Community Spotlight

Each year we award around £5 million in grants to charities and voluntary organisations that are working across Essex every day.  They provide support at the grass roots of our communities helping people of all ages and we are pleased to share some of their inspiring stories.  We add new stories all the time and hope you enjoy reading them.

The filters will help you to look for organisations tackling specific issues or by area.  The District filter is where the organisation is based.  If they are delivering a project in another area, we have identified this in the description.  Some organisations work across the county as part of a network and these can be found under the Essex Wide filter.

We are committed to transparency and we publish information about our grants using 360Giving data standard.

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Arts, Culture and Heritage

Arts and events that explore culture and heritage have the power to strengthen bonds within communities and improve quality of life, as well as contribute to the local economy.

Essex is fortunate to have an active and varied cultural scene and through our funds we support a wide range of voluntary organisations that showcase local talent and provide accessible and educational arts-based activities for local people to enjoy.

Read about some of the projects below or view full list of grants awarded this year.

Children and Young People

Life is filled with challenges that children and young people must navigate as they grow up.  Many follow a straightforward path, but for some, educational expectations, social media and peer pressure can lead to a wide range of issues including, anxiety, depression, eating disorders and self-harm. Supporting young people in their formative years, it vital to help them thrive and build the skills they need for adulthood.

We support the work of voluntary and community organisations who tackle these issues and help to improve mental health and emotional well-being. Some also provide opportunities to work in the local community through volunteering as peer-mentors.

Read about some of the projects below or view full list of grants awarded this year.

Community Safety

We support a wide range of projects throughout Essex that help people of all ages to keep safe in their homes and their community, aiming to ensure that they do not become isolated or targeted by criminals.

For example, we support organisations that help children and young people to build skills, increase their confidence and equip them with the tools to make good decisions should they find themselves in a potentially dangerous situation and needing to make a choice.  Others provide advice and accommodation for victims of crime and training among the elderly and those with learning or physical disabilities around the dangers of online fraud and scams.

Read about some of the projects below or view full list of grants awarded this year.

Disability

We support a wide range of organisations throughout Essex that support people with disabilities and life-limiting illnesses.

Their work not only provides activities and a safe space where individuals can have fun and learn new skills which are essential to their wellbeing, but it also gives vital respite to their family members and loved ones.

Read about some of the projects we have supported below or view full list of grants awarded this year.

Education and Training

Many young people follow a straightforward path into a job or a career, progressing through the education system, gaining qualifications and moving on to college or university.  But for others, particularly those who have a learning or physical disability, the journey is a struggle.

Voluntary organisations offer a range of valuable learning opportunities and work experience that can help young people, and those with disabilities, to develop practical and social skills, build their confidence and improve their educational attainment.

Read about some of the projects below or view full list of grants awarded this year.

Environment

It has long been understood that spending time outdoors can benefit your mental and physical health.  With the strain of modern life being placed on the natural environment, helping to ensure it remains intact and a place for people to enjoy has become more important than ever.  We have been pleased to support projects in Essex that help people to learn about and look after the local environment.

Read about some of the projects below or view full list of grants awarded this year.

Fairness and Equality

Most people want to live in a community where they are treated fairly and where everyone works together to solve problems, has fun, feels safe, cares for one another and gets along.

However, when some of the mechanisms that help make society fairer for all are either missing or not functioning in the way they should, people can be left behind.  Treating people equally builds respect and trust.

As a county we are fortunate to have many voluntary organisations whose specific aims are to provide services for people who, for whatever reason, need extra help and support.

Read about some of the projects below or view full list of grants awarded this year.

Healthy Living

Good health is not just the absence of illness, it is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being. This means eating a balanced diet, getting regular exercise, avoiding drugs and excessive alcohol and building social networks.  Voluntary and community organisations across the county offer a range of activities and support that help and encourage people to live healthy lifestyles.

Read about some of the projects below or view full list of grants awarded this year.

Housing and Homelessness

People become homeless for lots of different reasons. There are social causes of homelessness, including a lack of affordable housing, poverty and unemployment as well as life changing events, such as family break-up, poor mental health or addiction, which can cause people to lose their homes.

Identifying the underlying cause of homelessness is vital to successfully helping an individual to move on to a more positive and stable life.

Read about some of the projects we have funded below or view full list of grants awarded this year.

Mental Health and Wellbeing

It is estimated that 1 in 4 people are likely be affected by a mental health problem in their lifetime.

