Admin Assistant

Are you looking for office experience?  Do you have a keen interest in environmental issues?  Could you volunteer your time 3 mornings a week for 3 to 6 months for a small, friendly environmental charity in Cambridge?

You would be:

  • Dealing with events bookings
  • Dealing with phone and email enquiries
  • Inputting data
  • Managing newsletter sign-ups
  • Maintaining parts of our website (for which training would be given in WordPress)
  • Occasional postering around the town
  • Other sundry  tasks as required

We are looking for someone:

  • Well-organised
  • Reliable and committed
  • With good communication skills, both written and verbal
  • Basic IT skills (we can provide some training)

You would be working alongside our Volunteer and Events organiser and the CCF Co-ordinator, plus our board of five Trustees.

Previous Admin Assistants have found appropriate paid work (at Addenbrookes, The Green Party, Oxfam, and the Marriage Foundation), following on from their useful experience with us.  Here’s a quote from a former Admin Assitant: “I improved my skills and learned several new ones. Volunteering at CCF was a brilliant way to get life and personal experience. It means that I am now more open to learn from others, to meet a diverse range of people and it made me more confident. I am sure that these four months have helped me to give my best at my [successful] work interview.”

If interested, please send your CV and a covering letter to Alana Sinclair (

Deadline: Close of business Thursday 7th of March.

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Warm Homes in Trumpington: DIY workshop

One of the most popular parts of our successful Warm Homes in Trumpington day on November 10th was the DIY workshop by Tom Bragg, which focused on straightforward ways we can reduce our carbon emissions and energy bills ourselves, through simple things such as fitting foil behind radiators, lagging hot water pipes and fitting draught excluders. Tom had already been invited to run this hands-on workshop in other places and Trumpington residents who missed the day were keen to have another chance. The workshop took place at the Trumpington Pavillion, Paget Road, CB2 9JF.

The event was very practical and interactive.

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Gardening in February – Feeling the financial squeeze? Time to get out into the garden!

By Keith Jordan

After what seems a long winter, I finally emerged from hibernation during a brief mild spell and visited my allotment. I started sorting out my (growing number of) of compost heaps – time to spread the good well-rotted material around fruit bushes, leeks, broccoli and Swiss chard. The worms will drag this down into the soil just as the roots of plants are becoming active again and needing nutrients. Any un-composted material is returned back to the heap for further decomposition.

This year I’m intending to make a much bigger attempt to grow more things, increase continuity and increase yields. The nutrient-rich compost will really help with the latter. It was great to see so many people at the Grow Your Own Year Round Workshop on 7 January. We touched on so many produce-growing issues but hopefully you picked up some useful tips. Just keep persevering, experimenting and reading up on the subject!

Like many people today I’m increasingly feeling the ‘financial squeeze’. My income is not keeping pace with inflation and, with no salary increase for a couple of years (just some personal tax reductions), I’m having to live on less money. The week after I get paid, a third of my salary has gone (regular bills/ standing orders) and the rest flows out at an alarming rate in the next 3 weeks on food, transport and general household things. Weeks 3 and 4 after pay day (depending on dental and other one-off bills) can be frugal. In addition to dwindling revenue money, my savings are minimal so no chance for any more home energy conservation improvements. Making, mending and using things wisely can certainly minimise outgoings but I know one area where I can still make inroads – growing more food.

My growing children are eating more and with inflation (on the increase) our food bills have been growing rapidly (has become my biggest monthly outgoing!) so this is big target area for me, and could be for many others. Although my children crave processed foods and snacks they always love rich soups and stews containing ‘hidden veg’ – a variety of healthy root crops and pulses! I’ve taken on extra allotment half plot (£9 rent) that comes with a thicket of wild blackberries. With some pruning and training these should give an excellent crop from August onwards and make fine pies with the apples that start to become ready then.

Here are just some other seasonal tips for growing more:

  • Keep your plot simple and tidy (slugs and snails love damp areas and hiding places).
  • Grow more vulnerable crops (salad /leafy crops) in the middle of your plot, furthest from any mollusc hiding places (e.g. hedge or compost heap)
  • Don’t sow all your seeds from one packet in one go (‘put all your eggs in one basket’) to guard against failure due to pests or harsh spring weather. Observe the growth of weed seedlings…if they are growing then it indicates the soil is warming up, so start to sow hardy crops a little & often.
  • Select winter-hardy broad beans and peas to sow early outside. You can pre-sprout bigger seeds (on damp tissue) to speed up, but plant before the emerging roots become long. This is a good way to check if any old seeds are still viable.
  • Seed packets give a lot of information, but if the weather is too cold or wet, delay sowing even if it says February! Parsnips are one of the first seeds to sow outside in February, as they need a long growing season. Shallots and onion sets can go in as soon as the soil dries out.
  • Prune autumn fruiting raspberries (those that crop from August) right down to the grown now.
  • Still time to plant fruit bushes and trees (up to about mid-March) – good investment if you are staying put for a few years.
  • Maximise your compost making (best source of plant nutrients, soil improver, water retention agent, etc.) – composting everything from shreaded paper, cardboard, tissues, leaves, veg peelings, grass cuttings, soft hedge prunings, leaves, rabbit/guinea pig litter, weeds, etc.


