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August 2016
If you would like a printed copy of this Newsletter then
please contact us:
Tel: 0300 111 2301

Newsletter Contents:

It’s Hello from CAIL and Leisha

And it’s Goodbye from Beth…

New Project - Free Training for Personal

A Word on Volunteering from the Carers
Partnership Board

Thanks to Our Volunteers at CAIL

From Humble Beginnings to Volunteering
with CAIL

very sweetly, very
kindly, totally blindsided
by Graham and James
and asked, as the
newest member of stuff,
to write an introduction
for the Newsletter. I
thereupon launched into
an epically long
monologue about myself
with lots of hilarious
quips and selfdeprecating stories
about my Midlands roots. But alas, got it wrong
and so here I am writing a proper introduction!

Before I joined CAIL as its newest team member
in July, I had worked alongside the other staff

CAIL and the Saga of the Cam Sight
members as an independent consultant for
various other projects. I was impressed by their
proactive approach to being involved and

More Hellos and Goodbyes
involving others and I knew that I was working
with good people. CAIL was the first
It’s Hello from CAIL and Leisha!
organisation that genuinely expressed a need for
better involvement of the public and patients in
My first day working for Cambridgeshire Alliance developing meaningful research and they wanted
for Independent Living (CAIL) was offsite for the to do everything they could to support this. They
much-anticipated launch of the film for Justin’s
understood my passion for meaningful and
project the ‘Model Conversation’ which explored genuine involvement and the relationships have
the changing and not so changing attitudes
lasted all this time. I knew instantly that this
around the social and medical models of
would be an organisation that I would be happy
disability. The trains were on time, the sun was and proud to work for. When I decided to join
shining, the food was good and the film, focusing the team it felt a bit like coming home, working
on four very different experiences of disabled
with like-minded people and for something that
people, was very impressive! At the event I was we all care about.

As I’m settling into my new role of Partnership
Board Development Officer, I’m starting to think
about where there are opportunities to develop
the boards and to build on the good work of my
predecessor, Beth McCabe. My initial thoughts
are around two things:
 How can we meaningfully involve more
independent members?
 How do we track and report the changes in
services from this involvement?

I’m so happy to be working for CAIL and am very
excited about the future of the boards. So if
you’re an older person or someone with a
learning disability and would like to have your
voice heard about local services then do get in
touch with me to find out more:
Tel: 0300 111 2301 / 07982 752243

Throughout my years in service-user
engagement I have often come across people
saying to me “Well it’s okay us coming along to
your meetings to talk about all this, but what is
actually going to be done to change things?” It’s
a common and justified grumble, and one that I
would like to make some progress on.

“Changes and progress very rarely are gifts from above.
They come out of struggles from below.” Noam Chomsky

My role focusses on co-ordinating the Older
People’s and the Learning Disabilities
Partnership Boards. It’s a really varied role that
involves networking with lots of different people
and organisations, so a very specific aim for me
is to build on my relationships with people and
organisations who support older adults and
include individuals with a diagnosis of dementia
in service-user involvement.

Leisha O’Brien - Partnership Board
Development Officer

And it’s goodbye from Beth…
I joined CAIL in April 2014, knowing very little
about what it was like to live with a disability, or
to be a carer or an older person with increasing
support needs. What I did know was that this job
was an opportunity to help those people have a
say in how they were supported by
Cambridgeshire County Council. It’s always
been quite difficult to describe to people
succinctly what my job involved but over the two
years I got it down to ‘supporting people to voice
their views on and experiences of social care, in
order to affect change in the future’. I have
learnt so much from the people I have worked
with on the Partnership Boards and have a great
deal of respect for everyone who has voluntarily
given their time in the hope of improving people’s
It might at times seem futile or slow moving, but
real people with real stories and experiences are
very hard to ignore. Just by being at a meeting
or a workshop you are ensuring real people are
being considered and that the council is working
towards truly involving people in the design and
delivery of the care they provide. A lot has
happened in two years, when I first started, for
example there were no independent members of
the Older People’s Partnership Board and there
was talk of dissolving what had essentially
become a provider forum. However, with the
help of those providers, we recruited 12