In addition, the UK has a drinking culture and the highest prevalence of drug misuse in Europe, with approximately one third of all adults in England and Wales reported to have used drugs at least once in their lifetime.

Having access to the right information is vital if you need help with these issues or if you are supporting someone who is struggling.

We support voluntary organisations that work with people of all ages and from all backgrounds, to improve their mental health and wellbeing.

Read about some of the projects below or view full list of grants awarded this year.

Older communities

Charities and voluntary organisations offer a lifeline for many older people. Their work helps the elderly to live independently for longer, manage their health issues and keep them from becoming victims of crime.  They also provide support to carers and create opportunities where people can come together for meals and activities that build friendships and reduce social isolation.

The contribution of voluntary and community organisations is vital to improve the health and wellbeing of older people and also significantly relieves pressure on social care and health services.

Read about some of the projects we have funded below or view full list of grants awarded this year.

Rural Projects

At their best, rural communities are close-knit and have a strong sense of identity offering an unmatched quality of life.  But many small market towns and villages in Essex have been hit hard by closures of schools, shops, churches, post offices and pubs.  Reduced bus services can prevent people travelling to jobs and a lack of activities for the young can be a catalyst to social problems.

By 2033, it is estimated that 28% of the Essex population will be older people.  The closure of many local and community services, means that these people, including young adults and families, are increasingly likely to feel isolated within the place they call home.

We have supported a wide range of projects in rural communities of Essex, including transport schemes, community shops and pubs, mobile pre-schools, outreach advice schemes and village hall improvement projects.

Read about some of the projects below or view full list of grants awarded this year.

Sport

The advantages of sport in improving our physical and mental wellbeing are widely known.  Whether it is walking in the countryside or attending classes at a gym, keeping active significantly contributes to our overall health and wellbeing.  Team sports also create a sense of camaraderie and community, whilst nurturing friendships.

We support many voluntary and community organisations that help local people to keep active, socialise and make friends.

We also manage a small amount of funding that provide grants for individuals to support their sporting ambitions and where finance is the barrier to them achieving their full potential. 

Read about some of the projects below or view full list of grants awarded this year.

Free allotment packs were distributed to 1,025 households across six Districts in Essex, with the aim of boosting residents’ physical and mental health by helping them to learn new skills.

They were also encouraged to join a Facebook group to share their progress photos and talk with other participants, helping them to feel connected with others during a time when many felt isolated.

We supported the start-up costs of this interactive ‘Grow Your Own’ project with a grant.

Making goods from recycled wood, as well as restoring and upcycling furniture for sale to the public, teaches members hands-on skills that can help their members to find employment, and it is also a wonderful social opportunity.

Josh, who works at ACE Upcycling said: “I really enjoy learning how to make things at ACE Upcycling. I have made planters, benches, tables and much more. I like working with Tim who volunteers at the project, as well as seeing all my friends.”

We are pleased to have funded their new purpose built workshop in Stapleford Abbots.

Working closely with schools, youth clubs and the Police, they engage with those who are most at risk of exploitation and membership of gangs. By bringing together young people from all backgrounds and cultures and using football as the focus, they break down barriers, tackle racial tension, promote teamwork and help them build social skills.

We supported a project which provided additional sport sessions for young people identified as being at risk from grooming in Southend.

A significant of this work is helping to raise awareness of what an unpaid carer is so that people know there is support available to help them.

We funded a schools co-ordinator who is helping to identify young carers in Braintree schools.

James Clarke, chief executive of AFFC, said: “The majority of young people helping to take care of a parent or sibling will not label themselves as a ‘young carer’ because their role is just the norm for them. However, the pressure they are under can significantly affect their lives, not least their childhood where they invariably miss out on opportunities that other young people take for granted.”

This was set up in 2004 by local residents who decided that they would like fitness classes more locally rather than having to travel 20 minutes to the nearest leisure centre in Clacton.

A range of classes and activities are available, including aerobics, circuit training and table tennis.  Members are encouraged to stay after classes for tea and a chat and they also organise social events and days out.

Members pay a small subscription, but some have limited income, so we subsidised the cost of paying qualified instructors’ fees to run the classes.

By connecting BAME young people to their roots and teaching them cultural awareness at a young age, it is hoped that they will grow up into open-minded and responsible adults.

Our funding has helped them deliver a range of workshops that focus on topics including education, mental health, parenting, teaching young people about their heritage and cultural diversity.  We have also funded their work providing advocacy and awareness support to BAME women in Colchester in partnership with Stop the Traffik.

