Community Spotlight

Each year we award around £4.5 million in grants to charities and voluntary organisations working across Essex, please find examples below of what has been supported locally.  The filters will help you to look for organisations tackling specific issues or by area.  The District filter is where the organisation is based.  We add new stories all the time and hope you enjoy reading them.

  • Find out how we can help you to give back to charities in Essex here.
  • Apply for a grant to support your charitable work.

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

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, Training and Advice

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.

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

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.

3food4u collects surplus food from supermarkets and offer it to those in need on a trust basis, no referrals needed. They support over 1500 families per week, and with a team of 300 volunteers, have been able to distribute approximately 300,000 meals.

The project is run entirely by volunteers who have found it to be hugely rewarding, with many saying that it made them feel that they were doing something meaningful to help those in need.

 

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The charity, based in Chelmsford, distributed 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.

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Moving forward after neonatal loss is a difficult and emotional time. Abigail’s Footsteps is there to provide guidance and care on this journey with dedicated support and therapy sessions for the families, and specialist training of midwives to provide help during this difficult time.

Our support is helping Abigail’s Footsteps to bring tailored counselling to more families, helping them connect with professionals and give them access to coping techniques and mental healthcare.

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Their coaching sessions for all ages in Colchester and Maldon offers access to sport in a safe and supportive environment, teaching people new skills by using specialised equipment.

A grant from us has enabled the organisation to recruit and train volunteers to increase the number of sessions they run. Their weekly multi-sports sessions are very popular and supports 60 members to get active, make new friends and to take part in team games.

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They offer adult social groups, youth groups, and skill sessions throughout the year for over 175 children, young people, and adults with disabilities. Their members enjoy activities, including visits to the zoo, bowling and cinema, which allows time to socialise, build confidence and allow their families to have some respite.

Our support is helping them to continue offering a wide range of activities that reduce social isolation, increase happiness, support health and wellbeing, and develop the skills and potential of their members.

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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.

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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.

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A significant goal 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. Some of the services offered by Action for Family Carers include activity groups and carer clubs for young people, and counselling and support groups for adult carers in Colchester, Tendring and west Essex.

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.”

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We funded their extra-curricular activities for local young people who struggle in mainstream school and have been affected by crime. These included Kickboxing classes, cooking workshops, and a Fire Break scheme, where trained firefighters lead sessions to increase the young people’s self-worth and teamwork skills.

This alternative form of learning helps to build the pupil’s confidence and aspirations for the future.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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They provide uniforms and essential household items to families in need of support and distribute food vouchers. They also run a bi-annual “bring your dad to school” event to help strengthen parent-child relationships, and this regularly sees over 100 dads or father figures attend.

ECF helped to fund their reading outreach program through Aim Hi, for nursery age children and their families in Greenstead, Colchester. This community event helps children to learn to read, see how it can be fun and to overcome barriers by reading together.

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The centre has been running since 1953 and they provide a term-time nursery, counselling services for adults and children, an outreach programme, domestic violence help, respite care for children with disabilities, and support with supplying packed lunches for children in nursery.

A grant from us has supported their running costs, helped them to develop their art therapy projects and enabled them to build on their capacity, increasing the number of referrals they can support and reach out to more people.

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Through targeted work with local parents, the group raises awareness for the benefits of engaging children with autism with the natural environment. They provide families, schools, and local authorities with storybooks and guides about visiting heritage sites. For children with autism, being able to see where they are going beforehand and read about it in simple language, helps them to feel more comfortable and excited to explore the nature and history around them.  

A grant  enabled them to publish an inclusive illustrated storybook called ‘Alex and Rosie Explore Essex Heritage’.

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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”. 

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They offer activity programmes, in-school counselling and mentoring, and mobile youth club sessions, which are all aimed at helping young people to grow, develop and thrive. 

Their focus is to provide this support to young people in the location of their choosing, rather than bringing them to the group’s own venues. A large amount of their work takes place ‘on the street’ with detached youth workers taking their converted double-decker bus to parks and high streets to engage with young people where they are. 

Our grant enabled them to provide a young women’s self-defence and safety programme. This will give them to feel more secure when out and about in their local areas, develop their awareness of personal safety and build their confidence. 

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The funding we awarded them was for a specific project supporting families that had arrived from Afghanistan and are living in temporary accommodation. To help the families to begin building a new life in Essex, Barnardo’s provided them with technology and educational resources for schoolwork, clothing vouchers so families could choose their own clothing, books, toys, and other essential items.

Barnardo’s supported 420 family members through this project, helping them to integrate into their new community, reduce feelings of isolation, and strengthen their mental health.

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We awarded a grant to this purpose-built riding centre in rural Essex, between Chelmsford and Brentwood, to employ a part-time instructor. Spending time with horses and ponies is proven to help improve both mental and physical well-being and they make riding accessible for people who may otherwise be unable to learn due to disabilities. 

One parent whose child attends said: “Riding at Barrow Farm has increased my son’s core strength, his balance and his coordination. It has also helped hugely his social and emotional well-being. It has been a real game changer, not only for him but for our whole family.” 

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The Foodbank was established in 2013 with the aim to stop food hunger in Basildon. Their work extends beyond this now, as they  also provide toiletries such as feminine hygiene products and baby nappies to those that need them. 

Between April 2020 and March 2021, they provided 18,423 emergency food parcels to 2,047 people, but this number has grown dramatically since then, and from April 2022 to October 2022 the foodbank saw 1,844 people.  

A grant from us has supported their running costs to enable them to grow with the rising demand as a result of the cost-of-living crisis. 

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Their non-judgmental approach to helping parents gives them emotional and practical guidance, support to access to local services, assistance in form filling and budgeting, alongside a listening ear.

We awarded them funding towards the salary of a project co-ordinator, which will support their development and growth.

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The charity offers one-to-one counselling to children and their families, helping to prevent and reduce behavioural and emotional problems. They also offer a counselling service to school staff as they understand how pressurised it can be to work in education.

Our funding towards their core costs has supported the salary of a counsellor.

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We funded their Let’s Get Cooking programme which coordinates Essex school and community-based cooking clubs. The grant also helped to produce and distribute recipe packs and run livestreamed cooking sessions for 3,256 children and their families.

These sessions have given the children and their families the skills and confidence to improve their cooking, learn how to make the most out of ingredients and budget for meals. It has also produced a community of families, friends, and pupils who are excited to improve their health and well-being, gain food knowledge and practical kitchen skills.

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Their day centre is a welcoming environment that provides people with hot food and drinks, shower facilities, hairdressing and washing services. They also offer toiletries and clothing for those that need them in the short term. Alongside this, they have provisions for GP services and therapy. This aims to keep people facing homelessness healthy and improves their well-being.

Our funding helped to cover their running costs and increased the number of people they can help. They estimate that with this support, they will reach over 600 people a year.

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The club is run by and supports older residents and focuses on helping them to have fun and to build friendships through group activities. While there are over 1,000 clubs in the UK, the one in Benfleet prides itself on having an especially welcoming atmosphere and has around 300 members.

 

Curiosity does not end when you leave the workforce, and u3a enables members to share their knowledge with others, learn new skills and to socialise.  Our grant helped them to run a series of workshops about IT and media for those who would not usually have access to insights on those topics. Technology is a great way to combat loneliness and helps to keep friends and family connected.

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Billericay Baby Basics face increased demand for support at their baby-bank, which gifts baby-related essentials to mothers and families who need additional help to cope with  the financial  burden of caring for a newborn. They help people who are facing sickness, poverty, those seeking asylum, or those who have fled domestic violence.

The expansion of the service, supported by a grant from ECF, is a chance for even more women to access this precious support.

