Essex Community Foundation

News archive

Moving On

27th October 2015

After four years in post, ECF’s chief executive, Bob Reitemeier CBE, will be leaving the Foundation with effect from 31 December 2015.  Bob will take up his new position as chief executive of I CAN, a charity supporting children and young people with speech, language and communications needs. 

During the last four years, the Foundation has grown its endowment fund from £19 million to £32 million and last year awarded £2.9 million in grants, the largest value of grants awarded since the Foundation started in 1996.  The organisation continues to go from strength to strength.   The Foundation’s Trustees wish Bob the greatest success in his new role and are currently considering the process for appointing ECF’s next chief executive.

Greenfields Grants Available

26th October 2015

Community organisations dedicated to making life better for people in the Braintree district are being invited to apply for grants to boost the support they give.

Applications for grants of up to £10,000 can be made to the Greenfields Community Fund, which is managed by Essex Community Foundation (ECF) on behalf of Greenfields Community Housing, a leading housing association with more than 8,000 homes across the Braintree District.

Voluntary and community groups can apply for grants from the Fund to support projects ranging from new play equipment and improving wildlife areas, to renovating community halls and much more. The closing date for applications is 9 November.

The fund aims to improve the health and wellbeing of residents in the District, increase aspirations and opportunities for young people, and give people the chance to develop their skills through training.

Since the Fund was established in 2008 more than £1 million has been distributed in grants.

Those supported recently include Braintree Mencap’s swimming club, Wickham St Pauls Carpet Bowls and Social Club, and Steeple Bumpstead Pre-School.

Sandra Crosby, Housing Director of Greenfields said: “When we started out in 2007 we wanted to do much more than provide safe and secure homes.

“As well as investing in our homes, we were also determined to invest in our communities and help to improve people’s lives in a variety of ways.

“ECF provide all the expertise in grant administration. They guide us to make the right decisions at the right time, helping us to know how our grant funding will make a difference and have the greatest impact.”

To apply click here or call ECF’s grants team on 01245 356018 to discuss an application in advance of applying.

High Sheriff Invites applications

15th October 2015

Local voluntary and community organisations are invited to apply for grants and recognition from the High Sheriff of Essex Awards Scheme.

Grants of up to £1,000 are available from the High Sheriffs’ Fund, which is managed by ECF and the money will be awarded to voluntary and community groups working to make their local communities safer places to live and work.

The High Sheriff’s Awards Scheme also gives recognition to individuals who have made an outstanding contribution in making their community a safer place and nominations are being invited for this category.

The deadline date for applications and nominations is 1 December, so now is the time for organisations to take the opportunity to apply for a grant.

This year’s High Sheriff of Essex, Vincent Thompson said:  “I am a huge advocate of Essex. There is so much that is excellent about our county. However, Essex does also have some problems, with many areas of deprivation and there are various organisations working very hard to address this.

“There are very many voluntary organisations working with local people to keep our communities safe and reduce crime.   The annual High Sheriffs’ Awards event provides a wonderful opportunity for their valuable contribution to be recognised, so I would urge organisations to apply for the funding that they need.”

An independent panel of judges, chaired by the High Sheriff and including past High Sheriffs, will consider the applications and allocate the awards which will be presented by the High Sheriff at a special ceremony in March 2016.

The historic role of a High Sheriff is to promote law and order in the county and it also now encompasses giving recognition and reward to those who help promote community spirit.

Since it came under Essex Community Foundation’s management in 1997, the High Sheriff’s Fund has distributed 529  grants totalling more  £ 435,000 to voluntary and community organisations which are all working hard to support local people and address crime related issues in their area.

Projects which have received support include women’s refuges, anti-social behaviour reduction initiatives, garden maintenance schemes for elderly residents to reduce incidence of burglary, neighbourhood watch schemes and activities for children and young people.

