Essex Community Foundation

News archive

New Year windfall for life-changing charities

30th January 2019

Braintree District Mencap and Braintree Rethink Carers Support Group are among six invaluable local charities to benefit from grants totalling £135,000.

The money has been awarded from Braintree District and Greenfields Community Fund, set up by Braintree District Council and Greenfields Community Housing and managed by Essex Community Foundation.

Grants are awarded from the Fund annually to support the work of local voluntary organisations and charities over a number of years, who are working to improve the lives of people living in the district.

Organisations to have been awarded a funding boost in this latest round are:

  • Home-Start Essex: £39,000 to expand a wellbeing programme that engages vulnerable families in social and physical activities to promote mental and physical health.
  • InterAct: £26,300 for workshops in Braintree schools aimed at raising the career aspirations of young people with learning disabilities and/or additional needs.
  • Braintree Rethink Carers Support Group: £15,000 to continue an art support group for people with mental health issues.
  • Braintree District Mencap Society: £13,426 to run a life skills programme for young adults with learning difficulties. 
  • Essex Boys’ and Girls’ Club: £30,000 towards an early intervention programme for 13-14-year olds aimed at increasing their ability to deal with life’s problems and become more resilient.
  • Carers FIRST: £12,074 to deliver a programme that promotes emotional and physical wellbeing for people that are caring for a loved one.

Yvette Wetton, chief executive of Braintree District Mencap Society, said: “Our life skills classes cover important topics including nutrition, budgeting, healthy relationships and how to keep safe both in the home and when out and about. Developing these skills will help people with a learning disability to increase their confidence and abilities and, for some, be an important part of enabling them to live more independently.”

Braintree Rethink Carers Support Group offers a non-judgmental, safe space for those with mental health issues and their carers to come together and create art. The £15,000 awarded will cover their rent costs and enable them to take members on trips.

Katrina Whittaker, who runs the group, said: “Having a friendly environment where our members can come on a regular basis and feel safe with people who understand them is so important.  They produce some amazing pieces of work and get a real boost from the outings, which include visits to art galleries and the seaside. Many of our members would never dream of taking these trips alone and it really opens up their world. We are so grateful for the funding boost”.

Councillor Wendy Schmitt, Deputy Leader at Braintree District Council and Panel Member, said: “Braintree District Council is proud to be a part of this fund which is significantly contributing to the wellbeing and aspirations of local people. It is great that organisations can apply to receive funding over a number of years, as this enables them to plan and develop their services.”

Sandra Crosby, Greenfields’ Housing Director and panel member, said: “We know how vital these local causes are to so many of our residents, which is why we are very pleased to support them. I would encourage any group that is in need of funding to contact ECF.”

Local charities and voluntary organisations are invited to contact the ECF grants team on 01245 356018 to talk about their work and potential funding needs. 

ECF appoints new Head of Development

21st January 2019

Essex Community Foundation (ECF) is pleased to welcome Perry Norton as its new Head of Development.

Perry will be responsible for introducing the Foundation’s work to a wide audience of individuals, companies and professional advisers.  He will increase awareness of ECF, the benefits of local philanthropy and highlight how donors can channel their charitable giving through ECF to support charities, voluntary organisations and the causes that are important to them.

Perry joins ECF from the Lord’s Taverners, the London-based youth cricket and disability sports charity, where he headed up the Corporate Fundraising team for the last 5 years. Before this, Perry was Business Development Manager at Essex Cricket.

“I am delighted to have joined ECF at this next stage of its development.” said Perry.  “I am passionate about Essex and local issues.  I am looking forward to working with the team, sharing the Foundation’s work and encouraging more people to get involved with this amazing organisation.”

ECF currently manages 150 named charitable funds on behalf of individuals, families, companies and public agencies and has awarded more than £34 million in charitable grants since its inception in 1996.

Caroline Taylor, Chief Executive at ECF said, “Perry has joined ECF at a very exciting time as the trustees adopt a new five-year business plan, within which we will seek to increase the Foundation’s endowment by a further £15 million. “

If you would like to get in touch with Perry, please call 01245 355947 or e-mail

Local charities receive £85,000 boost from Tampon Tax

16th January 2019

Thirteen local charities working with some of the most vulnerable women and girls in Essex have received a much-needed funding boost from the Tampon Tax Community Fund.

The Fund, which was set up by the Government with money raised through the levy on sanitary products, is managed locally by the independent charitable trust Essex Community Foundation (ECF). 

Grants totalling £85,000 have been awarded to local voluntary and community organisations to help them develop or expand their work with women of all ages, focussing on preventative services for those at risk of crisis. 

Projects receiving support in this first round of grants are aimed at helping women and girls to improve their health and wellbeing, create and develop social networks and get into or back to work.

