High Sheriff gives recognition to local charities

8th March 2024

Local charities and voluntary organisations that address crime and anti-social behaviour and improve community safety have received recognition and grants at the annual High Sheriff’s Awards.

Among the projects receiving support were a mobile youth club in South Essex, help for adults and young people who are homeless in Chelmsford and Colchester, a programme working with perpetrators and survivors of domestic abuse and knife crime prevention workshops.

Over 200 guests attended this year’s ceremony held at Hylands House in Chelmsford, where trophies, certificates and 25 grants totalling £38,000 were presented by the High Sheriff of Essex, Charles Bishop.

The event was supported by Essex County Council, Chelmsford City Council and the Office of the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner.  BBC Essex also broadcast live from the venue.  Presenters Steve Scruton compered the event and Ian Wyatt interviewed the trophy winners and other guests, with conversations aired live during the BBC evening show.

The grants came from the High Sheriffs’ Fund, which was established to give credit to local initiatives that address crime, community safety and anti-social behaviour, and is managed by the independent charitable trust Essex Community Foundation (ECF).  On top of the £38,000 being presented from the High Sheriffs’ Fund, ECF will award an additional £146,000 to the charities from other funds under its management.

Charles Bishop, the 843rd High Sheriff of Essex, has travelled across the County during the year, visiting charities that are tackling a wide range of issues and helping people in their community.  He has learned about their work and met with many volunteers, presenting them with certificates to recognise and acknowledge their commitment and dedication.

He said, “The rising cost-of-living is putting pressure on charities as they try to pay their bills, alongside an increasing demand for their services and support.

“The Awards event provides a wonderful opportunity for me, and other attendees, to recognise the significant contribution these organisations make in our communities.  It is a privilege to be able to reward their outstanding work, and that of the wider voluntary sector, being undertaken in Essex that is helping to build and sustain safer communities”.

The coveted High Sheriff’s Shield was awarded to YMCA Essex in Colchester for their work helping young people aged 16-25, to develop their skills, potential and life chances.  YMCA’s supported housing units provide a stable environment where they can engage tenants in a wide range of training so they can successfully move on to independent living.  The organisation also received a grant of £2,000 from the High Sheriffs’ Fund to provide moving-in packs of essential items for former homeless young people who come to stay at the housing units.

Sophie Mattei, Head of Housing at YMCA Essex said, “We are absolutely thrilled to have been recognised for our work with young people and very grateful to have received a grant from the High Sheriffs’ Fund.  At our housing project in Colchester, we house 44 young people aged between 16 and 25 who are homeless or vulnerably housed.  They stay with us for up to two years and we work with them to develop the skills needed to live independent, fulfilling, and successful lives in the future.

“Often the young people come to us with only the clothes they are wearing, no bedding, cutlery, crockery or basic household equipment. The grant we have been given means we are able to buy all these things as well as place an air fryer, kettle, toaster and cleaning cloths and sprays in each room. Having a move in pack means the young people feel a sense of home as soon as they arrive, it builds trust and respect and helps them to believe we work with kindness at the forefront of all we do.

“To be recognised by the High Sheriff as a caring, forward thinking and inclusive organisation means a huge amount to us at YMCA Essex where staff work with compassion to empower the children, young people and their families to develop, grow and achieve their goals in life.”.

Other trophies presented on the night were:

  • The High Sheriff’s Cup, presented to the Aspirations Program for their work supporting women working in the sex industry in Southend. Aspirations work hard to build positive relationships with the women, to show they care about their safety and encourage them to feel secure enough to engage with their treatment, support and recovery services.
  • The Essex County Council Bowl which recognises voluntary organisations that work in partnership to deliver programmes, was awarded to Sanctus, which is based in Chelmsford and delivers a range of support to homeless and vulnerable people, including 1-2-1 mentoring and counselling, working housing providers, mental health support and other local organisations.
  • The Essex County Fire & Rescue Shield, which recognises an organisation’s work with young people, was awarded to Bar’n’Bus. They have delivered thousands of hours of community-based youth support across Basildon, Castle Point and Rochford and their mobile youth bus provides a safe space where young people can gather, access advice and socialise.
  • The Essex Police Cup, was given to The Change Project, based in Chelmsford and is one of the few organisations in Essex specifically delivering programmes to work with both victims and perpetrators of domestic abuse and their families.

Since the High Sheriffs’ Fund came under ECF’s management in 1997 it has distributed grants totalling over £745,000.

Caroline Taylor, chief executive of ECF, said, “Successive High Sheriffs work hard to raise awareness of the voluntary sector in Essex.  They also raise money for the High Sheriffs’ Fund, and we work with them to ensure that funding gets out to local charities that are working in the heart of their communities, so they can help tackle crime and safety issues”.

The office of High Sheriff is an independent non-political Royal appointment for a single year. The High Sheriff receives no expenses, and the role comes at no cost to the public purse.

Grants and Photos

To view a full list of Grants awarded this year from the High Sheriff’s Fund click here.

To view photos taken at the Awards click here.

To download and listen to the BBC interviews on the night click here.