Essex Community Foundation

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Building a brighter future for local people

15th April 2019

A double-decker “sleep bus” to help take homeless people off the streets, a chance for disadvantaged young people to take to the sea in sailing boats and an allotment project supporting socially isolated youngsters are among the initiatives receiving vital backing in the latest round of grants from the Mersea Homes Charitable Fund.

The fund, set up by the property development firm in 2010 with the independent charitable trust Essex Community Foundation (ECF), has to date distributed grants totalling almost £30,000 to support local voluntary and community organisations in Essex.

Stuart Cock, managing director of Mersea Homes, said: "Being a local family run business we are committed to supporting charities and community projects close to home.

“Our business is about housing, so we have a particular interest in the issue of homelessness.  We wanted to do something to help keep people off the streets and have just given £2,000 from our fund towards a new 'sleep bus' project.”

Vic Flores, Project Manager of Colchester Rough Sleepers Group, said: “In light of the significant increase in rough sleeping on the streets of North Essex in 2018, Colchester Rough Sleepers Group was formed to work with, and as an additional resource, to existing agencies and voluntary groups that provide support and intervention.”

“Our first project was to renovate a double-decker bus into temporary housing. Work is nearly complete thanks to a dedicated group of volunteers and support from funders. Once up and running it will feature sleeping ‘pods’ for 8 guests, a bathroom with a shower, cooking facilities and a lounge area. Guests will be fully supported with a view to moving them into permanent housing and sustainable employment.”

Stuart Cock continued, “Another recent grant of £3,000 from our fund will support the Sea Change Sailing Trust, based in Maldon, to help run a residential sailing course for disadvantaged young people from mid-Essex.

“Living in Mersea we know as a family what great benefits sailing can bring for young people. It gives youngsters the opportunity to test themselves, work as a team and gain confidence. The life skills they learn through the course will help the disadvantaged young people at home, at school and in the wider community.

“We have also been able to support the 'Go Green' allotment project run by Colchester and Tendring Youth Enquiry Service, with a grant of £2,000.

“The allotment scheme is for young people who have faced many difficulties in their lives, and it gives them the positive experiences that come with being outdoors and producing their own fruit and vegetables.

“We are very pleased to be working so effectively with Essex Community Foundation to ensure that the funding we give goes to the causes we see as a priority and the grants distributed through our fund make such a difference in the area where we work.”

Organisations in need of funding are encouraged to call the ECF grants team on 01245 356018.