Essex Community Foundation

News archive

Day centre opens new all-access garden

30th June 2017

An arts and craft day centre for people with severe physical disabilities has opened a new garden which is accessible to all of its members.

The new green space at Ferriers Barn has been specially designed to suit all of the centre’s 19 members, including wheelchair users, by means of wide paths and raised flower beds. It replaces a small vegetable patch which was inaccessible to most.

The Barn opened in 1974 and has allowed its members to develop friendships and provides respite for their families and carers, some of whom would not be able to work even part-time without it.

This revamp, which also includes a sensory sandpit, was made possible by a grant of £17,463 from the independent charitable trust Essex Community Foundation (ECF). The grant monies were pooled from the Mi Community Fund, Sport Relief Community Cash and the Diana Tinson Fund.

Jill Kerr-Smiley, a Trustee of Ferriers Barn, explained the difference the garden has made, “A lot of our work at the Barn is centred on teaching and encouraging our members to do things for themselves. Having this uniquely equipped garden which everyone can enjoy together is really special and gardening is another new skill to learn”.

She added, “There are a number of therapeutic benefits to having a quiet space in the open air so we encourage families and carers to join members in the garden”.

Ferriers Barn is open Monday to Friday and has spaces available for new members. For more information, visit

For more information about ECF or to apply for funding, call the grants team on 01245 356018.

New Lord-Lieutenant appointed in Essex

23rd June 2017

The next Lord-Lieutenant of Essex has been appointed by the Queen.

Jennifer Tolhurst, a current Deputy Lieutenant, will take over from Lord Petre, who will stand down on August 4 after turning 75 - the obligatory retirement age for the sovereign’s representatives.

Mrs Tolhurst lives in Danbury and is a former High Sheriff of Essex. She is also a Vice-President of Essex Community Foundation and is an assessor for the Queen’s Awards for Volunteers.

The Lord-Lieutenant is the British monarch's personal representative in the county. Lord Petre, 18th Baron of the Petre family, whose ancestral family home is at Ingatestone Hall, has been the Lord-Lieutenant of Essex for the last fifteen years. 

Caroline Taylor, Chief Executive, said, "We were delighted to hear that Jenny has been appointed to this exciting position and we look forward to working with her in this new capacity".

Phone-In Funding Surgery - 12 July - Chelmsford

23rd June 2017

Are you a voluntary or community organisation operating in Chelmsford district and do you need funding?

If so, Essex Community Foundation will be holding a Phone-In Funding Surgery to help you identify if there is support available for your work and talk you through the process of applying for grants.

This phone-in event will be held on Wednesday 12 July between 10am to 12 noon. 

ECF grant officers, will be on hand to talk with you about your work and discuss your funding options. Please call them on 01245 356018. 

If you cannot get through on the day, please leave a message with your name, the organisation you are calling from and a number that we can contact you on. We will return your call as soon as possible.

Outdoor gym receives funding boost

21st June 2017

Parkeston residents will be able to get fit whilst regularly exercising outdoors thanks to a funding boost of £2,075 from the Milsom Charitable Fund.

This grant has allowed the Parkeston Residents and Welfare Park Association to buy and install more equipment, including an elliptical and leg press machine, at the outdoor gym on Garland Road for local residents of all ages and abilities to use.

Bill Davidson, Chairman of the Residents Association, said: “People might not want to go to a gym because they’re embarrassed or feel intimidated but they can use this outdoor gym at any time of the day and feel that they’re not being judged. We’re so grateful to have received this grant and the new equipment has already proved to be popular”.

He added, “It’s brilliant to see people from the village, some of which that don’t get out of the house often, coming out and having a go.”

The Fund was established with the independent charitable trust Essex Community Foundation (ECF) in 2007 and has since awarded over £18,000 in grants to support a wide range of local projects and voluntary organisations.

Chris Beardsmore, General Manager of The Pier at Harwich, said, “We are delighted that money from our Fund has been able to support the further development of this popular park. As a local business, we are committed to Harwich and to making the community an even better place to live and work.”

If you would like to apply for a charitable grant from ECF, please call 01245 356018 to speak with a member of the grants team.

Three Essex voluntary groups honoured by the Queen

5th June 2017

Three Essex voluntary groups who work in the community have been honoured with The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Services, the highest award a voluntary group can receive in the UK.

The three groups are:

• Razed Roof Theatre Group, Harlow
• Rayleigh Baptist Church Carers Café, Rayleigh
• Crossing Boundaries, Westcliff-on-Sea

The three groups are amongst 224 charities, social enterprises and voluntary groups to receive the prestigious award this year across the U.K. The number of awards given to groups is slightly higher this year, showing that the voluntary sector is thriving and full of innovative ideas to tackle community challenges and support those in need.