Among the organisations to receive funding are:

  • Parents 1st: £7,800 to run a ‘pregnancy pals’ project in Basildon that provides vulnerable pregnant women with a volunteer for support.
  • Open Road: £5,800 to help women on probation from prison across Essex to rebuild their lives and reduce the likelihood of reoffending.
  • Ark Family Resource Centre: £6,194 to expand their support service for women and families in Harwich that have experienced domestic abuse.
  • Home-Start Essex: £5,381 to expand a peer support group for mothers in Harlow. (pictured, right)
  • Southend Vineyard: £8,336 towards the salary of an outreach worker to help women exit the sex industry.

Southend Vineyard will use their grant of £8,336 to employ an outreach worker for ‘The Promise Project’.  This community-based scheme runs a drop-in service for women and girls who are being exploited through prostitution, providing a safe place where they can have a warm meal and receive support.

Rob Carvosso, the Project Manager, said: “Southend Vineyard has been working with the local community for over 23 years.  During the drop-in, we offer a range of support including making appointments at sexual health clinics, referrals to counselling and other recovery treatments for drug and alcohol abuse.”

Home-Start Essex was awarded £5,381 to expand a peer support group for mothers in Harlow focussed on improving their mental and physical wellbeing. Nic O’Brien, chief executive, said: “We offer a range of activities including art therapy, sessions on mindfulness, information about healthy eating and importantly, group discussions on any issues they are facing.

“We also provide a crèche where the children can play, allowing the mothers time to focus on their own wellbeing and forge valuable friendships.”

Parents 1st received £7,800 to continue their ‘pregnancy pals’ project for vulnerable women in Basildon. This includes exercise classes to promote a healthy lifestyle and pairing women with volunteers for support during pregnancy, labour and the first few months of their baby’s life.

Celia Suppiah, chief executive of the charity, said: “It can be incredibly daunting to have a baby when you don't have a support system. The women we help, due to a range of circumstances, may feel isolated and unsure of where to turn to for help. Having just one person in their corner that they can talk to, makes a huge difference to their emotional and physical wellbeing.

“Our peer support scheme builds positive, trusting relationships where women can feel valued and listened to, rather than judged for their circumstance.”

Caroline Taylor, chief executive of ECF, said: “The grants awarded from the Tampon Tax Community Fund will enable these 13 voluntary organisations to expand and increase the support they offer to some of the most marginalised and vulnerable women and girls who are living in communities across Essex.

“We know there are many other local charities offering support to women and girls and we would encourage them to contact us if they have are in need of funding.”

For more information, pleaser call the grants team on 01245 355947.

To join the conversation on Twitter, visit #TamponTax.

Support our Surviving Winter Appeal

10th January 2019

The Surviving Winter Appeal has re-launched to help people who struggle to stay warm and healthy at this time of the year.

The Appeal was first launched by the independent charitable trust Essex Community Foundation (ECF) in 2011. The initial aim was to give those who received winter fuel payments they did not need, the chance to donate it and help elderly and vulnerable people to cope.

It is now open to anyone who wishes to support vulnerable people during the colder months. Local businesses are also encouraged to donate.

Caroline Taylor, chief executive of ECF said: “For many elderly and vulnerable people the harsh winter weather can make life extremely difficult. They are at risk if they try to get out and about and many are left trapped in their own home.

"Donations to our Surviving Winter Appeal will support the dedicated volunteers who check on them, provide free transport to doctor’s surgeries and cook warm meals. The Appeal also gives grants to the organisations helping homeless people who would otherwise have to sleep on the street.

“This support is more important now than ever, as data released by the Office for National Statistics reveal that excess winter deaths in England and Wales are the highest they have been since 1976.

“On a national scale, 50,100 excess deaths were recorded in England and Wales last winter, when there was a prolonged spell of extreme cold. This is around 45% more than those that occurred in 2016-17 and double the total in 2015-16.

“Over the past three years, the average number of excess winter deaths in Essex was 1,253.

“The Surviving Winter Appeal is a lifeline for those who are most at risk. We hope that the generous residents of Essex will give their support to this year's Appeal to help prevent people becoming victims of the harsh winter months. The more donations we receive, the more people we can help”.

Thanks to donations in previous years, the Foundation has been able to award grants totalling £69,000 to support the work of local voluntary organisations.

Grants distributed include:

  • Witham Town Luncheon Club: £1,000 to cook warm, nutritious meals for elderly people that overwise might not leave their homes. (Pictured right)
  • Beacon House Ministries: £750 to help the Colchester-based charity to support homeless people during the cold winter months.
  • Tendring Eldercare: £1,000 to provide winter food and clothing packs to elderly people.

How to donate

Cheque – Please make it payable to 'Essex Community Foundation' and post it to 121 New London Road, Chelmsford, CM2 0QT.

Bank Transfer – If you call 01245 355947 a member of the ECF team will be happy to pass on the bank details.

Online – You can donate online via our Just Giving page.

Please don't forget to Gift Aid your donation. The Gift Aid form can be accessed here.