History of BCA

In 2016 BCA will celebrate 50 years of service to the local community. During its lifetime the Association has had three different names and has had to adapt like all voluntary organisations to many changes in society, in legislation and in technology. But its underlying aims have not changed very much over the years and many of the activities in which BCA is engaged today had their origins in the 1960’s and 1970’s.

Cutting the birthday cakeIn 2006 when BCA celebrated its 40th birthday, we were delighted to be joined by Dr Green and Dr Daily, two local G.P.’s who had been so influential in the setting up of the charity. Many thanks too to Joan Vass for the delicious celebration cake!

Birthday cake

How it all began

BCA came into being in October 1966 when it was known as Burnham Council of Social Service (BCSS). The Trustees of another local charity, the Hitcham Poor’s Land Charity, were instrumental in its creation – they felt that an organisation was needed to co-ordinate the work of all those engaged in welfare in the Parish. They also thought that such a Council could be of great help to them in providing information about those in need of financial assistance.

The inaugural meeting of BCSS was attended by about 130 people including representatives of statutory services and many local voluntary organisations. The constitution of the Council described its objects as “To promote any charitable purpose for the benefit of the community in the Civil Parish of Burnham”.

The early years

From the outset BCSS was very active both in terms of developing services itself and in encouraging others to do so. By the end of its first year BCSS was already able to report on the activities of its Youth Committee, its Care Committee and its Older People’s Welfare Group.

During its second year BCSS opened an Old People’s Social Centre in Burnham Park Hall which met on Monday and Friday afternoons. The Monday Club, a social get together for older people, continues to meet each week (now at Burnham Methodist Church). Plans were developed for an Advice and Information Centre and this opened in December 1968 in Burnham Park Hall and continues to date (now as Burnham Village Information Point in the Library). Also in 1968 the Youth Committee were in negotiation with the County Council regarding the possible development of a youth centre.

In September 1969 the first Burnham Week was held with different activities each day culminating with a grand fete being held on the last Saturday (forerunner of the Carnivals of more recent years).

1970’s and 1980’s

In 1972 BCSS pioneered the opening of a Social Service shop in the village. Many voluntary charitable organisations took advantage of this to raise money for their cause. The premises were made available rent free by the Co-operative Society. Also in this year the BCSS bought its first minibus. BCA has continued to run a Community Minibus Service ever since.

In 1975 the first summer holiday playscheme was organised by BCSS – these proved to be very popular and ran for many years with hundreds of children enjoying a wide variety of activities.

By 1976 the Voluntary Aid Scheme, the forerunner of today’s Good Neighbour Scheme, was very active offering a range of practical help, driving, gardening etc.

1978 The Wednesday Break Mothers and Toddlers Group was set up. This group continued to run until a few years ago. Also a local branch of the National Association of Welfare of Children in Hospital was set up to help children in the Canadian Red Cross Memorial Hospital.

Regular village fun runs started in 1978 –later to become a separate organisation, Burnham Joggers in 1979. Social Nights Out for older people also started in 1978 and continued for many years run in conjunction with the Scouts. After a break of several years these Nights Out started again in 2005 organised in co-operation with the Lions Club of Burnham.

Also in 1978 Burnham Council of Social Service changed its name to Burnham Community Action – (it was felt that this name would more accurately reflect the work undertaken and would remove possible confusion with local councils and statutory services. Whilst bringing together “in Council” remained important the practical nature of the work had increased greatly and it was felt that this name reflected this more accurately)

1979 Round & About, community newspaper began and community lunches started – both still continue.

1981 Burnham held a day to mark International Year of Disabled People and the first Charities Fair was held. BCA continued to hold an annual Charities Fair until Spring 2008.

1986 The charity changed its name to Burnham Community Association – it was thought that Burnham Community Action may give the impression that the organisation had political connotations and that this may be to the detriment of fund raising activities.

1990’s to present day

1994 A Pedestrian Forum was set up with the aim of increasing awareness of the needs of pedestrians. Subsequently many of the concerns of this group were taken up by Burnham Access Group which joined BCA in 2000. This Group which works to promote access and mobility for all in the Burnham area has been responsible for producing the Burnham Access Directory, the 5th edition of which was published in 2013.

In 2009 the newly formed Friends of Burnham Library, were welcomed under the BCA umbrella.

In 2013 BCA began proceedings to become a charitable company limited by guarantee.


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Encouraging and Supporting Community Activity in Burnham