcome so if you’re interested in giving your time (and enjoying some volunteer perks!), contact the team through the website.

Cambridge Literary Festival
Image credit: Chris Boland

 

Festival venues this year include several beautiful university spaces which are normally hidden from public view.  Refreshments will be available at most of these so you can grab a quick drink and a snack between events.  Heffers run a bookstall and there are author signings too.

I’m really excited for this winter’s Festival; it’s always a fun, buzzy weekend and the packed programme truly offers something for everyone, including a brand new Murder Mystery Musical from Sophie Hannah which sounds intriguing!  You’ll find details of what’s on and a booking facility through the Festival website at www.cambridgeliteraryfestival.com

 

This post is part of my “New in Cambridge” column in the November issue of Velvet Magazine.  Read more on http://www.velvetmag.co.uk

Cambridge Festival of Cycling

Cambridge is a city of bicycles … it’s by far the easiest (and greenest!) way to get around and now the city’s cycling culture is being celebrated in the first Cambridge Festival of Cycling, brought to us by Camcycle, with events happening throughout September.

Cambridge Festival of Cycling logo

Launching the Festival on 1 September is a social ride from King’s Parade to Eddington.  This will be leisurely so think about packing up a picnic and you’ll be able to buy ice cream and coffee from cargo bike traders.  Further highlights in a packed schedule include a screening of the Dutch film “Why we cycle”, a family cycling event and the Cargo Carnival.  Decorate your bike and join this parade of cyclists on a ride through the city centre, starting and finishing at Lammas Land, showing what you carry on your cargo bike!

Cambridge Festival of Cycling
Image credit:  Lucinda Price

And in a look back at the cycling attire of Victorian women, the Cambridge Ladybirds WI and Dr Kat Jungnickel, author of “Bikes and Bloomers” will host a discussion and cycle ride and, this being the WI, there will of course be tea and cake.  Other partner organisations are joining in through September with many diverse events so for the full programme, check out the Festival website.

Cambridge Festival of Cycling
Image credit: Lucinda Price

Camcycle started out life as Cambridge Cycling Campaign in 1995.  Then, as now, it works for better, safer and more cycling in and around Cambridge and provides a voice for the concerns of Cambridge cyclists.  Its campaigning has resulted in more cycle parking on streets and at transport hubs, early start green lights to enable cyclists to clear a crossing before cars and much, much more.  Camcycle has also been heavily involved in planning for the “Chisholm Trail”, a proposed new 3.5 kilometre walking and cycling route which will closely follow the railway line and run between Cambridge Station and the new Cambridge North Station.

You can become a member of Camcycle for a modest fee.  Not only will you be supporting their work, you’ll receive six newsletters a year, a quarterly magazine, discounts at a large number of bike shops and access to an online discussion forum.  The monthly general meetings at the Friend’s Meeting House on Jesus Lane are open to both members and non-members.

Camcycle Cambridge
Image credit:  Lucinda Price

Camcycle is a non profit organisation with a very small team at the helm so it always needs and welcomes volunteers to help with a huge variety of tasks through the year, whether it’s working on the magazine, taking photos, organising and marshalling rides or manning the Camcycle stall at events, to name just a few opportunities.  For the Festival of Cycling, many volunteer roles are available so whatever your skill set, if you’re keen to offer support in this way, check out the “Volunteer” page on the Festival website.

Camcycle Cambridge

Take a look at the website as there is so much more going on than I have space to write about here.  Most events are free and you don’t need to be a Camcycle member to join in the fun, everybody is welcome.

http://www.cambridgefestivalofcycling.org

http://www.camcycle.org.uk

This event takes place at multiple locations in and around the city.

Bridge the Gap Cambridge

Bridge the Gap is a circular walk through the beautiful gardens of six Cambridge colleges.  Now in its 17th year and happening on Sunday 9 September, this event is a great day out for families, friends and groups of work colleagues, allowing entry to the grounds of these historic colleges, some of which are not normally open to the public, whilst raising money to support the valuable work of two local charities, Arthur Rank Hospice Charity and Romsey Mill.

Bridge the Gap Cambridge
Image credit: Sir Cam

I met with Georgina Forbes, Fundraiser for Romsey Mill, to find out more.  The action starts and finishes on Parker’s Piece where you can register from 8.30am, have a coffee and some breakfast from one of the food trucks as well as collect a backpack filled with water, fruit and goodies provided by the event’s sponsors.  You’ll also be given a brochure with a route map and information before heading out (there are three different waves of departures through the morning).

Bridge the Gap Cambridge
Image credit: Bridge the Gap

The route is approximately 5 miles long and takes in Emmanuel, Christ’s, Sidney Sussex and Trinity colleges before heading along the Backs to St Catherine’s and Pembroke colleges and then on to the Museum of Zoology which is celebrating its reopening.

