Reports and Updates about the activities of the Fund

The annual fund-raising event of the Secret Gardens of St Ives took place over the weekend of June 10th and 11th. A wonderful £2,700 was raised from ticket sales, refreshments and donations.

Twelve gardens opened their gates this year. Amongst the new ones was a quirky wildlife haven behind Salubrious House and an immaculately landscaped garden up the Belyars. Talland House, childhood holiday home of Virginia Woolf, was a popular draw with people keen to see how gardeners Polly and Nick are replanting in the spirit of Woolf’s writings.

The trustees are particularly grateful to the garden owners who worked so hard, the volunteers and to the committee – Marina, Devinder, Alison and Tamsyn – who made it happen.

Anyone who is interested in opening their garden in the Summer of 2024, please email or ring 01736 795695. It’s an opportunity to meet all sorts of interesting new people and many old friends..



Annual Report of the St Ives Community Fund 2022

2022 was a busy year for the Fund which was hardly surprising given the economic climate. The trustees dealt with nearly 50 applications from individuals in need of financial help, and gave £1000 to the local Foodbank. Most of the applicants were simply struggling with everyday costs, especially as energy prices rose. Some had problems while they waited for Universal Credit payments to come through; a few had broken appliances which they could not afford to replace; and we gave two newly-homeless men the money to catch the train to a place where they had found work. As with previous years, we welcomed referrals from third parties such as a Family Support Worker, a Social Worker, the Social Prescribing Officer at the surgery, the Community Orchard and the local Food Share project. As one recipient wrote, even a small amount was ‘more than enough to make a big difference’. 


Most of the applications came during the winter months, and such was the number of applications that in the month leading up to Christmas that the trustees decided to review the way in which we help people. Faced with an application, the trustees have always tried to differentiate between financial difficulty and genuine hardship. Given that we are a small fund run by volunteers, the onset of applications became unmanageable and we realised that we were being expected to plug the failings of the benefit system and the cost of living crisis for an unmanageable number of people. Some applicants were making repeat applications rather than coping in a more sustainable way. We have always seen our grants as giving people breathing space in a specific crisis, so that they can seek out
other forms of help, but that did not seem to be happening. As such at the end of the year, the trustees decided to tweak policy and in future to accept applications only through a third party. This way we hope that we can use our limited resources in a more purposeful way to help those in genuine need. Our policy of asking for very little paperwork remains the same so that help can be as swift as possible. The intention is to make the fund even better known to different agencies. 


Alongside this, we are launching a new website. Our old website was embarrassingly out of date and difficult to manage so this will make a real difference to the way in which the Fund functions. Also we have now produced a sheet with information about other sources of financial support. We have always tried to point applicants in the direction of other means of help but it will be useful to have one at hand to distribute. It will be regularly updated. 


Every year we hold a public meeting at which the Annual Report is presented. This year the speaker was the Social Prescribing Officer at the Stennack Surgery, Dave Nathan, who enlightened the audience with the ways in which his work helps people to become ‘healthy’ through social interaction, physical exercise or mental stimulation. This year Dave has applied to the Fund on behalf of a few people, be it to stock up on food or to set up digital help for someone who is confined to her house. 


The Fund could not operate without generous donations from individuals and businesses, including ever important standing orders, for which we remain very grateful. One couple donated their £400 Government Energy Grant and wrote to the local paper encouraging others to do the same. This year our treasurer applied but failed to get a grant through the National Grid Fuel Poverty Award. Our most important fund-raising event of the year remains the Secret Gardens of St Ives and this year it raised nearly £3000. So many people get pleasure from exploring the town in this way so thank you to the gardeners who opened their gates to the public and to the volunteers who helped. The date for 2023 has been fixed for the weekend of June 10-11th.