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Mill Green Brewery Tour

This tour of Mill Green Brewery (“possibly the greenest brewery in England”) was perfectly timed to coincide their Dark Ale Days beer festival, giving CCFer’s the opportunity to sit out in the sun after the tour and sample some real ales while listening to live music.

Mill Green Brewery is a multi award-winning forward-thinking, but traditional brewery, using green technologies and local resources in brewing their beer. Check out some of Mill Green’s green credentials:

  • The brewery building was built using local wood, reclaimed bricks, sheeps wool, and lime plaster.
  • The brewing liquor is heated using bio and solar power.
  • A 3000 litre storage tank is constantly heated by our solar panels and is then topped up to brewing temperature by a high efficiency wood boiler. (All the wood coming from a local Suffolk Wildlife Trust wood).
  • They have a field 3 miles away in Chelsworth where they grow a large amount of our own malting barley and hops.
  • A 6kw 9m wind turbine is situated on the campsite and helps provide electricity for the site.
  • The used grains are fed to local cattle, and the hops spread on the White Horse’s beer garden hedge.
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February 2013 newsletter: Volunteer opportunities and low carbon cooking in February

Open Eco Homes is on again on 15th and 23rd June, and we are already looking for people willing to open their homes! We’re looking for houses that have undergone significant renovations or have been designed and built to be environmentally friendly. Homes should preferably be in Cambridge itself. Information about the event and last years homes are available at

The dates for the Milton Road Carbon Conversations group have now changed and it will run Wednesdays on February 6th, 20th, 27th, March 13th and 27th from 7.30pm – 9.30pm with the date for the 6th meeting to be decided by the group. If you would like to experience Carbon Conversations, which the Guardian called one of the ‘best 20 climate solutions’, get in touch with the office.

We have several exciting volunteer vacancies available, so if you can spare a couple of hours a week and would like to join our friendly team, read more below or on our website.

Cambridge City Council and the other Cambridgeshire Councils have been awarded funding to provide a limited number of free Green Deal Home Energy Efficiency Assessments to residents. Find out more below.

Continue reading

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Open Eco Homes Admin Assistant

CCF is looking for an enthusiastic and detail-oriented person to assist with admin related to Open Eco Homes 2013. You would join our friendly office team one half-day a week (flexible).

Duties would include:

– making minor adjustments and updates to the website (training provided),

– helping to edit case studies, press releases and other materials associated with the event,

– posting the event information online, on Local Secrets,

– posting information to recruit volunteers online,

– possible help with putting up posters around Cambridge,

– assisting with the organisation of June launch event,

– taking bookings for home visits,

– other sundry tasks as required.

Training will be provided for all aspects of the position, and you will have resources from 3 previous years of this event, as well as support from our office staff. Reasonable expenses will be covered. If interested, please send your CV and a cover letter to We are looking to recruit someone as soon as possible.

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Sustainable Food Blog Coordinator Vacancy

CCF is looking for an in-office volunteer to work voluntarily 3-5 hours or one half-day a week with our sustainable food blog. Our food blog thus far has been a series of blogs by various writers reflecting on their experiences as they challenged themselves to eating local for a period of time, and to eat local on a budget of £21 per week. The blogs which have been written over the past year and a half are listed here: It would be part of your role to organise these blogs for clarity and to ensure the blog continues on with new and fresh material, as well as increasing readership. Our work in Local Food has received a great deal of media attention over the past year and we are excited to see it continue and grow in new directions.

Duties will include:

  • Contributing to the blog with original posts
  • Recruiting writers for the blog, ensuring a wide variety of topics are covered
  • Ensuring the blogs are kept tidy, links working, etc.
  • Pulling out resources associated with the blog (eg. recipes, list of seasonal vegetables, grow your own tips) and posting them on the resources section of our website.
  • Increasing readership of the blog through publicity and making connections within the sustainable food community.