Bob Reitemeier, chief executive of ECF said, “The High Sheriffs’ Fund is a valuable financial resource to the voluntary sector in Essex and ECF is delighted to manage the fund and work with successive High Sheriffs, helping them to increase their understanding of issues which are being tackled at a local level.”

The closing date for grant applications from the High Sheriffs’ Fund is 1 December.  To apply click here or call the grants team on 01245 356018.

Hopes raised for young powerlifter

14th October 2015

Powerlifter Daniel McGauley, 25, who has Down’s syndrome and autism and is also deaf in one ear, has overcome all the odds to become a top achiever in his sport.

He is all set to go to Canada in November to represent Great Britain in the Special Olympics powerlifting event at the Commonwealth Games, thanks to a grant totalling £1,500 given by the independent charitable trust, Essex Community Foundation (ECF).

Daniel, the youngest of four children, who lives with his parents in Colchester, was given only a year to live when he was born, but proved to be a determined survivor.

He went to Doucecroft School in Kelvedon for autistic children and now attends Penny Meadow in Colchester, a centre for adults with special needs.

He will be the only powerlifter to represent Great Britain at the Commonwealth Games and the support he has been given by ECF, through the The Essex and Southend Sports Charitable Fund and the Annabel and Gerald Malton Charitable Fund, has been of vital help to him and his family.

His mother Judith said: “We are so proud of Daniel who really has exceeded everyone’s expectations.  The grant given by ECF has made all the difference to him and to us. His Dad and I would otherwise have had to go into debt to meet the cost of the trip, as we only have our pensions.

“Becoming a powerlifter has opened up a new world far Daniel. He has worked so hard and is training every day for the Games. It has been difficult for him, because of the concentration needed in competitions, but he is determined to do well and just loves the applause on the platform.

“We never thought he would be able to achieve so much, as he was only given a year to live when he was born and we were told he would never make a valuable contribution in society.

“We had to fight for him to have surgery. He has been through three major heart operations and 29 operations on his ears and was in a wheelchair until he was eight.

“Mentally, he is at the level of a five-year-old and one of his favourite things is Thomas the Tank Engine. Although he still needs a lot of support and can’t live independently, powerlifting has enabled him to become part of the adult world.”

Daniel became interested in powerlifting when he started going to the gym to improve his fitness. He went from strength to strength and takes part in all three powerlifting disciplines, squat, bench press and deadlift, despite the neck problems Downs often brings.  He started to excel in the sport, winning competitions and medals in events throughout the UK.

Daniel will be travelling to Canada with his coach Tiffany Crocker and his mother will go as his carer to help with his medical needs.

The grant from ECF through The Essex and Southend Sports Charitable Fund and the Annabel and Gerald Malton Charitable Fund will go a long way towards the overall cost of the trip.

The Essex and Southend Sports Charitable Fund was launched in 2013 by businessman and entrepreneur Peter Butler and his lifelong friend, Joe Sims.

Peter and Joe already had the impressive track record of running EASST, the Essex and Southend Sports Trust, which was set up in 2002.  They teamed up with ECF to establish the new Fund, with the aim of distributing more grants to individuals and voluntary organisations to make sport flourish at grassroots level around the county and make it more accessible to everyone.

Peter said: “It is great that one of the first special needs powerlifters from Great Britain to enter these championships, is from Essex and that we have been able to support him.”

Joe said: “What a fantastic person Daniel is and we are delighted to support special needs individuals whenever possible.

We have supported deaf footballers, blind sailors and other people with special needs, but Daniel will be our first powerlifter.”

Annabel and Gerald Malton, who live in Little Waltham, decided to set up their named fund with ECF with the specific aim of helping young people who are unable to fulfil their dreams due to a shortage of money. They have supported many young sportsmen and women and are looking forward to following Daniel’s progress.

Anyone who would like to make contributions to the Essex and Southend Sports Charitable Fund so that even more grants like this can be made to Essex based sportsmen and women should contact Jo Murphy on 01245 355947.