They meet in person or speak on the telephone once a week and if additional support is needed, referrals can be made to other charities or organisations providing support with at-home care needs, help with bereavement or dementia.

Our funds extended the service so that volunteers could work in more areas across Colchester and Tendring. This is vital as isolation is a significant problem that many older people face, especially when a loved one dies or where there is no immediate family close by.

Lin Boulter, chief executive of Age Concern Southend, said, “Our new premises in Westcliff-on-Sea combines all of the services and activities that we offer to our members. The grant we received helped us to refurbish the centre to create a welcoming and friendly space where people can meet, socialise and receive support.

“We regularly run social activities for our members, which include a dance fitness class, tai chi and yoga, so there is always something for everyone to enjoy, have fun and be active.”

We are pleased to have awarded them funding for furniture at their new headquarters.

The set-up is similar to foodbanks and parents can use the Baby Bank for essential equipment required for bringing up young children, including nappies and clothes.

 Susan Pedder, Trustee, said: “The need for clothes is often seen as below that of food, but children benefit from self-esteem, so as well as keeping them warm, a new coat adds so much to their lives. There are so many people needing support right now that we are having to buy clothing, rather than rely solely on donations. The grant awarded to us by ECF has enabled us to make a big difference to many more children”. 

They do this by providing family support and fun activities for children and young adults with disabilities and life-limiting illnesses.

We have supported their salary of their Services Administrator and funded social activities help to develop their clients independence and self-esteem, whilst relieving family pressures by providing much-needed respite and support away from the home.

Many Essex villages present a picture of tranquillity which masks the poor access to services and isolation experienced by many rural people today. The shop means that families and older people have access to essential items without having to travel out of the village, and it provides a central community hub where groups can meet.

Brian Main, chairman of Bradwell-on-Sea Community Shop Association said: “The grants have underpinned the entire shop refurbishment project to the benefit of the whole village, visitors and tourists.”

We funded this programme, designed by the young adults themselves, which includes sessions on food hygiene, budgeting and bills, relationships and sexual health and keeping safe – all important skills when moving towards independent living.

The development of these skills not only helps them to be more independent in everyday life, but builds decision making and assertiveness skills , as they will feel more confident when approaching social situations and feel more able to speak up for themselves.

 

They offer emergency support and vital practical assistance that they need to live day to day including food, hygiene items, cash grants, clothes and nappies, together with assistance for their application to remain or appeal process.

For people facing destitution and homelessness, this assistance not only allows them to survive, but also offers them a safe place to seek sanctuary, have comfort and be supported in a way that gives them privacy and dignity.  Demand for support is high with the Essex service seeing around 50 people every week.

We supported the travel costs for those attending the centre as they generally have no means to fund this themselves.

Most clients are referred by their local GP or other health agencies and the service adapts to the individual. People are matched based on common interests, location and need.

Vicky Pilton, Senior Befriending Co-ordinator at CAVS, said: “Providing people with friendship and interesting conversation on a regular basis is something so simple, but it can have a huge impact on the overall wellbeing of individuals.”

We awarded them a large grant over two years so they could expand their work and train extra volunteers to support more people living in Castle Point and Rochford.

David Simmons, Co-Director, said “Three years ago, I was threatened by a six-year-old with a knife.  That situation made me realise more had to be done to reach young children and educate them about the consequences of carrying knives and being involved with gangs.”

By using sport and other activities, they teach them about how to avoid anti-social behavior which could lead to a life of addiction and crime.

Through being part of a team, setting personal goals, overcoming challenges and by attending regular workshops Changing Lives encourages children to think about the long-term consequences of their actions, what they want for their futures and what they can do to get there.

Many of their clients find public transport inaccessible due to their age, a physical or mental disability, or simply because of where they live. The community bus makes sure they can access the medical treatment and food shopping they need.

The grant they received enabled them to employ a minibus driver.

They house around 113 people and provide specialist trauma intervention when needed.

We have supported various aspects of CHESS’s work including therapy sessions for clients to identify the root cause of their trauma and associated difficulties.  CHESS then works with individuals to help them rebuild their lives and break the cycle of homelessness.

Read how CHESS helped one their clients to turn his life around here.

The project, which is based at the Mile End Methodist Church, also offers a range of free activities, including crafts, outdoor games and face painting.

We awarded them a grant for a much-needed new oven.

