Rory Supporting Local CharitiesCumbrians have a genius for voluntary work and community action. I would like to pay tribute to all those volunteers and local organisers that help to run a seemingly endless number of local community initiatives, from credit unions to care at home. Too often it can seem as though society is set in an immovable – if slightly wobbly – jelly of conventions, regulations and procedures that makes change feel almost impossible.

The solution in my view is to rediscover the energies of the local. If Cumbrians do not generally seem powerless, it is because they are often changing or protecting their surroundings. When I visit the village of Bampton, I am struck that nearly everyone seems to be involved in some local volunteer scheme or community initiative, be it a community library or a recycling scheme – and they are not the exception.

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oxfam’s bookfest in penrith

  Rory’s short story, the Wrestler, has been published in a comilation travel book called Oxtravels. Rory signed copies at the Penrith Oxfam Store. Watch a video of the day here or read the blog here. You can also read some local media coverage here.


big versus small: charities

The small is displaced by the large, day after day: the smaller hill farm by the larger; the market store by the supermarket; the community by the district hospital. The same story has been repeated over the last fifteen years with thousands of schools and post-offices, dairy farms and pubs. And it is about to […]


charitable funding

Rory called for a new approach to charitable funding in a visit to members and staff of local charity Eden Mencap Society at their base in Penrith’s Little Dockray last week. Rory Stewart said: “I am very concerned at the way the government is increasingly biased towards large national charities and has designed procurement and measurement processes which ignore […]


eden credit union

Rory met with organisers and members of the newly formed Eden Credit Union study group in Penrith on Friday, to sign a pledge form to become a member of the Union. Supported by a variety of Cumbrian organisations, including the Cumberland Building Society, Impact Housing, and Eden District Council, the Union has been formed to […]


eden citizen’s advice bureau

Rory has offered to help Eden Citizen’s Advice Bureau to help more people through video-conferencing facilities on new super-fast broadband connections. Manager Christine McKinlay explained to Rory on Tuesday that the Eden Citizens Advice bureau engaged with almost 1,500 clients last year and advised on almost 4,100 issues, ranging from debt and benefits, to housing, employment and legal issues. Through an outreach programme, the Penrith-based […]


championing the voluntary sector

Rory was hailed by the Minister for Decentralisation,  Greg Clark MP, as “a great champion of the voluntary sector”. Rory was pressing the Minister in the House of Commons earlier this week to find out what steps he was taking to allow small local charities to compete fairly in government procurement processes. Rory said that “local […]


red squirrels

Rory has shown his support for red squirrels by climbing a 30ft beech tree and fitting a squirrel nesting box in his garden. The box itself was an amazing example of volunteers working together. The materials for the weatherproof, birch-ply box  were donated by local Penrith timber merchants Joseph Richardson & Son Ltd. Butterwick resident […]


local alzheimers society

  Rory  met with volunteers and managers at the Alzheimers Society’s base in Penrith to discuss the charity’s vital ongoing work in the community. He met with volunteers Mike Godridge and Jean Bradshaw, local manager Rebecca Colpus, locality manager Fiona Moncur and campaigns manager Amy Martinez over tea and learned about current developments at the […]


eden assessment service

Rory officially opened the new Eden Assessment Service at Penrith Hospital at a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Friday January 28th, and met patients and staff as he was given a tour of the new unit. The new service provides room for GPs to refer patients for further diagnostics, tests and short-term treatment, allowing more space and […]

the small charity our big society is failing

The small Charity our Big Society is failing   Libby Purves has written an excellent article on how the emergence of large charities throughout the country are putting smaller ones out of business. Iceni, a small charity, working on a shoe string to help addicts in Ipswich has been swamped by the rules and bureaucracy […]