ECF Launches Vital Signs 2015

6th October 2015

Vital Signs 2015: Rural Communities

The need to invest in rural communities in Essex has been revealed as a key priority in a new Vital Signs report produced by Essex Community Foundation (ECF).

Vital Signs 2015 is the third report of its kind to be undertaken in Essex by ECF and it reveals the contrasts affecting people’s prospects and that where you live, work and learn can have a major impact on your life.  Rural life is an idyll that many aspire too however, for some, behind the relative peace and tranquillity, rural life can seem more like a form of social isolation.  Access to, and availability of, transport, employment, affordable housing, shops and medical services persist as issues of concern.

Essex is a significantly rural county with 72% of land devoted to agriculture and 25% of the population living within rural communities.  Vital Signs shows that, in general, Essex is generally an affluent county, but rural communities face unique challenges.   At first glance this isn’t very surprising and we would expect to find a similar set of circumstances in many other counties in across the UK.  What is surprising, however, is that in many ways rural Essex is becoming a community of two halves.  Those that are employed with good income and access to their own transport and those who may be older, with health and social care needs and limited access to local services. Click here to read more. 

Birketts hosts charity soup event

5th October 2015

More than 100 property professionals came together for Essex Soup, an evening of business networking hosted by Birketts LLP. More importantly, the event raised awareness of the vital work being carried out by voluntary and community organisations in Essex.

Essex Soup was organised by Birketts’ property team in Chelmsford, in conjunction with the independent charitable trust, Essex Community Foundation (ECF), who brought to the event four inspirational charities with local community projects all needing support. Birketts’ guests then voted to decide how the funds raised from the event, including a donation from the Birketts Charitable Fund, managed by ECF, should be shared between the charities.

As a result, over £7,000 was distributed between Families InFocus (Essex), Headway Essex,Beacon House Ministries and SEEAFOP (South Essex Advocacy for Older People).

Jonathan Agar, chief executive of Birketts, said: “We are delighted that the Essex Soup was such a success. Our charitable fund with ECF enables us to distribute money annually and engage our staff in deciding where the money goes. The Essex Soup event gave us the opportunity to share our experience with other businesses and encourage them to consider working in the same way.”
Grace Kerr, head of property at Birketts’ Chelmsford office, whose team brought the idea to fruition, said: "We are grateful for all the support we have had from the local property community for the Essex Soup event. It has been very rewarding to engage with local property professionals and to raise such significant funds for these charities.”

Lisa Renton, development director at ECF, said: “The event was a great opportunity to give people from businesses across the county an insight into the vital work being carried out by local charities. ECF has been supporting the voluntary sector for almost 20 years, through the funds we manage for individuals and businesses. Joining forces with Birketts for Essex Soup has given an extra dimension to the positive impact we have on the local community."

Dame Kate Barker, Trustee of ECF, was a guest at the event. She said, “I was delighted to join property professionals from across the county and beyond at the first mid-Essex Soup event. Businesses really care about the places around them and all attendees were very engaged to hear of the work of the charities. We appreciated more fully the needs around us and also realised just how dedicated so many volunteers are across Essex.”

Birketts’ property team is recognised by Chambers UK 2015 as the only firm in East Anglia to have achieved ‘National Leaders (outside London)’ status in the real estate category. The 85-strong property team includes a dedicated strategic land group with property, tax and planning lawyers who advise landowners and developers on all aspects of site assembly and acquisition. In addition to significant commercial property expertise, Birketts also advise clients on the planning and construction process and have established agricultural land, premium residential conveyancing and plot sales teams.

The Birketts Charitable Fund was established in 2011 and is one of 104 named funds managed by ECF. So far Birketts’ Fund has distributed more than £17,000 to tackle issues affecting the local community.

ECF was established in 1996 to build a permanent source of funding to support charities and community groups in Essex. To date more than £24m has been distributed in grants by ECF to a wide variety of organisations to improve the lives of people in Essex.