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Their work has grown ever since then, in response to rising need. The Foodbank now benefits from around 70 volunteers. Thanks to public donations, as well as commitments from local supermarkets and food distribution organisations, they give out over 110 food parcels each week to over 265 people.  

A key focus of their work is helping people without judgement, so they feel comfortable returning to get the support they need. A grant from us is supporting their running costs and helping them to expand the items they provide. 

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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. Click here to visit their website.

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The Flower and Dog show is more than the sum of its parts, with residents describing it as providing the ‘invisible glue’ that underpins the community. While the dog show and the flower show are the cornerstones of the event, the show is filled with a range of art stalls, craft workshops and more. It showcases local talent and brings people together in a celebration of what makes the town special.

They say that the smallest towns have the biggest hearts, so no doubt the Flower and Dog show is the moral core of Bradwell on Sea. The event, eagerly anticipated, is a golden opportunity to educate and inspire the local residents.

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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.”

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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.

 

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Through their drop-in and focused group sessions, the charity provides a full range of activities, events and training that encourage young people to become more confident and build new friendships. Some of their activities include board and computer games, sports, cooking workshops, mountain climbing, abseiling, canoeing or river trekking. They also run awareness sessions on topics such as the dangers of drugs and alcohol.  

Our funding has supported the salary of their youth worker, who continues to arrange their programme of activities that will help the young people to better integrate into society and build a positive future for themselves. 

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Most of us take for granted things like fresh, nostalgic food and casual conversations in a familiar language, but these things may be out of reach for asylum seekers.  This can cause them to feel isolated and anxious, a cycle that Bridgeway is breaking.

 

The project has been able to provide emergency meal parcels to those in need, and group cooking sessions. Thanks to a little help from us, Bridgeway were able to fund the sessions and the volunteers to help the participants to feel comfortable, get involved and create a truly supportive network.

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During the initial COVID-19 lockdown, when Bright Lives could not provide their usual in-person support, they used this time to refurbish their new headquarters in Colchester.  

We were pleased to support this renovation project and the new centre now hosts 100-175 members every week to enjoy arts, crafts, and music sessions. There is also a sensory room, a new kitchen and a lounge area.  

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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.

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Their programme is open to service leavers, veterans, reservists and their families, and exists to create a smooth transition back into civilian life for those who have served.

There are around120,000 veterans currently unemployed in the UK,, and Building Heroes welcomes them to learn construction skills, and help them to progress into regular or self-employment within the industry.

The group tells us that applications for the programme are almost double the actual number of places they have available, but Building Heroes is dedicated to expanding.  Our support is enabling them to run two 5-week courses at their centre in Colchester.

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What started as an interesting crop mark spotted resulted in members digging and revealing the stone foundations of an early medieval building.

Our grant towards the project meant that a senior archaeologist could come on site and teach people how to excavate and record properly, together with the equipment we need to do the job professionally.

The site will be included in the Historic Environment Record and the entire excavation data will be available to all.

 

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They also provide support to their parents or carers, and organise social events for their siblings. This helps them to build peer support networks with other families which experience the same situations and potential challenges of caring for a child with disabilities.

We funded their artistic projects and events for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.

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They run weekend camps with a range of activities accessible to everyone, from bushcraft activities, foraging, beach time, tomahawk throwing, feeding farm animals, campfires, tai chi, fire lighting, and music.  

Parents are supported by trained volunteers, so they also experience some respite from their caring responsibilities, especially as there is specialist equipment to suit their child’s individual needs, such as larger tents, hoists, and all-terrain wheelchairs. 

A grant from us supported their running costs, helping to increase their capacity and keep the costs low for families. 

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Their canal boats are fully accessible having been adapted with ramps, wheelchair lifts, hoists, wet rooms, and day beds, which enable everyone to get involved in the boating experience. Whether they spend it relaxing and watching the world go by, getting closer to nature, or helping to steer the boat or open locks, clients can get involved in every stage of the trip. 

Our funding helped them to repair and replace one of their boat’s engines, so that they can continue to provide families and young people with new experiences and a much needed escape from stresses of everyday life. 

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The group organises activities, events, and specialist sessions to promote development, confidence, independence, and positive awareness in the community for children with Down Syndrome. They also provide access to training and advice for parents and carers, encourage sharing of information about personal experiences and provide useful resources for families.

Funding from us towards their running costs has helped to develop their dance/sensory sessions, Makaton classes, sports activities including football and biking, stay-and-play sessions and family events. These help the children and their families to get active, make friends and thrive.

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We contributed towards the cost of their counselling service for people living across mid and north Essex who have experienced sexual abuse or violence.

This helps people to process what has happened, develop coping mechanisms to deal with the complex emotions and/or trauma reactions, and ultimately supports them in being able to move forward with their lives.

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CAST are the glue between asylum-seekers and local communities, helping to integrate refugees that are struggling and smoothing the transition into the next stage of life. They also provide friendship projects that build relationships, signposting through the benefits process and other services.

Our support enabled them to run a return to work and life skills programme to prepare participants for move on and independent living in the community.

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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.

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The organisation uses cars and minibuses to take people to health appointments, food shopping, or to visit friends, as well as organising group day trips to garden centers, public gardens, and historic buildings. Our funding towards their core costs has helped them to continue this service and has given their members more independence. They told us that during the year of this funding, they transported 15,000 passengers a total of over 80,000 miles.

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While helping to keep beach visitors safe, they have also been able to develop a  programme to teach young people the skills to become a lifeguard. They also provide a community hub for the public to drop in to take part in a range of activities including litter picking, first aid training and exercise sessions.

With a grant from us they have bought a lightweight inflatable rescue boat and an inflatable lifeguard rescue board to further their rescue abilities. This will allow the public to continue to kayak, swim, and boat safely in the sea with the support of this equipment should they need assistance.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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With this funding, they have been able to set up an online service so that children can access support, and the same therapeutic interventions when circumstances prevent them from attending in person.

By learning how to manage their emotions, and uncertainty, the children are supported to improve their self-confidence, gain interpersonal skills, and avoid falling into a spiral of intergenerational offending. The group have also developed a custom workbook for the children to track their progress and really commit the lessons to heart.

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Our funding helped them to continue this work and provide informative, engaging and creative workshops for Year 6 Pupils to help prepare for their teenage years. These sessions focused on making and maintaining positive friendships, overcoming peer pressure, and having good mental health.

These were the main concerns of local parents and helps to instills confidence in the young people as they approach secondary school age.

This will help them to feel more comfortable making friends and to know how to identify toxic relationships, ultimately promoting their independence and reducing the anxiety they may feel about progressing onto the next stage of their education.

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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.”

 

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There is no issue too small to reach out for and CAB offer insights and signposting on issues including debt, benefits, immigration and legal help. With a grant from us, they have been able to continue offering a broad range of essential support sessions for local residents, and more face-to-face visits are available as part of this growing service.

As the first port of call for members of the community who are in need, CAB are a sympathetic organisation focused on matching clients with solutions through patience and determination. It is hard to put a price on good advice.

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To help tackle this issue locally, they launched a financial and mental health well-being programme. Following its success, we awarded them funding to extend the pilot into a 12-month project. 

The project aims to tackle the clear links between poor financial well-being and poor mental health by providing a community hub service that delivers financial advice, mental health support and help to access employment opportunities. This well-rounded approach means people who are struggling to cope are supported holistically and have solutions that will provide lasting change. 

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They offer social activities all year round and they now have 30 teams joining their monthly pub quizzes. Their activities aim to foster inclusion, reduce the isolation and exclusion that people from the community experience, and celebrate equality and diversity in the area.

