Essex Community Foundation

News archive

ECF Says Farewell

10th February 2015

ECF is very sad to say farewell to two of its long-standing vice-presidents who died recently.

Mary Beattie MBE DL and Baroness Platt of Writtle CBE DL were hugely active and supportive patrons.  Their enthusiasm for ECF and public endorsement of the Foundation’s work was particularly helpful in our early years when ECF was trying to raise its profile in the county. We will greatly miss their support.

Mary Beattie MBE DL

Mary, who died aged 92, was instrumental in the founding of ECF, giving her valuable support when she agreed to become a vice-president in 1995.

Described as “a wonderful daughter of Essex,” Mary was born in 1922 in Lexden, Colchester and she was brought up by her grandparents, as her parents were abroad with the army.

Her grandfather, a solicitor, was very public minded and Mary followed in his footsteps, giving unstinting service to charitable causes for more than 60 years. Her education began at home under a strict governess, later she attended St Mary’s School in Lexden then went on to boarding school in Hitchin.

When war broke out Mary wanted to join the WRNS, but her mother would not agree to this, so instead Mary went into the Red Cross and St John Ambulance, working as a cook for injured servicemen. After the war she carried on cooking, sometimes working at her old boarding school.

Mary became a highly respected magistrate and during her long life was closely involved with a wide range of charities including St Helena Hospice in Colchester and the NSPCC. She always put others first, was a confidante to many people and her wise advice was always trusted and valued.

The contribution she made was immense and the endorsement she gave ECF, by being a dedicated vice-president from the start, was invaluable.

Baroness Platt of Writtle CBE DL

Beryl Platt, who died aged 91, was also an outstanding ambassador for ECF.  She became a vice-president in 1998 and her pioneering spirit, enthusiasm and wide experience in education and employment made her a great asset.

Beryl was born in Leigh-on-Sea in 1923 and attended Westcliff High School. She went to Cambridge University and became one of the first women to study aeronautical engineering. After graduation in 1943 she joined the Hawker Aircraft Company, developing fighter planes including the Hurricane.

She went on to work in aviation safety for British European Airways.  In 1943 she married Stewart and the couple had a son then a daughter.  The family moved to Writtle in 1953 and Beryl became involved in local government, rising to vice-chairman of Essex County Council in the 1980s.

She was made a life peer in 1981 and was appointed chairman of the Equal Opportunities Commission, a role she held from 1983 to 1988. Beryl was a high profile role model and campaigner for young women wanting to take up careers in science and technology. She strove to change people’s attitudes to women and, as a devoted Christian, was delighted to live long enough to see the Church of England appoint its first woman Bishop.

Described as “the original Essex girl, only without the white stilettos”, Baroness Platt has left a lasting legacy to the county and the country, having forged a path for women and for the causes she supported, including ECF.

Red Nose Day Community Cash

10th February 2015

Comic Relief, the East Anglian Daily Times, Suffolk Community Foundation and Essex Community Foundation bring Red Nose Day Community Cash to Suffolk and Essex.

We are distributing a £75,000 Red Nose Day Community Cash fund to communities in Suffolk and North Essex.

Red Nose Day Community Cash grants of £500 to £1,000 are available to small organisations in Suffolk and North Essex (Braintree, Colchester and Tendring) that are doing great work to help local people living tough lives.  If this sounds like you, make sure you apply for a Red Nose Day Community Cash grant now by completing the application form at the bottom of this page.

The programme aims to support work where there is clear evidence of a beneficial impact on people’s lives who are excluded or disadvantaged through low income, rural or social isolation, age, disabilities, race, sexuality or gender. Priority is to be given to small locally based groups or organisations in areas of disadvantage that have a clear understanding of the needs of their community and are undertaking ations as a means of addressing these needs.

Who can apply?

  •     Constituted voluntary and community groups
  •     Charities
  •     Social Enterprises
  •     Co-operatives
  •     Faith organisations
  •     Community Interest Companies

Groups which have been established for less than 12 months are eligible to apply.