Provide Awards recognise local charities

5th October 2015

Grants totaling £90,441 have been given by the Provide Foundation to projects aimed at improving the health and wellbeing of people in Essex.

The funds were presented at a special awards ceremony held at Pontlands Park Hotel in Chelmsford and the money was shared between 21 voluntary and community organisations for health-related projects. 

A support group to tackle abuse of the elderly, help for people who have suffered brain injuries and a pilot project to combine physical activity and art psychotherapy, for children who have experienced abuse, were among those receiving grants.

There was a top award of £20,000 which was presented to Home-Start working in Maldon, Witham, Braintree & Halstead.  A further award of £10,000 was awarded to the Stroke Club Mid Essex.  The remaining 19 organisations all received grants and donations ranging from £750 to £5,000.

Provide is a community interest company (CIC) which delivers a wide range of community health services in Essex, as well as in outer North East London, Cambridgeshire and Peterborough.  It allocated the awards from the Provide Foundation, an endowed fund which the organisation established with Essex Community Foundation (ECF) in 2012.

Derrick Louis, Chairman of Provide said:  “We are delighted that by giving these annual awards, this year totaling £90,000, we can support community schemes and projects which are making great strides to improve the health and wellbeing of people in Essex.

“Giving such support to local charities and voluntary organisations is a very important part of our work, helping to underpin the social and care services in communities.

“As a CIC organisation we recognise our obligation to re-invest part of our surpluses back into the communities we serve. Our partnership with Essex Community Foundation means that we can effectively invest funds into voluntary organisations whose work complements our own.

“Having established the Provide Foundation with ECF we can do this in the most efficient and effective way and we are committed to awarding grants year on year to support the voluntary sector in Essex.”

Caroline Taylor, deputy chief executive of ECF said: “The awards reflect the very wide range of voluntary work going on in local communities, carried out by dedicated and determined staff and volunteers. This gives them the recognition they deserve and helps them to continue and expand their health-related work.

“Provide is an excellent organisation to work with, they are creative, innovative and their enthusiastic and well-informed staff and members are fully involved in the allocation of grants.

As an independent charitable trust, ECF is able to give Provide impartial information on the organisations involved, helping their Members and staff to make decisions, with confidence, knowing that the money will be directed to where it is needed most.

The voluntary organisations receiving awards from the Provide Foundation were:

  • Home-Starts: Witham Braintree & Halstead, and Maldon - £20,000 Towards the costs of providing a home visiting service to parents with at least one child under 5 years in the Braintree District
  • Stroke Club Mid Essex - £10,000 To continue and develop a specialised after-stroke service in Mid Essex
  • 2nd Witham Boys' Brigade - £750 To engage young people and their families in a healthy exercise programme in Witham
  • Action on Elder Abuse - £5,000 Towards the costs of a new Elder Abuse Victim Buddying Support Group launch in Essex
  • Age UK - Essex - £4,976 To help expand a home visit and community based toe nail trimming service within the Mid Essex area
  • Braintree District Mencap Society - £5,000 To run an Activ8 Adults Awards Scheme to improve the health and wellbeing of adults with learning difficulties
  • Canvey Island Youth Project - £750 To run educational workshops on drugs and alcohol for young people in Castle Point
  • Childcare - £750 Towards salary costs for a Supporting Parents Experiencing Domestic Abuse project in Basildon
  • Deafblind UK £3,500 To help improve health outcomes for deafblind people through six Essex support groups
  • Dengie Project Trust - £750 To produce a directory of healthcare services in Mid Essex for elderly patients supported by a home from hospital service
  • Halstead Day Centre - £5,000 To support the costs of a centre providing social care for the elderly in the Braintree District
  • Headway Essex - £5,000 Towards a Community Support Service for people who have suffered acquired and traumatic brain injuries
  • Helping Hands Essex - £5,000 To develop an after care service for people recovering from alcohol abuse
  • InterAct Chelmsford - £750 To pilot person-centred workshops for young people with additional needs to improve their independence, health and well-being
  • J's Hospice - £5,000 To help run group support sessions for young adults with complex life threatening conditions
  • Kids Inspire, Chelmsford - £5,000 To run a pilot project combining physical activity and art psychotherapy targeted at children and young people in Mid Essex healing from sexual abuse and violence and also from domestic abuse
  • Laughter Specialists, Chelmsford - £5,000 To enable an additional fifteen laughter specialists sessions at Broomfield Hospital
  • PARC, Brarintree - £3,948 To provide a Pre-School Speech and Language Therapy Group for children with disabilities at the centre in Braintree
  • SNAP - 3750 Towards the specialist staff costs of an organisation providing support to families of children with special needs and disabilities
  • St John Ambulance Essex - £2,767 To offer 10 subsidised Essential First Aid for Infant and Child courses to parents and carers in West Essex
  • Witham Town Luncheon Club - £750 Supporting the ongoing operation of a luncheon club for pensioners living in Witham