There will be marshals to show you the way, Blue Badge guides in the colleges to answer your questions and the route is wheelchair and pushchair enabled.  You’ll find music along the way (think brass, folk and jazz bands) and refreshments at St Catherine’s College.  Back on Parker’s Piece, Cambridge 105 will be broadcasting from a 50 foot stage, there’ll be music courtesy of Cambridge City Brass and you might even want to join in the dancing with Cambridge Lindyhop.  You’ll also find a soft play area for kids and various competitions happening plus that all important tea tent offering home made cake.

This year’s fundraising goal is £50,000.  Thanks to the generosity of the event’s sponsors, all overheads are covered so 100% of your entry fee is shared equally between the two Cambridgeshire charities.  Arthur Rank Hospice supports people who are living with a life-limiting illness and those who need end-of-life care.  Romsey Mill is a Christian charity creating opportunities with young people, children and families, many of whom are facing significant challenges in their lives.

Bridge the Gap Cambridge
Image credit: Bridge the Gap

Around 130 volunteers make this event happen with many different roles available.  If you’d like to join them, contact Tasha.Hills@arhc.org.uk for route volunteering and georgina.forbes@romseymill.org for volunteering on Parker’s Piece.

Bridge the Gap Cambridge
Image credit: Bridge the Gap

To take part in Bridge the Gap, you simply pre-register on the Arthur Rank Hospice Charity website (see the link below) or you can turn up at Parker’s Piece and pay on the morning.  Group tickets are available at discounted rates and children go free when accompanied by a paying adult.

http://www.arhc.org.uk/bridge-the-gap.asp

http://www.romseymill.org

Parker’s Piece, Cambridge CB1 1NA

 

Cam Sight Cambridge

Cam Sight is a wonderful Cambridge charity that I’ve been meaning to write about for some time now.  From its Cambridge HQ in Chesterton and its Wisbech outreach centre, its staff and a band of around 350 dedicated volunteers work to ensure that clients with low vision and blindness can access the support and advice they need to live the life they choose.

Camsight logo
Image credit: Cam Sight

I met with Nick Burr, Cam Sight’s Fundraising and Promotions Officer, and his beautiful assistance dog Amber, to find out more about this remarkable organisation which began life as the Cambridge Society for the Blind in 1912 and which today works with around 1800 clients across Cambridgeshire.

Camsight client
Image credit: Cam Sight

The services that Cam Sight offers are extensive.  On the practical side of life, there’s help with choosing of and training on the many technologies available.  There’s a weekly magnification and lighting clinic and they sell a wide range of equipment to help with carrying out day to day tasks, from talking clocks to canes, kitchen safety aids and large button telephones.  In one-to-one sessions, a (re)habilitation specialist can help with mobility, orientation and daily living skills while the community team visits clients at home, to help and advise with welfare and housing benefits application as well as adaptations to the home.

 

Cam Sight befriender
Image credit: Cam Sight

 

Cam Sight group
Image credit: Cam Sight

The emotional side of life is, of course, just as important as the practical.  Cam Sight organises outings and social activities while volunteer befrienders give support and companionship in many different ways.  And in a peer support initiative, there are monthly gatherings held across Cambridgeshire for clients, their carers and family members.  Cam Sight also offers emotional support and counselling sessions.

“We run three groups for children,” Nick tells me, “for preschool and 4 – 11 year olds, then the teenage group is a lot of fun, whether they’re playing pool and eating pizza, enjoying an activity day or a trip to a theme park.”

Cam Sight Tandem Team
Image credit: Cam Sight

Cam Sight also supports clients to return to sport or indeed to try a new sport.  Tandem cycling is an option, with a trained sighted pilot and a low vision stoker.  They own seven tandems and on 1 July, several pairs will be cycling in the annual London to Cambridge bike ride (yes, that is 63 miles!) to raise money for Cam Sight.  So they’re busy training and if you’d like to sponsor them, please get in touch at nick@camsight.org.uk

Cam Sight Tandem
Image credit: Cam Sight

Another fundraiser coming up is Cam Sight’s first Golf Day on 20 July at Cambridge Meridian Golf Club.  You can enter individually or get a team of four together.  There’ll be 18 holes of golf plus breakfast, a barbecue, prizes, a raffle and an auction, all for a suggested donation of £60 per person.  To sign up for the Golf Day, just contact nick@camsight.org.uk

On 17 July at 7.30pm, there’s a talk “John Henslow and the Education of Charles Darwin” given by Professor John Parker, former Director of the Cambridge University Botanic Garden, at the Sainsburys Laboratory Auditorium.  Tickets are £15, include canapes and drinks and are available from Cam Sight on 01223 420033.  Fundraising activities are also organised by the Friends of Cam Sight, a group who run their own events in support of the charity’s work.

Cam Sight befriender
Image credit: Cam Sight

If you’d be interested in volunteering with Cam Sight, there are many roles available from driving to befriending, helping with bucket collections at external events and riding as a pilot on a tandem.  Joy Hallifax, the volunteer team leader, would be delighted to hear from you.  Just email her on joy@camsight.org.uk  All volunteers receive an induction with full training and ongoing support.

www.camsight.org.uk

167 Green End Road, Cambridge CB4 1RW

14 Chapel Road, Wisbech PE13 1RF