The Cambridgeshire Red Cross first purchased a Minibus for Histon & Impington in 1976 using a Bequest from a village resident Miss Muncey to “benefit the elderly in the village community”. In 1991 the funds were so depleted that the Histon Feast stepped in with a major donation to buy a new bus and a mileage charge was introduced to help ensure the bus meet its running costs.
In 1997 the Cambridgeshire Red Cross undertook a strategy review and were unable to guarantee the future of the bus. Recognising the need to retain the valuable community facility and the opportunity to develop it two village residents Keith Palmer and Neil Davies led an initiative in 1998 to form the charity Histon & Impington Community Minibus to take over the ownership and operation of the minibus from the Red Cross, and the remaining funds in the Bequest were also transferred to the new charity.
The current 15 seat minibus was purchased in 2008 principally with grant funding from SCDC and the National Lottery plus generous support from the Histon Feast who have been closely involved with the minibus for over a quarter of a century.
The minibus is principally used in the week to take older residents to exercise activities, various clubs, shopping trips, attend doctor’s appointments and outings. At weekends and in the evenings the minibus is available for general use by village groups.
Village Older Persons Coordinator initiative
In 2010 a Charity Trustee Neil Davies put forward the vision of a Village Older Persons Coordinator (VOPC) to help enhance the quality of life for older residents in the villages of Histon & Impington through:
- reducing loneliness and isolation
- improving take up of existing services
- supporting current voluntary initiatives and encourage new initiatives
- acting as a catalyst to help increase volunteer numbers and capacity within the villages
The initiative has been a considerable success with much credit to Jean Newman who has been the Coordinator since the scheme was launched five years ago. A new assistant role was created in January 2016 and Paul Seekings is currently in post.
Mental Wellbeing Initiative
HICOM became directly involved in the Village Mental Health forum in late 2015 and was used as the organising vehicle for the Village Mental Wellbeing Week held in April 2016. During the week a survey, completed by 162 people, identified the need to increase activity and for a focal point. The forum decided to progress a new proactive community engagement role of a ‘village mental wellbeing champion’.
The main objectives are:
- Increase mental wellbeing awareness and break down barriers in the villages
- Assist with early intervention and prevention through new community initiatives
- Provide signposting and advocate for support services
HICOM through its experience with the Older Persons Coordinator initiative and involvement with the April Week was identified as complementary fit through which to progress the Village Mental Wellbeing Champion role initiative. Two year project funding of £30,000 has been achieved.