You will be given full training on how to update and use our website, which utilizes wordpress, and any other necessary training related to the role. You will be working closely with the Volunteer and Events Organiser in office, and occasionally with trustees.

You should;

  • Passionate about sustainable food and have a fairly good idea of what that means (but also be very willing to learn more!)
  • Have keen attention to detail
  • Excellent written communication skills
  • Be willing to meet new people and make connections all over Cambridge and the region
  • Live in or near Cambridge as you will primarily be working from our office in Cambridge.

To apply please send the following to Stephanie Ferguson, Volunteer and Events Organiser at

  • A cover letter that highlights why you are interested in the position and what you would bring to the position and our organisation.
  • CV.
  • If you have written any previous blogs on any subject, or have another sample of your writing available, please provide links to the blogs or attachments.

We are looking to recruit someone as soon as possible. The post advertisment will remain open until we find the right person!


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January 2013 newsletter: Carbon Conversations and Low-Carbon Cooking in January

Our January Carbon Conversations groups are starting soon, but there is still time to book your place! Get in touch soon to find out more about finding your own, personal ways of cutting your carbon footprint.

Have you ever noticed the varied ways climate change is discusses in the media? If so, and you’d like to find out more about how media affects the way people view climate change and climate scientists, join us to hear Dr Rosie Robison talk about climate change in the media at Anglia Ruskin University on 22 January.

In January and February Cambridge hosts several opportunities to learn more about climate friendly food from different perspectives. We are organising a vegetarian cooking workshop on 17 January and a networking event for people interested or involved in local food on 12 February. Additionally, Sally Fenn, a CCF volunteer, is running a sustainable cooking course this January in Sawston. Now is a good time to learn to cook delicious, sustainable food!
Continue reading

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Clothes Swapping Party (Swish)

UnitarianIMG_4420 Memorial Church, 5 Emmanuel Rd, Cambridge, CB1 1JW

CCF are partnering with Ladybirds WI to bring Cambridge it’s very own Clothes Swap party. Bring your unloved garments and swap them for some pre-loved treasures on Sat 14th November. Bring your items in at 2.00pm and enjoy tea and cake whilst a team organises a swapping bonanza that’ll kick off at 2.30pm.

2.000pm: Drop off your clothes, shoes, accessories

2.30pm: The swap opens and will end at 3.30pm

Entry is free – though donations are very welcome . This event is a fundraiser for the WI and CCF. All excess goods will be donated to charity.

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Booking a thermal imaging camera

1. Check the 2 calendars below to see when the cameras are free. NB: they’re now kept in different locations to suit more borrowers. Click an individual entry for more details of pick up/drop off times.

2. Make note of which camera you would like to book and on which dates you would like to book it. We ask that wherever possible, and certainly during busy times borrowers limit their borrowing time to 2-3 days, unless it’s for many surveys.

3. To book: email saying which camera you would like to book and the dates you would like to book it for. Or phone the CCF office on 01223 301842.

4. Collecting & Returning
Camera 1, our original Fluke TIR,
is available to be picked up and dropped off, by arrangement, from CCF office: normally Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm – phone 01223 301842.

If this doesn’t work, sometimes it can be arranged to pick it up from/drop it off to another surveyor who’s using the camera before/after you.

Camera 2, our newer Fluke TIR015 can be picked up and dropped off, by arrangement, with Jason Palmer:  from Cambridge Architectural Research: normally Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm – phone 01223 460475.

These thermal imaging cameras may only be borrowed by trained surveyors.
Please check this thermal imaging page for details of upcoming training sessions.

Booking calendars


See: Useful resources on using the cameras

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Warm Homes in Trumpington in Cambridge News

15 November 2012 – Under the headline “Trumpington residents take the lead in energy saving” the Cambridge News promoted our Warm Homes in Trumpington event on the 10th of November, which got excellent feedback from those attending. Read the article here.

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November 2012 newsletter: Warm homes in November

Do come to our big home energy event in Trumpington on November 10th – there is something for everyone, whether you live in Trumpington or not: DIY and “no cost energy savings” workshops,  films made with local residents, house visits, talks from sustainability experts, children’s activities. With energy prices constantly on the rise, this is not to be missed!

