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Helping Cambridgeshire companies to make a positive social difference

By Ben Comber

Michael OToole - Cambridge Community Foundation. Picture: Keith Heppell
Michael OToole - Cambridge Community Foundation. Picture: Keith Heppell

There's a growing desire within companies to help their communities, according to the new CEO of Cambridgeshire Community Foundation.

Cambridgeshire Community Foundation (CCF) connects dozens of donors with causes that matter to them.

Michael O’Toole, formerly the Crown representative for the voluntary sector, has taken the helm of CCF. He says that Cambridgeshire companies are incresingly seeking connections with the communities that they operate within, and he says there are better ways to achieve change than the “top-down” measures taken by some national charities and government organisations.

He said: “It’s about helping local communities make a difference for themselves.

“One of the real strengths of community foundations is that we bring together people who want to make a positive social difference in their area and through our understanding of what the needs are in Cambridge and Cambridgeshire, we can help them match their goodwill and funding to projects on the ground which are going to make the biggest difference.

“It helps their reputations and improves the way their staff feel about working for them, so it can be good for them.

“It’s not just companies, we have lots of individuals and families who support CCF. We try to understand what they’re interested in. People often think of Cambridgeshire as pretty uniform in terms of the needs that different communities face, but between the city and some of the more rural areas there are really different challenges.”

Early years development has been a focus for CCF over the past year.

This year CCF is the charity partner of Chariots of Fire relay, one of the county’s most popular annual fundraising events, organised by Hewitsons Charitable Trust.

The beneficiary this year will be the High Sheriff Award Scheme which gives grants via CCF to encourage young people to take part in local activities that benefit others.

Mr O’Toole said: “The High Sheriff’s Award Scheme can make a difference for their communities but it’s also really good for young people to develop through the programme.”

CCF is looking for volunteers to help run the event on September 16.

Last year 340 local businesses took part, raising £63,140 for Alzheimer’s Research UK.

To find out more or enter a team visit www.chariots-of-fire.co.uk


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