Opening soon – The Barn Cardington

Written by Jon Boswell on . Posted in Job vacancies, Latest News, Rural Development, Tastes of Bedfordshire, Volunteering, Warden Abbey Vineyard

BRCC is preparing to reopen the Summerhill Farm Shop in Cardington under a new name, The Barn Cardington, in October 2017.

The Barn Cardington will continue Summerhill’s commitment to high-quality local produce, and for the first time will enable customers to eat in as well as take away. The butchery will be provided by the award-winning Woburn Country Foods. A new bakery, OurDough CIC, will also be established on site.

We are seeking casual and seasonal shop floor staff and volunteers. For more information please contact Chris Fox.

BRCC opens new Mobility Hub in Bedford town centre

Written by Jon Boswell on . Posted in Community Transport, Latest News, Volunteering

Picture: Dave Hodgson hands over the keys for the Mobility Hub to Jon Boswell

BRCC’s new Mobility Hub in Bedford town centre opened on Monday 4th September. Based at Bedford bus station, this new hub will enable customers to hire a range of mobility equipment and access information on community-run transport services across the Borough.

The Mobility Hub is the result of a new agreement between Bedford Borough Council and Bedfordshire Rural Communities Charity (BRCC) to continue to provide Door to Door community transport services for people who have difficulty using or accessing public transport. The town centre mobility service will be delivered through a partnership with Bedford Shopmobility, which previously operated a mobility service from a unit in the Howard Centre.

Mayor of Bedford Borough, Dave Hodgson, said: “We’re delighted that this new facility has opened in the heart of Bedford town centre. The mobility hub will help people to get into and around the town centre, making it easier for them to access its amenities and excellent local businesses.’

Jon Boswell, BRCC Chief Executive, said: “We’re delighted to be working with Bedford Borough Council and Bedford Shopmobility to help people with mobility problems to get around Bedford. We are also keen to hear from anyone who would be interested in volunteering at the Hub.”

For more information please visit

BRCC cheers its volunteers in Central Bedfordshire

Written by Jon Boswell on . Posted in Good Neighbour Scheme, Latest News, Supporting Communities, Volunteering, Walking 4 Health

We are delighted that groups and volunteers supported by BRCC have been recognised by Central Bedfordshire Council at their third Cheering Volunteering awards, which took place at the Grove Theatre, in Dunstable, on the evening of 6 June.

The annual event is intended to thank the many volunteers and voluntary organisations across Central Bedfordshire for the often unheralded work they do to help others in their community.

Flitton & Greenfield Good Neighbours, part of BRCC’s Good Neighbour schemes Network, won the John Buxton Panel’s Choice Award.

Katie and Brian Juffs (pictured), leaders of our Walking 4 Health group in Arlesey, were Highly Commended under the same award.

Ex-BRCC Board member Michael Grant was a runner-up for the Lifetime Achievement Award.

You can find full details at

Tree planting in the Forest of Marston Vale

Written by Mike Fayers on . Posted in Green Infrastructure, Latest News, Supporting Communities, Volunteering

Get involved with a day of tree planting in the Forest of Marston Vale.

Come along any time between 11am and 3pm, on Sunday 12th Feb 2017, and help the Forest of Marston Vale reach its target of 6 million trees – all you need to bring is warm, waterproof clothes, and plenty of enthusiasm!

The Forest of Marston Vale will be supplying trees, tools and teas & coffees, so bring the whole family along to make a difference to the Forest, and plant something that will live for generations.

Free shuttle buses will be running throughout the day to the planting site in Cranfield, from the Forest Centre in Marston Moretaine.

For further information please contact:


Jo Roberts
Community Engagement Officer
Direct line: 01234 762608

Forest of Marston Vale, The Forest Centre, Station Road, Marston Moretaine, Bedford MK43 0PR
(For Sat Nav purposes, use MK43 0PS)

Tel: 01234 767037 │ Fax: 01234 762606 │ Web:

Evaluation of BRCC Good Neighbours Network project published by Nesta

Written by Jon Boswell on . Posted in Good Neighbour Scheme, Latest News, Volunteering

An independent evaluation report on a BRCC project to scale up its Good Neighbour scheme model to other rural areas has been published by Nesta, which funded the project through its Centre for Social Action Innovation Fund.

Some difficulties were experienced with the evaluation, as the project timescale of 15 months proved insufficient for project partners to set up new Good Neighbour schemes in time to gather any meaningful data concerning their impact.

Nevertheless, the report by respected consultancy Red Quadrant concluded that “The likelihood remains that Good Neighbour schemes can be shown to be both effective and economic in the space between household and statutory service provision, helping to reduce pressures on formal services and improve quality of life for people in need, while stimulating civic involvement. In a context where the themes of post-welfare resilience, reduced public sector funding and demographic change all resonate to create intense pressures for change in adult social care, it could be regarded as injudicious not to invest thoroughly in these schemes for the future.”

