Essex Community Foundation

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Charity begins at Mersea Homes

23rd November 2015

Three charities helping people in Colchester, including cancer patients, disadvantaged children and people struggling to set up a home have, between them been given a welcome funding boost totalling £10,000 from the Mersea Homes Charitable Fund.

Colchester’s cancer centre campaign has been given £5,000, the Colchester Furniture Project has been allocated £3,500 and Signpost, a charity working with disadvantaged people in the Colchester area, has been awarded £1,500.

The grants are being distributed in the latest round of allocations from the Mersea Homes Charitable Fund, which is managed by the independent charitable trust Essex Community Foundation (ECF).

The aim of the endowed fund, established by Mersea Homes with ECF in 2010, is to help local communities to thrive and create a long-term sustainable source of funding which will support Essex-based charities long into the future.

Stuart Cock, Managing Director of Mersea Homes said:  "Being a local family run business we are committed to supporting charities and community projects close to home and we are delighted to be able to support these very worthy local causes.

“We have found that working with Essex Community Foundation is very positive, as we gain so much from their knowledge and expertise, which helps us to ensure that the funding does the best job possible.”

The cancer centre campaign is being run by Colchester Hospitals Charity with the aim of raising £4.5 million to build a fully integrated treatment and support centre for cancer patients in mid and north east Essex.

The new cancer centre, to be built on top of the current radiotherapy centre which opened last year, will combine radiotherapy, chemotherapy and haematology under one roof for the first time. There will also be a ‘Wellness Centre’ where patients and their families will be able to access complementary therapies, support and advice.

The Colchester Furniture Project works with disadvantaged and vulnerable local people who have been given accommodation but cannot afford to furnish it.

The charity collects, stores and distributes donated items free of charge so that people in need can be supplied with essential furniture and household equipment.  Over the past year more than 400 families have received help from the Colchester Furniture Project.

Ian Cameron, Manager of the charity, said: “Many of the people we help have experienced trauma and other crises; all are on very low incomes and are unable to help themselves.”

“The grant will help us with our job of improving the quality of life for the most disadvantaged families and individuals in and around Colchester.  The local community will also benefit from the increased self-esteem and stability of their neighbours.”

Signpost’s grant is being used to buy chairs and tables for children attending their homework club and young people who are taking part in training and development sessions at the Signpost  centre on the Greenstead Estate in Colchester.

ECF Appoints new CEO

11th November 2015

An exciting future is ahead for the leading independent charitable trust Essex Community Foundation (ECF), which has announced the appointment of its new chief executive, Caroline Taylor.

The appointment comes at a time when ECF is making an even greater impact in Essex having distributed £2.9 million in grants during the past year.  The Foundation is giving ever-increasing support to hundreds of voluntary and community groups and is helping to make philanthropy flourish in the county.

Caroline, who lives in Essex, has been with ECF since 2005 and has been deputy chief executive since June 2014.

She has led the strategic development of ECF's grants programmes, ensuring its grantmaking continues to meet local needs in the most effective way. She also works with UK Community Foundations at a national level to promote local philanthropy and has been instrumental in developing the annual research initiative, Vital Signs. 

Caroline will take up her role on 1 January 2016 succeeding Bob Reitemeier, who, after four years as chief executive of ECF, is leaving in December to become chief executive of ICan, a London-based charity supporting children and young people with speech, language and communications needs.

Welcoming the challenge of taking over the reins at ECF Caroline said: “It feels like a really exciting time for ECF and I am proud and privileged to become chief executive of such an amazing organisation which has earned such a high level of respect in the county.

“I relish the opportunity to build on our strengths with a strong team of generous donors, trustees and a dedicated staff team.  The Foundation was established in 1996 and I know that as we enter our 20th year we are ready to make an even bigger difference to the lives of people in Essex.

“During my time at ECF I have seen at first hand the value we bring to people who want to give and the vital help we provide to voluntary organisations needing funding and support.

“I am determined that we should build on our past experience, ensuring that our donors truly understand the benefit of giving through ECF while we increase our knowledge and understanding of the challenges that are being faced by local communities.”

ECF currently manages 120 named charitable funds on behalf of individuals, families, companies and public agencies and has grown its endowment fund to £32 million.

Jonathan Minter DL, chairman of ECF, said: “I am delighted that, following a robust process, the board of trustees at ECF agreed to appoint Caroline as our new chief executive.

“Her passion for Essex and its needs, her unrivalled expertise and her dynamic leadership skills make her the ideal person to lead ECF into the future. She has the full support of our trustees, staff, donors and the voluntary sector as she takes on this well-deserved appointment.”

Strengthening the voluntary sector in Essex

10th November 2015

Small charities and voluntary organisations in Essex are being given a chance to become stronger and more effective by taking up training opportunities made possible through funding given by ECF.

The highly-respected Essex organisation Voluntary Sector Training (VST) is working together with ECF to deliver a wide range of subsidised training programmes to small charities and organisations that may otherwise be unable to afford such courses.

The training can cover all-important issues including fundraising, managing employees, employment law, IT and pensions and is available now for small charities and voluntary organisations in Essex.

Caroline Taylor, deputy chief executive of ECF said:  “We work very closely with such organisations and we recognise the immense contribution they make to the lives of so many people in the county.  But for many small charities and organisations funding is a huge barrier which prevents them from taking up training opportunities. 

“ECF gives grants to a lot of small voluntary organisations and charities and recognises that such training has become increasingly important for them to strengthen and develop their vital work.

“We are delighted that we have been able to provide funding so that Voluntary Sector Training can offer courses at a reasonable cost, which in turn will bring great benefit to the community across Essex.”

Linda Riley, Chief Executive at VST said: “This is a wonderful opportunity for small organisations to develop their skills. Thanks to ECF’s funding VST can now offer local training courses at a subsidised price of £25 a day. This will give the chance to small charities and organisations to become more effective and build their capacity through high quality professional training.”

Applications can be made through the VST website. Those applying must have a gross income of under £50,000 per annum.  To apply visit

VST is an independent charity providing affordable, relevant and accessible training for charities and community groups in Essex. Its aim is to support the development of a strong, effective and diverse voluntary and community sector in the county.

Essex Young Musicians Trust

9th November 2015

In 2015 the Essex Young Musicians' Trust was transferred to the management of Essex Community Foundation.

Full Fees Bursaries, Discretionary Awards, Tour Bursaries and Top Ups are available each year to members of the Essex Youth Orchestras who are educated or living in Essex, Southend and Thurrock. Students must gain a place in the Essex Youth Orchestras and inform Essex Music Services that they need financial assistance.

To make an application for funding please complete the application form which must be emailed to and posted to Essex Community Foundation.

Your application must be submitted by the 14 November 2015. Auditions and interviews will be held on Saturday 21 November 2015 at St Botolphs, Colchester.

Bursaries to assist with the costs of Post Graduate courses are now available.