Essex Community Foundation

News archive

Anglian Water joins forces with Community Foundations to distribute £1 million funding pot

18th June 2020

In April, Anglian Water launched plans to establish a new £1 million community support fund to provide a cash boost for local communities to help fight the impacts of coronavirus.

Over £50,000 of the cash has already been fast-tracked to front line organisations in the immediate response to battle the pandemic. Just a matter of weeks later, the company has revealed how the rest of the funding will be distributed to those who need it most. 

Anglian is working with 15 Community Foundations in the East of England to allocate their £1million Positive Difference Fund. Collectively there are 46 Community Foundations and, using their extensive local expertise, they have given out over £1billion in grants across the UK. 

Half of Anglian’s Positive Difference Fund is being made available immediately, with the remaining half released later in the year to meet emerging needs from the fallout from the pandemic. Eligible organisations will be able to apply to their local Community Foundation for grants of up to £5,000.

The money will help local charitable organisations deal with emerging issues in the community as a result of the continuing threat of coronavirus. Organisations like food banks, outreach programmes and those helping the most vulnerable can ask for support from the Positive Difference Fund via the Community Foundations to help those shielding or suffering from financial hardship, homelessness, loneliness and isolation.

Peter Simpson, Anglian Water’s Chief Executive, said: “Offering support to individuals in our communities who really need it has never been more important. As one of the biggest businesses serving our region, it’s absolutely right we extend our support in whatever way we can.

“As an essential service, our role first and foremost is to keep taps running and toilets flushing. But we know we have a bigger role beyond that in helping the communities we serve. Because of the nature of our work, we’ve so far been able to keep all our colleagues employed, and we’ll do everything we can to maintain that. We know many thousands will not be so fortunate, and we sincerely hope this fund can go some way to helping them."

Rosemary Macdonald, Interim CEO of UK Community Foundations, said: “Anglian Water’s extraordinarily generous donation comes at a time when many in our communities are feeling the very real impact of the coronavirus pandemic. The 15 community foundations involved all have expert local knowledge and will ensure that this money makes its way to the local charities and community groups that have been working flat-out to support the people most in need throughout this crisis.”

Other support, available from Anglian Water’s Extra Care offering, includes discounted tariffs alongside affordable payment plans. More than 300,000 customers each year are already helped this way.

The water company also helps customers identify if they may be eligible for benefits they are not claiming. Anglian Water has already signposted customers to a potential £4.5m of unclaimed aid, with the average amount that customers may be entitled to far outweighing the cost of the average water bill.

It is also adding customers to its Priority Services Register faster than ever before, meaning they will get tailored help and special assistance should they need it. 

Find out more and apply here.

High Sheriff of Essex throws virtual Midsummer Party

16th June 2020

“It’s Summer Solstice....May love surround you like sunshine on a sunny day.” - William Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night’s Dream

The High Sheriff of Essex, Julie Fosh, was unable to host the traditional Garden Party due to the coronavirus pandemic, so instead encouraged her guests to get involved virtually and raise vital monies for the High Sheriffs' Fund.

The fund, which is managed by Essex Community Foundation, awards grants annually to local voluntary groups that help reduce crime and promote community safety.

To mark the occasion, guests were invited to get dressed up and to document themselves taking part from their homes.

Having collected their contributions in the video below, Julie said: “A huge thank you to everyone who took part in our ‘Wish You Were Here Midsummer Party’. Your support, very generous donations to the High Sheriffs’ Fund and the photos and videos that you have sent in are amazing. They certainly raised a smile and will provide my husband Paul and I with a very memorable virtual event to look back on during my time as High Sheriff.

“I would also like to take this opportunity to thank all of the key workers, charities and volunteers for their incredible work during this very difficult time, and for all the support Essex Community Foundation have provided throughout.

“I am hopeful that we will all be able to get out and about again soon. In the meantime, please enjoy a selection of the photos and videos and raise a glass with me to toast Midsummer Day. Cheers!"

This is the latest version of the video containing all new 'guest stars'

To view video in full screen click here


Head of Programmes to join ECF

12th June 2020

We are delighted to announce the appointment of Andy Payne Worpole as the new Head of Programmes at Essex Community Foundation.

Andy has over 20 years of public service experience, as a mental health practitioner, programme manager in the charitable, social care and health sectors, as well as leading on community engagement at a national level.

Reflecting on his new challenge, Andy said: “I am proud to be joining ECF at this challenging time and working with the fantastic team to develop our support to organisations and communities across Essex.”

Andy will join ECF on 7 July.

Our community cares for young people impacted by domestic abuse

12th June 2020

The East of England Co-op is donating £45,000 to support the creation of safe environments and provide mental health support for children and young people impacted by domestic abuse in our region. 

