Positive progress in a challenging year
13 May 2022
Positive progress in a challenging year
by Ann Bonnett, Chair of Girton Town Charity
Girton Town Charity has continued to steer a very busy programme with a major new almshouse project underway at Dovehouse Court, the completion of Suffolk Terrace and the welcoming of its first residents, managing activities at the William Collyn Community Centre in response to rapidly changing COVID-19 guidance and administering the wide range of Schemes and Grants which help a wide range of Village residents.
There have also been changes to our team of Trustees and the need for flexibility in the day-to-day running of the Charity, with virtual meetings and a temporary relocation of GTC Office.
This summary is extracted from the report prepared for the Parish Council’s Annual Meeting in May. Full accounts for the year to 30th June 2021 can be viewed on the Charity Commission website.
There are normally seven Trustees who serve five year terms; five are currently appointed by Girton Parish Council (GPC) and two by the Board of Trustees. We were delighted to make two GTC appointments during the year, with Dan Buck joining us In December 2020 and Andrew Muston in July 2021. We are currently looking for at least one new Trustee and we always welcome expressions of interest from residents of the Village.
Charity Office and Administration
Following the demolition of 22 High Street, GTC Office moved to the Parish Office at 42 Church Lane and remained operational throughout lockdown thanks to the efficiency of our Administrators, Mrs Rachel Allchorne and Mrs Gilly O’Brien.
The Trustees met virtually ten times between 1st July 2020 and 30th April 2021 to consider the regular business of the Charity, in addition to participating in an Extraordinary Meeting and two Strategy Meetings.
The period saw some financial market volatility which had an adverse impact on GTC funds. It was necessary to rebalance funds to cover running costs at the William Collyn Community Centre in the light of reduced income during lockdowns, almshouse maintenance and donations to organisations based outside Girton which make general provisions for the residents of the Village.
The Charity currently has 13 almshouses within Girton, occupied by residents over 55 and families from the community. Over 55’s and anyone with a registered disability are appointed as permanent residents; families are appointed for three years. All are managed on the Charity’s behalf by the CHS Group, based in Histon.
Three new family homes at Suffolk Terrace on the High Street were completed and ready for occupation in April 2021 and the successful applicants moved in on three- year appointments.
The major project to redevelop the central almshouse site on High Street, has continued through the year and once completed, will provide a mix of bungalows and apartments for people over the age of 55, as well as a new office for GTC, all built to stringent Passivhaus standards. The Trustees applied for a grant of £675,000 towards the building of these homes from Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority which was successful.
CarePlus Grant Scheme
This Scheme helps Girton residents to live independently in their own homes by providing additional short-term care to suit their needs over and above any statutory care to which they are entitled, including assistance on returning from hospital. Requests for help are made by referral from GP, Social Worker, Age UK Warden or Older Residents’ Co-ordinator or other Healthcare professional. During the period 41 residents benefitted from CarePlus.
Educational Grant Scheme
This helps with the costs of buying books and equipment for study in further and higher education; some apprenticeships and similar qualifications at NVQ Level 4 or above. Claims totalling no more than £300 per Academic Year may be made for up to four years of study. 31 Educational Grants were awarded during the year.
Hospital Taxi Scheme
This helps people go by taxi to outpatient appointments at Addenbrooke’s Hospital the Rosie or Royal Papworth Hospital and some of the pandemic-designated satellite outpatients clinics, when alternative transport is not practical. The Trustees continue to be grateful to Nelsons and Wendy Barret for supporting this Scheme. The Scheme operates a ‘membership year’ with a single annual renewal date on 1st April.
Prescription Delivery Service
Run by the pharmacist at the GP practice serving Girton, the Prescription Delivery Service is available for patients who live within the Pepys Way dispensing area and are unable, through reasons of incapacity, to collect dispensed medicines from the Pepys Way or Huntingdon Road Surgeries.
Youth Group with Connections Bus Project
During 2021 the Trustees investigated options to offer a Youth Group from a new provider and in December 2021, were pleased to award the Connections Bus Project a grant to commence a weekly youth group as soon as recruitment of the necessary staff and the pandemic allowed.
Cambridge Citizens Advice Bureau and Relate Counselling Service
Face to face meetings at the William Collyn Centre were paused during the pandemic. Both CAB and Relate continued to provide services via online resources and virtual meetings and a range of services have been provided to help residents.
Age UK Activities
GTC supports two Age UK activities. In the Community Warden Scheme, Fiona provides full-time cover to more than 20 villagers who subscribe. As Older Residents’ Co-ordinator, Patricia has worked on a number of initiatives to broaden provision and participation in a variety of activities across the Village.
Grants to external charities
GTC supports charitable organisations outside the Village with grants based on the number of Girton participants in their activities including Arthur Rank Hospice, Cam Sight, Cambridgeshire Headway, Cogwheel Trust, East Anglia Children’s Hospice, Kings Junior Voices and Macmillan.
Grants to local schools
Girton Glebe Primary School has received substantial grants for intervention, educational enrichment activities, provision of wrap-around support for the children of families-in-need and funding of school trips that could not be met by the families of the children concerned.
Grants to individuals
Grants to individuals are given to cover costs such as modest fees for activities that were otherwise unaffordable, support for those in need of respite breaks and contributions towards household items such as support chairs, cookers, fridge/freezers and beds. In the year to date, 17 grants were made to individuals.
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought many changes to all sections of our community and going forwards, our Trustees will be focusing on the new landscape and how best to support Girton residents. This will run alongside other important projects such as Dovehouse Court to ensure that we can futureproof our provision with truly affordable housing that many of our residents need.
I’d like to thank all our Trustees for their huge contribution and also our Administrators who support us and run the office so efficiently. We can’t predict what challenges lie ahead but GTC is in a strong position, with a skilled, experienced and committed team to find the right solutions for us.