Lynsey Heslegrave, who runs the lunch club, said: “We desperately needed a larger and more efficient oven to help meet a growing demand. When we first started providing meals in 2017, we had around 10 to 15 people attending the lunches. This past Summer we had 40 people through our doors every week.”

 

Fruit and vegetables are donated from local businesses and supermarkets, and the FoodCycle team of volunteers create a three-course meal every Monday lunchtime at Trinity Methodist Church.

Guests who attend the weekly meal are elderly, have a low income or are without a home and facing mental health issues. Sitting down for a meal, which is prepared by local people, helps them to feel involved in the community.

We awarded them funding to help feed even more people in the Tendring area, expand their outreach programme and raise awareness of food poverty.

We provided them with funding to continue their sports apprenticeship programme in Essex, which aims to equip young people with the skills, confidence and knowledge to gain employment.

Alongside tangible work experience, they also undertake certificates in Maths and English that gives them every chance of success once the programme finishes. Many of the apprentices are offered full-time work by their employers at the end of their course, and 92% of all apprentices are in work or education 6 months after graduating.

They do this through their social clubs which provide leisure activities and a safe place to have fun and make friends, and an advocacy service where they help clients at a critical point in their lives.

Our support is helping them to grow their advocacy service so that they can help people who may be struggling to cope for many reasons, including the death of the main carer or elderly parent, health related difficulties and finance or housing related issues.  In all cases they work through the immediate impact of the crisis with the client, providing them with support and help to achieve the best possible outcome.

Daws Hall believe that connecting people with nature and the local landscape from a young age is an essential part of improving their education, supporting their health and wellbeing and inspiring future stewardship of the natural world.

Our support means they can continue to maintain the site for future generations of children to learn from and enjoy.

Some of the activities organised within the centre include seated exercise classes, singing and dancing, board games and flower arranging.

Dengie Project Trust also manage a ‘Lend A Hand’ Service for those individuals in the community who may need help with shopping, appointments, companionship or light housework.

We funded their outreach service, including replacement of their minibus which is vital for bringing people to the centre.

More than 50 volunteers work together at the Hub to support the vulnerable, the elderly, those experiencing financial hardship, those newly widowed, and people experiencing mental health illnesses.

Their work includes food and medicine deliveries, a friendship scheme for those who are lonely, a small foodbank for emergency support and outdoor social sessions to bring people together involving crafts and quizzes.

Our funding helped them to provide subsidised hot lunches for people in the village.

Although Epping Forest is seen as an affluent area, many people are in financial difficulty and lack the essentials to make their daily life easier or more comfortable. 

People who use the ReUse service include women who have experienced domestic violence, then move on from a refuge to a flat, but have nothing to furnish it with, homeless people in a similar situation and patients to come home from hospital. 

We awarded them funding for their managers salary to oversee the running of the service.

Limited public transport and facilities in rural areas means that many visually impaired people find it difficult to access the support they need.

We helped Essex Blind Charity to buy a mobile sight bus which travels to remote villages around Essex and provides local residents with access to the same services that are offered in larger towns.  As well as offering practical demonstrations of specialist equipment, they ensure people are made aware of other services that are available to help them.

They are based in Chelmsford and work across the county.

Among the organisations we have supported through working with them are Essex Multicultural Activities Network, African Families in the UK and Colchester Chinese Culture Society.  Our grants helped them to host social events that celebrate culture and heritage, provide online support during lockdown and keep families safe by ensuring that important health messages and changes to government guidance are understood.

Their personalised support plans are built around a person’s familiar and valued activities and are designed to maintain independence. Trained practitioners encourage the return of lost skills and offer the opportunity to discover new ones.  The main aim is to keep families living together for as long as possible with fewer hospital visits.

We supported the cost of employing a one-to-one dementia practitioner who visits families in their homes.

The Barn is a place where its members can feel safe, learn new skills and have fun. They can make new friends and feel part of a larger community, feel valued and important. It also provides essential respite to families and carers, supporting their mental health and wellbeing.

We have awarded them funding to undertake vital roof repairs and towards their core running costs.

Their projects encourage individuals to extend their learning and build confidence which contributes to their overall health and wellbeing.

We funded a project exploring what ‘Britishness’ means, where over 1,000 children and young people explored issues of identity, citizenship and what it means to be British, by creating mixed media artwork for an exhibition.

They received a funding boost to run further sessions across the county, helping to relieve feelings of isolation for older people who may be living alone, as well as residents in sheltered housing accommodation. The sessions are great fun and contribute to overall health and well being.

