Mar 152015

Over fifty people – including the Mayor of Cambridge, Cllr Gerri Bird, took part in Be the change – Cambridge’s community action gathering at Anglia Ruskin University.

A first review by Antony Carpen

The Mayor opened our event which saw students representing Hills Road Sixth Form College, Cambridge Regional College and Chesterton Community College all making an important contribution to an afternoon of discussion, debate and problem-solving. The students also took part in an intensive cross-examination of Cambridge City Council’s planning and communities policies in a workshop with Cllr Richard Johnson, executive councillor for communities.

Students & activists cross-examining Cllr Richard Johnson on how to support grassroots charities & campaigns

Students & activists cross-examining Cllr Richard Johnson on how to support grassroots charities & campaigns














Jane Paterson-Todd, chief executive of Cambridge Ahead speaking on behalf of the host sponsors Anglia Ruskin University & Cambridge Ahead highlighted the importance of community groups and young people working with businesses and local councils in shaping Cambridge’s future – something that was reflected by the active participation of all that took part.

Open-space – participants designing the agenda

The event was expertly facilitated by Jennifer Jones, a community media researcher at the University of the West of Scotland. With extensive experience in community action and digital media, Jennifer provided the much-needed external challenge and alternative perspective on what is happening in Cambridge. For many of the participants, this was the first time they had experienced an event where they were invited to shape the timetable and content of workshops.

The Mayor of Cambridge with (L-R) Anne Bailey (Cambridge Area Partnership & co-founder, Be the change - Cambridge), Jennifer Jones (Host facilitator), Antony Carpen (Founder, Be the change - Cambridge), Lucy McMahon (Student volunteer, Chesterton CC), Cllr Gerri Bird, Mayor of Cambridge, Mr Alan Pooley, JP, Aaron Hurst (Student volunteer, Cambridge Regional College), Sharon Kaur (Workshop facilitator & community activist)

The Mayor of Cambridge with (L-R) Anne Bailey (Cambridge Area Partnership & co-founder, Be the change – Cambridge), Jennifer Jones (Host facilitator), Antony Carpen (Founder, Be the change – Cambridge), Lucy McMahon (Student volunteer, Chesterton CC), Cllr Gerri Bird, Mayor of Cambridge, Mr Alan Pooley, JP, Aaron Hurst (Student volunteer, Cambridge Regional College), Sharon Kaur (Workshop facilitator & community activist). Photo: Lucinda Price Photography

A desire to learn about housing and transport planning

Cambridge City Council’s Patsy Dell hosted an inspiring workshop on housing and planning functions in Cambridge. In the spirit of the event, participants discussed how community groups could work with councils to improve citizens’ understanding of how the planning system works – and how to improve it for the benefit of the city. This reflected earlier conversations with student representatives of Anglia Ruskin University Students’ Union where they expressed a desire to work with Cambridge City Council to ensure any future plans for student accommodation meet the needs of Anglia students while remaining sensitive to local residential communities.

‘My Cambridge’ – the arts and culture offer for the city

Rae Snape of the Kite Teaching Alliance and Jane Wilson of the Cambridge Live Trust led a workshop on their proposals for ‘My Cambridge’. The project’s goal is that “every young person in Cambridge is able to confidently construct their own cultural life, drawing on and feeling connected to the whole of the city in which they live.” Important actions for institutions include:

  • Establishing long term relationships between schools and cultural organisations.
  • Effective local research takes place
  • Decision-makers are given the right knowledge & tools to make effective decisions about their roles

The above are consistent with themes of long term planning – in particular ensuring co-ordination of events in both planning and publicity, along with the collection & sharing of information relevant to decisions that organisations need to make.

For those of you interested the plans that the Cambridge Live Trust has for Cambridge, note the Trust ‘goes live’ on 1st April with a series of events including a free musical extravaganza led by the Dowsing Sound Collective at the Cambridge Corn Exchange. Get your free tickets here!

Youth engagement, improving transport & cycling, and ideas on how Cambridge should be run

Participants discussed how Cambridge could improve youth engagement. They identified a number of changes that local schools and colleges needed to make to their systems and processes in order to build a city-wide culture of civic action. In particular, our student participants cited the timely provision of information on what’s available when they are making choices on college extra-curricular activities – such as Duke of Edinburgh Awards.

