Headlines: Summer 2023 Edition

News and updates from our programmes and services


Welcome to the Summer 2023 edition of the Headlines newsletter with news and updates from our programmes and services.

A Note from our Chief Executive

After a chilly and wet Spring, Summer has finally arrived. Our teams have been enjoying the lovely weather, delivering projects in the community and at our activity venues including Oxenwood Outdoor Education Centre.

Spring was an exceptionally busy time for Community First and for the country as we came together to celebrate the Coronation of His Majesty King Charles III and our patron The Former Duchess of Cornwall (now Her Majesty The Queen). We were delighted to be offered tickets to Coronation celebration events in London – more information is included below. On behalf of the team, we would like to send our congratulations and very best wishes to His Majesty The King and Her Majesty The Queen.

Community First membership renewals for 2023-2024 have now been sent, along with renewals for Wiltshire Village Halls Association (WVHA) and Wiltshire Association of Local Councils (WALC). If you have not yet had a chance to do so, please send your membership form and payment so you can continue to enjoy the benefits of being part of our network in 2023-2024.

Job Vacancies

We currently have a number of open vacancies within our Outdoor Education and Employability and Skills teams, the roles are:

  • Casual/Sessional Activity Instructor
  • Inspire Swindon Youth Support Worker
  • Building Bridges Support Worker

This is an exciting opportunity to join our friendly team. For more information about these roles and how to apply, please visit our vacancies page to view a role description and application form.

Community First Coronation Celebrations

Coronation logo

Saturday 6th May 2023 marked the historic Coronation of His Majesty King Charles III and Her Majesty Queen Camilla. Community First has enjoyed the Patronage of The Former Duchess of Cornwall (now Queen) for a number of years and we were delighted to receive invitations to celebrate the festivities in London on the day of the Coronation, as well as to attend a Garden Party at Buckingham Palace on Tuesday 9th May.

We have prepared a blog post with a selection of photos from the day. You can view the blog post and photos at: Community First staff and guests attend historic Coronation celebrations.

Catherine and Abi at the Coronation Celebration
Prince of Wales greets guests at Garden Party
View from the Coronation Grandstand
The Princess of Wales greets guests at the Garden Party
Catherine and Abi at the Coronation Event
Val and Dawn at the Garden Party

Community Insurance

Community Insurance - Local Councils Leaflet
Community Insurance - Local Councils Leaflet
Community Insurance is a specialist insurance agent service from Community First. We offer comprehensive insurance for local councils, village halls, community buildings and playing field associations, with support from our friendly and professional team.

Our policies are underwritten by Zurich. Income generated from Community Insurance is reinvested back into communities including support for village halls, community buildings, local councils and other services provided by Community First.

For a free, no obligation quote:

Email: communityinsurance@communityfirst.org.uk or telephone 01380 732809.

Click to view/download the leaflets.

Youth Action Wiltshire

The Youth Action Wiltshire team has delivered some amazing work over the last 12 months, working with young carers, young people facing challenges in their lives, young victims of crime and young people who are Not In Employment, Education or Training (NEET) or at risk of becoming NEET. We have prepared a detailed summary of outcomes from each of our Youth Action Wiltshire services between 2022-2023.

This also includes an update on delivery at our Oxenwood Outdoor Education Centre and Linkenholt Countryside Adventure Centre. Community First currently owns and operates Oxenwood and manages Linkenholt in partnership with The Blagrave Trust. These centres are key delivery locations for many of our Youth Action Wiltshire adventure and respite activities.

Young Carers Support Infographic 2023

Click to view the full infographic and download as a PDF.

Wiltshire Young Carers Service

2023 is a special year for our Wiltshire Young Carers Service, as it marks the 25th year of our support for young carers in Wiltshire. We have had an unexpected reduction in funding for 2023/2024 and plan to work with between 120-150 young carers over the next 12 months. We have consulted with young carers to produce a 2023 to 2024 delivery plan that includes the support measures young carers deem most effective and we will be offering this to the most vulnerable young carers in the county, those most adversely affected by their caring roles.

