Essex Community Foundation

News archive

Essex declutters receive funding boost

27th February 2018

Your Living Room CIC, a not-for-profit decluttering service has been awarded a grant of £8,969 to expand their work and support people suffering from Hoarding Disorder.

This cash injection comes from the Yellow Car Charitable Fund, which is managed by the independent grantmaking trust Essex Community Foundation (ECF).

Pathological or compulsive hoarding is excessively collecting and failing to throw out a large number of items that would appear, to most, to hold little or no value to the point it impedes day-to-day life.

This severe cluttering builds until a home is no longer a viable place to live, can cause extreme isolation and become a danger to life. Around five percent of the UK population is affected by Hoarding Disorder and since it was recognised as a mental health condition in 2013, awareness has increased.

The decluttering service was set up in 2015 and helps clients to find the root cause of their obsessive collecting, improve well-being and re-engage them with the local community.

This funding boost will enable Your Living Room CIC to create a bespoke database, further developing the service it offers. The technology will analyse clients’ needs, track their progress and help the team ensure that support is in place for sustainable life improvements.

Your Living Room co-director Diane Boyd said: “We are very grateful to Essex Community Foundation for supporting us. We receive hundreds of referrals every year and this database will help us to track, monitor and deliver a service which will have a positive, long-lasting impact on our clients. It will also provide a vast menu of data such as demographics and support needs, as well as improving multi-agency working and delivering a saving to the public purse in the longer term.”

One person whose life has been transformed thanks to this service, is Sarah. Sarah is 50 years-old and has suffered a number of traumatic incidents in her life including domestic abuse and a violent burglary. Following changes to her circumstances, she moved to a two bedroom flat with the contents of a three-bedroom house.

Her new home was immediately over cramped and without family or friends living nearby, Sarah felt alienated. This cluttering continued to grow, until it become so severe that some rooms could no longer be entered.

Sarah knew of Your Living Room CIC and contacted them for help. The service cleared the flat, selling what they could on her behalf and donating the rest. Throughout the clean-up, Sarah was emotionally supported by the team and having now moved, which would have been impossible before, reports she is “very happy and feels more positive”. 

If you are an Essex community or voluntary organisation in need of funding to support your work, call ECF now on 01245 356018.

For more information about Your Living Room CIC, visit

Lifeline for parents awarded vital funding

19th February 2018

A funding boost of £8,200 has been given to an “amazing” organisation which offers a lifeline to parents who have children with additional needs.

The MAZE Group CIC has been awarded the grant by the independent charitable trust Essex Community Foundation (ECF) to provide more training courses for parents in Colchester and Tendring.

The courses give vital help and guidance to parents, or carers, of children with additional needs, including those with a learning difficulty, physical disability, autism, ADHD or cerebral palsy.

Thanks to the training, called ‘the MAZE Approach’, families are able to build more positive relationships, develop communication strategies and improve behaviour.

Debbie White, from Colchester, is among the many parents who have found the 12-week long course to be life-changing.

She said: “MAZE is amazing, helping families to understand and manage their additional needs. My son Tom is now 22, but didn’t receive his diagnosis of ASD (Autistic Spectrum Disorder) until he was nearly 20.

“Having received this diagnosis, we assumed we would be signposted to other organisations that could provide advice, but nothing happened.

“In 2016, we moved to Colchester and by chance were told about MAZE. I attended their course last January and it really has made a big impact on how we manage the challenges that Tom and our family face day-to-day.

“During my time with MAZE, they helped me to understand my son's needs and how I can be more supportive to him. The skills that I learnt have not only made me a better mum, but it made me realise how lucky I am to have such a special, amazing son in my life.”

Debbie is now a mentor to other parents and enjoys volunteering with MAZE to give something back to help other families who find themselves in the position she was.

Sue Anderton, director of MAZE, welcomed the funding from ECF which will help the organisation to meet the demand for the services it provides.

She said: “When parents have a strong understanding of the additional needs their child has, they are better equipped to raise them. This understanding and the tools they learn on the programme creates happier parents, happier children and happier siblings, who enjoy a calmer more stable home life.

“MAZE continues to grow, and we are making plans for further development. We hope to increase what we can offer parents, and carers, later this year.”

As well as the training programmes, MAZE also holds social coffee mornings for parents once a month, meeting in Harwich, Clacton and Colchester. To find out more, visit

ECF pooled money from two of the endowed charitable funds it manages, the Blanc Family Fund and the Diana Tinson Fund to award this vital grant to MAZE.

For more information about ECF and to find out how to make an application for funding call the team now on 01245 356018.