Groups need to:

  •    Be working in a disadvantaged or deprived area
  •    Be small local groups with an income of less than £100,000 run by local people
  •    Have limited access to other sources of income
  •    Aiming to deliver social outcomes

Examples of the type of activities we will fund:

  •   Parent and Toddler Groups
  •   Equipment and materials for sports groups
  •   Cross generational work e.g. young people volunteering at older people's groups
  •   Lunch clubs for isolated individuals
  •   Running costs for self-help groups
  •   Committee and volunteer/staff training
  •   Disability sports clubs/activities
  •   Training and volunteering projects
  •   Day events that help to build strong relationships within the community
  •   Community groups and set up costs for new groups
  •   Bereavement support groups
  •   Social groups for people with mental health problems
  •   Carer support groups
  • Advice services to help people resolve money worries


In addition to the exclusions listed in our grant-making guidelines, the following exclusions apply to this fund:

  •    Individuals
  •    Statutory organisations, including schools
  •    Trips abroad
  •    Buses, mini buses or other community transport schemes (not including transport costs forming part of a project)
  •    Building costs, including access adaptations to buildings

How to Apply

Please feel free to call the grants team on 01245 356018 if you have any questions.

Applications will be accepted until the new extended deadline of Friday 6 March. 

For organisations in Essex, please click here

For organisations in Suffolk, please click here

School Legacy lives on in Little Braxted

10th February 2015

The search is on for photos of the old Church of England School in Little Braxted and a reminder is going out to voluntary organisations and people living in the area that grants are available for their community and education projects.

The Victorian schoolhouse was sold in 2007 and a trust fund was established with the proceeds from the sale.

In 2012 the fund was transferred to the independent charitable trust, Essex Community Foundation to help to ensure that it would continue to benefit future generations.

Now ECF is making an appeal to voluntary and community organisations and residents in the area to come forward and apply to the Little Braxted Community and Education Fund for grants.

ECF also wants to find photos of the old schoolhouse to use in connection with publicity and promotion of the fund.

Jo Murphy, head of communications for ECF said:  “We have already made our first grant through the fund, for a youth worker for the area. As the fund provides such a good resource for local people we want to encourage applications so that we can award more grants.

“We want to try to identify needs in the area so that the fund can be used most effectively.

“Grants can be awarded to voluntary and community organisations for the general benefit of people in the parish of Little Braxted and Wickham Bishops, including scout and guide groups and can also extend to promote educational opportunities.

“ECF works with local residents to make decisions on the awarding of grants.

“The schoolhouse played such an important part in the history of the area and, as a result of the fund established after its sale, it continues to have a positive impact on the community.

“We would love to have old photos of the schoolhouse to use an illustration when we highlight and publicise the fund.”

Anyone who has a photo of the schoolhouse can email it to with a few details or short caption.

Self Esteem help for teenage girls

10th February 2015

Teenage girls who have difficulties with self-esteem are to be given much-needed help by a special project supported by the Essex Women’s Advisory Group (EWAG).

A course run by the Christian Growth Centre Chelmsford (CGCC) has been given £1,500 from the Essex Girls’ Fund, which was established by EWAG and is managed by the independent charitable trust, Essex Community Foundation (ECF).

The aim of the Fund established in 2010 is to help women and girls in Essex combat their negative stereotype, enabling them to improve their self–esteem and achieve their full potential.

The grant will mean that CGCC will be able to expand a self-esteem course it currently runs for girls in local schools. The course will be developed to include topics such as on-line safety, relationships, bullying, eating disorders, self -harm and other difficult issues which teenage girls can face.

As well as working in local schools CGCC is also planning to link with other organisations and volunteers to make the programme available to more girls, including teenage mums.

Caroline Taylor, deputy chief executive of ECF said: “CGCC have built a good track record of helping to make a difference to the lives of young girls when they are at a vulnerable stage of their development.  The grant will mean more young people will be reached and the project will enable them to become more confident and accepting of themselves.”

EWAG’s endowed charitable Fund with ECF awards grants year on year to voluntary and community organisations in Essex working to tackle issues such as domestic violence, education, skills and mental health. 

