COVID-19: Guidance for the safe use of multi-purpose community facilities

Government has today released the following information for community facilities.

Community centres, village halls, and other multi-use community facilities support a wide range of local activity. However, their communal nature also makes them places that are vulnerable to the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).

This information is for those managing multi-use community facilities. It signposts to relevant guidance on a range of different activities that can take place in these spaces, in line with the government’s roadmap to ease the existing measures to tackle COVID-19.

Until 4 July, community centres will be closed except where they are used to provide the following permitted activities:

(a) essential voluntary activities or urgent public support services (including the provision of food banks or other support for the homeless or vulnerable people, blood donation sessions or support in an emergency), or

(b) early years childcare provided by a person registered on the Early Years Register under Part 3 of the Childcare Act 2006, or

(c) to host an indoor market

The government will allow community centres and other multi-use community facilities to open on 4 July. For the full guidance and information please click the link below:

You may also be interested in the following links which provide further detail and information for community facilities.

Opening certain businesses and venues in England from 4 July 2020

Coronavirus outbreak FAQs: what you can and can’t do after 4 July

COVID-19: Guidance for managing playgrounds and outdoor gyms

In advance of the change in the law that will allow playgrounds and outdoor gyms to re-open on 4 July, Government has published a guidance note containing practical advice on how these can be reopened and managed effectively to enable their use while minimising the transmission risk of COVID-19.

The guidance note can be found here:

Owners and operators responsible for playgrounds and outdoor gyms will have discretion over when they consider it safe to open for activity permitted by legislation, and may decide to keep these areas closed should they feel they are not able to facilitate their safe usage.

Owners and operators responsible for playgrounds or outdoor gyms must assess and manage the risk of potential COVID-19 transmission as relevant to the users of the equipment, such as children, parents, guardians and carers, as well as any staff hired or tasked with the maintenance or cleaning of equipment.

Should you have any questions, having read the guidance, please do feel free to get in touch via or 01353 860850 for further assistance.

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New ACRE information sheet released on the re-opening of community buildings

The Information Sheet available to download here has been issued by ACRE in anticipation that the Coronavirus regulations will be amended by 4th July, ready for halls to re-open on or after Monday 6th July.

ACRE is working with relevant Government departments so that trustees and staff have confidence they are all working to “joined up” guidance and the version available to download reflects the current information, it is advisable to check for further updates which may be issued in the coming days and weeks if any advice or guidance changes.

We are also offering zoom meeting sessions so trustees may discuss any issues or concerns they have regarding the reopening of their facility.  Over 60 trustees have already booked to join the sessions this week.  If you would like to join our waiting list for available sessions next week (w/c 22nd June) please email us at or call 01353 865048

Housebuilder backs community businesses across Cambridgeshire to ensure their survival from coronavirus pandemic

AWARD-WINNING East Anglian housebuilder Hopkins Homes has teamed up with a national charity to support community businesses across the region as they recover from the coronavirus pandemic.

The company has partnered with the Plunkett Foundation to provide free support and the expertise from the charity’s network of advisors under their Hopkins Plunkett Communities Scheme.

Community businesses across Cambridgeshire and, also, Norfolk, Suffolk and rural Essex, will all be eligible to apply for the support from Monday 15th June.

Plunkett helps rural communities to tackle the issues they face, through promoting and supporting community businesses, which are enterprises that are owned and run democratically by members of the community and others, on behalf of the community.

James Hopkins, Executive Chairman and Founder of Hopkins Homes, said: “The coronavirus pandemic has made everybody take a step back and consider the needs and well-being of their communities in a different way. Hopkins Homes is no exception.

“We are proud to announce this partnership with the Plunkett Foundation to support community businesses across the region we operate in as they emerge from this pandemic.

“Together, we hope to make a real difference and ease the burden of recovery for community groups so they can continue to make valuable, lasting contributions to support the many people that rely on them.”

The Hopkins Plunkett Communities Scheme will focus on getting one-to-one support to groups in Cambridgeshire and wider across East Anglia – which will include free practical support from Plunkett’s national network of specialist community businesses advisers. All forms of community business – including woodlands, farms, bakeries, pubs and shops – will be able to get support, advice and guidance on a range of issues including governance guidance, cash flow advice and business planning, volunteer recruitment and management, accessing funding and navigating government support schemes.

James Alcock, Plunkett’s Chief Executive, said: “We are grateful to Hopkins Homes for recognising the importance of community businesses to the lives of people across East Anglia. In this time of national crisis more and more people – especially in rural communities – have been turning to community businesses for the essential services they need. This has happened at the same time as we have witnessed a strain on supply chains and volunteer numbers because of the lockdown.

“Throughout this crisis we have seen an outpouring of community spirit, a wealth of new and diverse services offered to meet local need and recruit whole new armies of volunteers. That said, the challenges and difficult decisions are ongoing and this new support from Hopkins Homes is so vital and could not come at a more critical time for community businesses to ensure they don’t just survive but thrive.”