Tributes paid to ECF Founder

12th February 2018

Pioneering philanthropist, Ian Marks, who founded the leading independent charitable trust, Essex Community Foundation (ECF), has died peacefully at his home in Margaretting, aged 85.

Tributes have been paid to Ian as a man of vision and determination who changed the landscape of local charitable giving by setting up ECF in 1996.

It was one of the first organisations of its kind in the UK and its aim was to improve the lives of people in Essex by giving support to voluntary groups and charities working at a grassroots level to help those most in need in the county.

Ian Marks CBE DL, inspired many people with his ambition to create a permanent financial resource for the voluntary sector in his home county and, even as ECF went from strength to strength, his mantra was unwavering, “There is still so much more to do.”

He was born in South Woodford and apart from his national service, worked and lived in Essex for all his life.

After graduating from Cambridge, he joined the family confectionery firm, Trebor, which relocated from Ilford to Colchester in 1979.  He rose to become its managing director and then, in 1980, its chairman. He was made a CBE in 1993 for services to the food industry.

In 1989 Trebor was sold to Cadbury and Ian went on to devote his life to philanthropy.

Ian’s wife Angela, who shared his vision of galvanising the community to tackle social issues affecting Essex, was unstinting in her support and helped make his philanthropic ambitions become a reality.

When he stepped down as chairman of ECF in 2003, Ian took on the role of president, in recognition of his achievements in establishing such an important resource for the people of Essex.

Since it was founded 21 years ago, ECF has awarded more than £31 million in grants from the charitable funds that it manages on behalf of individuals, families, companies and public agencies who want to make a difference in their local community.

Ian was a modest man who strongly believed that the success of ECF was not down to him alone.  It was thanks to those who believed in his vision and everyone involved over the past 21 years; trustees, vice presidents, staff, volunteers, donors and voluntary groups, all working together for the good of Essex.











(L to R: Lord Petre, Jennifer Tolhurst: the Lord Lieutenant of Essex, Ian Marks CBE DL, Caroline Taylor chief executive of ECF and ECF's chairman Jonathan Minter DL)

ECF's chairman Jonathan Minter said: “Ian was a philanthropist who was passionate about helping to improve the lives of others less fortunate. His efforts to establish ECF led to the development of one of the leading charitable organisations in Essex.  He was our greatest champion and we will forever be grateful for his foresight and generosity and his enthusiasm for our work, which will continue to drive and inspire us to do more.”

Caroline Taylor, chief executive of ECF said: “Essex Community Foundation and Ian Marks will always be inextricably linked.  His vision and wise words of inspiration will live on through the continuing work of the Foundation and the charitable fund that we manage in Ian and Angela’s name.”

Lord Petre, a founding trustee of ECF and who was appointed as the foundation’s president last year, said: “Without Ian there would not be a Community Foundation in Essex. Initially, people were sceptical about the idea, but Ian’s faith and quiet persistence to engage others and gain their support, was unwavering.  Since then, many thousands of people living in communities across Essex have benefited from his vision and inspirational leadership.”

Jennifer Tolhurst, the Lord Lieutenant of Essex and Patron of ECF said, “Ian was a true Essex man and had a passion for this wonderful and diverse county.  He managed the family business was a champion for the voluntary sector and local community projects.  His charitable work extended outside of Essex, across the UK and the world.  He was a valued Deputy Lieutenant and will be greatly missed by all who had the good fortune to know him”.

Laura Warren, ECF's first chief executive, who worked with Ian Marks to set up the foundation said: “Ian started it all. Without his belief, that it is local people who have the power to bring change to their own communities, Essex would not have what it has now, a Community Foundation with funds now totalling £40 million, to support local causes in perpetuity. It was my good fortune to be appointed by Ian to spend 15 years as ECF’s founding CEO; he was an inspirational leader - visionary, demanding, enthusiastic, fun, and the most supportive Chairman one could have wanted.  He was a very special man.” 

Ann Pettifor also penned a tribute to Ian Marks CBE DL, noting the crucial part he played in building and supporting the Jubilee 2000 movement, which persuaded world leaders to cancel the debts of more than 30 low income countries.To read this in full, click here

Fenella Hardie, Holdfast Credit Union, said: "Our condolences on the death of Ian Marks. Holdfast Credit Union and in particular school children and young people in and around the Witham area and beyond have benefitted from the generosity and vision of the Foundation he established."

Wendy Clarke, My Post Office, said: "So sorry to hear of Ian Marks death as I’ve often passed on my respect and thankfulness that ECF was set up in Essex that didn’t have such a foundation. Keep up the good work in Ian’s name."