EWAG’s board includes representatives from Essex Police, the University of Essex, Girlguiding, commerce, philanthropy, mental health, local government and the WI. 

Yasmin Udugba Head Facilitator of the Flourish project at CGCC said, “We are delighted to receive this grant from EWAG.  It will enable us to help young girls develop their own personal worth, strength and sense of purpose. 

We were also very pleased to receive an additional £1,500 from the Spence Family Fund which is also managed by ECF.  Together the two grants mean we received the full £3,000 that we applied for.

Bowled Over by Greenfields

10th February 2015

People of all ages and abilities, ranging from pre-school children to pensioners, have been given much-appreciated support, thanks to grants from the Greenfields Community Fund.

Almost £50,000 has been distributed in the latest round of allocations from the fund, established by Greenfields Housing Association and managed by Essex Community Foundation (ECF), to give grants to voluntary and community groups in the Braintree district.

Gary Elsen, a local resident and Chairman of the committee which meets with ECF to discuss and agree the grants which will be awarded, said: “Working with ECF has helped us to have a greater insight into local issues and to understand how the grants to local voluntary groups can really make a difference to the lives of local people.”

The long-established Steeple Bumpstead Pre-School has been able to retain two highly valued apprentices until the end of the summer term thanks to a grant of £2,246 from the fund.

Laura Seymour, Treasurer for the Pre-School said:  “We felt it was very important for the children to have the continuity of these two girls on the staff for the full year. It will also be valuable experience for the two girls."

One of the apprentices, who is 18, is a keyworker for four children at the pre-school and she and the other apprentice, who is 17, run a lunch club attended by 10 children.

Staff at the pre-school were unanimous that they wanted the apprentices to stay on and were delighted that the Greenfields grant made this possible.

A swimming group run by Braintree Mencap can continue and expand, following an allocation of £2,746 from the Greenfields Community Fund. The group meets weekly in Witham, but money to keep it going was running out, until the Greenfields grant was given.

Rachael Luckin, General Manager for the group said: ”People with a learning disability often face illness or  physical disabilities too. Our members have said that without this project they could neither afford to swim or have the inclination to attend regularly.  When they attend the pool as a group they really shine and trust the staff and volunteers enough to try new strokes and learn new skills.

“This is an opportunity they would not have if we did not provide it. With funding we can offer this as a free activity to people with learning disabilities and we want to enable more people to take part. We believe we can increase our numbers from 15 up to 30 during the coming year.”

Members of Wickham St Pauls Carpet Bowls and Social Club are able to replace a vital piece of equipment after receiving grant of £672 from the Greenfields Community Fund.

The club’s 30-year-old carpet bowls mat is disintegrating, but now the club can buy a new one so members can continue playing, helping to keep them fit and active.


Other recent grants awarded from the Greenfields Community Fund include:

Bradwell Juxta Coggeshall village hall - £5,000 towards extension and refurbishment work
Feering Community Association - £2,850 towards the refurbishment of the kitchen at the shared community centre
BENS - £4,000 towards the cost of an emergency night shelter in Braintree for homeless people
Coggeshall Prentice Youth Work - £7,980 to run an “inspire” youth project
Great Yeldham Reading Room - £3,968 for new doors
Braintree and Bocking Public Gardens Trust - £7,500 for a new viewing hide and storage shed for equipment
Witham Town Luncheon Club - £3,000 to continue the provision of lunches for elderly people in the community
Friends of the Flitchway and Associated Woodlands - £1,000 for conservation work
Holdfast Credit Union - £3,000 for to expand a school savers scheme for children.
Crossroads Care Braintree District & Chelmsford - £5,000 to support carers.

Greenfields, a not-for-profit organisation, is one of the largest housing associations in Essex, with around 8,100 homes and 450 leasehold properties all over the Braintree District.

In 2008, Greenfields established their first Fund with Essex Community Foundation.  Since then over £1 million has been distributed to voluntary and community organisations working to improve the lives of people in the Braintree district. 

To apply for grants from the Greenfields Community Funds for projects, which could be anything from new play equipment, to improving wildlife areas or renovating community halls visit or call the Foundation’s grants team on 01245 356018.