Essex Community Foundation

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High Sheriff Rewards Local Charities

17th March 2016

People who have made a major contribution to community safety and crime prevention in Essex have been given well-deserved recognition and thanks at the prestigious High Sheriffs’ Awards ceremony.

A man who has dedicated years to helping young people gain skills for life and help them become good citizens, organisations supporting young people in Chelmsford, Epping and Tendring and a scam-busting initiative in Southend are among those receiving awards.

More than 40 voluntary and community organisations were represented at this year’s ceremony held at Hylands House in Chelmsford and trophies, certificates and grants totalling £23,541, were presented by the outgoing High Sheriff of Essex, Vincent Thompson.

The grants came from the High Sheriffs’ Fund, which is managed by the independent charitable trust, Essex Community Foundation (ECF).

Vincent Thompson, who is the 835th High Sheriff of Essex, paid tribute to the people of Essex as he came to the end of his busy and successful year of office, during which he has visited the Courts, spent time with Essex Police, Essex County Fire and Rescue and the Ambulance Service. 

He said: “Without exception I have been hugely impressed by the dedication, expertise, care and attention shown by all the people I have met who look after our wellbeing.”

Vincent also praised the hundreds of volunteers from across the county who he met during his year.  He said, “It is estimated that nearly 400,000 people undertake some form of charity or voluntary work in Essex.  They are the representatives of this crucial part of our society without which we could not function. 

“An important part of the role of the High Sheriff is to recognise and promote the voluntary sector, with particular emphasis on those organisations which support law and order and tackle crime and social problems.

“The voluntary sector plays an essential role in the wellbeing of the county and one of the most rewarding aspects of the High Sheriffs’ year is to see them in action.  I have seen, first-hand, the wonderful work carried out by these organisations, often by people who seek no reward for themselves and whose sole motivation is to support others.  It is a pleasure and a privilege to help give them the recognition they so richly deserve.

“ECF has been of great value to me during my year of office and the High Sheriffs’ Fund gives much needed support to the organisations helping to prevent crime and promoting community safety.

“During my travels around the county I have realised that the role of High Sheriff is still much respected and although it is an ancient role it is still very relevant today.”

Since it came under ECF’s management in 1997 the High Sheriffs’ Fund has distributed nearly 560 grants totalling almost £460,000 to voluntary and community organisations.

Caroline Taylor, chief executive of ECF said: “The High Sheriffs’ Fund is a valuable financial resource for the voluntary sector in Essex.  We are delighted to manage the fund and work with the successive High Sheriffs so that greater support can be given to people in the county who are tackling important issues at a local level.”

The High Sheriffs’ Award Scheme recognises community initiatives which address crime, community safety and anti-social behaviour. 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.

History of the role of High Sheriff
There have been High Sheriffs for at least 1,000 years. The original ‘Shire Reeves’ were Royal officials appointed to enforce the King’s interests in a County, in particular the collection of revenues and taxes, and the maintenance of law and order. High Sheriffs had extensive powers. They were in effect Judge, Justice of the Peace and Jury before the development of the Justices and Assizes system.

Today the High Sheriff is required to make a meaningful contribution to his or her county during their year of office.  The role involves giving active support to the Royal family, the judiciary, the police and other law-enforcement agencies, the emergency services, local authorities and all recognised church and faith groups and includes supporting and promoting voluntary organisations within the county.  More information about the history and role of the High Sheriff is available at

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Challenging the Essex Girl Stereotype

1st March 2016

Primary school children in Colchester are to produce a film that aims to turn the Essex Girl stereotype on its head, thanks to a grant of £2,500 from the EWAG Charitable Fund.

The grant has been awarded to the Essex Girls - Junior project, run by Signals Media Arts based in Colchester.  The film project will enable children from the Iceni Academy and Stanway Primary School to chart the successes of women from Essex over the years.

The EWAG Charitable Fund was established in 2010 by the Essex Women’s Advisory Group to combat negative stereotypes and promote self-esteem in women.  The Fund is managed by the independent charitable trust, Essex Community Foundation (ECF) which celebrates its 20th anniversary this year.  Additional funding of £1,500 was awarded to the project from the Colchester Fund, which is also managed by ECF.

Caroline Taylor, chief executive of ECF, is thrilled the Foundation is able to help make the Essex Girls - Junior project come to fruition.

She said: “Signals Media Arts has a proven track record of delivering creative projects and working with young people. This new project was born out of the success of Signals’ year-long Essex Girls Youth Film Club project, which explored the negative stereotyping of girls from the county and the impact on girls’ lives today.”

Rachel Hipkiss, chief executive at Signals Media Arts explains: “We discovered young women had been ridiculed at job interviews or in the first day of college and that many women had not admitted to coming from Essex.

“The young people who took part in the Essex Girls project said that although they felt it did not apply to their own families, they were influenced by the stereotype and felt it generally was true.”

Using materials created through the original project, primary school children will add their own ideas to develop work that can be seen and understood by youngsters in that age group.

They will take part in six workshops during school time and create short films suitable for young children through animation, graphics, sound recording and editing.

The short films created will then be made available online and used as learning resources for schools, clubs and individuals.

Rachel from Signals Media Arts adds: “The children taking part will gain a better understanding of their local heritage and the project will help them to have an increased sense of pride in their county which is often portrayed in a negative way.”