On improving transport, cycling and the future administration of Cambridge, participants appreciated the opportunity to discuss the issues in depth. This included but was not limited to the possibility of a unitary authority. Ideas on removing institutional barriers between frontline workers included GP surgeries having social workers co-located in the same building.

The way forward?

At the end of an inspiring & intensive afternoon, participants mentioned one of the most beneficial impacts of the event – and of the project was bringing people together from diverse communities & backgrounds to solve shared problems. A number of the more experienced and longstanding community activists recognised the passion & potential the student activists had – making a number of exciting connections between local college campaigns and longstanding community groups. We look forward to supporting them, inspiring more of the people of Cambridge to shape the future of our city.

We will be presenting the findings to Cambridge City Council – who we’re incredibly grateful for their support & participation. Feedback from Patsy Dell’s introduction to the planning system was particularly well-received in one of the afternoon’s most well-attended workshops.

Local charities benefit too!

As mentioned early on in the project, we committed to donating some of the sponsorship money raised for the projects to two local charities – Disability Cambridgeshire & The Dosoco Foundation. £500 will be split between these two charities, both of which are making significant positive contribution to the lives of many people in and around Cambridge.

Professional photographs and a professional video-maker

We commissioned Cambridge photographer Lucinda Price to cover our event. You can see an early selection of her photographs here. We also had the multi-talented Graham Copekoga filming throughout the afternoon, giving participants the experience of being filmed using broadcast standard equipment. As well as creating a medley video of the afternoon, Graham also filmed the end-of-afternoon feedback sessions, ensuring that we captured a much fuller record of the discussions, learning points and agreed actions.

Are we going to be doing this all over again next year?

Certainly the feeling in the room was that we should – with the possibility of teaming up with the Cambridge Hub following their highly successful Volunteer for Cambridge event a fortnight earlier. Both Volunteer for Cambridge and this event were the first events of this type in recent times in Cambridge. In both cases the feedback we’ve heard is that between us we proved the concepts worked. With this learning, we look forward to creating something even bigger & better next year!

Antony Carpen

 Posted by at 1:04 am
Mar 102015

One of the pre-announced workshops we will have at our Community Action Gathering will be a workshop on the arts & culture offer for Cambridge. For this workshop, we have been working with and have had the kind support of the following:

Some of you will have also seen the brilliant e-luminate festival last month (Feb 2015). If you didn’t, here’s a glimpse of what you missed!

On 1st April 2015 Cambridge will see the formal launch of the Cambridge Live Trust. To help celebrate this, the brilliant Dowsing Sound Collective (of which Be the change – Cambridge founder Antony Carpen is a member of) will be hosting a free concert titled ‘Lungjam’ at the Cambridge Corn Exchange. ‘Hosting’ because you are invited to take part in the singing! You can book your free ticket here. Want to get a glimpse of what it might be like? Here’s the Dowsing Sound Collective at The Corn Exchange in December 2014.

The Dowsing Sound Collective concerts help raise money for the Dosoco Foundation – a music foundation that gives out grants for musical projects in Cambridge. Be the change – Cambridge will be making a donation to the Dosoco Foundation. Have a listen to founder Andrea Cockerton describing them to a packed Cambridge Corn Exchange and you’ll understand why we’re supporting them.

Bringing Cambridge’s arts organisations together

Have a look at the list of organisations that form the Cambridge Arts and Cultural Leaders Group here. Some of them you may be a regular visitor to. Others you might not have heard of before. In the context of ‘making Cambridge greater than the sum of our parts’, what do you think is the role for arts and cultural organisations in Cambridge? You’ll be able to discuss this and more at our community action gathering on Sat 14 March at Anglia Ruskin University. If you’ve not got your free ticket, click here. 70 people have already signed up via our Eventbrite & Meetup group pages. For anyone who is still unsure about what Be the change – Cambridge is about, have a look at our video below:

