Essex Community Foundation

News archive

Philanthropy Under the Spotlight

8th December 2015

Philanthropy and its important role in society today came under the spotlight when more than 130 people gathered for Essex Community Foundation’s annual general meeting at Stockbrook Manor.

Supporters of ECF, community and business leaders and representatives from voluntary organisations joined ECF fundholders, trustees and staff for the event which featured a high level panel discussion about philanthropy.

Putting the topic under scrutiny were panel members Dr Jerome Booth, an economist and philanthropist who has a charitable Fund with ECF and Dr Peter Grant one of the UK’s leading practitioners in public and charitable funding who lectures at the Cass Business School in London. 

Etholle George, a well-known BBC presenter who was elected as a new trustee of ECF at the meeting, put questions to the panel members and led the debate.

The event marked a milestone for ECF which is about to celebrate its 20th year.  The Foundation now manages 120 charitable funds on behalf of families, individuals, companies and public agencies and allocates grants from the funds it manages to help improve the lives of people in Essex.

Jonathan Minter DL, chairman of ECF said: “Philanthropy is at the heart of what we do and it is very fitting that the topic should be given such prominence at our annual general meeting.

“It has been another exciting and inspiring year at ECF. I am delighted that over the past year we have awarded a total of £2.9 million in grants, the largest amount in our history for a single year and a 42 per cent increase on last year.

“Our grantmaking is a critical pillar of support for many voluntary groups, but a key factor for us is the deep satisfaction that awarding grants gives to our donors.”

Joining Etholle George as new Trustees on ECF’s Board were Charles Cryer, a former Director at Capita Plc who lives in Boxted and Claire Read from Chelmsford, who is a partner with Birkett Long Solicitors.

To hear Jerome explain what motivates him to give and why he chooses to work with ECF to channel some of his giving locally in Essex click here.

The value of Uniformed Groups

7th December 2015

This story was featured by in the Newsquest Your LIFE supplement.  To read the full article click here.


Uniformed groups for young people have been well-established for more than 100 years and, having been through many phases over the past decades, are now as strong as ever.

Many of them started life through a connection with the Church. The first Boys’ Brigade was started in Glasgow in 1883, Baden Powel started the Scout movement in 1907 and Girlguiding followed in 1910.  Heybridge Guides in the 1950's is pictured.

In Essex, as in many other parts of the UK, uniformed groups for young people have kept pace with modern times and are flourishing.

Support from ECF has helped uniformed groups develop and expand their work to reach young people across the county.

Over the past year ECF has given grants to a wide range of uniformed groups in Essex, including the 2nd Witham Boys Brigade, guide groups in Bradwell-Juxta-Mare, Bocking and Runwell, the ATC in Canvey, scout groups in Braintree and Harlow, sea cadets in Maldon and a combined cadet corps at a school in Westcliff.

Caroline Taylor, deputy chief executive of ECF said: “We are very pleased to support uniformed groups in Essex, as we recognise the important role they play in the community, giving young people opportunities, with the chance to develop their characters and learn valuable skills which will help them in later life.

“There are so many positive aspects to such groups, they provide a structure, a sense of identity and purpose and somewhere for young people to channel their energy in a positive way.

“They also give a sense of community and provide the opportunity to be part of a team and make friendships that can last a lifetime.”

Girl Guiding is one of the most popular organisations for young people in Essex, with groups across the county.

Helen Venner, County Commissioner, Girlguiding Essex North East said: “As a Guiding county, we are forward looking and very active.   Whilst we value our traditions and history we are always striving to be modern and relevant to today’s girls.

Guiding is about acquiring skills for life and enabling girls and women to be ready to meet the challenges of today and tomorrow. 

“Within our county, we have over 7,000 members and there are nearly 600,000 members throughout the UK and 10 million members worldwide.

“Being a Rainbow, Brownie, Guide or member of the Senior Section opens up a world of opportunities that will last a lifetime. It provides a safe, girl-only space to explore the activities, issues and possibilities that are available to girls today.

“The range of activities is enormous and there's something, or more than something, to appeal to everyone, from outdoor challenges to learning new skills, international travel to getting involved in community action projects.“

“But there’s more to guiding than having a good time. Guiding is a game with a purpose. It provides opportunities for girls and young women to be challenged by new experiences and achieve a sense of pride in accomplishment. 

“It helps them to think for themselves and make decisions, undertake teamwork and acquire leadership skills, as well as acquire self-awareness, self-respect and self-confidence. 

“We encourage them to develop personal values which give their lives meaning and direction, do their best according to their abilities, seek spiritual development, whatever faith they belong to, contribute to society and live by a simple code, the Guide Law.”