  • This is the second large scale donation to be made from the East of England Co-op Community Cares Fund, created to support local good causes adapt, enhance and continue to provide much needed services in new and innovative ways.
  • Funds will be distributed by the Suffolk Community Foundation, in partnership with Essex and Norfolk Community Foundations, to local refuges and organisations supporting young people impacted by domestic abuse and violence.
  • Supporting young people was one of four causes voted for by East of England Co-op members, alongside supporting older people, reducing food poverty and tackling food waste.
  • East of England Co-op members can continue to donate to the Community Cares Fund, by donating some or all of their dividend. Details can be found at

Domestic abuse has sadly always been an issue, however the need to remain at home during lockdown has made, and continues to make, life even harder for those living with an abusive partner, family member or carer.

A survey carried out by Women’s Aid in April 2020, confirmed that social distancing measures had already impacted those experiencing domestic abuse. Of those who responded:

  • 67.4% said abuse had gotten worse since the Coronavirus crisis started
  • 76.1% said that they were having to spend more time with their abuser
  • There had also been an increase in post-separation abuse.

Many of those who seek support from organisations like Women’s Aid have children, who can often feel angry, guilty, insecure, alone, frightened, powerless or confused as a result of their experiences of domestic abuse.

Women’s Aid’s The Domestic Abuse Report 2020: The Annual Audit, found that:

  • Of women in refuge services 64.1% had children
  • Of women in community-based services 58.1% had children.

Essex Community Foundation CEO Caroline Taylor said: “We are delighted to work with East of England Co-op again to help them get funding to where it is needed most in Essex and to address the effects of domestic abuse.

“Domestic abuse has a devastating impact on families, and we know that cases in Essex will rise as the pandemic restrictions are eased, and victims of abuse seek support. It is vital that local charities tackling these issues have access to the funding they need.

“As well as providing a safe haven and support to those in need, organisations also offer mental health support and counselling for children and young people who have been affected, to help them deal with the trauma.”

The East of England Co-op have spoken with a number of refuges and organisations in Essex to understand the pressures they are currently facing and what support they need to continue to help children and young people impacted by domestic abuse.

Next Chapter provide services across Colchester, Tendring and beyond, to those who are currently experiencing or have previously experienced domestic abuse. They are one of six refuges in the region to each receive a £4,600 donation from the East of England Co-op Community Cares Fund, with the remaining funds to be distributed between other local organisations and support services.

Next Chapter CEO, Beverley Jones said: “We see the impact that domestic abuse has already had on the children and young people who are currently living in our refuges and whilst they are now in a safe environment – the effects of their experiences continue to have a deep and long-lasting impact on their emotional wellbeing and development. 

“The funds from East of England Co-op Community Cares Fund will enable us to purchase vital equipment, toys and resources to help us work with children and young people who are distressed, unable to cope with how they are feeling, and finding difficulties in connecting emotionally with their friends & family. We are enormously grateful for the continued support of our community and particularly from these funds, which help us focus our help and support for the children and young people who at their most vulnerable.”
Niall O’Keeffe, Joint Chief Executive for the East of England Co-op, said: “We are proud to be working with the Community Foundations across our region to deliver a new grants programme to support children impacted by domestic abuse.

“I would like to thank all of our members who have generously donated all or part of their dividend to the Co-op Community Cares Fund. It is thanks to them that we are able to provide this support and make a positive impact on young lives in our communities.”

Those in need of support or guidance can visit or call the National Domestic Abuse Helpline on 0808 2000 247.

Bringing people together one stitch at a time

9th June 2020

Essex Knitters and Stitchers are ensuring that more people in the county can enjoy the feeling of a tight-knit community, while helping good causes.

The voluntary organisation for craft enthusiasts has launched new groups in Colchester and Clacton, thanks to £500 worth of funding from the independent charitable trust Essex Community Foundation (ECF).

The Essex Knitters and Stitchers now have 15 groups across the county, with more than 130 members who are looking forward to meeting again once current restrictions are eased.

Wendy Morrissey, organiser of Essex Knitters and Stitchers said: “We are very pleased to have had the grant to set up groups in Colchester and Clacton as we haven't covered the North Essex area before. The new groups just got going before the lockdown and we will re-start as soon as we can.

“Our aim is to provide a welcoming place for anyone interested in knitting and stitching. While we haven't been able to get together, we have kept in contact and some members have had virtual meetings.

“We make a wide variety of items to support charities, care homes, hospices, hospitals and homeless shelters in our area. During lockdown the knitters have been busy making headbands for the NHS and the sewers have been making scrubs.