A grant from us has enabled the group to hire a dedicated space to hold their regular social events and activities.

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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.

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These sessions offer local people the ability to re-use donated fabrics and learn textile techniques. This includes using specialist machinery and tools, while being guided by volunteers.  

Clients work together and help each other to create and mend clothing, which has created a socially inclusive and relaxed environment where people can build friendships, and feel less lonely. 

A grant from us supported their running costs and has helped them expand their service to schools and to people who are home bound, as well as expanding the types of textile workshops they offer.

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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.

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They provide opportunities through volunteering, mentoring, arts and crafts and gardening/open space projects to help build confidence and skills.

We supported their school navigator role, working in partnership with local secondary schools,  giving young people a point of contact if they need to talk to someone about their feelings.

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With a grant from us, and in celebration of Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee, they ran a range of events to promote cultural diversity across Tendring. Through sharing traditional food, music, dancing and art, the local community had the opportunity to experience various cultures that live within the area, promoting community cohesion and providing a better understanding of particularly the Chinese culture. Some of the groups involved included people from Pakistani, Nepalese, Bangladeshi, Syrian, African, and Chinese backgrounds.  

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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.

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Their service works closely with other local organisations working in the area to support vulnerable people that are living on the street. They provide rucksacks, tents, sleeping bags, clothes and other  items, while lobbying for change.  

We have funded the setup of their digital platform that outlines and signposts members of the public to services that need/take donations, or volunteer opportunities to support the homeless community.  

This website also enables rough sleepers to immediately identify where they can access local support services such as food banks, advice services or financial help. 

It also promotes coordination between local groups that support people who are homeless. 

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By working across 3 hospitals within Mid and South Essex, the charity is able to provide hospital comfort bags, peer support and a wide range of different therapies for those experiencing a loss.

Our grant meant they could fast-track specialist counselling for bereaved parents in Chelmsford, Basildon, and Southend. This helps to reduces their anxiety and post-natal trauma by providing a safe space for bereaved parents to share their grief or find comfort in the words of others.

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We supported their sitting service, which enables carers to have some time to themselves, improving their mental health, while the person they care for is also able to enjoy social time with the sitter at home, or go out for a trip with them.

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These sessions are for families, early years, primary schools, secondary school students, young people, older adults, and for people with conditions such as dementia or Parkinson’s. 

Learning routines and getting active during the sessions gives people the opportunity to improve their self-confidence and physical well-being, develop their creativity and independent thinking, and gives them social interaction in a fun environment. 

A grant from us helped to provide a social dance programme for older adults, and those living with dementia and Parkinson’s disease together with their families. They were able to deliver 120 classes, both in person and online, to over 900 people. 

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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.

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The group aims to improve the quality of life for people living with dementia, which they do by offering support to carers and families. They offer group meetings every month where members can enjoy a wide range of activities including arts & crafts, dancing, singing, games, and group conversations.

A grant from ECF helped to keep these sessions running, allowing the Café members to continue to improve their concentration, self-confidence, and mobility, all in a safe environment.

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It is a valuable source of social interaction where members can form friendships, feel less isolated, and improve their mental well-being. The charity provides environmental therapy and has counsellors on hand to support people who have mental health conditions.

We awarded them funding to cover various running costs include the transport fees of their elderly volunteers and the salaries of the counsellors.

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The organisation works directly with their members and the local community to build their sport programmes, inspiring people to join. Their members not only gain new life skills, but also develop a support network with the others that take part, as well as the staff.

Our funding has helped to cover staff salaries so they can focus on developing their sessions and to build long-term rapport with all those taking part.

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A Church network, DNA Networks has a variety of services on offer to help people including, employment support, alleviating the cost of school uniforms, and learning English to help refugees settle into their new community.

 

We supported an English course project where learners can attend online lessons for as long as they need.  The waiting lists for these programmes continues to grow, but DNA has set themselves the mission of providing them, aiding their community and combatting hardship for as long as there are people that need them.

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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.

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Originating in Tilbury, and with hopes of expanding their watchful eye across Thurrock, the group is working hard to replace the area’s outdated, damaged and unusable AEDs so that they are available to use when the need arises.  They will also be delivering training classes alongside this project.  Futureproofing is the best treatment, and thanks to a grant from us, these essential tools are now more accessible for the local community.

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They work with young people who experience barriers to learning due to reasons including but not restricted to, ethnicity, religion, sexuality, gender or disability. They are immersed in the whole process including storytelling, drama, movement, soundscape, puppetry, and visual theatre.  

Our funding helped the group to organise workshops and a special show with young people who speak English as an additional language. The project was driven by the young people themselves, where they learnt new creative skills through the support of professional artists to devise and create the performance based on their own ideas, research, and personal stories. 

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They offer home visits and phone calls in person or online, enabling patients and their families to have rapid access to emotional support. ELT offers a safe and confidential space where the emotions around terminal illness can be shared openly, and the pace of the work is entirely set by the patient. This group helps people with care and compassion, and ECF is pleased to fund their outreach.

ELT also works with family groups to help them cope, and provides links to support workers. They also support people affected by a life-limiting diagnosis to continue living their limited time, rather than focusing on the end of their life.

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By running language and reading classes to suit all abilities, volunteers help learners to develop their skills so they can access vital services, build a support network, and prepare to apply for jobs or further education.

Over 100 women take part from 30 different nationalities. The volunteers also offer a free supervised play area for children, so mums can focus on learning. They also run separate sessions for men

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Whether it is through disability, homelessness, or other issues, Enterprise East runs a series of workshops to train people to work in the hospitality sector.

The group provides bespoke employment support, multi-generational training workshops, and on-the-job learning at placements in one of their cafes in Saffron Walden.

The cafes cater for all members of the community as well as charities, including dementia support networks and chair yoga initiatives.

We helped to ensure that the cafes and diners can continue to provide a service to the local community and allow the young people to grow their skills.

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Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic their fleet of 18 mini-buses made around 8,000 door-to-door service journeys each month, but they had to adapt their offering in March 2020 when the country went into lockdown.

Angela Canham, manager of EHCT, said: “Although we were unable to operate as usual, we knew that our clients still needed our support.

“We applied for a grant from Essex Community Foundation and were awarded funding which meant we could buy the equipment needed for some of our team to work from home.

“They made daily calls to our housebound passengers to provide them with some reassurance that they weren’t alone and help prevent them from feeling isolated.

“We also made trips to St Margaret’s Hospital in Epping and worked with NHS Princess Alexander Hospital in Harlow to deliver medications to patients who had gone home after being treated for Coronavirus or those with serious underlying heath conditions who needed to self-isolate.

“The funding we received also meant that we could add safety screens in our mini-buses for when restrictions eased.”

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They work with over 100 frontline organisations such as schools, GPs, and the local Citizens Advice to receive referrals, and have the support of around 130 volunteers weekly who manage the Foodbank, as well as their Food in School Holidays programme to feed children when they aren’t receiving meals at school.

A grant from us has contributed towards the running costs of the Foodbank to match the rising demand for the services, which in 2022 alone supported more than 5,000 people.

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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.

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Their Essex youth group is part of a wider UK network that runs a range of activities to enhance the skills, confidence, and employability of  young people. One area of their work is giving young people something positive to do with their spare time outside of education so they are less likely to get involved in  anti-social behaviour.  

We funded a project based at their outdoor adventure centre in Colchester, providing outdoor activity days for year 9 students that are struggling at school. This helps them to gain a sense of achievement while developing different coping strategies to manage in their everyday lives. 

