More support for voluntary sector to deal with COVID-19 impacts

9th March 2021

Grants of up to £20,000 are now available from the Essex Covid Response Fund managed by us. 

Grants awarded must be spent within 12 months of receipt and can support core and essential operating costs as well as projects or capital items.  We are interested to hear about projects that ensure communities stay safe, keep connected or  help those who are self-isolating, and those disproportionately effected by the pandemic.  New projects and those that need to be adapted or scaled-up to better respond as a direct result of  COVID 19, will also be considered.

Contact us on 01245 356018 to discuss making an application. 


Extra funding of £4.45m is being distributed to the voluntary and community sector (VCS) across Essex to help contain and respond to COVID-19.

Voluntary organisations and community groups across Essex have since March 2020 been helping to meet residents’ need for practical, financial or emotional support through the pandemic. Food projects, advice services, mental health and domestic abuse charities and local projects helping people to shield, self-isolate, get tested or get vaccinated have all played their part.

As we emerge from lockdown, needs are expected to grow and change again as residents hit by the pandemic pick up the pieces. People will be dealing with the mental and emotional impact of what they’ve been through and the changes and uncertainty ahead.

  • £1m goes to Essex Community Foundation (ECF) for grants up to £20,000 for voluntary organisations.
  • Essex County Council will distribute £1m directly in grants up to £50,000 for medium-sized frontline organisations.
  • £500,000 goes to Essex Association of Local Councils for small grants up to £5,000 for ‘mutual aid groups’ – residents or volunteers who’ve come together to help others in their communities.
  • £150,000 goes to ECL (Essex Cares Ltd) for more support to people with sensory needs who have found it harder, during the pandemic, to safely access their communities and get the support they need.
  • The rest will be split between the county’s 12 volunteer centres, Provide Community Interest Company and NHS partners to co-ordinate volunteering efforts and meet emerging needs such as for community transport to vaccination centres.

The funds come from Department of Health and Social Care funding to Essex County Council to contain and manage the COVID-19 outbreak. They are for use before the end of June 2021.

Cllr David Finch, Leader of Essex County Council said, “I would like to thank our voluntary and community sector and the thousands of volunteers who have stepped up to help their neighbours over this last year. There is more hard work to come. This funding will offer them capacity to help residents through to the summer, as they adjust to life after lockdown.”

Caroline Taylor, CEO of Essex Community Foundation said, “There is still a lot of pressure on the voluntary sector and a growing demand for support in local communities. We are delighted to be chosen as a partner to help deliver this programme in Essex and direct funding to where it is needed most.”

Sarah Troop, Chair of Volunteer Essex said, “The voluntary sector across Essex has experienced huge challenges over the past twelve months with changes to delivery models and uncertainty around funding being coupled with the drive to deliver support across the county in new ways. Often they have played a critical part in the community response to the coronavirus and have faced unprecedented challenges. The funding being provided to Essex voluntary sector infrastructure through the Volunteer Centres will go a long way to ensuring community support and volunteer action is maintained in coming months and is gratefully received.”

Charlene Slade, Chief Executive Officer of Essex Association of Local Councils said, “Essex Association of Local Councils is incredibly proud of the volunteers and mutual aid groups in Essex who have worked tirelessly during these difficult times to support people across the county. The funding administered so far on behalf of Essex County Council has been an invaluable resource, providing food hampers and PPE. This new funding will meet the future needs of grassroots activity within our communities.”

Just a few examples of how VCS organisations have stepped up:

  • Essex Wellbeing Service alone has supported over 207,000 people across Essex in the last year, with district-based community hubs making huge impacts in supporting those with daily living tasks.
  • Community 360 recruited more than 100 volunteers to help at vaccination centres in North East Essex.
  • Community-based mutual aid groups have also played a huge role, for example: Witham Pay it Forward Group completed 30,000 jobs to support Witham residents and Danbury Community Action Volunteers provided hundreds of volunteers for their Primary Care Vaccination Centre.
  • Nazeing and Brentwood Mutual Aid provided 600 volunteers to help with surge testing.

To discuss the funding that we have available to distribute, please call our grants team on 01245 356018.