We are currently reaching out to new and existing supporters, donors and funders who would like to be involved in supporting this work. We have also prepared an infographic summary of our work with young carers in 2022-2023.

Oliver (right) receives a young carers achievement award from Mrs Sarah Troughton (left) HM Lord-Lieutenant of Wiltshire and President of Community First at the Community First AGM and Awards Celebration in October 2022.

Oliver’s Fundraiser for Youth Action Wiltshire

A young carer from Aldbourne, Marlborough has smashed his original fundraising target of £50 to raise over £350 for Youth Action Wiltshire. 11-year-old Oliver and his sister Katie are currently supported by our Wiltshire Young Carers Service.

In 2022, Oliver received a Young Carers Achievement Award and wanted to give something back to the service which supports him and his family. With the help of his Mum Hannah, Oliver set up a Just Giving fundraising page in April 2023, with the original aim of raising £50 in support of Youth Action Wiltshire.

Just two weeks later, Oliver had already smashed his original fundraising target and raised an amazing £350 by mowing lawns and helping with gardening tasks in his local community. At the time of writing this newsletter, Oliver has raised £375.

Find out more about Oliver’s amazing fundraising achievement in our blog post.

Oliver’s fundraising donation page can be found via JustGiving.

YAW Fundraising

Many thanks to the organisations and individuals (including Oliver) who have supported Youth Action Wiltshire so far this year. We we very grateful to receive £500 from Green Square Accord towards our Youth Action Wiltshire Minibus Appeal. Thanks also to Stevie and Sue for their fundraising activity which raised over £360 for Youth Action Wiltshire. We were very grateful to receive a £250 donation from Stagecoach Performing Arts Marlborough from a bake sale which was held during the Coronation. We were also pleased to receive a £100 donation from Lyneham and Bradenstoke Parish Council.

Green Square Accord Logo
Stagecoach Marlborough - Bake Sale
Tray of YAW branded cakes
Young people at the bake sale
Stagecoach logo
Thank you to Stampede Sports who have pledged £1,000 to Youth Action Wiltshire following a successful Coronation running event. Stampede Sports is also hosting the YAW100KSportive cycling event later in the year to raise money for Youth Action Wiltshire. Please see below for more information. Finally, we would like to extend our thanks to the Chippenham Borough Lands Charity who have donated £5,000 towards Splash activities for young people in Chippenham, as well as Wiltshire Freemasons who have donated £1,000 for Splash activities.
Stampede Sports Funder Logo
Chippenham Borough Lands Charity Logo
Wiltshire Freemasons logo
Wiltshire Freemasons logo
For more information about how you can support Youth Action Wiltshire, please download our Fundraising Pack or email: fundraising@youthactionwiltshire.org

YAW Fundraising Events

You can help to support our work with young people by attending a Youth Action Wiltshire fundraising event. The following events are taking place in support of Youth Action Wiltshire over the next few months.

Cycling event cover 2019

YAW100K Sportive

Stampede Sports is holding a 100k cycle sportive on Sunday 13th August 2023 in aid of Youth Action Wiltshire. 

Riders will start in Melksham and take a scenic route across Salisbury Plain and through the beautiful Avon Valley. All finishers will receive a medal and a High5 goody pack.

You can enter online at British Cycling. More information can be found on the Stampede Sports website.

Golf Day

Join us for a fundraising Golf Day in support of Youth Action Wiltshire.

The event will take place on Friday 22nd September at North Wiltshire Golf Club.

To apply for tickets, please email Becca Worsley: beccaworsley@gmail.com

Community Development

Click to view/download

Wiltshire Association of Local Councils (WALC) County Conference

Thank you to the speakers, guests and WALC members who attended the recent WALC County Conference, which took place on 9th June 2023 at West Lavington Village Hall. Thank you also to CCLA, Lemonbooking, and Microshade VSM who generously supported this event.