independent members, whose opinions and
ideas are now sought and valued by the Director
of Older People’s Services. More and more the
Partnership Boards are being approached to be
part of new pieces of work and contract tenders,
rather than merely commenting on existing or
already decided plans and policies. It is by no
means perfect, but I feel the value of the boards
has grown exponentially over my time here and
they, and the platform they provide real people to
talk about their real experiences to affect real
change will only continue to grow.
I leave not because I didn’t want to continue but
because I previously had two jobs and the
opportunity to go full time at the other came up.
That job is with Cambridge Community Arts, who
provide opportunities for those at risk of social
exclusion to engage in creative activities, from
visual arts to music to drama, to improve their

mental health. Do get in touch if you’re
interested in knowing more or know someone
who may benefit from getting creative!
Beth McCabe
New Project - Free Training for
Personal Assistants
Penderels Trust and CAIL are running a free
training session for Personal Assistants (PAs)
employed by people with disabilities living in their
own homes.

This fun and interactive session will give you the
opportunity to develop your skills and knowledge
and also gives you the chance to share your
ideas and experience with other PAs in your
The course covers:
 Understanding your role
 Your personal development
 Working in a person-centred way
 Communication
 Safeguarding opportunities
 Health and safety
 Handling information
 An introduction to further training

We are running 8 sessions of the same training course, please choose the best one for you.




22nd September

Room 7, March Community
34 Station Road, PE15 8LE

29th September

E-space North, 181
Wisbech Road,


12th October

The Meadows Community
1 St Catharine’s Road, CB4

St Neots

19th October

Cloisters Room, Priory
Priory Lane, PE19 2BH


2nd November

WSM Community Centre,
Beechings Close, PE13


9th November

The Beeches Community
32 Mill Street, CB7 5RY


23rd November

Medway Centre, Medway
Road, PE29 1SF

30th November

Melbourn Community
30 High Street, SG8 6DZ




All venues are accessible and have free car
parking available (with the exception of St Neots
which is pay and display).
Time: 10am to 3pm
Cost: Free including reimbursement of travel
expenses (please note your mileage/bring
We can also cover replacement PA
costs, please speak to us if you
need to apply for this.

Refreshments: A light lunch and hot and cold
drinks will be provided.
To book your place or for more information
please contact Tracey on 01284 592 418
(between 10am and 2pm) or email her at
Places are limited and will be allocated on a first
come, first served basis.
For more information please go to this web

A Word on Volunteering from the Carers
Partnership Board

leading to me starting a peer support group for
family carers.

We recently asked Sue Honour, the new Chair of
the Carers Partnership Board, to write something
for our Newsletter. We received a fantastic
article about volunteering, which you can read

My depression is much improved as is my feeling
of self worth. I feel my input to the Carers
Partnership Board and Carers Trust
Cambridgeshire are having an influence on both
local and national government. It may be a small
input in the grand scheme of things but knowing
that something I say could influence local and
national government policies is uplifting.

“I have been volunteering for a few years now
and it has been of huge benefit to my personal
At first I didn't think about volunteering as I am a
full time carer for my husband and daughter.

I would recommend volunteering to everyone, to
give something back to others is amazing. I can
not work, as along with my own health issues I
may need to be there for my husband or daughter
at short notice. The people I volunteer for know
my primary responsibility is to my cared for and I
put them first.
There are so many ways to volunteer; finding
something that fits your interests or something
you have a passion for could be the start of your
volunteering opportunity.”

Then someone approached me from Carers Trust
and asked if I would be a Volunteer Carers
Ambassador. Not sure if I could do it I decided to
give it a go. To my surprise I loved the work I was
doing for them and continue to do.
After a while I became aware of the Carers
Partnership Board and joined them as a carer
representative. I soon stepped up to the role of
Vice-chairman and with that role came regular
meetings with senior management from the
council and other organisations relating to health
and wellbeing.
I am amazed at the benefits to my personal
wellbeing, mental health and outlook on life