They can go into the family home and help with chores, including cleaning, washing, ironing and gardening. This sort of support has a magical effect, as once the house is in order it allows families to have less stressful lives and spend more vital time together, without the worry of all the jobs that need to be done.

As well as giving practical support in the home one of their volunteers, a mental health specialist and a life coach, gives psychological support.

We awarded them a grant during the coronavirus pandemic as they were inundated with requests for help and their 36 volunteers had to distribute food parcels to those that needed to sheild.

 

 

Their confidential counselling service is for local adults, young people and children and is offered at significantly subsidised rates, which is what our funding supports.

These sessions gradually enable their clients to feel more confident in dealing with their emotions and can start to look to the future.

In recent years they have diversified their work in response to the needs of local people and now offer generic counselling to support people with a wide range of issues as well as support in response to a traumatic incident.

Their ‘Moving on up Together’ weekly group supports parents who may be socially isolated, struggling with low self-esteem or mental health issues. Volunteers provide a free crèche so parents can have a private and confidential group discussion around the issues and any anxieties they are struggling with.

A grant from us enabled them to develop school readiness packs for children and provide online support to families isolated in their homes during the COVID-19 pandemic.

They support over 1,200 people on average every year and are always looking at new ways to help people get off the streets and stay off the streets.

In addition to providing overnight accommodation for clients, HARP offers a range of services through their Bradbury day centre, including a café, showers, a medical centre, advice and support, clean clothes and a laundry service.

We have been pleased to support various aspects of HARP’s work, including a support group for homeless people suffering with mental health issues.

They provide activities to bring local people together, helping to alleviate loneliness and improve mental well-being. This includes a befriending café and arts and crafts sessions.

Their advice and support service helps people with legal issues, referring them on to other agencies when necessary.

They also have a free meeting space that residents, small community groups and organisations can use. They received funding towards their rental costs.

Their regular drop-in inclusive cycling sessions attract up to 100 people a week and young adults from schools and colleges and wheelchair users from day care centres are among the people who benefit.

Our funds enabled them to buy a specially adapted bike to give wheelchair users the chance to enjoy the freedom and exhilaration of cycling that they might otherwise not be able to experience.

We funded their free lunch and activity club that takes place during the school holidays for families whose children get free school meals in term time. For some it can be a struggle to put this additional food on the table during the holidays, causing missed meals and poor nutrition.

This project also gives children the opportunity to take part in fun activities, including dance, arts and crafts, drama and yoga.

Community run shops and pubs are becoming increasingly popular because local people recognise the value they bring.  So, when the Lamarsh Lion pub closed its doors for the last time and was put up for sale, residents knew it was time to act.

A committee made up of local people took the lead.  They needed £500,000 to buy the property and, after applying for grants, decided to embark on a share scheme offering members of the community a stake in the business for a cost of £50 each.  The response was overwhelming, with around 300 residents buying shares.

Their aim was not only to restore a friendly country pub and offer local employment opportunities, but to create a true community facility.  As well as the pub, they run a basic shop and café and offer an open meeting venue, a re-cycling point, community garden and play area.

We were pleased to support this project and the amazing efforts of local people that has put the heart back into their rural community.

These items, which are sold on at low cost to the general public of which many are on low incomes, helps to cover their operating costs and allows Lighthouse Furniture Project to focus on their main aim, which is to alleviate hardship and improve the quality of life of vulnerable people within the community.

This often includes homeless families and individuals and others in some form of housing crisis, including those escaping domestic abuse.

We recently awarded them funding towards a new collection and delivery van as the previous one was unreliable.

There are no other recreational clubs close by and with a limited bus service the bowls club is a vital part of the local community.

Our funds enabled them to replace the carpet and contributed to the rental costs of the club.  We hope they will enjoy playing bowls for many years to come.

They believe that the arts should be available to everyone regardless of economic status or ability, and strive to get young people who have had little or no contact with the arts before involved.

We funded the running costs of their  ‘Theatre Challenge’ projects that run during the school Summer holidays.

 

 

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.

We awarded them a grant to increase the number of training courses for parents in Colchester and Tendring.

Working with volunteers, the project provides a wide range of activities including a homework club for children, a meeting group for elderly residents to encourage socialising and building friendships, and a summer holiday activity week for children living on the Estate.

Regular support from one of our funds enables delivery of a cookery programme for parents and children which encourages healthy eating.  Food is prepared from recipes that can be easily recreated at home, alongside learning about food nutrition and healthy eating.

