Essex Community Foundation

News archive

Helping local charities during the coronavirus pandemic

25th March 2020

Essex Community Foundation (ECF), a leading and independent supporter of local charities and voluntary groups, has launched a funding programme to help organisations during the coronavirus pandemic.

The purpose of the Essex Coronavirus Response and Recovery Programme is to get help quickly to voluntary and community organisations that are in crisis and need emergency funding to keep their vital services running.

ECF, together with community foundations across the UK, will also be distributing funds raised by the National Emergencies Trust.

Caroline Taylor, chief executive of ECF, said: “We understand the significant impact that the coronavirus is having.  It is vital that we make funds available quickly for local charities and voluntary organisations that are in urgent need.  This may be to adapt their services to support people who are vulnerable or at risk and cannot leave their homes, or for essential costs, such as staff salaries and rent, if they have temporarily had to close their doors.

“The challenges faced by the sector include a rising demand for services, a reduced workforce, with staff and volunteers in self-isolation, and the loss of income due to the cancellation of fundraising events and activities.

“We already have £300,000 available for emergency grants.  Many of our existing supporters have been wonderfully generous in making additional donations or have agreed to waive the specific criteria of their funds so that we can give as much support as possible at this time.”

Grants are available now to support organisations, with priority given to those delivering vital services to older and vulnerable people, organisations helping to relieve pressure on public services and those co-ordinating a local community response. To apply for emergency funding, please click here.

ECF fundholders, Annabel and Gerald Malton, have already made an additional donation to support the Programme.  Gerald said: “The Foundation has relationships with so many local groups that are helping the most vulnerable people in our communities. These organisations need our support so they can respond now and hopefully recover from the impact that this pandemic is having on their work and the lives of their beneficiaries.

“We would encourage more people to come on board and help ECF build the funds available to support the groups that are helping people in our local communities.  Together, we can make a real difference.”

Also giving support is the Galloper Wind Farm Operations & Maintenance base in Harwich, which has been working with ECF since 2016 to manage their community fund.

Guy Middleton is the project’s General Manager. He said, “When ECF asked if we would allow them to distribute the £10,000 in our Fund at their discretion, we said yes immediately.  ECF knows the local charities and organisations that need this funding and it is important that we help them as fast as possible.”

To donate to the 'Essex Coronavirus Response and Recovery Programme' and support local groups, please visit our JustGiving page.

ECF will do its best to absorb the cost of running this programme and will take no more than a 5% fee on donations received. We strongly encourage you complete a Gift Aid form as this will boost your donation by 25% at no extra cost to you.

New High Sheriff of Essex is appointed

23rd March 2020

Becoming the new High Sheriff of Essex during these extraordinary times is a challenge that Julie Fosh is more than happy to take up.

She says she feels “hugely privileged” to be the 840th person to be appointed to the role and is looking forward to using the position to give encouragement and support to people throughout the county.

Essex-born Julie, a former teacher who lives in North Fambridge on the Dengie Peninsula, was appointed during a private ceremony held in her back garden.  Sadly, the traditional ceremony which is usually held in the Essex County Council chambers, with around 100 guests in attendance, was cancelled due to coronavirus.

Julie has been sharing messages with the other newly appointed High Sheriffs across the Eastern Region and, despite the uncertain circumstances, they are all approaching their year of office in a positive way.

“We all agree that these are tricky times, but we want to 'keep on keeping on.'  Never before has the front line and voluntary services been so vital and we have a role to play in supporting them and buoying them up,” said Julie.

“We will need ideas about working creatively in new ways and will be making more use of social media, Skype and face-time. It will be a challenge, but I am up for it. Many events are currently being cancelled or postponed, but hopefully by late summer or autumn things will improve, so I expect to have a particularly busy time then.”

Julie's plans for her year of office include a garden party at Stow Maries Great War Aerodrome, a comedy night compèred by one of her former students and an Essex coastal path walk from Harwich to Tilbury. Money raised will go to the High Sheriffs' Fund, which is run by the independent charitable trust, Essex Community Foundation (ECF).

The fund gives grants annually to community initiatives to help reduce crime and anti-social behaviour and promote community safety.

Since it came under ECF’s management in 1997 the High Sheriffs’ Fund has distributed grants totalling over half a million pounds to voluntary and community organisations.

As a former teacher Julie has always been aware of the issues facing young people. Since retiring from teaching five years ago she has become involved with several voluntary organisations, including the Essex Youth Trust and the Essex Boys’ and Girls’ Clubs, which has reinforced her determination to help young people.