Why I love the Guides

Ari Cook, 16, started in the Brownies aged seven, and joined the Guides aged ten. 

Ari says "I'd always wanted to join the Guides so I was really happy when I could finally get a place.  The group in our area was always very busy. 

"I love it because you get to try so many different things - a couple of years ago I tried going on rope runners and climbing, things I hadn't tried before. 

"But at the end of the day, going to Gudies is a really social thing.  It's a stress free environment with no pressure to do anything, and if you need support it is there. 

"There is always someone behind you to give you the push you need."

2nd Witham Boys’ Brigade

The 2nd Witham Boys' Brigade can make the proud boast that it is one of the largest and most active voluntary groups of its kind in the country and grants from ECF totalling more than £4,000 have helped its continuing success story.

The group, which includes boys and girls, has operated across Witham and surrounding areas since 1972 and covers an area of more than 25 square miles.  It has a core membership of 150, including staff, but its Community Development Programme means that another 350 young people and staff are involved in many activities including sport and crafts.

Lorne Campbell, CEO at 2nd Witham Boys Brigade said: “We work with a wide range of young people, particularly engaging with those who are disadvantaged.  We go beyond the usual uniformed youth group activity, actively targeting boys and girls who are in need of support.

“We encourage young people to lead healthier life styles and to develop discipline and team skills.

We also provide a variety of activities for young people to help them develop independent life skills such as self-esteem, communication, anger management and negotiation.
“Our broad range of activities includes conservation work on land we own in North Essex.  This allows our young people to experience camping, rock climbing, wood turning, car restoration, canoeing, power boating, adventurous cooking, crafts, animation and video making.  All of these activities help them develop skills that they can use throughout their lives.  We also support them with CV writing and leadership training.

“We have a workshop in Witham which we now own and it is a base for a lot of our activities.  Many young people come back to volunteer with us when they have finished their education, such is the effect the unit has on their lives.

The 2nd Witham Boys Brigade is very much part of the community and we are a lead partner within a Community Hub in Witham.  We also have a pop up Cycle Centre, offering repairs and recycling of bikes.

“The main aim of the 2nd Witham Boys Brigade is to improve the life chances of young people in Witham and the surrounding area by raising aspiration, attainment, health and wellbeing and by pro-actively working with other groups where young people can make a difference and have opportunities to inspire their communities.”

Caroline Taylor, deputy chief executive of ECF said : “The 2nd Witham Boys Brigade is one of the largest groups of its kind in the country and is seen as an important youth leader in the Witham area. Its work is much respected and is known to make a difference to the young people it engages with, which are often those that others cannot reach.

“The Brigade has led the way in local initiatives, encouraging young people to become more healthy through sport and fitness activities and instil this within the family unit where possible. The grants we have been able to give the group have helped them to build on their work and go from strength to strength.”

ATC Canvey

A band has always been an integral part of Canvey Air Training Corps, which is part of a voluntary youth organisation supported by the Royal Air Force.

When equipment used by the high profile band urgently needed replacing ECF was able to help, with a grant of £500.

Now the squadron's band can march proudly once more, with new instruments including bugles, bell lyres and glockenspiels.

Flt Lt Doug Norman, Officer Commanding for Canvey ATC said, “We have had a band since the very early days of the squadron's history and have always been proud of their musical abilities.

“We came to a point when much of the band's equipment was at the end of its useful life and needed replacing.  We started suffering embarrassing mishaps, like drum straps and skins breaking during performances, primarily because they were old and worn out.

“Equipment of this nature takes a ‘bashing’ both realistically and metaphorically and we needed to replace instruments and add more equipment into the squadron to accommodate a record number of new recruits.

“The new equipment means that the squadron band can continue with their duties and take part in numerous local events, such as Armed Forces Day, Remembrance Sunday, the Castle Point Show and Canvey Xmas Light Up.  It has also enabled new recruits to come on board and learn new musical skills, adding to their own self-esteem and confidence.”

Caroline Taylor from ECF said: “The ATC is well known for providing a structured programme of activities and training opportunities for young people, fostering a sense of community and citizenship.

“Canvey ATC is a shining example of a uniformed youth group engendering positive social behaviour, promoting discipline, good behaviour and general wellbeing and raising the level of pride about youngsters on Canvey Island.

“The support ECF has been able to give Canvey ATC means that they can continue to be a very positive part of their community.”

Surviving Winter Appeal

7th December 2015

To support the Surviving Winter Appeal

Please don't forget to Gift Aid your donation.