In mid-November, we are delighted to have Molly Scott Cato discuss the role of local economies in the progress towards a more sustainable lifestyle. A few days later, on 20th November, we’ll have a practical introduction to one side of local, sustainable communities, as our expert panel shares their experiences in starting a community garden.
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Videos of Home Energy Improvements

There are more on Open Eco Homes

Paula improved her Edwardian semi with under-floor and interior insulation, using celotex and aerogel – and more:

Patricia Langton’s Victorian “2-up, 2-down” now has with internal insulation, double-glazed sash windows, woodstove & solar PV:

Judith Green and her family have a Victorian terraced house, improved with carefully chosen high-tech, re-used and sustainable materials:

For details of materials Judith used, see her “Ross Street” case Study at Open Eco Homes

Dave‘s improved his mid-terrace ex-council house with loft insulation and many DIY improvements. Now he’s got Solar thermal and PV too. Anne Cooper of AC Architects suggests some further improvements:

Hellen and her family have a terraced council house with cavity wall insulation and some in the loft. The council have recently installed two extractor fans, but will they help solve Hellen’s problem with mould?

Dave and Ceri‘s well-insulated end-terrace house has a solar store, heated by a woodstove and solar thermal, plus gas when needed.  Also solar PV and a wind-turbine. They talk about getting the best out of their home and its renewables.

John and his family have a semi-detached home that they’ve improved with cavity wall and loft insulation and also solar PV.  Nicola Terry discusses these and some ventilation problems.

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Newsletter October 2012: Sustainability skills and ceilidh in October!

Our great SkillsFest is this Saturday – no need to book, just show up on the day to learn new, exciting skills towards a sustainable future!

If you haven’t experienced our Carbon Conversations yet, you still have time to sign up to one of the groups this autumn. We are also training new facilitators this autumn, so if you have already taken part and would like to facilitate groups yourself, get in touch!

Later this month we are organising a ceilidh. Our ceilidhs have always been great fun with lots of dancing and great music, so join us for truly amazing evening! We are also looking for some volunteers to give us a hand, so if you’d like to help, read more below.

To read about our highly successful celebration of local food, with talks from local producers and feedback from a panel of Eating Local participants, see here.
Continue reading

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Gardening in October – Skills to adapt to changing climate

by Keith Jordan

A huge area of low pressure sits over the UK as I write (25th Sept.) bringing flooding and strong winds to many parts of Britain, especially northern areas. Warm wet air from the tropics dumped up to 100mm of rain in some areas – a month’s worth in one go! Our rainfall in Cambridge the day before was more modest but saw the end to a month with little or no rain…the latest ‘block’ of weather.

2012 has been memorable for this alternate drought – heavy rain/flood regime, with serious affects on the human population (e.g. flooding), nature reserves and wildlife (e.g. nesting waders flooded out on the Ouse Washes) and even gardens (plants affected by extreme conditions and gardens flooded in some areas).

Several weeks of cool, dull weather in early summer decimated many insects, including bees, butterflies and pollinating insects, leading to poor pollination of many apple trees and other crops. Blight, rusts and other fungal diseases associated with damp conditions have brought problems for gardeners making it a very challenging year. Having said that, there always benefits from abundant rain – notably leafy crops (well, those that survive slug and snail predation), soft fruit crops and anyone trying to establish or renovate a lawn. Hedgehogs, blackbirds and song thrushes have enjoyed the periods of wet weather since their main food, worms, have prospered.

If periods of drought interspersed with sudden deluges are to become the norm, we need to adapt our gardening skills as well. Saving water, mulching plants and reducing evaporation from the soil will have to go hand in hand with trying to nurture plants through cold, wet periods and collecting rainwater when the ‘monsoons’ arrive.

An abundance of rain at times of year when parts of garden plots or allotments are plant free – such as in October after harvesting crops – can result in leaching of many soluble nutrients out of the reach of plants with shallow roots, leading to poor plant growth, lower yields and nutrient deficiencies. Vacant land can be sown with fast growing green manure seeds now – mustard, phacelia, winter tares, rye, horse beans – just like weed seeds (dandelions, grasses, etc.), that will be germinating quickly now after the soil is moist again. Green manures grown densely will suppress the growth of the weeds, absorb water and nutrients that might be otherwise washed down into ground water. The plants can then be dug in (before they flower) helping to build up the soil fertility and water-retaining properties of your soil.

Deeper rooting plants can tap into the ‘washed out’ nutrients …hence the use of comfrey, with long tap roots, to make a rich plant nutrient feed from their leaves. Some of these tips will be demonstrated at the forthcoming Skills Fest.

As leaves drop from deciduous plants it’s a signal that it’s the start of the period (Oct to March) to plant fruit bushes, trees and shrubs. With their deeper roots they’ll help to draw up nutrients that have been washed out of reach of shallower-rooting plants. It is time to make sure apples, potatoes, root crops, pumpkins and squashes are stored properly to see them through the winter. With the right varieties and some skill you can keep some well into April next year! Again more tips available at the ‘Grow Your Own’ stall at the Skills Fest.

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