Sue Honour - Carers Partnership Board Chair

thank you to all of you who volunteer for us.
And if you’re reading this and would like to find
out more about volunteering, please do contact
our Development Officer, Graham Lewis.
Paul Taylor - Chair of the Board
Thanks to Our Volunteers at CAIL
With Volunteers Week 2016 being not too long
ago, it is timely in this edition of our newsletter to
reflect on the value of volunteers to CAIL.
CAIL’s The Board of Trustees – who are
themselves volunteers, of course – are ever
mindful of the contribution that volunteers make
to the work of our organisation. I know that
Alena, our CEO, and the staff team also know full
well just how important is the work of volunteers
to what we do.
There are so many things that we appreciate help
with, for example:
 Writing project and fundraising bids
 Helping out with general admin
 Supporting one of our projects such as:
 If you have lived experience of disability
you could also support the work of the
Partnership Boards, which bring together
independent members, voluntary sector
and statutory organisations. Each board’s
role is to support and improve social care
by including the people who use the
services (service users) in their design,
delivery and evaluation.
 If you are in receipt of Direct Payments
from Social Care to manage your own
care and support needs, would you be
interested in volunteering on our new
project ‘Voices4Choices’?
Every expression of volunteering matters to us.
So, on behalf of the Board I want to say a big

If you want to know more about volunteering for
CAIL please contact Graham by phone on 0300
111 2301 or by email on
From Humble Beginnings to Volunteering
with CAIL
Being called David, I started life as a boy (I am
now in long trousers) and quickly realised there
was more to life than football. But I took no
notice, until my dad showed me his "hand". After
that I kept on the straight and narrow, (no it
wasn't a canal boat).
When I left school my first job was in the Civil
Service. I was there for 4 years but soon found
out that if you wore a mini-skirt there was more
chance of promotion! And no, I didn't, so I left for
the accounts section at Eastern Gas Board (I
never did balance the books). Following that I
did a stint as a Postman. I only lasted 6 months.
The Union man told me to slow down whilst
delivering as I and others would be given extra
roads to deliver, (which I found quite
heavy). Shortly after that little episode I joined
Galloway and Porter, booksellers and spent
many happy years delivering books, stationery
and office equipment. I had to leave after 27
years owing to a back problem.
Be patient, I'm getting to the volunteering bit
I then referred myself to Qest, an employment
training centre for those with mental health
problems. It was there that Heather, an advisor,
took me under her wing and found me a position

with National Westminster Bank for 3 months. I
This is when my voluntary work started! I had a
worked 2 days a week, organising their mandates few weeks at Cross Border Arts (Wysing Arts)
filing system as none of the staff wanted to do it! mailing diaries and magazines. I was able to
return to CAB for 3 years carrying out various
Later, Heather had a phone call from the
admin work. Then followed Directions Plus (now
Personnel Manager for the Anglian section to say Disability Cambridgeshire) where I input data for
that after inspection of all mandates in the area,
the Directory on the website. I also went with
Cambridge were the best! I was then given
Gerri Bird to visit clients who had various access
another task, sending bank cards and pin
problems where I recorded details that Gerri
numbers to customers, this work went from a 3
needed to formulate a plan. After 14 years along
month stint to nearly 2 years! It was carried out
came Cambridgeshire Alliance for Independent
under the therapeutic earnings rule. A video was Living where I am now enjoying the company, the
made with myself and Heather to be used as
work and feel part of the team!
promotion material. Unfortunately it was never
used. Following that the offices relocated to
David Challis - CAIL Volunteer
CAIL and the Saga of the Cam Sight Quiz
I then went to Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB),
Marie Curie, (counting coins), a very short spell at On the 9th July Warren Wilson hosted a
a couple of Companies and Cambridgeshire
fundraising quiz and raffle evening at the Frank
County Council where I inputted data for the next Lee Centre within the grounds of Addenbrookes
publication of The Chamber of Commerce. I had Hospital in aid of Cam Sight. As Warren was a
to leave after 3 weeks because of a technicality
major part of ‘The Model Conversation’ and
raised by the Benefits Agency.
because it sounded like a generally all around fun
time, the CAIL crew donned their swankiest of
clothes and headed out for an evening of hardcore quiz question answerin’!
The first one on the scene was Alena, the big
boss lady herself, calm and cool as always. Then
came Beth, steady as a rock! Justin arrived a
few moments later, floppy hair and razor sharp
wit in tow. After a few minutes Mark made his
appearance looking smart and cool, a hustler
born. A few minutes after that Sally clocked in,
clearly itching to rock and roll. Finally, I arrived.
No fanfare as I sat at the table, none needed, I
was there and our team was ready to begin.
The questions came fast and hard but the CAIL
team kept it together and answered them with
rattlesnake speed and the professionalism that
you’d expect from crack team of quick-witted
qualified quiz question masters… (Mostly Justin
answered the questions). By the half way point
we were trailing the leading team by four whole