She said: “I had a modest upbringing myself and went to a comprehensive school. I was one of three girls and we were lucky enough to have parents who believed in all of us and encouraged us to achieve our ambitions. I wanted to do physics and they did not question this, although at that time it was thought of as being a subject for boys.

“When I was teaching at the Cecil Jones College in Southend a lot of my time was spent encouraging students and helping them to believe they could do what they wanted to do.

“My passion continues to be to raise the aspirations of young people, recognising the vital importance of positive role models in their lives. In my year as High Sheriff my priorities will include supporting projects which help increase young people's aspirations, strengthen their self-esteem and provide activities to divert them away from destructive behaviour.”

Traditionally, the role of High Sheriff was a male domain, but increasingly women such as Julie, who have made their mark in the community, are taking up the office with great success.

Modern-day High Sheriffs of Essex have a radically different role compared to their historical counterparts, who were Royal officials responsible for collecting taxes and maintaining law and order.

Today the High Sheriff's role includes supporting and promoting voluntary organisations, making a meaningful contribution to the county and giving active support to the Royal family, the judiciary, the emergency services, local authorities and faith groups.

During Julie's year of office, she will be supported by her husband, Paul Fosh, who is Senior Director of Strutt and Parker based in Chelmsford.

As she takes up the position of the new High Sheriff of Essex, Julie is well equipped to understand and support people of all generations in the county and, despite the uncertain times ahead, is determined to make the most of her year.

Statement on Covid-19

13th March 2020


We, along with a wider group of funders, recognise that the covid-19 outbreak is an exceptional event that will have an impact on civil society groups, and want to offer reassurance that we stand with the sector during this time. 

We wish to be as helpful as possible during the coming weeks and months so that civil society groups can focus on the vital work of supporting some of the most vulnerable people in our communities. 

We understand that there will be times when staff and volunteers will not be available, when beneficiaries may need services to be provided in different ways, or when systems need to be flexible to ensure that needs are met.

If your community, services or organisation are affected by the covid-19 outbreak, and you receive grant funding from us, we are committed to:

  • Adapting activities: we recognise that you may experience difficulties achieving some of the outputs or outcomes we agreed for your grant during the outbreak, and would like to be able to maintain our grant payments to you at originally-agreed levels during this period, so please have a conversation with us if you are affected in this way.
  • Discussing dates: we don’t want to add pressure, so if you think you will struggle to meet a reporting deadline please get in touch with us so that we can agree a more realistic time for you to get things to us wherever possible.
  • Financial flexibility: we know you may need to use your funding to help cover sickness, purchase equipment, or deliver services differently, and we will be reasonable if you need to move money between budget headings to ensure your work can continue.
  • Listening to you: we are here if you want to talk to us about the situation you’re facing, but we’ll wait for you to call us so that these conversations are at the right time for you.

We also recognise that there may be further shocks to the system caused by covid-19 that may impact on your other income streams, or require a more urgent response from funders.  Any news on emergency funding will be published on the London Funders web page below so you can see all available programmes in one place.

This statement has been coordinated by London Funders, but is not only for their members or funders in London, so if you have other funders or supporters you think would like to sign this please ask them to get in touch with the team at You can see the current list of funders who have committed to this statement alongside us here.

To read the guidance collated by the NCVO on what steps you may need to take, please click here.

If you have any queries about your grant from Essex Community Foundation, please email us via or call us on 01245 356018 to discuss your concerns. We are here to help if, and when, you need us. 

NCVO: Your organisation and coronavirus

10th March 2020


The National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) has collated information which is intended to help you decide what steps you and your organisation may need to take in light of the covid-19 virus.

Their guidance covers:

  • What’s the best way to prevent the spread of covid-19?
  • What do you need to do to protect staff, volunteers and visitors?
  • Should your employees take sick leave?
  • Should you cancel your events?
  • How can you support your beneficiaries/service users?
  • How you can develop a contingency plan and how will your insurance be impacted?
  • Will there be financial implications?
  • How are charities helping?

Click here to read the guidance

NCVO are also regularly sharing updates, including their plans to lobby the government for support and details of emergency funds. Read their blogs here


If you are finding that the outbreak of Covid-19 is having an impact on how you are able to spend your grant, please contact us on 01245 356018. Click here to read more. 

High Sheriffs’ Awards celebrates local charities

6th March 2020

Voluntary organisations that work to make their communities safer and better places to live have been recognised at this year’s prestigious High Sheriffs’ Awards.