 Posted by at 3:17 pm
Sep 142014

Over 50 people took part in our Conversation Cafe on Saturday 13 September 2014 at Anglia Ruskin University – the first of a series of events that form part of our project. Co-chaired by Dr David Cleevely CBE and Anne Bailey of the Cambridge Area Partnership, guests taking part identified issues and ideas that formed into a series of themes including:

  • Community action
  • Arts and culture
  • Transport and housing
  • Green spaces
  • Growing up in Cambridge
  • Improving local government

We have uploaded some slides that capture some of the discussions that we had. See

We were joined by the Mayor of Cambridge, Cllr Gerri Bird. See what she had to say in the video below having taken part in some of the discussions

We also had representation from all three political parties on Cambridge City Council, and the three tiers of government with Vicky Ford MEP, Dr Julian Huppert MP and Cllr Lewis Herbert taking questions from participants.


We are grateful to photographer Lucinda Price who took lots of excellent photographs of the day – have a look at them on her website at

As well as having residents from across the city taking part, a number of people took part representing community groups and campaigns, such as the Cambridge Student Hub, the Cambridge Map Project and the Cambridge Cycling Campaign. We also had the Dosoco Foundation - one of the two beneficiaries of our project, represented by Andrea Cockerton of the Dowsing Sound Collective. We were also delighted to welcome Alan Alexander of the Haverhill-Cambridge rail campaign. With a large support network in Haverhill, the campaign is looking to work with Cambridge to re-open the old railway line that linked both places, and extend it all the way to Colchester. This opens the possibility of a direct rail service between Cambridge and Chelmsford – a boost for Anglia Ruskin University if we can make it happen.

We also benefited from the input of representatives from some our sponsors & supporters who joined us, including Bob Ensher of Morgan Sindall, Jane Paterson Todd of Cambridge Ahead and the team from Cambridge Event Management.

The workshops

We invited everyone to write ideas and issues onto post-it notes. We grouped the post-it notes into themes, which workshop groups then discussed how we could turn them into actions. At the end, we invited groups to summarise what they had discussed. The housing and green spaces workshop’s presentation is below – unfortunately the only one that survived the video transferring process! Apologies for the other presentations that wouldn’t transfer!

Everyone was invited to undertake one small action or one small behaviour change as a result of taking part in the conversation cafe. It was great to see people from different backgrounds and with different experiences coming together to take on the challenge of making our city great.

Want to get involved?

If you’d like to get involved in making our city greater than the sum of our parts, please join our Meetup group for free at This will ensure you are kept up to date with future events. We are also on Facebook and Twitter at @Bethechangecam.

We are also looking to run similar events with young people. If your school or college is willing to host a ‘Be the change – Cambridge’ event, please email Anne Bailey at the Cambridge Area Partnership at abailey [@] See if your school or college is part of the Cambridge Area Partnership at

For further questions about the project, please contact the project founder, Antony Carpen at antonycarpen [@]

Many bridges, one Cambridge. It’s your city.

Be. The. Change.



 Posted by at 5:45 pm
Aug 212014

We have a growing list of our wonderful sponsors, without whom we would not be able to put on the event

Headline sponsors

We are grateful to Cambridge Ahead and Anglia Ruskin University, our event’s headline sponsors.

CA core logo                         Anglia Ruskin Logo RGB colour

Have a look at what Cambridge Ahead is all about in the video below.


Event sponsors

We’d like to thank the following organisations for their support

Cambridge_Network_583a0_450x450    Print     MorganSindall      new-mathworks_logo

Event marketing and management

We are grateful for the services of Cambridge Event Management and Brand Anonymous for helping promote our event and for ensuring everything’s going to run smoothly on the day!

Print         bA-logo-web-black-280px

Event supporters

We’d also like to thank the following for their support

CAP logo 2

UKgovcamp (from web)   Cambridge Hub      kite_tsa


Prospective sponsors

If you are interested in becoming a sponsor, please contact Anne Bailey at abailey [at]

Prospective stallholders

If you are interested in having a community stall, please contact Antony Carpen at antonycarpen [at]

Page 9 of our Be the Change – Cambridge Brochure has details of the event sponsorship and stalls packages we have.


Want to join us at Be the Change – Cambridge? Click here to get hold of your ticket

 Posted by at 11:31 pm