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A small grant from us will cover the costs of ECO supporting the South Essex Youth Symphony Orchestra (SEYSO) in delivering a course which will culminate in a Christmas performance. ECO works closely with SEYSO which provides orchestral training for young musicians through a series of workshop days and concerts. These courses then reach crescendo in a public performance.

These events, and other performances held throughout the year, are an essential part of the Essex Concert Orchestra and the South Essex Youth Orchestra’s aim to nurture and support the talent of young musicians in Essex.

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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.

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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.

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They used their funding to organise a wide range of group activities including cultural cooking and silk painting. Part of their work has been to support Afghan refugees settle into the local community.

They also run English language classes in Chelmsford, with specific classes for women living in Essex. They pair women up with other women who are experiencing the same difficulties with the language as them, which helps to reduce feelings of loneliness and develop their abilities.

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In 2022 they were able to make over 8,100 deliveries to help patients in need. Alongside hospitals, they also work with milk banks and neonatal units to deliver donated breastmilk to babies across Essex.

A grant from us supported their running costs and provided additional equipment for volunteers. This has allowed another of their transport blood bikes to get back on the road, which is ultimately saving more lives.

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Evolving Community is responding to this issue, and their goal is as simple – to make a tangible difference to the lives of young people.

We supported one of their projects in Thurrock, which offered weekly sports sessions for young people to engage in physical activity in the outdoors, where they could make friends and build confidence.  It may sound like a small project, but to hear the organisers and participants describe it, the sessions are truly transformative.

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Our funding is helping them to share parenting skills that will reduce conflict in the home and improve family relationships. They help parents and carers of children from pre-birth to age 25 (where there are additional needs).

EXTRA also runs informal workshops, such as messy play and coffee mornings where parents and carers can build up relationships with staff and find out about the formal support on offer whilst in a relaxed, fun setting.

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Their family support project provides information, advice, and guidance to families who need help. This includes assistance with completing complex forms for disability-related benefits, support with the transition to adulthood social care, or accessing educational support. They work closely with families to provide tailored support. 

They also provide a weekly family activity club, siblings support group, and run regular coffee mornings. A grant from us has supported the continuation of this work to help families cope better with day-to-day issues, feel more positive, and more resilient. 

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Their centre, which is a converted ship, provides an ideal environment for youth clubs, schools, churches, and groups with additional needs to visit and enjoy the water. They offer a wide range of activities including sailing, kayaking, rowing, power boating, dredging, climbing, archery, and high ropes. These help to build self-confidence, form new friendships, have fun, and develop team building skills.

A grant from us helped them to replace the engines of their safety boats which are used when a group of young people are sailing or boating.

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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.

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The organisation takes a non-judgmental approach to improving lives of the local community by offering educational classes, life skills and training to help people deal with their emotions, seek counselling, benefit and job-seekers advice, as well as a befriending services.  

We provided them with a grant towards their staff costs so they could increase the capacity of their work and meet demand from a growing number of people that want to make positive changes in their lives.  

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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.

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Foundry First Steps was born when parents in Manningtree felt that there should be more casual playgroups in the area for babies, toddlers and parents to socialise.

The group runs drop-in sessions and a playgroup.  Refreshments are provided and singalongs for anyone willing to join in. They also have their own baby-care centred foodbank for those needing some extra help.

With our support they have been able to buy some new toys and crafting materials for the children.

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Since 1972 the group have been standing in defence of those who cannot afford or do not qualify for legal aid. FRU are committed to pushing through barriers of literacy, time and money so that no one faces a courtroom unprepared.

Through the combined efforts of volunteers, trainees and law students, FRU stands alongside defendants in employment and social security tribunals, and we were able to fund this great service through one of our grants.

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By clearing foliage, maintaining the pathways, and organising regular rubbish clearing, FODP enable people to visit the park safely. They also host tours around the reserve to educate visitors on the archaeological and environmental background of the park. 

With our support, they have been able to plant trees which will encourage a wider range of bird species to nest, and hopefully inspire more people to get out and enjoy the fresh air. 

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Thanks to a grant, the charity has purchased a beach wheelchair to be used by the care homes residents.

This specialised wheelchair has large wheels that can easily travel over sand, and are waterproof so it can dip into the sea. It means everyone can enjoy the beach with friends and family, increasing their happiness and levels of independence.

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Based in Basildon, they are supporting women across Essex to achieve beyond the limits imposed by harmful beliefs and attitudes.

They provide education on a range of issues through their empowerment workshops and offer one-to-one support for girls who want to bolster their resilience.  They proudly state, “we put Space, Voice and Choice for girls at the centre of everything we do.”

A grant from us is enabling them to inspire and raise up so many young girls. Whether they just need a safe space where they can be heard, or a passionate champion to advocate for them in tough times, Girl’s Empowerment is reaching out with both hands to women who need support.

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Their tailored support ranges from therapy, food shop vouchers, toys and gifts, weekend trips away and practical help with travel to and from hospitals, as well as bereavement support.

They also raise awareness of childhood cancer signs and symptoms, including delivering training workshops to childcare practitioners and parents.

A grant from us has helped to cover therapy costs which gives families coping strategies and a space to explore difficult feelings over the course of their child’s treatment.

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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.

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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.

 

 

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Their varied outings, activities, and trips during the Easter, Summer, and Christmas holidays run alongside weekly clubs which gives 130 members the opportunity to relax with friends, learn new skills, and enjoy different experiences in a safe environment. They enjoy activities such as bingo, arts and crafts, bowling, dance, as well as hearing from guest speakers.

Our grant supported their running costs, to allow them to develop their residential trips, which gives their members the opportunity to live independently for a short stay, providing them with the tools to lead an active and busy life, and feel more confident within the wider community.

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Their activities provide the community with new skills, promote healthy living, and help people develop their resilience and confidence through nature.

We awarded the group funding towards the development of raised allotment beds at Stour Valley Community College and Primary School. While the children will learn about growing fresh organic seasonal produce, they will also be able to work with other community members to offer free meals to people who need them.

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The Centre provides care as well as stimulating and therapeutic activities including seated chair exercise classes, music classes, and group quizzes. The Centre has been funded to continue providing a transport service for their clients, which is a unique service in the area. This empowers people to remain integrated in their community, accessing vital services and socialising.

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They help their clients to develop life skills and find independence, gain employment, take part in community activities, and provide residential care and respite to support their families.

Hamelin Trust have expanded their work to help Ukrainian refugees and migrants who are disabled, as they arrived in Essex following the war in Ukraine. A grant from us has supported this project.

Andy Archer, from Hamelin, said “One of the key difficulties for disabled Ukrainian refugees and migrants is finding specially adapted homes and access to appropriate services. ECF’s grant helped us to increase our capacity to ensure these families received full wrap-around support and helped them settle and integrate into their local community.”

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Their play and holiday clubs provide respite care for families, and a wonderful opportunity for the children and young people to socialise and have fun. Some of these activities include going to the park, cooking, arts and crafts, swimming, and family days out.

We contributed towards the salary of a key worker to support the children on a one-to-one basis at their Saturday and Holiday Clubs, giving the children the best opportunity to thrive.

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Harlow Wombles are keen environmentalists who dedicate their time to an array of projects keeping their local area clean, accessible and a pleasant place to live. The Wombles report fly-tipping, abandoned vehicles, and help connect people with nature.  Local young people are recruited as ‘junior wombles’ and can earn certificates recognising how they have contributed to the improvement of local streets and cycle paths.

We supported the Harlow Wombles in obtaining better tools for their important litter picking work.

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It offers group travel service enables local residents to access medical appointments, go food shopping, to see friends, and to get to work.

Over the past 19 years the service has grown to a fleet of seven minibuses and now a regular service to Colchester Hospital has been established thanks to a grant we awarded of £10,000.

