Agenda item


To receive petitions, comments and questions from the public.


The Chair invited the following public participants to provide a verbal overview to support their grant applications:


·         Ms Amanda Hourmand – Home-Start Royston, Buntingford and South Cambs

·         Ms Laraine Upton – Royston Community First Responders

·         Ms Carole Kaszak – Royston Choral Society



Audio recording – 3 minutes 29 seconds


The Chair invited Ms Amanda Hourmand to give a verbal presentation for Home-Start Royston, Buntingford and South Cambridgeshire in support of their grant application. Ms Hourmand thanked the Chair for the opportunity and highlighted:


·         This was the 39th year of Home Start offering support in this area, through both home visits and specialist family support groups.

·         There was a necessity to work in partnership with others, such as GPs and schools, who make referrals to the service, but there had been an increase in families contacting the service directly, usually with concerns around poor mental health, drug abuse and domestic abuse.

·         They have also begun to support families facing financial difficulties with the cost of living.

·         Demand for the service had continued to grow in Royston and the surrounding villages and without the early support provided there would be further issues for the family, such as family breakdown or child abuse.

·         The service had been provided match funding from County Councillors Locality Budgets.

·         Families using the service meeting with a volunteer once a week and are provided with non-judgemental and free support, which is tailored to the needs of the family.

·         Covid was still having an impact on the scheme and was causing issues with staff and volunteers.

·         The service needed to raise £200k to meet family demand and cover costs and this application was part of ongoing fundraising, including from other organisations and additional fundraising events.


The following Members asked questions:


·         Councillor Ruth Brown

·         Gerald Morris


In response to questions Ms Hourmand advised:


·         The service is not provided with any core funding.

·         The cost of providing a child with support from Home Start was £37.85 per week, compared with £3331 per week for a child in care, according to a House of Commons report in April 2019.

·         In the last 39 years Home Start had developed good relationships with partner agencies and this is the main way people access the service. Recently there had been an increased social media presence and this is believed to have contributed to the increase in the number of self-referrals to the service.

·         Home Start UK is a national organisation, but the local Home Start schemes are financially independent. The local Home Start schemes follow the benchmarks of Home Start UK.

·         Home Start offered a different service to those provided by statutory agencies, such as in home visits, but as budgets are cut at statutory services, Home Start has started to take some of these families on.

·         The aim of the service is to work alongside the family to help them do what they need to do to achieve their goals.


Herts County Councillor Fiona Hill noted that an application could be made to the Buntingford County Councillor’s Locality Budget, as the scheme covered that area too.


The Chair thanked Ms Hourmand for the presentation and invited Ms Carole Kaszak to give a verbal presentation for Royston Choral Society in support of their grant application. Ms Kaszak thanked the Chair for the opportunity and highlighted:


·         The group had managed to approve a safeguarding policy in time to present at this meeting.

·         The lockdown meant that the society could not meet in person and although they reformed in September 2021, they could still not rehearse of perform in the Royston church.

·         Following the reforming of the group around 40 people returned and a trial concert was held at the church in Standon.

·         This application was to support with the costs of the major concert the groups will put on and this will be a performance of ‘The Creation’ by Hyden.

·         The group had now managed to return to the church in Royston for practices.

·         The society commits to hold four concerts a year and there is usually one which requires a soloist or orchestra to support the members of the group.

·         They are a registered charity and have received funding from Herts County Councillor’s Locality Budgets to support the concert, which was expected to cost around £5-6k.

·         The groups accounts are almost as they were before the pandemic, due to limited ability to perform during the lockdowns.

·         They cover a whole range of musical genres, it is not limited to classical music. 


In response to questions from Councillor Gerald Morris Ms Upton advised that there were around 60 people attending the society from the community. Not all attendees are from Royston and the surrounding villages, but many were and the Choral Society acted as the ‘town choir’. They had previously been granted funding from the Committee in 2016 and 2018, but found it too difficult to establish and run an online meeting during the pandemic.


The Chair thanked Ms Kaszak for the presentation and invited Ms Laraine Upton to give a verbal presentation for Royston Community First Responders in support of their grant application. Ms Upton thanked the Chair for the opportunity and highlighted:


·         The First Responders were made up of 6 volunteers and was part of the East of England Ambulance Service.

·         The role of the First Responders is to be sent to the most urgent 999 calls within the community they are in to assist with the incident, usually before an ambulance is sent to the scene.

·         The Royston First Responders were in two teams of 3 people, with a fully stocked bag for each team, with medical supplies such as AED, sucrose machines, bandages, etc.

·         Each bag has a communication device included, but only one of the bags has a smart phone which has an app installed which manages jobs, tracks responders and acts as a silent alarm to alert police and other crew. The other phone is a Nokia pay-as-you-go which is not suitable for the technology.

·         The First Responders are also able to support people who have fallen in the community, with a raiser chair to lift people back onto their feet, but there is only one of these and it was hoped the team could fundraise in the future for a second chair.

·         This application was for a new phone to be included with the second bag.

·         The responders are all volunteers and there is no financial support provided by the East of England Ambulance Trust. This included new uniforms, which had to be paid for by responders, and the funding for uniform forms part of this application.

·         There had been funding provided from Herts County Councillors Steve Jarvis and Fiona Hill. 


The following Members asked questions:


·         Councillor Tony Hunter

·         Councillor Gerald Morris

·         Councillor Ruth Brown

·         Councillor Chris Hinchliff


In response to questions Ms Upton advised:


·         The number of people treated by the First Responders had risen so far this year, with a further rise in the last month with the team now responding to category 1, 2 and 3 999 calls.

·         The team are all laymen with no medical experience, other than a little training, and have other jobs outside of being a First Responder.

·         The group is on call all year, at any time of day.

·         They have tried to recruit further volunteers and adverts have gone out for this, but the volunteers have to be within the community they serve.

·         Call handlers in Bedford would alert the Community First Responders when there is a 999 call they are required to attend.

·         The raiser chair would cost around £4k and is put together around the fallen person, which then assists with lifting them up to their feet.

·         The Trust provides everything in the first bag, but volunteers have to pay for all items in the second bag.

·         Training is paid for by volunteers themselves.


The Chair thanked Ms Upton for the presentation.


Herts County Councillor Fiona Hill noted that the contributions from Locality Budgets had been provided from both herself and Councillor Steve Jarvis.