An organisation that provides online safety courses for vulnerable people in Braintree, a project supporting survivors of domestic abuse in Harlow, and a youth club for those living on the Melbourne Estate in Chelmsford, were among those to receive awards.

Around 180 guests attended this year’s ceremony held at Hylands House in Chelmsford where trophies, certificates and grants totalling £33,000 were presented by the outgoing High Sheriff of Essex, Dr James Bettley. 

The grants came from the High Sheriffs’ Fund, which was established to give credit to community initiatives that address crime, community safety and anti-social behaviour, and is managed by the independent charitable trust Essex Community Foundation (ECF).

James Bettley, the 839th High Sheriff of Essex, has travelled to all areas of the county during his year of office.  As well as meeting many voluntary organisations, he visited the Courts and spent time with Essex Police and Essex County Fire and Rescue Service. 

James said, “It has been a huge privilege to undertake this role and a real pleasure to have met so many people doing such good and interesting things.”

“The Awards ceremony provides the opportunity to celebrate the enormous amount of important work that is being done, covering a very wide range of issues, including hate crime, homelessness, addiction to alcohol and drugs, reoffending, knife crime, the racism directed at Travellers, and the various challenges faced by refugees and migrants.”

Since it came under ECF’s management in 1997 the High Sheriffs’ Fund has distributed grants totalling over half a million pounds to voluntary and community organisations.

Alongside the grants, five awards were presented to the following organisations:

  • Inclusion Ventures received the Essex County Fire & Rescue Service Shield for their work helping to improve the lives of young people living in Jaywick and Clacton.
  • Wilderness Foundation received the Essex County Council Bowl for their continuing and successful ‘TurnAround programme’ which engages young people, helping them make positive changes in their lives.
  • Safer Places received the High Sheriff Shield to recognise their effective and compassionate work with survivors of domestic abuse.
  • Teen Talk Harwich received the High Sheriff Cup to commend their long-standing support for young people in Harwich and the surrounding area.
  • North Avenue Youth Centre received the Essex Police Cup to acknowledge their long-standing support for young people living on the Melbourne Estate, in Chelmsford.

Rachel Tufnell, from North Avenue Youth Centre, said: “We are delighted to receive this recognition from the High Sheriff and Essex Police. Our work at the youth club focuses on empowering young people from the Melbourne Estate, in Chelmsford, to reach their full potential in life.

“Through the wide range of activities, we run and support provided by staff and volunteers, we aim to combat the educational, social and economic disadvantages that they face”.

Caroline Taylor, Chief Executive of ECF, said, “We are so pleased to manage the High Sheriffs’ Fund, working with successive High Sheriffs’ to support the local charities and voluntary groups whose work contributes to community safety in Essex.”

In addition to the grants awarded from the High Sheriffs’ Fund, ECF was able to leverage a further £57,000 from other funds under its management. 

For a full list of grants awarded, click here.

To view photographs from the event, click here

We are hiring: Head of Programmes

2nd March 2020

Essex Community Foundation (ECF) is a part of the global movement of Community Foundations that develop philanthropic funds and strengthen civil society.

They help to improve the lives of local people by matching the needs of donors with those in our community. As part of their new five-year strategic plan which sets out our ambitions for growth and development, they are looking to recruit a new Head of Programmes on a full time basis at their offices in Chelmsford.

The Head of Programmes is a key role within Essex Community Foundation and is responsible for the development and management of ECF's grantmaking, programmes and a member of the senior leadership team.

With an ability to think strategically and creatively you will use ensure the effective development and delivery of the foundation's grantmaking and partnership programmes building on the findings of their community listening project. You will lead the foundation's grantmaking team, maximising their potential, as well as provide high quality customer care to their stakeholders.

An important spokesperson for the foundation, you will develop relationships with key stakeholders including but not limited to the voluntary and community sector, research and academic bodies, public agencies and other grantmaking trusts and foundations. You will inform the Chief Executive and Trustees of issues affecting the VCS and will represent ECF on relevant boards, committees and working groups when it is in the best interest of the organisation.

You will be a resourceful, creative and motivated professional who wants to make a difference and fully believes in the mission of Essex Community Foundation. You will have an understanding and experience in the design and delivery of programmes to address local issues.

You will be able to develop lasting and trusting relationships with a range of external stakeholders and manage a small team supporting them to reach their potential. You will care about helping people and be able to motivate others. You will be flexible, willing to learn and enjoy working in a busy, fun environment.

How to apply:

Prospectus are managing the recruitment process for ECF. For information on how to apply, please click here.