 

 

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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.

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They aim to increase understanding about mental health disorders, and provide mental health first aid training and therapies across Essex.

A grant from us supported the cost of their pet assisted therapy at primary schools in Colchester to help young people who are struggling with their mental health. They offer both one-to-one and group sessions and provide the children with mental and physical tools to help with a variety of issues such as anxiety, depression, stress management, eating disorders, and trauma.

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The organisation provides practical information, activities, and emotional support to over 500 adults and their families, helping them to adjust to the effects of their injury, and provide them with opportunities to thrive and build a strong support network.  

A grant from us assisted their development of a new day centre to expand their programme of support and provide a safe environment for users to improve their self-esteem, confidence, fitness, cognitive ability and build life-skills. This enables them to make the best recovery possible and encourages their independence. 

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Their staff and volunteers visit public venues across Essex to deliver support sessions, provide home visits for people who cannot easily visit them, and host information stands.  

Another key area of their work is a support service for people who have deafness. They do this by working alongside local health and social care providers, as well as delivering training and talks to community groups and other organisations. 

Working directly with those experiencing hearing loss, they provide encouragement and support, particularly when it comes to persevering with a hearing aid, or fitting a new mould. This reduces isolation and miscommunication felt by this community of people while building their confidence and adapted life skills. 

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As a result of the cost-of-living crisis and the isolation felt by many older people, they launched a monthly lunch club where members could socialise and have a hot meal.

With a grant from us, they have been able to extend the lunch club over the winter months and develop their programme of social opportunities.

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We gave the organisation a grant to support families that have expressed they are struggling to cope after the COVID-19 pandemic, through their pilot programme Time4YOU.

This programme offers fully funded counselling sessions and parent support groups, to create a space for families to talk about their feelings and help to develop plans to make positive changes.

This holistic approach enables the families to feel supported, reduce isolation and improves their mental well-being. This also strengthens the relationship between parent and child, supporting them to thrive as a family.

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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.

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With the funding they received, Home-Start Harwich started a parent and baby group, to particularly support the parents of babies born during the COVID-19 pandemic, and therefore missed out on social interactions.

These group sessions give parents the opportunity to meet other new parents and receive focused support, while their babies explore and play in a safe environment with activities to stimulate them.

Sharing parenting tales also helps to increase the parents’ knowledge, confidence and builds a support network.

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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.

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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.

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Their work includes family support groups to help alleviate any feelings of isolation, English language classes for all ages, and drop-in help sessions. This not only increases the confidence of their beneficiaries by helping them to access employment and social opportunities, but also brings people together to embrace and celebrate diversity.

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Their wide range of community services, group sessions, and training helps people to feel empowered, increase their confidence, and achieve a long-term difference in their quality of life.  

A grant from us supported the salary of an outreach worker to increase the activities provided for the SEND community. 

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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.

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Partnered with Essex Police, they identify at risk communities, or individuals to put in measures to remove them from exploitation.  

We funded the salary of their Essex-based victim navigator who provides a trusted and consistent contact for those requiring specialist advice and a clear, holistic plan for the future, to enable them to access any benefits, legal advice, and medical care that they will need. They tell us that the victim navigator is often the first person that victims begin to feel safe around and this helps to give them a voice they did not have before. 

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The semi-rural location means young people can often struggle to find things to do and the activities the club provides not only keeps them busy and avoiding falling into anti-social behaviour, but it helps the young people to develop their social skills, team spirit and self-esteem.  

The youth club offers a wide range of sporting activities to boost the young people’s physical health and provide confidential advice and support to anyone who may be struggling in their personal lives. 

We contributed to the club’s running costs, which has enabled them to expand their activities, as well as maintaining staff hours and the important connections they have with the families of the young people. 

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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.

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

Knightswood Care 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.

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We funded their counselling service, which gives the young carers and their families the opportunity to express how they are feeling in a safe and supportive environment. Alongside this, they run a group of workshops to enhance the young carers understanding of what good physical and mental health is. These help to improve the well-being of the young carers and build on their emotional resilience.  

By attending these fun and informative sessions, the young people get to have some relief from their caring responsibilities, and form friendships with a network of other young carers who understand their lives. 

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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.

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The blend of activities which they run on-site helps young people to build their confidence and self-esteem, improve teamwork skills, generates a sense of achievement, and overall raises the aspirations they have for themselves.

We supported their project, Common Ground, which is an intergenerational project where participants get involved in conservation, estate maintenance, landscaping, gardening, and farming.

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We helped the PTA to replace raised beds that are used for a gardening and a well-being club. The children can now learn about flowers and vegetables, and how to grow them, while making new friends and having fun.

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The young people are supported to develop their presentation and interview skills, and taught how to create a CV.  By working with local businesses the organisation also secures paid apprenticeships and job opportunities for them. This helps to develop their confidence and gives them real life experience. The charity guarantees each young person has at least one job interview with a suitable employer lined up for when they finish the programme.

With funding from us, they provided bootcamps to 50 young people in Southend, who also gained three days of work experience.

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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.

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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.

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We were pleased to award the funding to continue this project. Rachel Eaton, manager at Little Explorers Preschool, said: “We are so excited to receive this funding from the East of England Co-op. It is giving us the opportunity to talk about healthy eating and good oral care in really fun, new ways.

“We will be improving our garden area so the children will have the opportunity to grow food and maybe take some home too! Since the pandemic, many parents have also found it difficult to find dentists. So, alongside growing and eating fruit and veg, we will be providing toothbrushes and teaching the children about good oral health too. The impact will be long-lasting. We are hoping that by learning about healthy choices now, the children will continue to do so throughout their adult lives too. Both the team and our children cannot wait to get started with this project; it will make such a difference.”

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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.

 

 

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By visiting young people in schools, colleges and at youth organisations, London Bus host drama workshops, plays and create short films on issues such as bullying, drugs, alcohol, knife crime, anti-social behaviour.

Their most recent grant helped them to develop a short film on alcohol misuse, getting young people from Castle Point involved in its production. This allowed the young people involved and audience to better understand the risk of violence and alcohol, talk about difficult issues that concern them, with the aim of reducing overall anti-social behaviour in the area.

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They work in partnership with local communities, voluntary organisations, and statutory agencies to support the community effectively. They offer various activities such as fitness classes for older people and weekly social groups, as well as practical information and advice at their Hub.

A grant from us enabled them to run the Power of Gaming project which uses gaming as a tool for secondary school children to build skills, confidence and peer support by providing a safe after school space to game. This allows them to share a usually isolating activity with friends and also reduces the chance of online grooming and adverse influencing.

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The club holds matches at Maldon Promenade and has around 200 members of varying ages. We have recently funded the refurbishment of their cricket wicket and playing area, to bring the pitch up to a playable standard.

Maldon Cricket Club holds the title for the training ground of Sir Alastair Cook, who played for Maldon from the age of 12 to 18, and by working closely with local schools, the club aims to inspire new generations of cricketers.

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We supported their Market Field Grows project where the young people undertake maintenance and gardening for Parish Councils, placing focus on wildlife conservation and planting native species. They also help the community maintain their own spaces and help bring wildlife into their gardens.

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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.

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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.

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Alongside running  safehouses for LGBTQI asylum seekers, they operate a social inclusion programme to help people build friendships and reduce isolation through one-to-one support and group sessions.  They also provide employability, benefits, and immigration support to help LGBTQI refugees integrate into their new home. Our support has funded the running costs for the safe houses and the salary of an outreach officer. This provides a safe space for people that have similar experiences to access essential services and educational opportunities, giving them a better chance to thrive, and reducing the risks of homelessness or exclusion.   