You can download the report here

BRCC’s Warden Abbey Vineyard featured on BBC Look East

Written by Jon Boswell on . Posted in Latest News, Volunteering, Warden Abbey Vineyard

Our Warden Abbey Community Vineyard project had a visit from a BBC crew yesterday in the glorious sunshine.

A two and a half minute snippet shown on BBC Look East that evening included short interviews with volunteers, Vineyard Manager Jane Markham and Master of Wine Derek Smedley, as well as footage of caring for the vines and a tasting of the ‘dosage’ for our 2014 sparkling wine, due to come out before Christmas.

You can still watch on the BBC iplayer until 7pm today at

New gardening service launched by the Bridge project

Written by Jon Boswell on . Posted in Latest News, Rural Development, The Bridge

The Bridge project in Luton, managed by BRCC, has launched Stockwood Gardening Services to offer high-quality gardening in the Luton area.

The Bridge was set up by BRCC with Luton Borough Council and others to provide volunteering, training and employment opportunities for people facing multiple barriers to employment. Stockwood Gardening Services will employ people who have developed gardening skills and experience within the project.

For more information visit the website or contact Chris Fox on 07801 233567 or at

Vine pruning – dark art or science? Workshop 13th February

Written by Jane Markham on . Posted in Latest News, Volunteering, Warden Abbey Vineyard

A new year and a new vintage in the making! Pruning is a great time for new volunteers to come along to BRCC’s Warden Abbey Community Vineyard. So if you’ve been thinking of volunteering, why not take the plunge and join our merry bunch at our regular Tuesday and Friday sessions?!  For those who can’t make weekdays, we’re also holding sessions on Sunday 31st January and Sunday 21st February.   Just contact vineyard manager Jane Markham on 07981 113714 or

New this year, we’re also running a vine pruning workshop “Vine Pruning – Dark Art or Science” on Saturday 13th February, which explores the art of grapevine pruning in more depth.  Maybe you have grapevines at home and would like to know more about pruning, or why the way you prune affects how much fruit you get? This day is for you! The workshop blends theory and practical experience, and goes into more depth than we can do at regular volunteer sessions.

Go to more information and booking

Frost in the vineyard

Frost in the vineyard

RevIVEL of the IVEL

Written by Cliff Andrews on . Posted in Biggleswade Green Wheel, Green Infrastructure, Ivel Valley Conservation Vols, Latest News

The Upper & Bedford Ouse Catchment Partnership (UBOCP) will be holding a community engagement day on Biggleswade Common on Sunday 13th September.

The event, which will run from 10.00am to 3.00pm will provide information on a wide range of issues, as well as a hands-on opportunity to support river restoration works on the River Ivel. Visitors are welcome to pop in at any time, for as long or short as they wish. Information on topics such as water quality, angling, invasive non-native species, habitat conservation and rivers restoration techniques will be available. Members of the public who want to roll their sleeves up will be able to assist in constructing willow bundles which will be used to help protect sections of riverbank against erosion.

Bedfordshire Rural Communities Charity and the Environment Agency, both key members of UBOCP, will host the event, which will be located where the River Ivel is joined by Bells Brook – approximately 400m (5 minutes walk) north of the Dan Albone Car Park.

BRCC’s Cliff Andrews says ‘We hope to have a large tank with some of our local river fish; and also a 3D river model which can demonstrate erosion and deposition processes. I’m really looking forward to that’.

The practical works being undertaken are part of a series of enhancements being undertaken with funding that UBOCP secured from the Catchment Partnership Action Fund. Further works to be undertaken on the Ivel at Biggleswade common over the coming months include re-profiling of the most-eroded sections of bank, fencing, tree planting and the provision of designated cattle drinking areas.

For more information about the event contact:

For more information about the Upper & Bedford Ouse Catchment Partnership, please visit


BRCC wins national Fundraising Innovation award

Written by Jon Boswell on . Posted in Volunteering, Warden Abbey Vineyard

BRCC has won the Fundraising Innovation category of the first ever Grow your Tenner awards, run by Localgiving. This award recognises the charity that ran the most effective, unique and inspired fundraising campaign to make the most out of Grow Your Tenner in 2014.

Grow Your Tenner is an online donations matching scheme, matching donations of up to £10. We used it as an opportunity to run a “Donate a Vine” campaign, where supporters were encouraged to make a £10 donation towards planting new vines at Warden Abbey Community Vineyard. The campaign was promoted via email, web, social media, wine trade press and staff email signatures.

The campaign raised over £2,000 for the project from 89 new donors. This enabled over 200 vines to be planted, the first at the vineyard since it was first planted almost 30 years ago.

The vines were planted on 17 and 19 May 2015.  Vineyard Manager Jane Markham said at the time: “The new planting of over 200 vines is a big milestone for the restoration of this historic vineyard. We were delighted that Charles Whitbread was able to join us on one of our planting days, as this made a lovely link to Lady Whitbread’s original vision of restoring the medieval vineyard when she planted vines at Warden Abbey back in 1986.  All our volunteers did an amazing job to get it all planted up despite all that the weather threw at us this week.”

You can find more information about the Grow your Tenner awards, including more information about our successful campaign, here.

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