I have personally been associated with Camtrust since Camtrust’s trust deed was incorporated back in 1993. In previous years I was privileged to be a working Trustee of a local Cambridge disabled group whereby some two hundred and sixty families were supported by the group. The local Cambridge group was affiliated to a national society but had its own constitution and articles of association.
During the latter years with the group I instigated a feasibility study with all members, at that point we were supporting families within a wide radius of Cambridge covering the Fen’s and bordering Essex and Hertfordshire. We were at that point seeing many changes within the disability sector both nationally and locally, day centres and residential centres were closing through lack of funding. The future for those needing the service was looking grim as our National Societies thinking was “integration into society” independent living in the community.
The result of the feasibility confirmed the thoughts of the group, there was a desperate need for “Further Education” at that particular time in Cambridgeshire there were adequate day centres that would cover the occupational aspect for those with disabilities and learning difficulties. Nowhere was there was a provision for further education. Basically when the children were sixteen, their state education finished and so many were ending up in day centres merely being occupied and it was blatantly obvious that in the right surroundings and the right people their education could continue with the possibilities that once they gained a qualification recognised in the work place they could enter the world of work.
So, Camtrust became a registered charity and company limited by guarantee in 1993, the next hurdle was to secure premises from which to operate. The Roger Asham School off Milton road proved to be a perfect venue; the school had been closed for seven years and was in need of refurbishment – perfect! We entered into negotiations with the local council, we were received well and a panel meeting was set, meeting over, next stage was the contract to be written all looked well at this point.
A few months passed and after continuous pressure on the Council for the completion of the lease we were informed that there would be no contract / lease as the education authorities had reclaimed the Roger Asham School for occupation as Park-Side school was due for a major refurbishment spread over a period of three years. We had in the meantime approached the council for another disused home which had been derelict for seven years but were not considered as the whole site was due to be sold and we did not have the finance to purchase.
Putting it all behind us we found premises in the village of Willingham, they were not ideal but at least it would put Camtrust on the map and we could put our plans into operation. That done we moved in and before long our student numbers had risen to the point we had a waiting list, with the help of the recently formed steering committee a Lottery bid was written, our application was for sufficient money for larger premises, salaries and equipment.