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Alongside counselling sessions and their Support, Time and Recovery Service (STaRS) programme for practical guidance, they deliver the Well-being and Resilience Mental health Service (WARMS) which provides early intervention support to children, young people and their families in the schools that are connected to them. This includes workshops, advice sessions, and group work for both children and their parents, as well as peer to peer support.  

They also have their North East Essex Crisis Café to provide well-being support for self-referred individuals around Colchester or Tendring who are in emotional distress or experiencing a mental health crisis. A grant enabled them to employ a new community link support worker for the Café. This is a safe space for people to share their feelings and identify the triggers that have led to crisis. Together with the individual, the team put strategies in place to help prevent a crisis reoccurring, building their resilience, and provide a listening ear, to support and empower the individuals over a tea or coffee. 

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By providing activities, services, support, and information in line with people’s needs, the charity  has been able to understand how they can best support the community’s mental health and wellbeing. 

With a grant from us, they have been able to pilot a new programme recruiting volunteers who may have also accessed mental health services themselves. They have found that volunteers have reported that the opportunity to make a difference in someone’s life is incredibly valuable for their own wellbeing as well as for the wellbeing of the person that they are supporting. 

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They are committed to positive parenting interventions, particularly during children’s early years and adolescence. This includes delivering parenting support groups, educational workshops, young people’s workshops and one-to-one parent coaching sessions.

 

Ministry of Parenting have shared with us an increasing need for those families who have children with ADHD, and a long waiting list of parents wanting to access this specialist support.

 

A grant from us helped them run even more of their programmes, to reach even more families. This includes continuing their existing programmes to help parents develop coping strategies, improve relationships in the home, and work with the child’s school.

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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.

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They provide immediate advice and accommodation referrals to reduce the risk of imminent harm as well as long-term emotional and practical support through their recovery programmes and specialist advocacy.

A grant from us has enabled them to furnish and equip a drop-in space for clients at their Colchester premises. This offers a warm, safe and discreet space where people can get advice and support.  By providing this dedicated space, Next Chapter wants to encourage more victims to reach out for shelp, develop peer support networks and feel comfortable to attend their recovery programmes.

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They deliver centre-based youth work sessions, detached youth work, holiday programmes, residentials, and on occasion one to one and family support, with the aim to empower young people to reach their potential and provide them with resources to combat any educational, social, and economic disadvantages.

Funding from us is helping them to maintain their space, and provide young people with the opportunity to develop relationships with trusted adults while engaging in new, fun activities to support their personal and social development.

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Set up by a group of Travellers, they work to increase understanding and reduce violence. Part of this work is confidential support for Gypsy women and girls who may be experiencing violence, domestic abuse, or are struggling to obtain educational opportunities.  

A grant from us has supported the continuation of their work with women and girls in Essex and proactively deal with incidents of abuse by telephone text, email, and online, in respect of Traveller, Gypsy or Roma culture. Ultimately promoting the security of the entire community. 

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Their drop-in centre provides a café style setting where the team gives advice and practical help to those who visit, or refers them to other agencies for additional support.  

We awarded a grant towards their running costs and to extend the hours of their much used drop-in service. 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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They recruit and train volunteer parents and grandparents who offer friendly peer support and encouragement to help new parents to keep themselves healthy, to have a positive birth experience and give their babies the best possible start in life.

They also support parents with various concerns from housing to employment worries. Their usual activities consist of meeting face to face, carrying out home visits, running group sessions for parents to meet each other, and attending clinics. Our grant has helped to fund the continued running of these important services.

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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.

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We all want the best for a new baby, but for women and families who experience loss or miscarriage, there can be very real and lasting effects.  They may be unsure about where to find help or how to talk about their feelings.

A grant from us is enabling PETALS to provide counselling with compassion and care to support women and their families coming to terms with their loss and move forward.

PETALS believe in centralising their practice around their clients, which means helping anyone who needs support regardless of circumstance. They are also advocating for more visibility of this important service, uplifting more women as the organisation grows.

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We awarded them a grant towards their running costs. Sandra Howarth, from the charity The Phab Life which runs the Phabulous Café, said: “The young people prepare and serve everything, which can either be eaten in house or as a takeaway. Over the past year, we have seen 12 of our young people complete the programme and either go on to paid employment or other working opportunities. We have also built up a social network group to help the young people develop their self-worth and create lasting friendships.”

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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.”

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By sharing local news, holding regular meetings and workshops with community groups, Rainbow Services have formed a strong network, all working to support individuals across the District. They also deliver local projects in partnership with other organisations, as well as individually.

We have recently funded their social group for neurodivergent adults. The sessions run on the first Saturday of each month and enable people, with or without a diagnosis, to make friends, have a safe space to talk about their lives, and learn more about support available to them.

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Their support team works very closely with families, helping to manage everyday life as well as improving their confidence and well-being.  

Our grant contributed to their transport costs to allow families and their support worker easier access to hospital appointments, shopping, or to take siblings to social activities when the parent or carer is at the hospital. 

This helps to reduce the stress that families face when caring for their unwell child. It is a  constant service that they can rely on, helping them to feel supported.  

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Our funding has supported their core running costs, including their community allotment project, which will allow local families with neurodiverse children to come together and use this space.  

This allows the children to have equal educational opportunities that are based in a natural environment, positively benefiting their physical and mental well-being. Through their work, they also aim to provide the right support for neurodiverse children to thrive as adults. 

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The bundles, created by a volunteer team, and are often delivered to families across Rayleigh, and in the last year have benefitted over 600 people. They accept donations and larger items such as buggies or moses baskets, which are stored for families to drop-in and select what they need.

Our grant has supported the organisation’s running costs so they can continue to provide relief to families that are struggling financially or lack support, and increase their capacity to help even more people. This has built a community of local families who can support one another, and through this have recycled 1,072Kg of clothes and equipment.

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Loneliness can increase the risk of illnesses such as heart disease, dementia and depression, so Re-engage are seeking to alleviate this for those who live in Essex. All their services are free to older people so that anyone can take part, no matter their economic situation.

ECF have helped fund their telephone befriending service, which matches passionate volunteers with over 300 local residents to brighten their days, as well as hosting monthly tea parties where they can meet and socialise in person. These efforts leave local residents feeling happier, and have something to look forward to with their friends.

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Our funding is helping RBF to raise the aspirations of local young people, enabling them to achieve their full potential and gain successful employment, therefore preventing the possibility of them falling into a life of crime.

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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.

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They provide immigration advice, casework, community support, and therapeutic activities to help their beneficiaries navigate the challenges of a new home, foreign language, job market, and cultural norms.

By partnering with the local council, RAMA support resettlement schemes, and a grant from us has developed their foodbank which provides culturally appropriate food, clothing, and essential items for those that need it. The foodbank also offers a welcoming space for beneficiaries to come forward, to feel safe and listened to, while receiving practical support, which encourages positive health and well-being.

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A grant has supported their running costs, which will allow them to continue to help people of all ages with various disabilities and mental health issues to improve their mobility and quality of life. They will also be able to increase their team members and therefore their capacity. 

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Using their grant, Renew Counselling ran support sessions for a group of young people who they identified as having been particularly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Renew provided them with a space that is safe, welcoming and supportive. Encouraging the young people to talk about their feelings and work through their difficulties whether it be low mood, anxiety, stress, or family issues. This dedicated, focused support helped the young people to become more resilient, better able to manage anxiety, and make positive life choices.

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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.

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Their work aims to raise awareness of these conditions and provides emotional and practical support for individuals, and their families. They also engage the parents in a wide range of topics such as benefit claims, employment tips, Education, Health and Care plans, which not only helps them plan for the future but develops their social opportunities.  