To view and download photos from the event click here.

Kids Club receives welcome funding boost

2nd October 2015

A club, which brings together children of all abilities as “one big family” has been given a major boost with a grant of £7,500.

The funding for Mistley Kids Club will mean that the club can buy new equipment for children with special needs and also provide extra training for staff.

The club, based at Mistley Village Hall, gives a vital service by running after-school and holiday activities for children from primary and secondary schools and much of its success comes from the fact that special needs and mainstream children mix together.

“All of our children at Kids Club are very special to us and we are like one big family,” said Claire Moss, manager of the club.

“We are a non-profit making and completely inclusive organisation, catering for children of all abilities, many of whom come to us on a daily basis.  We have over 300 children registered with us and 147 of these have special needs ranging from mild to severe to life threatening conditions.

“All of the children who attend the club get along brilliantly. They help each other and all want to ensure that their friends are having fun while at the club.   We are very happy that they all accept each other, despite their differences, and the fact that they mix so well will give them greater awareness of such issues in later life.

“We are one of the very few organisations to cater for such a wide range of children.  Each week we get a new family register with us and we have had to start a waiting list.  One thing that has really increased is the number of families registering with us who have several children with special needs.  The parents find it very difficult to cope during school holidays, so this is where we can give a lot of help.

“Our club brings a great benefit to the community because it enables parents and carers to study or work, giving them and their families a better quality of life and raising their standards of living.

“We work closely with families to help their children achieve their full potential and offer daily activities such as team sports and group play.  We also teach qualities such as kindness, understanding and accepting differences.

“All our children are able to learn basic skills such as cooking and crafting, as well as social skills such as eating politely and tidying up. Without being able to access our club we feel that the children and their families would have fewer opportunities.

“Funding is an ongoing struggle for us so we are really grateful to ECF for the grants we have received.   

“The safety of our children is paramount and we give an excellent quality of care.  Having extra funds means we can continue to provide this care and more extensive training for our staff which is always needed.  We will also be able to buy new equipment for our sensory rooms for children who have special needs”.

ECF was able to pool grant money from three of the endowed charitable funds it manages; the Milsom Charitable Fund, the Blanc Family Fund and the Chiron Fund, to provide the £7,500 grant for Mistley Kids Club.

Paul Milsom and his wife Geraldine, set up the Milsom Charitable Fund with ECF in 2007 in memory of Paul’s father Gerald.  To date the Fund has distributed nearly £14,000 locally.

Commenting on the latest grant awarded, Paul said: “We are delighted that money from our Fund has supported such a worthwhile organisation which is encouraging children to build their skills, be creative and help them reach their full potential.  Mistley Kids Club is a great example of these aims being put into action.”

“Our Fund with ECF enables us to support voluntary and community groups that are local and where a relatively small amount of money can make a significant difference.  By pooling our funds with others our money can have an even greater impact.”.

To apply for grant funding click here or call the grants team on 01245 356018.