The conference theme for this year was Planning. This included the National Planning Policy Framework, CIL & s106 monies, commenting as a consultee on planning matters and preparing a Neighbourhood Plan. Speakers in attendance were Dr James Derounian and Dr Carlton Brand. James Gray MP and Danny Kruger MP were also in attendance, giving their views on the current Planning policies and how they impact our local area.

The conference included a panel session with Wiltshire Community Land Trust and Community First who discussed how they can help Parishes with a Neighbourhood Plan and associated consultation.

For more information about how we can help you with Neighbourhood Plan survey and consultation, please see our ‘Planning – Support for Local Councils and Communities’ leaflet or contact: consultancy@communityfirst.org.uk

WALC conference
WALC conference
WALC Conference speaker
WALC conference speaker
Youth Club Support Youth Action Wiltshire YAW Logo

Youth Clubs

Community First offers support for local youth clubs and youth leaders. Whilst this support has previously been delivered through Youth Action Wiltshire, the service will now be led by our Community Development team. The team has a successful track record in delivering youth engagement services and will be bringing this knowledge and experience into the development and support of youth clubs.

Clubs who would like to join our network and become UK Youth Affiliated can register using the clubs affiliation form for 2023-2024.

Rural Youth Project

The Community Development team and Stacey from District Sports recently held a youth pop-up event in Pewsey, as part of the ongoing rural youth project which aims to engage young people in rural areas. The pop-up event was attended by over 60 young people, who took part in activities including zorbing, sports and crafts. The young people were very well mannered and all enjoyed a fantastic evening. A very big thank you to The Coopers Arms in Pewsey who kindly allowed us to use the marquee and field for the pop-up event.

Feedback on our pop-up events:

“[Name redacted] has a lot of fun taking part in these activities. He is an only child.  By attending your groups he is able to mix with other children his own age outside of school which is giving him more confidence and self-belief, which helps positively to support his social, emotional and learning skills. As a young carer, he is often unable to go on day trips due to his father’s mobility and health issues. The young carers respite days give him the chance to have experiences that he normally wouldn’t be able to take part in and gives him a break both emotionally and physically from his caring role (he helps to look after his father who is living with terminal cancer). Thank you so much for the kindness and ongoing support that you and your colleagues are giving to my son.”

“The Shrewton youth pop-up has meant the world to our daughter, who has disabilities and is now at an out-of-county specialist school, as it has given her a safe, structured, and supported way for her to see and socialise with her old primary school friends and keep local ties (something that has started to be trickier for her as her interests and abilities diverge increasingly from those of her peers). She has had an absolute whale of a time at the group, has been brilliantly supported to join in, and is always asking when the next one is.”

Thank you so much for the pop up and the time and support you have given to our young people.”

A group of young people at the pop-up event
3 young people take part in zorbing activity
2 young people inside a marquee
A group of young people take part in a craft activity
If you are interested in youth engagement services or setting up a new youth project in your area, our team can help. Please email Harry Tipple: htipple@communityfirst.org.uk to find out more.
Fitness and friendship poster

New Fitness and Friendship Club (Salisbury)

A new Fitness and Friendship Club for older people has opened in Salisbury. The new club is being delivered through the Get Out Get Active (GOGA) programme in partnership with Age UK Wiltshire and Wiltshire and Swindon Sport (WASP). Fitness and Friendship Clubs are social clubs for older people with an emphasis on keeping active. Club sessions include gentle exercise, games, quizzes and Tai Chi with plenty of time for a chat over refreshments.

The new Fitness and Friendship Club is open on alternate Thursdays (2.00pm-4.00pm) at Salisbury United Reformed Church, 30 Fisherton Street, Salisbury, SP2 7RG.