Through referrals from prisons and mental health organisations, appropriate people are selected to work on the wood recycling project for three months where they can earn a certificate and the opportunity to obtain a written reference on their performance to help them apply for jobs.

They also receive mentoring and life/employment skills as well as day-to-day skills for money management.

Paula Wilson, who set up the group, said: “We offer the basic friendship and support that people need so much when they are discharged from a mental health unit. They find it hard to settle back into the community and may feel very much on their own.

The members of the group are so supportive of each other and they can enjoy social interaction and activities in a safe place, with people around them who understand mental health problems.”

We awarded them funding to cover the hire of the church hall where they meet. They also plan to expand and develop activities, adding in healthy cooking sessions.

Their TIME project supports young people who have been missing and look at the child’s reasons for wanting to escape and help to turn around what are often negative situations at home or school.

We funded this project which came as a response to 925 missing children episodes being recorded in Thurrock, involving 461 children, in a 12 month period.

They give people a safe place to come and discuss their problems free from judgement and in complete confidence.

Their mission is to empower people to lead healthy and more meaningful lives, free from addiction, offending behaviour and disadvantage, to ensure healthier, happier lifestyles.

Open Road was one of the first local charities we supported back in 1996 and we continue to fund aspects of their work. We were delighted to be profiled in their “Spotlight on a Funder” section of their newsletter, which you can read here.

We have funded the charity’s outreach service at HM Prison Chelmsford. This service supports children and young people aged 4-16 who are affected by the imprisonment of a parent or carer.

Graham Bricknell, Business Development Manager, said: “The impact of having a parent in prison can be devastating for a child. On average, 43% of prisoners lose contact with their families during their sentence – resulting in low educational attainment, bullying and mental health issues. It is also likely that the child will go on to offend in later life. Through our ‘Breaking Barriers’ project we help to continue family relationships throughout the sentence and break that cycle of re-offending.”

Young adults are given the chance to experience what it is like to have a job at the shop by participating in day-to-day activities, including stock organisation and customer service.

One such person is Michael (pictured).  He suffers from Worster Drought Syndrome, which makes it difficult for him to speak. Michael enjoys being around people and working in the shop, he is able to interact with customers and staff through gestures, sounds and signing.

We have funded a mentor to work in the shop and encourage young people like Michael to undertake valuable work experience.

By recruiting and training volunteers who have parenting experience they offer parents-to-be support and encouragement to keep them healthy, have a positive birth and give their babies the best possible start in life.

Their Pregnancy Pals and Birth Buddies project helps mums and dads to build their confidence, feel supported, prepare for changes ahead, be less stressed and talk through worries they may have.  The project also helps them to make friendships with other new parents.

Our support funded a series of pre-natal and post-natal group fitness sessions, to help boost health and wellbeing.

Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness and early intervention is key to helping someone with their recovery.  Ensuring that family members understand the condition their loved one is struggling with, is crucial in helping someone to manage and overcome their disorder.

We funded their monthly support group which provides a space for carers to share concerns and frustrations and to receive advice from a trained professional.

With our support they developed a piece of work that uses sailing as a way to break down barriers between family members and promote positive communication.

Felicity Lees, from Pioneer Sailing Trust, said: “We are so grateful for funding from ECF as it will enable us to take more families out this year.  Being on the sailing vessel allows social workers time to interact with the families they are helping, build trust, encourage them to talk about their problems and work out what longer-term support they might need. It is wonderful that our sailing vessel Pioneer can be used for such positive work.”

Their busy client facing service sees around 1,000 clients per year, for these clients they provide legal advice, casework support, destitution support and crisis intervention.

The funding we awarded to them will enable individuals and families access to legal and immigration support services, which will help them to gain citizenship so they can gain employment and restart their lives.

Their team, made up of five family support workers and an educational psychologist, offer a long-term holistic approach to supporting local families and young people.

The team have specialist skills in dealing with issues such as bereavement support, homelessness, family breakdown, disability and young peoples mental health.

Our funding means they can provide additional support for parents of autistic children to help them navigate educational challenges due to the lockdowns.

Their focus is to inform and encourage so that parents can become better equipped to give the best possible help to their children.

More than 2,800 families are currently receiving help from SNAP and their services include a helpline, specialist talks on specific conditions and a range of therapeutic and developmental activities for children, such as yoga, drama, multi-sensory activities, as well as after school clubs and activities during school holidays.

