Caring for our communities

26th February 2024

Being a carer is a demanding and often exhausting role which many people take on with love and dedication, but in too many cases without much recognition.

It is estimated that in Essex there are more than 124,000 unpaid adult carers and 10,000 young carers, some barely of school age.

Recent research by Carers UK found that more than a quarter of unpaid carers report having bad or very bad mental health, with 82 percent of these reporting feelings of hopelessness.

Over the past two years we have awarded a total of £747,288 to organisations supporting carers and without this kind of help many would struggle to carry on.

The grants have given vital backing to a wide range of organisations helping carers of all ages in different ways. These include:

Action for Family Carers (AfFC), established in Maldon in 1990, provides a unique “wrap round service” for families, offering a wide range of support for adult and young carers across Essex.

The organisation is facing an increasing demand for its work and aims to meet the health and well-being needs of carers by providing support for young carers, respite club nights and trips, counselling, day care, and activity groups. They also work with employers, GPs, and schools, to help them provide better support for carers.

A grant of £207,346 has been given to AfFC by ECF over three years to expand their Carer and Family Response Service in the Chelmsford district, to provide information and advice to the whole family and young carers experiencing healthcare, housing and wellbeing related issues.

James Clarke, CEO of AfFC said: “Some families need intensive support over a period of time, including help to get to the stage emotionally where they can accept advice or take practical steps, such as agreeing for care workers to attend. Our Family Support Worker can talk to social care and other agencies about the cared-for as well as the carer.

“Our ambition is to ensure that no carer or young carer is adversely impacted by their caring role.  We help carers, young carers and families to have improved health and wellbeing, to have choices and to feel more in control.

“We help carers, young carers and families to have improved health and wellbeing, to have choices and to feel more in control.”

“This service is at the heart of our mission to achieve positive outcomes for all carers and their families, to be responsive to their needs and to do that independently of statutory services or particular service providers, including challenging poor practice where appropriate.”

Kool Carers South East was founded in September 2017 by a now qualified social worker and an experienced youth worker.  It focuses on supporting young people, who care and look after a member of their family who are sick, disabled, who have a mental health illness, or who may be misusing drugs or alcohol. The charity has seen a significant increase in the numbers of young carers and families that it supports.

Rachel Tungate, chief executive of Kool Carers said: “With so many adult responsibilities, young carers often miss out on opportunities to play and learn that other children and young people have. Many struggle educationally and are often bullied for being ‘different’. Many young carers become isolated with no relief from the responsibilities of caring and the pressures at home.

“As a result, many young carers will often lose their childhood.  They are often afraid to seek help because they fear being separated from their families and taken into Local Authority care.  As a result, many young carers are overlooked by society and will often fall below the professional radar. One of our key aims is to reduce the isolation that many experience, in order that every young carer has the opportunity to meet their full potential.”

Kool Carers provides a safe, professional and comfortable environment for young carers aged eight to 18, living in Basildon and Brentwood, to develop personal and social relationships, while improving independent life-skills and building their resilience, all of which helps to reduce isolation and enhance emotional wellbeing.  Sessions are tailored to meet the needs and age group of young carers and the programmes are developed and designed with their input.

Grants from ECF have supported a wide range of projects provided by Kool Carers, including a counselling service, support for young carers groups in Basildon and Brentwood, the employment of a full-time family support worker, therapy following traumatic events, youth safety sessions and support work with the parents and carers of young carers, aimed at improving their own mental health and wellbeing.

“We couldn’t do this without the support from funders in the community, so thank you to all who care about our carers.”

BOSP (Brighter Opportunities for Special People) is a small independent Essex based charity that has been supporting families for over 32 years.

BOSP’s vision is for children and young adults with complex disabilities or life limiting conditions, and their families, to live the best life possible.

The organisation’s mission is to improve the lives of children and young adults with complex disabilities or life-limiting conditions, and their families, by providing high quality, fun, educational activities, support and respite care.

BOSP offers children and young people with disabilities access to the same activities and opportunities as their peers, allowing them to develop independence, self-esteem and social skills in a supportive environment.  This enables their families to have some much needed respite from their caring responsibilities, allowing time to catch up on much needed sleep, spend time with their other children or just have an undisturbed shower or cup of tea.

Jodie Connelly, Chief Executive of the Charity said: “Profound learning disabilities and critical illnesses blight young lives and put great stress on the family unit. Disabled and very ill children face discrimination and substantial barriers to participation in mainstream activities, resulting in the whole family becoming marginalised and vulnerable to depression, family breakdown and social exclusion.

We provide 17 different activities and support services, regularly supporting 110 local children and over 400 parents and siblings. For our parent carers and young carers, respite is not a nice to have, it is a need to have. For some of our families, they are looking after children with complex disabilities or life limiting illnesses 24/7.

Carers can feel very isolated as it is not always possible to just ask a friend or family member to step in to provide help. For them to continue their caring role and avoid burnout, they need regular breaks. BOSP’s crisis prevention support helps keep families together and children in their homes, but we couldn’t do this without the support from funders in the community, so thank you to all who care about our carers.”

Maypole House Charitable Fund

The Maypole House Charitable Fund was set up in 2001 by a group of parents in Uttlesford who had originally set up a charity called RESCU, through which they wanted to build a respite centre for local families who had children with disabilities.

It was to have been called Maypole House, but after many years of fundraising, the trustees of RESCU realised they were unlikely to be able to achieve their ambitions in the way they had originally hoped.

They took the decision to close the charity and transfer it to ECF. This has enabled them to put the money to use in a way that honours their original objectives and builds on all they had achieved.

In 2024, the Maypole House Charitable Fund will have given grants totalling £250,000 to charities in Essex providing essential respite for children and adults with disabilities and this will have benefitted more than 5,500 people.

Jill Elms was a trustee of RESCU.  She remains involved with the Fund, working with ECF to agree grants.  She said, “It was not easy to make the decision that building a respite care centre was no longer feasible or sustainable, but working with ECF meant that we could stay true to the spirit of our earlier aims and still support voluntary organisations giving respite to people who need it most, now and in the future.

“We are amazed by the amount we have been able to give away in grants and because the Fund is endowed with ECF, it will keep on supporting charities that are helping families and their children to have some much-needed respite.”

If you are interested in setting up a charitable fund to support your local community please contact Perry Norton at ECF on 01245 355947