Club Dates:

  • June 20th
  • July 6th and 20th
  • August 3rd, 17th and 31st
  • September 14th and 28th
  • October 12th and 26th
  • November 9th and 23rd
  • December 7th

The Fitness and Friendship Club costs £5 per session and new members are always welcome. Please contact Gaby (07752 799853) or email: fitnessandfriendship@ageukwiltshire.org.uk for more information.

GOGA partner logo banner

Landfill Communities Fund – Blunsdon Community Shop

An established community shop in Blunsdon re-opened in Spring 2023, with new and improved facilities. Blundson Community Shop was established 20 years ago to serve the community of Blundson in North Wiltshire. Owned by residents and supported by the Parish Council, the shop is operated as a cooperative. Whilst the shop is operated on a not-for-profit basis, Blundson Community Shop has generated a turnover of approximately £3m since it opened. Surplus from the sale of daily staples, newspapers and other items is reinvested back into the shop and the local community.

Following engagement with developers and the Parish Council, representatives for the community shop had identified an opportunity to move from temporary facilities to a new, permanent building which would be leased from the Council for a peppercorn rent. The new premises were made available as part of the new Hayfield Wood development. Developers Hayfield had agreed to donate a new building to the Parish Council for the benefit of the community.

The new premises offered more retail space and space for a new coffee shop. This was felt to be essential as the community had grown in size since the shop first opened and needed to expand to meet demand. As part of the vision for the improved premises, Blunsdon Community Shop planned to utilise additional space to sell beer, wine, locally produced fruit, vegetables and meat and other fresh, near-zero air-mile products. The shop also aimed to create a local community hub where people could meet over coffee and offer new services for the village with the addition of mail and parcel services.

Blundson Community Shop approached Community First in November 2020 to complete a grant application for funding through the Landfill Communities Fund. The funding would cover the cost of new equipment including fridges, freezers, display areas, counters, shelving, wall units, a barista-style coffee machine and café seating (including indoor and outdoor covered seating). The application was successful and Blunsdon Community Shop received £18,000 from Crapper and Sons Ltd for joinery and fixings and £10,000 from The Hills Group Ltd for white goods for the shop and cafe.

The shop re-opened at the new location on 25th March 2023. Local resident and television personality Nick Knowles attended the re-opening event, along with shop representatives and Community First Grants Manager Mary Hardwidge. Congratulations to everyone involved in supporting this important community facility for the village of Blunsdon.

Blunsdon Community Shop (Exterior)
Shop representatives, Nick Knowles and Mary Hardwidge at the re-opening event
Blunsdon Community Shop (Interior)
Blunsdon Community Shop (cafe area)

Building Bridges Programme

Building Bridges Programme Update

Delivery of our previous Building Bridges Programme funded by the European Social Fund and The National Lottery Community Fund had to close in late February due to ESF funding ceasing. Over the six-and-a-half-years that it ran, it supported 1,942 participants, with 68% of them gaining successful outcomes into education or employment.

We will be running a special edition of this newsletter later in the Summer giving more details of the programme achievements to coincide with the release of the Impact Report we are creating.

We restarted delivery of our employability support programmes in early June with funding from the UK Shared Prosperity Fund via Swindon Borough Council and Wiltshire Council.

In Wiltshire, Building Bridges will continue to support people aged 16-65 who have significant barriers and challenges to move towards education and employment.

In Swindon, we have a new service of Inspire Swindon which will offer personalised support to young people in the following groups with significant barriers & challenges to help them build their independence and move towards education and employment:

  • 15-18 years old who are at risk of becoming NEET
  • 15-18 years old who are NEET
  • 15-18 Years old who are engaging with Swindon Youth Justice Service
  • 19-25 years old who are Care Experienced
  • 19-25 years old with an Education, Health & Care Plan

We are in discussion with other funders to try to establish a programme to support people aged over 19 in Swindon and will give further details of this as soon as we can.

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