Care Together – a proposed £2.9m catalyst for a fairer and more caring Cambridgeshire

27 January 2022

Watch Cambridgeshire County Councillor Richard Howitt talk about Care Together (YouTube)

A £2.9 million Countywide programme to support older people living in their own communities and homes for longer is part of a proposed investment in a new vision to create a fairer and more caring Cambridgeshire.

Cambridgeshire County Council’s Care Together programme, being proposed as part of this year’s annual budget, will signal a switch from social care based on large county-wide contracts to one in which people living and working in their own communities will be empowered to support older and vulnerable people. This will help residents to stay in their own homes and reduce the risk that people will need to leave home to go in to residential care or hospital. This will include voluntary and paid services in those communities creating local employment opportunities.

The proposed ‘Care Together’ initiative is just one way Cambridgeshire County Council’s Joint Administration plans to deliver on its vision, and align with its ambitious Corporate Strategy – a set of priorities aimed at making Cambridgeshire greener, fairer and more caring. It is part of a raft of innovative and ambitious proposals which will be decided upon by Full Council as part of the council’s budget setting for 2022/3.

One of the key innovations is to commission community catalysts. These individuals or organisations will support small local businesses and voluntary services to grow and develop their services to support older people in their communities. This approach is helping to develop locally based support, creating local employment opportunities and enabling more people to meaningfully make a difference to the communities they live and work in.

As a forerunner of the new approach, Anna Tuck, a ‘Community Catalyst’ in East Cambridgeshire, has been commissioned to help set up and develop existing local organisations, enterprises and individuals to support older and vulnerable people. Anna is already assisting RockSolid – a small business working in Littleport and the surrounding villages - to provide support to older and vulnerable members of the community.

RockSolid was set up by Alison Fretwell and Lisa Cooper after Alison began voluntarily supporting two elderly people in Littleport during the pandemic, providing essential support in terms of shopping, light homecare and companionship. This further developed into offering other volunteers the opportunity to use her outside garage space as a place to meet and have coffee and a chat, a free service that quickly proved to be a real lifeline.

They also baked and delivered cakes to local residents and provided valuable volunteering opportunities to people with additional needs as well as starting a lunch club for older residents.

Anna is currently helping RockSolid to look at all the necessary legal requirements that will enable it to develop these ideas, as well as help to access funding. Alison said: “Anna’s help has certainly made our journey into the career we were pursuing a lot easier.”

If agreed, the ‘Care Together’ initiative will be delivered by a range of different organisations, which includes the NHS, who will work together to achieve the best possible outcomes, with the county council’s Adult Social Care Commissioning Team being the lead partner.

Care Together aims to:

  • Co-produce services with local communities, which focus on employing local people in their area
  • Improve how people are supported at home
  • Jointly develop early intervention and prevention support for older people

The programme will draw together local resources including:

• Libraries as community hubs

• New community and voluntary groups who can provide informal care and support to older people

• Personalised, council-funded homecare to reduce loneliness and improve wellbeing

• An updated range of daytime opportunities for older people

• An integrated offer of early intervention and prevention services, including making better use of technology to enable independent living

• Dementia and carer-friendly communities.

The £2.9m investment will result in more commissioning capacity and seed funding to develop more volunteer and community led support and small businesses. This will enable services to be shaped and delivered at a local level, based on the needs of local communities.

Cllr Richard Howitt, chair of Cambridgeshire County Council’s Adults and Health Committee, said: “This is a major transformation in which social care will be provided in Cambridgeshire, seeking to support people’s care needs through a more diverse range of providers, closer to where people live and more personalised to meet their needs. For people in need of professional care, we will always work to provide it. The new ethos here is that we want care delivered much more by local people living and working in their communities, who know their local area and services best.

“By enabling people to enjoy more independence and access greater support from their own homes, we can help reduce the risk of them being forced to go in to formal care settings and ultimately to enjoy a better quality of life.

“The new approach will offer greater opportunities for local voluntary and community organisations, as well as the potential to return some targeted services to be directly provided by the Council itself.

“This is another positive step forward by the Joint Administration and shows we are willing to invest in innovative approaches and unlock the talent of local people to make Cambridgeshire a more caring place. I look forward to seeing the programme being rolled out, then expanded over time.”

Cllr Susan van de Ven, the committee’s vice chair, added: “ Care Together will provide more care in the community and a stronger focus on prevention. This will bring many rewards, both for Cambridgeshire residents and for the council, which will be able to offer better, more tailored, support, and help reduce reliance on care homes. We know from what our residents tell us that they prefer to live independently in their own homes. Care Together seeks to make that possible."

The programme will benefit from independent evaluation by investigators led by Professor Louise Lafortune, scientific coordinator of the Ageing Well Programme at the NIHR School of Public Health Research, University of Cambridge, ensuring the outcomes of Care Together deliver tangible benefits for the community and that social return on investment can be objectively demonstrated.

More information on Care Together can be found at:

If you would like to become involved in Care Together as a community catalysts or to support your community, contact