Cards and letters of condolence

Cards and letters of condolence can be sent to the family via the funeral directors, T Pennack & Sons, 1-3 Maldon Road, Great Baddow, Chelmsford CM2 7DW.
E-mail: Tel: 01245 471157.

Charitable causes receive boost in Braintree district

12th February 2018

An accommodation centre for vulnerable young people in Braintree, therapeutic care for cancer patients, and a counselling service for victims who have suffered sexual abuse are among the latest causes to receive support from the Braintree District and Greenfields Community Fund.

The Fund, which was launched by Braintree District Council and Greenfields Community Housing in 2016, is managed by Essex Community Foundation (ECF).  Grants are awarded to support the work of voluntary and community groups that help to improve the health, wellbeing and life-chances of local people living in the Braintree district.

In this latest round, four organisations have benefited from grants totalling nearly £120,000, which will be administered by ECF over the next three years:

  1. Action for Family Carers: £35,509
    To employ someone to work with local primary and secondary schools and help identify and support young carers.
  2. CARA (Centre for Action on Rape and Abuse): £33,987
    To provide a counselling and support service for people who have been victims of sexual violence and child abuse.
  3. Helen Rollason Heal Cancer Charity: £14,565
    To continue therapeutic treatments for people who are receiving treatment for cancer.
  4. Salvation Army Housing Association: £33,986
    To retain a Support Manager at the Braintree Foyer, which is an accommodation centre for young people aged 16-25 who are experiencing  homelessness or at risk of homelessness.

Helen Parr, Director of CARA said: “The counselling and therapeutic support we provide helps our clients to process what has happened to them and develop strategies to cope with the complex emotions they are often experiencing.

“We have seen a growth in demand for our services in the Braintree district, and this funding means we can continue our work and increase the number of sessions we offer.”

James Clarke, CEO of Action for Family Carers, said: “Young Carers sometimes keep their caring role a secret for fear of bullying or being seen as different by their friends.  However, remaining ‘hidden’ can mean that Young Carers miss out on the help that is available to them and their family. This grant means that we can work closely with schools in the Braintree district to identify Young Carers and ensure there is appropriate support for their wellbeing and future development.”

Flip Hornby, a Greenfields tenant and Board member, and Grant Panel member, said, “The panel was very impressed by the fantastic work of the four organisations benefiting from grants this year. They are providing vital help to improve the lives of local people in need of additional support.”

Councillor Wendy Schmitt, Deputy Leader Braintree District Council, said: “As a council we are proud to be part of this fund which is making a real difference to the community. The range of organisations this year are close to many people’s hearts and I look forward to seeing the difference this money will make.”

The Fund provides voluntary and community organisations with the opportunity to apply for funding of up to £40,000, which can be awarded over a period of up to three years. In 2017, five local organisations received £95,000 in the first round of grants. The recipients were Braintree Area Foodbank, Families InFocus, Witham Town Luncheon Club, Home-Start Witham Braintree & Halstead and Relate North Essex & East Herts.

Community and voluntary organisations in need of funding can call the ECF grants team now on 01245 356018.

Support the Surviving Winter Appeal

11th February 2018

ECF is accepting donations, including unneeded Winter fuel payments, to help people in Essex stay warm and well during the colder months.

All donations will support the work of local charities and voluntary organisations that are helping elderly and vulnerable people in their communities.  

Organisations which have previously received grants include:

  • Basildon Emergency Night Shelters - £225 to open local churches up for 5 nights a week to provide beds for people who are homeless and living on the streets.
  • Braintree Area Foodbank - £1,000 to support additional demand on the foodbank during the winter months as people have to choose between heating and food.
  • Wyvern Community Transport - £1,000 to provide an additional Saturday community transport service during Winter for the elderly.

ECF has just awarded £1,000 to Streets2Homes to support their work of giving people without a home a warm and safe place during these severe weather conditions. If you are community organisation providing emergency relief during this time, and you are in need of funding, please contact us now on 01245 356018 or e-mail

How to donate:

Cheque – Some supporters choose to send a cheque and donate an amount equivalent to their own Winter fuel allowance if they do not need it themselves, or give an alternative sum of their choice. Please make it payable to 'Essex Community Foundation' and post it to 121 New London Road, Chelmsford, CM2 0QT.

Online – You can donate online via our Just Giving page. To access this, click here

BACS Transfer – Please call a member of the ECF team on 01245 355947 who will be happy to pass on the necessary details.  

Please don't forget to Gift Aid your donation if you can, the Gift Aid form can be accessed here