Cambridgeshire Communities Innovation Fund

Through the Cambridgeshire Communities Innovation Fund, Cambridgeshire County Council is investing in ideas and expertise that will help keep people stay safe, independent and well in their community and reduce demand for Council services.

The aim of the Fund is to support people to do things in their own communities or to develop a good idea, building on strengths, talents and expertise. It is for community groups and organisations with big ideas about how to improve the lives of local people, particularly those who are most vulnerable. For example, this could be a small scale local project that builds support for vulnerable people within the community, or a larger scale innovative project using new technology to transform the way vulnerable people can be supported. 

We are looking for proposals which aim to achieve the following:
• Increased capacity within communities to help others, so that people and communities become more resilient
• Reduce the need for people to use Council services
• Demonstrate the social value of the actions undertaken, and the impact on outcomes for the most vulnerable people in our communities.
Who Can Apply?

Applications are invited from the voluntary, community and social enterprise sectors, and any other public sector organisation in Cambridgeshire. 

How Much Can Be Requested?

Grants of £2,000 and above can be requested from the Cambridgeshire Communities Innovation Fund

What will funded projects need to deliver?
The Fund aims to redirect Council funding from high cost interventions towards better and more sustainable solutions which are delivered within local communities. So applications are encouraged which will demonstrably make a positive impact on people’s lives and reduce the need for costly council interventions.

The Fund is particularly interested in ideas which aim to make positive impacts for vulnerable adults, by delivering one or more of the following outcomes:
• Promoting independence for older people or adults with disabilities
• Reducing or delaying the need for home care or residential care
• Reducing social isolation amongst older people
• Increasing the capacity of communities to support their more vulnerable residents
• Ensuring young people with learning disabilities or autism are well prepared for adulthood

These listed above represent some of the areas the County Council spends the greatest proportion of its budget, and where external organisations are likely to be best placed to make an impact. Direct project deliverables could be, for example:
• greater community resources, in particular in rural areas
• people with personal budgets planning together
• increased volunteers and mentors working with vulnerable groups
• increased opportunities for older people to take part in group activities
• better support for carers
• help for young people with learning disabilities to become more independent
• local level practical support for older people, including personal care

It is hoped that the Fund will encourage new and innovative thinking, and any proposals which have a positive impact will be encouraged. Applications may propose the delivery of a product, for example, a website, or a piece of equipment, or the delivery of an activity, for example, a time bank, or a lunch club for older people. Success of projects will be judged by predicted outcomes, and social and economic benefit.

It is expected that most applications will focus on delivering a product or a service which prevents or reduces the need for local people to access more costly interventions. However, some applications may propose the delivery of a service which replaces at a lower cost something that the County Council currently does itself – for example, delivering a local library service. In either case, applications will be excluded if there is no clear correlation between funding provided and resulting reduced local expenditure.
How to apply

The application process is a two-stage process.

Stage 1 - Project Proposals are to be submitted by applicants using the online Project Proposal Form accessed on this webpage ( see left hand column)

Stage 2 – Chosen proposals (as selected by a Project Proposal Panel) will be invited to complete a full online application form – the link to the form will be sent to selected groups. A Selection Panel meets quarterly to consider the full applications submitted and to make awards to successful applicants.

When to apply

Project proposals (Stage 1) can be submitted at any stage.  Groups invited to fill in full applications (Stage 2) will be given deadlines for completion to coincide with quarterly selection panel meetings.

Information and data sets

A collection of data sets to support those looking to propose a bid for funding that can make a positive impact on peoples lives and reduce the need for council services can be found on

Examples and ideas for Innovation Fund projects
Cambridgeshire Communities Innovation Fund is open to a wide range of ideas. Cambridgeshire County Council does not wish to be prescriptive about how projects could achieve the outcomes set out in the guidance. There are, however, a number of examples which illustrate the kinds of community-based projects that improve quality of life and reduce the need for costly services.

An Older People’s Co-ordinator connects older people to local activities and services that they can benefit from. Projects like this aim to keep older people healthy and active within their community for as long as possible, slowing the pace at which older people need social care, either at home or in residential accommodation.

A Timebank brings people together to help each other in a community and share their skills. Timebank members spend an hour of their time helping another member in exchange for an hour of something they need. Timebanks include people from all walks of life; they link people with sources of help in their own community to get useful jobs done and to have a good social life, thus supporting people to live independently in their own homes.

Local and national evaluations show that time banks:
• are successful in investing in community capacity
• support the development of local social capital
• form new connections within communities
• are successful in attracting participants from socially excluded groups
• attract people who would not normally get involved in traditional volunteering
• reduce social isolation and improve health and wellbeing
People who join time banks:
• Learn new skills
• Gain confidence and improved sense of self-worth
• Become less isolated, building social networks
• Access support they could not otherwise secure
• Feel that underlying problems such as alcoholism and mental ill-health are helped
• Provide support to others who need it, thus providing sources of local community support.
There are also projects such as good neighbourhood schemes, lunch clubs and social car schemes that also encourage active citizenship and neighbourliness. 
Peer support programmes involve people with lived experience supporting others who share the same experience. Peer support can take many forms, and support many different groups of people. Research shows that the most promising types of peer support appear to be:
• Face-to-face groups run by trained peers which focus on emotional support, sharing experiences, practical activities and education
• One-to-one support offered face-to-face or by telephone
• Online forums, particularly for improving knowledge and anxiety
• Support offered regularly (such as weekly) for three to six months
Some examples of peer support programmes operating in Cambridgeshire include:
- groups for parents of children with additional needs
- recovery champions within drug and alcohol programmes
- people with particular health conditions including those with low to moderate mental health needs.

User-led organisations (ULOs) are also a form of peer support – they are organisations made up of service users. ULOs can bring together group of service users to jointly plan their care and support package, making plans and spending their budgets together. This could lead to economies of scale and a better, more coherent, local set of support services for people who need them.

Brokerage services for Personal Assistants – Help for people receiving personal budgets to source the best support solutions available to achieve maximum independence. The service could help to identify local personal assistants and ensure that people with the right skills are matched with people who need their services.

Activities which help young people with learning disabilities or autism to become more independent, so that they are less reliant on care and support services as they reach adulthood.

Local delivery of care and support for vulnerable housebound people, so that care can be coordinated locally, delivered locally, and prevent the need for carers to travel long distances between visits.