Our grant has supported the salary of a development worker, who coordinates work with more than 120 individuals and families across Essex. 

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They offer a crisis helpline, safety planning and advocacy. They also offer temporary safe accommodation for women and their families, and work with local schools to run sessions that help young people identify unhealthy relationships and improve awareness of relationship abuse.

Our funding helped them to create a consultation room for families seeking refuge in their Southend accommodation. In this space they provide one-to-one essential recovery and resettlement support.

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They offer emotional support, advocacy, access to safe accommodation, domestic abuse programmes, legal advice, counselling, and access to their Women’s Centre. They also provide therapeutic services to support children who have been affected by or witnessed abused. Services are individually tailored for each person, and Safer Places works with clients and their families to reduce risks and increase their safety.

A grant from us supported the salary of their volunteer co-ordinator at The Rosie Centre in Harlow. This will enable them to co-ordinate volunteer activity at the centre and develop a team of volunteers to continue providing high quality information, advice, support, and training/education.

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The Shed is a place where those with interests in crafting can meet to share and improve skills and combat loneliness and isolation.

The Shed has several pieces of equipment for wood turning and wood recycling.  Members of the Community Shed are paying back into their local community with a make and mend service, recycling initiatives, and workshops where young people can come and learn about this steadfast craft.

A grant from us has allowed them to expand their availability to ensure all members have the chance to participate.

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Children who are involved in the programme have weekly visits from a volunteer who listens to them reading aloud and helps them with reading, particularly where they are struggling. This not only improves the child’s reading ability, but also provides them with care and support, which ultimately develops their literacy skills that will help them with work across the school curriculum.  

With funding from a grant, they have been able to continue their outreach across Essex.  They told us that “25% of primary schools across Essex are now registered with on the scheme with requests for up to 15 volunteers from individual schools.” 

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Born out of the shared experience of the local community, Trustees, and volunteers, SEND the Right Message are easily accessible through their Online Parent Forum, SEND Support Coffee mornings, Community Disability Benefit Service, Grant Support Packages, Events, Webinars, and resource pages, along with a Bouldering Club initiative. 

We have awarded them a grant to support their operational costs, as well as the hosting of a webinar for ‘Neurodivergent Distressed Behaviours’. This funding has allowed them to provide emotional support and training to families, and reduce the inequalities faced by people with disabilities, and their carers. 

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Alongside representing the community within the Council, they have developed groups that support the physical and mental health of residents, and arrange local support services such as shopping, dog walking and rubbish clearance. 

A grant from us has enabled them to install an innovative solar powered audio talking bench on Shoebury East beach. The built in device  plays prerecorded messages which change regularly, to give people a positive message and boost to their day.  This was put in following the lifts to COVID-19 lockdowns as they found people were more hesitant to leave their homes and concerns for loneliness increased. 

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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.

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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.

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They enjoy welcoming people of all ages and abilities to get outdoors and planting, which not only provides them with healthy, free food but gives them something to watch flourish and an achievement to be proud of.

Sadly, a fire in the area caused the allotment to lose their equipment shed so a grant helped them to replace this and the lost equipment. This allows the community to keep enjoying the outdoors, supporting their well-being, and providing a space to exercise.

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They support over 2,000 people each year who may be older, have a long-term health condition, or struggle completing written forms.

As well as a qualified staff team, SEAS has the help of volunteers to carry out their services. Our grant funded advocacy training and additional qualifications for their volunteers, to allow them to take on more challenging cases. This means SEAS could increase their capacity and help more people to make better changes, improve their well-being, health and living conditions.

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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.

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This local charity works to ensure that carers living in Southend are supported to maintain their own mental and physical well-being, access peer support that reduces their isolation, and know where to reach out for advice and information when they need it.

A grant from us has contributed towards their core costs so that they can maintain their services to carers in their community, and keep up with growing demand.

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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.

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They offer advice covering a wide range of issues and give support on how to use specialist equipment to help people remain independent in their own homes. They also host a signposting service at Southend Hospital for people who have been newly diagnosed.

Their telephone befriending scheme is hosted alongside organised social activities, which enables people with sight loss to enjoy some free time in a supported environment and to reduce their general isolation.

A grant from us supported their running costs to enable them to maintain and extend their services.

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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.

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We have funded several of their projects, including their longstanding Senior Shrimpers group for local residents aged 55+, walking football sessions for those not as physically able, and community drop-in activities. This brings people together to have fun and take part in activities to improve their health and well-being, while also building their social connections.

Alongside this, the Trust runs a youth club for LGBTQ+ young people, giving them a safe and inclusive environment to take part, learn new skills and gain confidence.

The Trust told us that violent crime has increased locally by 39% in the last year so they started an anti-knife crime project for young people in Southend, which has been very successful. This includes holding educational workshops and activity days at local schools to teach young people about the dangers of knife-crime and the impact on communities.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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We have a supported a project run by St Vincent de Paul in Southend that responds to the food needs of people who are currently homeless and other vulnerable groups. Alongside this service, they also extend their outreach support to refugees, food insecure people, and those experiencing poverty.

The society responds to all need with compassion and respect, and is fuelled by the drive to lift people up.

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The scheme connects people who are socially isolated due to life limiting illnesses or limited mobility from older age with members of the public, who volunteer their time to visit or call them regularly.

Julie Foster, from St. Clare Hospice, said: “This grant from ECF helped us to employ a full-time support worker who will expand our work matching local volunteers to members of the community by encouraging the building of genuine friendships through weekly visits or phone calls.”

Julie added, “The project benefits both parties – the compassionate neighbour and the community member. Many of our compassionate neighbours have experienced the loss of a loved one and are themselves lonely and isolated.”

Sylvy volunteers as a compassionate neighbour and said: “I had always wanted to give something back and when I found out about the scheme, and that I could start doing home visits to bring companionship, I knew this project was right for me. But it’s a two-way thing; it’s got to work for both people, and with Pam, my match, as soon as I walked in the door, I knew that this was right.”

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We awarded Stansted Mental Health Initiative a grant so they could develop a community-based programme of support for people living in Stansted Mountfitchet and its surrounding villages.

This was in response to the COVID-19 pandemic which was a challenging time for everyone, but particularly for those individuals suffering with anxiety, stress, depression or a variety of other mental problems. As lockdown was eased, they offered a range of community groups which allowed residents to meet up and support each other, as well as receiving talks from trained mental health first aiders. They also run a drop in and chat service, and meditation and crafts classes.

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They teach all children Makaton signing and use visual communication to help the children develop. They support children with a range of conditions, which can present with developmental delays, limited lifespan, sensory impairments, and little or no language or communication skills. Alongside this, they signpost families to other services, provide practical support, listen to families, and offer a safe space for their children to be cared for that local families trust.

A grant from us has funded the salary of a key worker, who will support the work in their nursery, tots group, parent support groups, and holiday clubs.

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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.

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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.

 

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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.

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Our fundholders, the Charlie Watkins Foundation, have supported them to develop an assessment tool, designed by a panel of mental health experts and students, to help recognise universities that promote positive mental health and demonstrate good practice. 

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The organisation aims to support, empower, and inspire people affected by sight loss through delivering services including signposting to support services, demonstrations of assistive technology, home and telephone check-ins, providing emotional support in hospitals after diagnosis, as well as organising social group outings and short breaks. 

A grant has enabled them to expand their social and well-being activities throughout the week including craft, book, games, exercise, technology and awareness classes. Socialising in a safe and familiar space helps people meet new friends and try new things. 

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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.