Elderly and vulnerable people, including those with no home to go to at Christmas, are receiving extra support thanks to grants being awarded from this year's Surviving Winter Appeal.

The appeal is part of a national campaign run by Community Foundations across the country each year to help older and vulnerable people stay warm and well and less isolated during the winter months.

Two grants have already been allocated this winter by ECF, with £1,000 going to Beacon House in Colchester to help homeless people and £700 to the Diamond Club in Basildon for a Christmas party for older people.

As the winter progresses more grants will be distributed by ECF and voluntary organisations providing support to vulnerable and elderly people to help them through the winter months are being invited to apply for funding from the Surviving Winter Appeal.

Caroline Taylor, chief executive of ECF said: “There may not be snow on the ground yet, but the winter months with shorter days and dark evenings can leave many elderly and vulnerable people feeling lonely and isolated in their homes.

“It is at times like these that voluntary and community organisations really come into their own, providing vital help and social activities to ensure that elderly and vulnerable people keep warm and well during the winter months.”

The money given to Beacon House will help provide extra beds for homeless people over the winter months. The grant to the Diamond Club will give elderly people the chance to socialise over the festive period and have a Christmas party.

ECF, an independent charity which promotes philanthropy and distributes grants from the funds it manages, has, through past Surviving Winter Appeals, raised more than £80,000 which has been distributed locally so that voluntary and community organisations can continue to provide  support to those in need.

As a result, more than 2,000 vulnerable and elderly people have been given the extra support they need to help see them through the winter.

The Surviving Winter Appeal began as a way for generous pensioners to donate their Winter Fuel payments to those in need.  It is now open to anyone who wants to help support vulnerable people survive the winter.

Vivienne Wiggins from Beacon House said: “During the winter months we open a church hall in Colchester to provide extra beds, a hot meal and breakfast for people who are homeless.

“Last year several people who had been sleeping rough for many years came in because it was cold and were reconnected to valuable support.

“This highlighted the need for more intensive efforts to identify and engage with entrenched homeless people.

“We are grateful for the grant we have had from ECF and all the contributions of time, food and resources from a wide range of people.

To apply for a grant

If your organisation is providing help and support to vulnerable or elderly people during the winter months, grants are available from the Surviving Winter Appeal.  To apply click here

To support the Surviving Winter Appeal

Please don't forget to Gift Aid your donation.

New Annual Review available

3rd December 2015

Our latest Annual Review and grant supplement and our Annual Report and Financial Statements for the year 1 July 2014 to 30 June 2015 are now all available for you to view on-line.  If you would like to receive a copy of these documents by post, please e-mail Jo Murphy or call 01245 355947.

If you are inspired by what you have read and what Essex Community Foundation is doing in helping people who want to give locally and charities that are seeking funding, please tell others about us. 

To view the documents click here.

CAF world giving index

1st December 2015

We at ECF would say that Essex is the most generous county in England.  New research by Charities Aid Foundation shows that the United Kingdom is the most generous country in Europe and the sixth most generous country in the world.

The data, published as The World Giving Index 2015 by CAF today, shows that 75 per cent of people in the UK have donated money to charity in the last year, more than double the international average of 31.5 per cent.

The data is based on surveys of people aged 15 and over in 145 countries worldwide, carried out by global research consultant Gallup in 2014. The survey looked at three metrics of giving: the percentage of people who have given money to charity, volunteered time and helped a stranger.

The report shows that people in the UK were also above average when it came to freely volunteering their time, with 32 per cent of those surveyed saying they had done so in the last year. The figure is three percentage points higher than the previous year, suggesting that an extra 1.58 million people have volunteered.

ECF is assisted by over 200 volunteers covering those that work in the office, our Trustees and those who sit on our donor and community panels.

Having seen increases across all three giving metrics, the United Kingdom has moved from seventh to six in the report’s list of the top 10 most generous countries. Two other European countries are in the top 10, with the Netherlands coming in seventh and Ireland in ninth.

Myanmar (Burma) is listed as the world’s most generous country, with the United States of America and New Zealand rounding out the top three.

The report shows that some of the world’s most generous countries are amongst the most deprived. The data shows that only five of G-20 members – representing the world’s largest economies - account for the top 20 most generous countries. The remaining 15 poll outside the top 50, with a further six of those polling outside the top 100.

John Low, chief executive of CAF, said: “The CAF World Giving Index continually confounds any attempts to define what it is that makes a country generous. Some might expect to see the culture of giving being greatest among the wealthiest nations but, as this year’s report shows, the reality can often be quite the opposite.

If you want help Essex to be the most generous County in the UK and would like ECF to help you support local communities click here to find out more or contact us.