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
Jan 192015

On 15 January 2015, student societies from Cambridge University, Anglia Ruskin University and Hills Road Sixth Form College took over the Cambridge Guildhall to host ‘Campaigning Cambridge.’ Antony went along to meet them.

Interested already? Get in touch with them!

Cambridge University Students Union
Cambridge Student Hub
Anglia Ruskin Students Union

These are just a few snapshots of the groups of young people and supporting organisations doing fantastic work across Cambridge. With Be the change – Cambridge, we want to help our students and young people have an even greater impact on our city by making it much easier for them to get support from adults and our city’s institutions. Things worth considering in advance of our community action event on 14 March 2015 at Anglia Ruskin University are:

  1. How do we, the people of Cambridge communicate with each other and our institutions? (For example what is the role of local TV, local radio, local print publications, online blogs and ‘digital content producers’ – such as those that make digital videos? This goes ***far beyond*** communications strategies that state ‘we will use local radio and social media etc).
  2. How do we change the culture, systems and processes in our institutions so that young people don’t have to fight the same battles every year to get institutions to listen to them? For example, how can we build into institutional systems something that makes them aware every autumn there are Year 12 students looking for community projects to work on as part of their extra curricular/enrichment college programmes? How do we synchronise institutions’ calendars with the Prince’s Trust Team programme and the National Citizen Service programme?
  3. How can we make sure the new arrangements for the Cambridge City Deal work for young people, and for the people of Cambridge rather than just the economy?

The students & young people are up for the challenge.

Are we?


 Posted by at 2:24 pm
Jan 132015

The assembly had its first meeting at South Cambridgeshire District Council’s Cambourne offices on 12 January 2015. Both Jon Vale of the Cambridge News, and Antony Carpen of Be the change – Cambridge went along to observe proceedings.

Did you know you can table questions to the assembly?

Both Jim Chisholm of the Cambridge Cycling Campaign, and Dr Julian Huppert MP put their questions to the assembly. Have a look at the video below.

Further videos include:

Please see the end of this post for the rules on tabling formal questions to the assembly if you are considering tabling your own.

Jon Vale of the Cambridge News has summarised the top ten transport projects that were discussed at the meeting. You can read his summary here. See also Jon’s additional report on the meeting here.

You can view the papers for the assembly meetings here. You can also watch the presentation by Graham Hughes of Cambridgeshire County Council to the assembly below. Apologies for the poor audio as I didn’t have access to the council’s AV system. (Note to assembly members, please speak clearly into the microphones!)

We will post the dates of future meetings on our Meetup Group page.


Rules on public questions to the Greater Cambridge Joint City Deal Assembly

“At the discretion of the Chairman, members of the public may ask questions at meetings of the Joint Assembly. This standard protocol is to be observed by public speakers:

  1. notice of the question should be given to the Democratic Services team at South Cambridgeshire District Council (as administering authority) by 10am the day before the meeting; (Graham Watts, Democratic Services Team Leader at South Cambridgeshire District Council, via email or telephone (01954) 713030)
  2. questioners will not be permitted to raise the competence or performance of a member, officer or representative of any partner on the Joint Assembly, nor any matter involving exempt information (normally considered as
  3. ‘confidential’); questioners cannot make any abusive or defamatory comments;
  4. if any clarification of what the questioner has said is required, the Chairman will have the discretion to allow other Assembly members to ask questions;
  5. the questioner will not be permitted to participate in any subsequent discussion and will not be entitled to vote;
  6. the Chairman will decide when and what time will be set aside for questions depending on the amount of business on the agenda for the meeting. Normally questions will be received as the first substantive item of the meeting;
  7. individual questioners will be permitted to speak for a maximum of three minutes;
  8. in the event of questions considered by the Chairman as duplicating one another, it may be necessary for a spokesperson to be nominated to put forward the question on behalf of other questioners. If a spokesperson cannot be nominated or agreed, the questioner of the first such question received will be entitled to put forward their question.”

The above taken from Agenda Item 5, page 3 of the agenda reports pack here.

 Posted by at 5:23 pm
Nov 072014

Hello everyone

Devolution in Cambridgeshire has been in the news in recent days – some of you may have seen the coverage on the BBC. (See their article here). On 5 November, Cambridge University Technical College hosted BBC Look East’s debate on devolution in the East of England. Click here to watch the programme.

