The Community Development Manager – reaching out to reduce isolation

The Community Development Manager – reaching out to reduce isolation

A new role is helping to reach out to isolated or vulnerable individuals and communities to give advice, and become a vital link to community services and other local sources of information and support.

There are times in all our lives when we need more support, particularly as we grow older. Elderly people can experience declining health and face practical difficulties which can be very isolating. Other groups, including migrants and people with mental health problems, can also suffer from social isolation and find it hard to access health or community services.

Care Network Cambridgeshire is there to help – the charity’s objective is to reach out to older people and those who are vulnerable or isolated – to help and advise, to become a link to services and try to fill gaps in provision with local projects.

The charity identified additional need in East Cambridgeshire, where there are significant pockets of deprivation and it had ambitions to expand its services there. Care Network approached the Evelyn Trust to fund a Community Development Manager and the grant awarded enabled them to recruit Lynne McAulay to the role earlier in 2015. Lynne has hit the grounding running, working hard to make contacts, develop networks and, critically, to build trusting relationships with some of the groups traditionally labelled as ‘hard to reach’.

“I’m fairly new to this role, but I think the project is already making a difference, with some success stories to tell. For example, we have helped a much-needed Lunch Club for elderly people in Swaffham Bulbeck. The club was faced with closure as the volunteers were struggling with new regulations around food preparation and the costs of training. We have advised them on becoming a constituted body, to give them a solid foundation for governance, etc and so they could apply for grant funding. We’ve helped them to book the necessary training so their group can comply with the new rules and recently they’ve been successful in an application for grant funding from Sanctuary Housing which has secured their future. They are such a committed and enthusiastic group who were feeling disheartened. It’s fantastic that we have been able to give them advice and practical support which means they can continue with this really valuable project to reduce social isolation,” says Lynne.

A second embryonic project that Lynne is supporting is Littleport’s You’re not Alone network. A new group of volunteers has formed to support older isolated people in their local community. They have ideas for a social club, perhaps offering musical activities, or regular lunches. Lynne is advising them on how to become an effective local ‘hub’, signposting people to services, advising on volunteering, and raising awareness of health and well-being issues. 

“This is a brand new venture that got off the ground in October last year. The good news is that it’s already very well-supported, with 28 volunteers involved so far. So watch this space!”

Lynne has also recently started to work with the Recovery College, an initiative of the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust that works to support people recovering from mental illness. Together they are now working on the development of training for people with mental health difficulties who are interested in establishing support groups. The training will focus on techniques to develop groups with a positive approach that offer healthy and inspiring activities to aid recovery.

To find out more about Care Network Cambridgeshire, visit

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