points! Did we lose our composure? Did we lose
our nerve? Did we heck! We plunged on with
the all the determination of an anxious aardvark
searching for an ant hill after an AC/DC

was being to show on even the most seasoned
veterans amongst us, but we managed to keep it
together and supported Beth to use her mad
math skills to make an informed guess. Both
CAIL and the other team gave very similar
guesses with the number of days being guessed
Finally the quiz ended and the scores were read at being only 10 apart, but which would be closer
out. We knew we would be near the top because to the accurate amount of days? We were all
of course we’re that awesome, but where at the
gripping the table so tightly our finger prints are
top would we be? The names of teams were
still etched into it.
rattled off, one after the other after the other, with
no mention of CAIL at all. Finally the three teams The winner was finally announced… and CAIL
with the highest scores were announced, we
came out as victorious again! We won the Cam
knew that we must be one of them. The first
Sight quiz! The room went wild as the cheers for
team was read out… it wasn’t us. We were in the us erupted in manic excitement; the quiz masters
final two, but were we first or second…? The
rightly praised us for our brilliance and we drank it
tension was palpable! Then it was announced
all up like the cool customers that we are.
that there was a tie for first place with us and
another team!
Moral of the story… always bet on CAIL!
The tie break question came… ‘How old is
Warren Wilson in days?’ By this point the strain

James Saunders - Communications
Development Officer

More Hellos and Goodbyes
In January 2012 I said goodbye to Papworth, the
hospital to be exact, where I had been for a
number of months. I had had a bilateral,
sequential, minimally invasive clamshell lung
transplant. In other words I had new lungs and
could breath without oxygen for the first time in
two years. Due to complications I couldn’t walk, I
couldn’t speak and I was still feeding mainly via a
nasogastric tube, but I was looking forward to
seeing what would happen next.

CAIL has changed significantly since then. Staff
have come and gone, new projects have been
created, and our team of volunteers has grown.
This year we have taken time to look at what we
do, how we do it and what we hope to achieve in
the future. We have spoken to individuals with

In January 2013 I said hello to Papworth again as
I drove to the village for my first day at work at
Cambridgeshire Alliance for Independent Living.
It was my first paid job after many, many years of
only being well enough to do bits and pieces on a
voluntary basis. I had no idea what to expect but
as soon as I met Sally and Nadeem I felt
welcomed and started to settle in at Pendrill

lived experience of disability, staff, trustees,
volunteers and funders and we have really
started to look ahead. The Trustees have now
written a 5 year Strategic Plan and we have a real
feeling of positivity for the future. Pendrill Court
has been a great home for the past few years and
has allowed us to grow at our own pace. We
would like to thank all of those with whom we
have shared our space for their support. We
would especially like to thank Liz Barratt and the
Varrier-Jones foundation for accommodating us
in so many ways.
In July 2016 I am saying goodbye to Papworth
again. As I write this I am in the midst of
organising a team of volunteers to help us pack
on up and move on out to pastures new. I have
had offers of help in many ways and even
donations towards the cost of moving. I would
like to thank all of those people, you know who
you are, we wouldn’t be able to do this without
From August 1st 2016 CAIL are official tenants of
Fen House Property Services in Chesterton. We

are really looking forward
to making our new space
our own. We would like
to say an enormous
thank you to Ian Litterick,
Geoff Whitworth and the
team at iansyst ltd for
being so incredibly
welcoming and helpful.
There are a few things I
will miss in Papworth, the
Norfolk Street Deli and
their ever cheerful staff,
the people who pop in
and see us and the free
parking when I have
hospital appointments!
The move however will
provide CAIL with a more
secure future and opens
up many new possibilities, and I for one am
looking forward to seeing what will happen next....
Our new address is:
Fen House
Fen Road
01223 436659
0300 111 2301

You can find us on social media:


We are also saying goodbye to our old logo
(above) and saying hello to our new logo (to the
bottom right).
All the web addresses for our social media
remain the same!




Copyright © 2016, Cambridgeshire Alliance for
Independent Living, All rights reserved.
Charity no: 1132290
Our mailing address is:

Alena Taylor - Chief Executive Officer