The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Services is the highest award given to local volunteer groups across the UK to recognise the outstanding work they do in their communities. The awards were created in 2002 to celebrate the Queen’s Golden Jubilee and winners are announced each year on 2nd June – the anniversary of the Queen’s Coronation.

Award winners this year range from Friends of Thetford Forest, providing access to many and varied groups to understand and enjoy the forest, to Life Cycle UK, based in Bristol, to help- people take up cycling for work or play.

The three groups mentioned above will receive the award from the Lord Lieutenant of Essex later this summer.

Caroline Taylor, Chief Executive of Essex Community Foundation which works with voluntary organisations across the county and who is also a Queen’s Award Panel Member for Essex, said:

“I am delighted that three local groups have won the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Services this year. Essex has a vibrant voluntary sector and the county would not be what it is without the invaluable contribution that these organisations, and thousands of others, make on a daily basis, to improve community life.

What many people don’t realise is that many groups doing voluntary work could win this award. We would urge everyone to think about the champions in their community and consider nominating them”.

Razed Roof, Harlow

Lord Petre ,“I am delighted to be presenting, on behalf of Her Majesty the Queen, the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Services to Razed Roof, Theatre Group, Harlow.

There are few opportunities for adults with learning difficulties in Harlow but the volunteers of Razed Roof plug the gap with affection and help change the lives of learning-disabled people in the area.

Razed Roof succeeds brilliantly in uniting disabled people with energetic, lively and caring young pupils. The group has engaged with hundreds of people at various community events. Everyone is valued and personal difference is celebrated.

The mix of able and disabled, overseen by a committed group of volunteers with an age range of 16 - 82, brings light and love to a group of learning-disabled people too often segregated from, and by, society. Together the group tackles difficult topics through imaginative and appropriate performances in a safe and inclusive environment.

The assessor visited an Anti-Bullying Workshop with Year 7 (11 -12 year olds) and came away astounded at this master class in inclusion, watching pupils visibly transformed by working with people who obviously find life far more challenging than themselves.

Over 3,000 people have engaged with the work of Razed Roof, plus many more who have engaged with social media and YouTube links; 32 people regularly attend weekly sessions; 265 people have attend RAZED ROOF workshops; 1,700 have attended exhibitions and events; 1,200 people have made up the audience”.

When asked what receiving the award means to Razed Roof, the leader, Annette Lidster, said, 'The Queen's Award for Voluntary Services is a wonderful endorsement of the work being done by Razed Roof; and most importantly, recognition of all the contributions and commitment of our many fabulous volunteers and supporters. We are all feeling very proud!'

Rayleigh Baptist Church Carers Café

Lord Petre said, “I am delighted that the Rayleigh Baptist Church Carers Café has been recognised by Her Majesty the Queen, as the winner of the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Services.

Volunteers at Rayleigh Baptist Church Carers Café Ministries Team offer effective support and respite to Carers and the support it extends to the Carers and their loved ones is exceptional. Carers can access help on the telephone as well as attend three different sessions.

Carers Café takes place on the first Saturday of each month, the Carers and Cared for Coffee Morning takes place on the third Friday of each month and Share the Care, which offers one to one support by appointment, takes place every Monday morning.

The Café had small local beginnings but has grown steadily both in terms of volunteers and Carers and it has little difficulty in finding volunteers. Over time over 70 Carers and their loved ones have registered with the Cafés.

While part of the Rayleigh Baptist Church Ministry, no one is expected to embrace its faith and the only criterion is that they are a Carer. Everybody is welcome and the services are free. The group makes a significant contribution to improving the mental health of adult Carers because the Café and its satellite services combat loneliness and isolation. The Café signposts useful contacts and empowers Carers to make social connections with those who share a common factor: they Care”.

On being asked what receiving the QAVS means to the team, Georgina Biggs, the leader replied, 'Being awarded the Queen's Award for Voluntary Service is a great encouragement to the team and gives credibility to the work we do, enabling Carers to come forward with confidence.'

Crossing Boundaries

Lord Petre said:  “It gives me great pleasure, on behalf of Her Majesty the Queen, to be presenting The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Services to Crossing Boundaries. 

The group is made up of church and non-church members who came together in response to a clear social need demonstrated at a ‘visioning’ meeting at Earls Hall Baptist Church Westcliff-on-Sea. 

They successfully help those in particular need to access statutory services such as their GP, social care services, mental health support, advice on money management, budgeting, access to debt support, benefits, computer support and social needs such as activities and friendships.

They provide invaluable advice and exceptional community support and continue to build strong relationships with Southend Social Care.”


To find out how you can nominate someone, click here