Our support helped them to provide counselling and mediation sessions for family members to articulate their feelings, identify coping strategies and improve home life.

They support over 700 individuals, including on average 500 new referrals each year and this latter figure is expected to rise during the current year.  Most of their clients are women with only a few men being supported.

Nationally, only 15% of victims report a sexual violence crime to the police and many suffer years of mental health issues, substance dependency and other debilitating side effects of their attack.

We are pleased to help them with the annual lease cost of their premises from which they provide a range of specialised services.  Around 50% of contacts are self-referrals and the remaining referrals come from the Police and other agencies.  There is no doubt that their client base will continue to grow as more high-profile cases come to light and awareness raising campaigns encourage victims to come forward.

SAVS received a grant to renovate the park and create a safe space for children to play and learn about nature, adding a trail and installing educational boards.

The area is now used and safely enjoyed by members of the local community, including young families.

They issue food parcels and additional items (such as toiletries) to people referred to by local professional agencies who have been identified as being in an emergency or crisis situation.

This includes families on low incomes, people in debt, people who are homeless or vulnerably housed and, most commonly, families who are experiencing delays in their benefits payments.

We are pleased to support their distribution centres across Southend, which give away in excess of 3,000 food parcels each year.

To help their members gain work experience they set up The Novel Coffee Shop to provide a safe space where they can improve their skills and employment opportunities.

The grant awarded to Mencap is helping up to 40 people per week to showcase their skills and how they can contribute to local businesses and their wider community.

They have worked on the Queensway Estate for many years, but identified that residents felt no sense of community spirit which was contributing to the run-down state of the area, so they applied to us for funding to employ a community organiser.

This new role focused on getting residents involved in a regeneration project for the area, in partnership with the local housing agency, Council and Police.  Everyone, regardless of ethnicity, gender or faith was encouraged to contribute ideas at regularly hosted community forums and to get involved in taking ideas forward.  Having their opinions valued, has helped residents to care more about their area and a sense of community has returned.

They provide accommodation for 60 people aged 16-21 years old, which not only gives them vital shelter, but also helps them to gain confidence from living with others and builds independent living skills.

We funded their pilot with Homeless Link that gives young people affected by housing issues a voice in their community, encouraging them to get involved in campaigning on policy and inputting into current plans.

Before the pandemic they were helping 20 people locally and it has since risen to over 100. The grant we awarded to them has meant they can provide each recipient with a box of essential items e.g. soup, rice, pasta and other non-perishables; meat, cheese, spread, and other fridge / freezer foods.

They also repsond to “holiday hunger” needs during school holidays where children that would receive free meals during term-time need additional food.

‘Namaste’ is an internationally recognised programme using sensory-based techniques that provide comfort and support to people with advanced dementia.

The programme integrates compassionate nursing care with individualised activities in a group setting.

Over 40 volunteers support this organisation that provides a wide range of activities and events for all age groups, helping to increase their understanding and knowledge of the Air Campaign during the Great War.

We supported a project that gave young people the opportunity to build model aircraft, small vehicles and rockets, whilst learning about the history of the War.

They also support their clients in overcoming any issues they are facing, such as alcohol misuse or poor mental health. This happens in a variety of ways including group art sessions.

With our support they employed a housing and project officer to help register new clients, identify needs and create a plan to resolve their housing issues. This includes liaising directly with over 30 landlords and operating a deposit scheme to overcome financial barriers in accessing accommodation.

 

Members attend educational classes, take part in creative activities and learn new skills. They are also encouraged to keep fit and healthy so that they can achieve their potential and live their lives to the fullest.

We recently awarded them funding for a new wheelchair-accessible bus to transport people with disabilities to and from the centre. This was vital as many members cannot access public transport, as they are either in wheelchairs or have severe mobility problems.

Support workers address a range of issues in these sessions including mental health, low self-esteem, bullying and the pressures of social media, all of which can play a critical role in preventing a young person from reaching their full potential.

Alongside this, Teen Talk also runs weekly group activities such as cookery workshops, wildlife activities and volunteering programmes, helping their young people to further develop confidence, social skills and build friendships.

Funding from us helped them to employ a co-ordinator to expand their work and further develop the sessions and activities they offer.

TOur funding has enabled them to recruit a part-time co-ordinator for its health and wellbeing centre in Harwich.

The new centre acts as a hub for the local voluntary sector and hosts training workshops, events and networking opportunities.