Groups in the early stages of setting up a community business and established community businesses are now able to apply for the new Hopkins Plunkett Communities Scheme support.

The scheme has been welcomed across the region. Helen Boothman, of Houghton & Wyton Community Shop Limited, Cambridgeshire, said: “The coronavirus crisis has been a challenging time for community businesses across Cambridgeshire so this support from Hopkins and Plunkett could not be better timed to help us to serve our communities through home deliveries, food parcels and providing local places to shop in as safe a way as we can. It is fantastic to know Plunkett are there offering advice on issues like volunteer management, governance and scenario planning to help us ensure our business is as a good as it can be through and after this crisis.”

For more information on the Hopkins Plunkett Communities Scheme contact Plunkett on

Festival of Ideas

This year Support Cambridgeshire are taking their annual Connecting Communities Conference online with a Festival of Ideas. Starting on Monday 22 June 2020, there will be four one-hour events throughout the week to explore volunteer retention during and after COVID-19.

There are several wonderful speakers who will look at a range of questions and ideas.

Rob Jackson is the co-author of The Complete Volunteer Management Handbook and From The Top Down, both of which are used by Directory of Social Change in their training.

Benita Matofska is a world-renowned speaker, change-maker and author of Generation Share, a ground-breaking book containing the world’s first collection of inspiring stories of the change-makers building a new economy.

Kelly Holliday is the Sporting Events Manager at Alzheimer’s Research UK, and has years of experience in stewardship and volunteer management.

You are welcome to attend all the events or just sign up to the ones which take your fancy. Each event will take on a slightly different format, with a mixture of conversations, presentations and training.

These events are funded by Huntingdonshire District Council and Cambridgeshire County Council, and open to anyone who works or volunteers for non-profit organisations in Cambridgeshire or Peterborough.

Some events will have a limit on attendee numbers; you will be sent a unique link to the event. As numbers are limited, we ask no more than two delegates from each organisation attend this event.

To read more about each event and how to register a ticket go to

Healthwatch Covid-19 Survey

Healthwatch Cambridgeshire and Healthwatch Peterborough have launched a new survey about health, care and community support during the coronavirus pandemic.

It’s probably the most important survey we’ve ever done because everyone has been affected in some way by the virus and the changes in our services and communities.

They want to find out how you – and the people you care about – have managed.  Have you been able to get the support you need over the last few months?

What you tell them will really help local NHS and care organisations protect people during the pandemic. 

It’s really important that they hear from a full range of people, including those with long term health conditions, people who have been shielding, people with disabilities or those experiencing mental health difficulties.

So please do take part – it only takes 10 minutes to do online.  But  if you would prefer a paper version and freepost envelope, please contact Healthwatch direct.

Link to the Survey click here to take part

Innovate & Cultivate funding

Photo by Bruno Scramgnon on

Cambridgeshire County Council is pleased to announce that the next deadline for Innovate & Cultivate Fund applications is 1st August 2020. With one-to-one pre-application advice sessions being offered on 16th and 25th June.

The aim of the fund is to support initiatives that strengthen our communities and reduce pressure on County Council services, thereby giving a return on investment. Council services that are inviting applications are adult social care and children’s services. 

The fund is open to voluntary, community and social enterprise sector organisations based in and outside of Cambridgeshire, and public sector organisations in Cambridgeshire. Please note that projects serving Peterborough residents are not eligible.

There are two funding streams: a ‘Cultivate’ fund for smaller projects that build community support networks and an ‘Innovate’ fund for bigger, bolder and more innovative initiatives.

Upcoming application deadlines

1st August 2020 – Cultivate grants (£2,000 – £19,000) and Innovate grants (£19,001 – £50,000)

1st November 2020 – Cultivate grants only (£2,000 – £19,000) – subject to change

Pre-application advice

The County Council encourage organisations to talk through project ideas before submitting an application.  Bookings are now open for one-to-one telephone advice appointments on Tuesday 16th June and Thursday 25th June between 9:30am-1:30pm. These 15 minute appointments must be pre-booked and are available on a first come first served basis. Please book here.

Applications and further information about fund priorities and criteria may be found on the Cambridgeshire Community Foundation (CCF) website. CCF can answer questions about applying for the fund

Local Councils Survey on Impact of COVID-19 and Future Support

All local councils in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough have been asked to participate in a short survey to understand the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on local councils, the issues they are facing and the support they need going forward. The survey has been emailed directly to all local council clerks and responses are required by Monday 18 May 2020.

The survey is being undertaken by Cambridgeshire ACRE, Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Association of Local Council, Cambridgeshire County Council and Peterborough City Council on behalf of the Local Councils Strategic Partnership to learn how local councils believe their communities will move forward as the country transitions out of lockdown and to see what can be learnt from this current situation and what can be taken forward to make Cambridgeshire and Peterborough a better place to live for all its residents.

It is hoped that every local council in the County will take the time to respond as the survey will provide critical data to inform how local councils can best be supported. If you have not received your email invitation to take part, please contact