“We also make other items including teddies for children who have experienced trauma, welcome bags for women's refuges, wheelchair blankets, 'fiddle cuffs' for people with dementia and premature baby items.

“Our members enjoy being creative and productive and it gives a sense of fulfilment to know that what they are making will help other people.

“We already support charities in Colchester, such as the hospital, Women's Refuge Centre and the homeless shelter.  The new groups will be able to continue to support these charities and, by having another group in Clacton, members can become involved in projects in this area.

“Our groups are also very important in combating isolation, people who join make new friendships and enjoy getting together socially.”

Essex Knitters and Stitchers was launched in 2015, following in the footsteps of similar projects in Norfolk.

Julie Fosh, the recently appointed High Sheriff of Essex and her 93 year-old mother, Joy Rogers, are among the founder members in Essex, attending a group that normally meets in Maldon library (pictured).

Julie said: “The ECF grant is a really welcome boost. It will enable Essex Knitters and Stitchers to extend our reach into the county, benefiting more people at risk of social isolation.

“The lockdown has exacerbated the problem of isolation, so any organisations that support and encourage social interaction will be essential as we work our way out of this situation.”

Julie is still hopeful that her High Sheriff's Garden Party can take place at Stow Maries Aerodrome in early September, where one of the attractions will be knitted aeroplanes made by the Knitters and Stitchers.
During her year of office Julie is raising money for the High Sheriffs' Fund, which is run by ECF and supports charities dealing with crime prevention and community safety.

A record number of Essex voluntary groups receive The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Services

2nd June 2020

Nine voluntary groups from across the county, 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. This matches the record number of nine winners in 2019 and is the highest number awarded to any county.

The nine groups are:

  • 3rd Chalkwell Bay Sea Scouts Group – operates to the highest levels in scouting, providing outstanding opportunities, challenges and adventure to the young people of Leigh-on-Sea.
  • CHESS Homeless, Chelmsford – offers an end to end solution to single homeless adults in Essex, through outreach, support services, accommodation and pathways to training and employment.
  • City of Chelmsford Mencap – operates throughout mid-Essex providing a range of specialist services that directly benefit children and adults with a learning disability, their families and carers.
  • Kids Inspire, Chelmsford – support children and young people up to the age of 25 years and their families who are at educational, social and/or economic disadvantage. They provide bespoke packages of support, across Essex and beyond, to improve emotional health and wellbeing.
  • Lads Need Dads, Clacton-on-Sea – operate in Tendring and Colchester and empower and enable boys aged 11 to 15 years, with absent fathers or limited access to a male role model, to be motivated, responsible, resilient and emotionally competent.
  • Patient Panel, Princess Alexandra Hospital, Harlow – independently representing patients’ interests across the hospital and acting as a critical friend to the hospital to improve the patient experience and services at the hospital.
  • Support 4 Sight, Saffron Walden – is celebrating its 25th year of providing support for the blind and partially sighted across its local community of Essex.
  • South Essex Community Hub, Southend-on-Sea – works to build ever improving communities, based on shared values and social cohesion through the provision of information, advice, projects, events and services that inform, challenge, educate train and entertain.
  • St John the Baptist Church and Tilbury Foodbank – bring about change through the hard work, innovation and determination of volunteers, delivering services to a disadvantaged local community bringing cohesion and a positive outlook.

The nine groups from Essex are amongst 230 charities, social enterprises, and volunteer-led groups to receive the prestigious award this year across the UK. The number of awarded groups have decreased slightly this year (281 last year), demonstrating the high standard required to win the award.

This award is given to volunteer groups across the UK to recognise exceptional service within their communities. The recipients of the award are announced each year on 2 June - the anniversary of the Queen’s Coronation. 

The nine awards for the voluntary groups in Essex were equal first with two other counties in the UK.

The nine Essex winners will receive the Award from Mrs Jennifer Tolhurst, Lord Lieutenant of Essex, later this year or when the present restriction are lifted.

Mrs Jennifer Tolhurst, Lord Lieutenant of Essex said: “The announcement of nine winners of the prestigious Queen’s Award for Voluntary Services, the highest national award for voluntary groups, across Essex is a wonderful tribute to the outstanding work of the voluntary sector. The number of awards won across Essex speaks volumes for the excellence of volunteering in our county and the increasing importance of the work of volunteers for community wellbeing. Only two other counties across the UK had nine winners. I am delighted that nine extremely deserving groups, who are providing a wide range of services to our communities have been honoured by Her Majesty the Queen. I look forward to presenting the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Services to each of the groups over the coming months, when the present restrictions are lifted, and to celebrate their success with their volunteers and many who receive their excellent service”.

If there is a voluntary group that you would like to nominate for next years Awards, please visit