Cambridge Brewhouse Event

  • Date: Tues 18 November 2014
  • Time: from 6:30pm
  • Venue: Cambridge Brewhouse, 1 King Street, Cambridge, CB1 1LH

(Please note this is a change to the original date)

We will be in the upstairs function room (the Locker Room), which has a capacity for around 50 of us. We will also have use of their small upstairs bar. (You’ll have to buy your own drinks though!) The room is where the local social media agency Sookio hold their excellent social media masterclasses.

This event will be facilitated by Dr David Cleevely and Anne Bailey. If you would like to come along, please could you sign up via our Meetup group here.

Since the conversation cafe event, the small core organising group have had a couple of follow-up meetings. This is the first gathering of the wider group of people who have indicated they would like to be involved in the Be the change Cambridge project. A few of the core group have also had meetings with Cambridge City Council and Cambridgeshire County Council officials and councillors to explore how we can co-ordinate and support each others actions.

Your input to the Brewhouse event

As with the Conversation Cafe event at Anglia Ruskin University in September, we’re inviting active participation. In particular, we’d like your ideas and recommendations for the big spring event. Recall that in the summer, we set out our vision in our brochure here. One of the workstreams several of worked on at the Conversation Cafe, that Kim Spence-Jones summarised, was on the restructure of local government. Given the recent news and announcements from local government, could we design something into the spring event that invites people to take part in that county-wide conversation? Other things that you may want to explore at The Brewhouse event could include:

  • Marketing – in particular how do we ensure a spread of representation from across our communities, sectors of the local economy, and also geographically across the city
  • Information and mapping – What information will we need to underpin what we do. This could range from traditional ‘stakeholder mapping’ of which groups/organisations influence and have an interest in the project, to demonstrating tools and apps that people can use to improve how our city functions – MySociety being an example of the latter.
  • Youth participation – how can we get them involved and influencing the design of the event, the discussions that take place, and the reporting and write-ups of the spring event?
  • Succession and sequencing – What happens after the spring event, and how to we ensure momentum generated is maintained? How can we minimise clashes with other events and actions?
  • Pre-event activities and actions – What do participants want to do in the run up to the event? Are there things that we can organise that can tap into our local arts, culture and creative industries?
  • Sponsorship – Who should we approach to provide more financial support to the project, in particular if we are going to have actions continuing beyond the spring event?

If you have any questions, please email Antony Carpen at antonycarpen [at] gmail [dot] com

See you on Tuesday!

Brewhouse Pic

 Posted by at 9:28 pm
Sep 182014

Antony Carpen appeared on the Breakfast Show with Dotty McLeod (@dottymcl on Twitter) on Thursday 18 Sept 2014 to talk about the voxpop films that are part of the project. (See the album of videos at Watch the interview below

Antony also recorded a ‘video blogpost’ – or vlogpost for short – on the discussions the art and culture group had at our Conversation Cafe event at Anglia Ruskin University on Saturday 13 September 2014 (see previous post here). Watch the vlogpost below:

Cambridge Area Committees

Filming at community events and council meetings, and helping educate people about how local democracy in Cambridge functions is also part of our autumn filming project. In the interview below, Antony asks Councillor Richard Johnson, who represents the Abbey Ward in Cambridge, about why area committees are important, how they enable residents to raise issues face-to-face with councillors, and enable councillors to scrutinise local public services – such as policing, on behalf of residents.

Cambridge Communities Fair 2015

Back in spring 2012 when Richard Johnson was standing as a candidate in the local elections, Antony asked Richard to back an idea of a big ‘societies fair’ for Cambridge similar to the ones organised by Cambridge and Anglia Ruskin students unions. Click here to see his response!

As you can see from the link above, Richard backed the idea. Fast forward two later and the now Councillor Richard Johnson, executive councillor for communities, arts and recreation, announced the go-ahead for this as a council-organised event for Saturday 28 February 2015 at the Cambridge Guildhall. This has the potential to be one of the biggest and one of the most exciting community action events in Cambridge’s recent history. It could significantly increase the sustainability, activities of and the range of our community groups and organisations. Be the change – Cambridge is supporting Councillor Johnson’s efforts to organise and deliver a successful event.

Accordingly, we have created an online holding page for the communities fair on our Meetup page to help raise awareness and avoid event clashes. See the page at If you are interested in joining the working group that is organising the communities fair, please get in touch with Councillor Johnson using the contact details here.

“What does this mean for our big community action gathering in early 2015?”

The events will complement each other. One of the things we will be discussing is when the best time to schedule our community action gathering to support rather than compromise the communities fair.



 Posted by at 12:51 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