Allan Webb is a Trustee at The Art Ministry. He said: “We work with a wide range of people who need help to boost self-esteem, increase their self-confidence, build social skills and improve wellbeing. These include children with learning difficulties, young carers, and adults with visual impairments, physical difficulties, learning difficulties, early onset dementia, mental health problems and drug and alcohol issues.”

They have provided online video workshops throughout the pandemic with female guest speakers from different industries and sectors to deliver inspirational talks, Q&A’s and one-to-one conversations with the girls.

We are delighted to fund this programme which aims to boost confidence and life aspirations.

We awarded them funding to run a healthy lifestyle project for their members. They decided to do this after having identified that many of their members have weight and fitness issues, this project teaches healthy food and encourages an active lifestyle.

These activities include a weekly football club and dance classes.

Together with project partners and other local organisations, Together Free helps to raise awareness of what Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking is, including providing awareness material, running campaigns and providing training for front-line professionals and community organisations, so they can learn to identify it and ensure their projects ‘slavery-proof’ through developing robust safeguarding procedures.

Our funding has enabled Together Free to continue their work in the Borough of Southend and expand it to the City of Chelmsford.

We helped them to turn a shipping container into a space where the group can continue to
meet, even in the colder months.

Wayne Setford, Founder, said: “We run sessions 12 months of the year and our grant means we can create an inviting and warm space where people can access wellbeing and education activities such as crafts and cooking.”

Their allotment sites and gardens provide a safe space where people can come together to socialise and be with others who understand what they are going through.

We have supported Trust Links for many years and recently funded them to extend the hours of a support worker who specialises in providing training opportunities to help their clients gain confidence, make friends, and learn new skills.

We awarded them funding for their Speech Therapy service over the next three years to help improve the wellbeing of their clients.

Peggy Slade, from Upwards with Downs said: “Every person with Down Syndrome has some problems with communication due to their learning delay.  If they cannot speak and be understood they can develop feelings of frustration, anger and anxiety.”

 

Uttlesford Buffy Bus is a rural, roaming playschool which travels to villages in the District providing children, their families and carers with a fun and welcoming place to meet.  Trained play-leaders provide on-board learning sessions helping the children to develop skills that supports their transition into Primary education.

We support the running costs of the Buffy Bus, covering necessities such as insurance and fuel, to keep the project moving.

Many advisers are volunteers who provide free, knowledgeable support through face-to-face, phone and email services, as well as online through their website.

We have provided grants to support the network of offices that operate in Essex and helped Uttlesford CAB to employ a paid disability benefits specialist.  The role is to train and co-ordinate a team of home visit volunteers to sensitively support people living with disabilities and long-term illnesses to complete complex application forms for benefits.  Where there are concerns about the fairness of a rejection, the specialist works with the client to appeal this decision.

Voluntary Action Epping Forest (VAEF) has supported the most vulnerable people across the Epping Forest District during the COVID-19 crisis.

Jacqui Foile from VAEF said: “Using our volunteer expertise we rapidly set up a district-wide community response to the coronavirus outbreak.

“We co-ordinated volunteers and businesses to support those in crisis. Our services include telephone support, shopping, collecting prescriptions and providing welfare support and advice.”

Our funding paid for the additional staff salaries and running costs of this vital operation, and to help cover VAEF’s reduced income due to cancelled fundraising events and loss of chargeable services.

From their 40-acre working farm in Abberton they run hands-on farming activities and provide mental health support in small groups or on a one-to-one basis.

Our support has helped them to employ a part-time mental health working who will encourage people to get outdoors, be hands on and talk about their feelings.

They reach in the region of 5,500 children, young people and adults per year, providing a range of wild experiences that connect participants to the world around them and gives them the opportunity to look inwards to learn about themselves.

We funded their ‘TurnAround Programme’ to provide workshops on emotional control, behavioural improvements and skill development. This programme helps the young participants, who often come from a challenging background, to rebuild their self-esteem, learn how to respect the environment and create aspiration for their futures.

The club found that older people who live alone are less likely to cook a hot meal for themselves and this, combined with poor diet alternatives, was having a damaging effect on their health.

Our support helped them to pay the rental costs for the hall where the club meets.

They came to us in need of funding when their mini-bus was written off in an accident.

It was essential that they were back up and running to full capacity as soon as possible because they take people, typically 65+ and living in semi-rural areas, on trips for social, medical, study, shopping and entertainment purposes.

Our grant enabled them to buy a new 16-seater minibus.

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.

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 funding we awarded to them enabled 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.