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With help from us, Tailored Futures has been able to run a programme of mental and physical health classes for people on parole. They have been using their grant to improve trust, wellbeing and employment uptake among their clients. Thanks to Tailored Futures, over one thousand people have been able to turn their lives around and reintegrate into their communities.

This is an excellent method of enhancing community safety; removing barriers to regaining self-sufficiency for those looking for a second chance.

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Takiwatanga Support Services was originally set up by a group of parents of autistic children, as a way to support eachother in a kind, non-judgemental space, discuss their problems and help increase access to the professional services they need.

Our funding for their operating costs means they can focus on their work which includes; providing information, signposting to relevant agencies, running emotional support groups for parents, providing social and educational activities for autistic children and raising public awareness of autism.

 

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Their voyages give the young people an opportunity to work together aboard an ocean-based yacht where they work as a team by using communication and problem-solving skills. A grant from us allowed 20 young people aged 12-15 to join in a five-night voyage in the summertime, where they took part in setting and stowing sails, helming, rope work, navigation, climbing the mast, rowing the dinghies, cooking and cleaning. 

One of the young people who took part said “It was really amazing, I loved the whole experience, cooking cleaning, learning knots and just getting involved. I’ve improved my self-confidence because I was quite shy before. I’ve also conquered my fear of heights! We climbed the mast at sunset and the view was incredible.” 

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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The team at Aspirations all have lived experience of the challenges associated with addiction, and run an outreach service for women with addictions that are  involved in prostitution. Alongside this, they deliver one-to-one/group therapy, and practical support for these women and their families.  

A grant from us has contributed towards their rent, giving them a space to host these outreach opportunities, and provide a safe space for their Recovery Day Programme to treat addiction directly.  

This gives those suffering from addiction the ability to make positive changes, form better relationships with their families and friends, and apply for accommodation or statutory support, while learning life skills that will allow them to live independently in the future. They also gain a community of support where they are listened to, cared for, and treated with respect. 

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They engage with young people from areas of high social and economic disadvantage and help them to have countryside experiences, which builds their confidence and understanding of where their food comes from.

Our grant enabled The Country Trust to implement a programme of food discovery workshops in Basildon schools. These focus on children claiming free school meals, and teach them about healthy food choices, how to cook, what sustainable farming is and their own health.

They even take the children on trips to a nearby working farm to educate them on where food comes from and how it is processed before hitting the supermarket shelves. This educational programme gives the children new life experiences, and builds their confidence to help improve their lives in the future.

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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.

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Their performances, at schools, libraries, festivals and shows, encourage audience participation, which develop creative skills, build confidence, and fosters the personal development of those who take part.

We funded their puppetry theatre show ‘George the Bookworm’ which took place in libraries and schools in Essex. They also performed at festivals including Latitude Festival, Essex Book Festival, and Barnes Children’s Literature Festival.

‘George the Bookworm’ was designed to encourage reading and writing skills. Since the show,  75% of viewers said that they had been visiting the library more often.

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Thanks to The Hut, families have access to a space that can be rented out with facilities that enable visits and enjoyment from those with disabilities or additional needs.  With help from us, the Hut was able to improve accessibility for visitors with reduced mobility, meaning that nobody misses out on some beachside fun.

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The organisations aim is to reduce poverty in young people by delivering early intervention services that prevent them from becoming Not in Education, Employment, or Training (NEET).

Our grant is supporting their running costs so they can deliver a number of projects, the variety and scope having changed and grown in response to the impact of COVID-19 and as their experience of the needs of young people increased.

These include career coaching workshops, one-on-one mentoring, digital training, work placements and employability skills.

 

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They not only deliver vital healthcare and hygiene provisions such as hot food, clothes, haircuts, showers and health treatments, but also provide casework support and host sessions from other agencies. 

A grant from us has supported their running costs, as well as increasing the capacity of their administration and operations. This helps to manage coordination of outreach, family support, the soup kitchen, supplies van, and pop-up food provisions. It also helps maintains a familiar face that service users will get to know, trust, and can relay their needs to. This ultimately forges positive relationships and increases the well-being of users, restoring their self-worth and confidence. 

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They believe in a safe and sustainable society where all lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people can achieve their full potential. Outhouse offers support, information and counselling , as well as running awareness training to the community, outreach programmes and other services for individuals and their families.

Their vital support ensures that members of this marginalised community have safe spaces where they are treated with dignity and respect, and can meet up to socialise.

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The grant enabled them to provide a virtual learning course to young people in one of the most deprived areas in, Greenstead, Colchester. Participants learned how to identify their mental health symptoms to understand when they may need to take better care of themselves, and were helped to develop coping mechanisms.

This work also helps to reduce the stigma around the topic of mental health by creating an accepting group environment and it enables participants to feel more open to accessing mental health treatment.

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Their education programme focuses on wildlife and conservation, using the Estate, deer park, wilderness garden, and pond at St Osyth Priory Estate to immerse their visitors in nature and the Estate’s history. 

We supported their outdoor explorers project for children and their families to get together and play. Each session includes a nature walk, craft activity, and ends with story time to promote literacy skills. The sessions have helped families to feel a sense of community whilst also taking part in an outdoor activity which promotes good mental and physical health. 

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Sport and physical development are important for everyone, especially children, and it can sometimes be difficult to find the right opportunities.  With help from us, The Study Room is providing weekly sports sessions to around 200 local families.

Alongside the qualified trainers, children can learn about team building and grow their confidence. The sessions are a safe space for them to be active and express themselves. Many parents have called this service “a wonder” and say that it is making a real difference to children’s lives.

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They offer a wide range of services including well-being activities such as sketching or gardening, befriending support, crisis services, supported housing, and a carers service. This helps people to get the right support at the right time.  

A grant from us helped them to recruit, train and support 12 young people aged 17-20 with lived experience of mental health difficulties to become Volunteer Youth Champions within the charity. This has improved their self-confidence, and provided a role model and peer supporter for other young people with similar mental health experiences to look up to. 

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The charity is always looking at ways to increase their support in the community.  With support from us, they were able to launch their newest project, a café called Spacious Places.  Not only does this café provide somewhere for people to meet and chase away loneliness, but it also invites those who are struggling to take that first step in asking for support.

Thurrock Christian Fellowship plays an important role in the community and with a growing number of volunteers and staff joining their network of projects, it will continue supporting the community for the foreseeable future.

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Giving others the courage to be themselves is the very definition of pride, and a marvellous way to give back.

The Network organises a wide variety of social events including bingo and singalongs where having fun is the only rule.

Support from us means these colourful events can continue giving local LGBTQ+ residents a place where they can be themselves and make new friends.

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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.

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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.

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They encourage people of all ages, abilities, and backgrounds to experiment with music as a way of expressing themselves.

We enabled them to hold a music performance and workshops for ten elderly care homes in Basildon and Thurrock. The songs they covered were interactive, used different instruments and were from different genres. The residents were able to dance and share memories from their youth and create a joyful environment for residents, staff, and family members.

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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.”

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During recent years, the group of over 60 members have enjoyed outings to London shows, RHS gardens, seaside towns, and meals out, as well as visits from entertainers and speakers.

Our grant has supported their running costs, to enable members to continue to meet with friends, enjoy some time outside of their home and explore their interests with others. They also make sure to commemorate each other’s birthdays with a card and celebration, so no one is left with a birthday going unmarked.

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Among the vast array of sessions they offer, are regular social sessions for parents, grandparents, and carers of pre-school children, a weekly English as a Second Language course for Polish residents, activities for adults with learning disabilities and after school clubs for sports and computing. During the school holidays they also run a programme of activities and outings for 8–15-year-olds.

Our grant supported a new educational project teaching retail skills and offering work experience to people who face barriers to employment. This improves their self-confidence in a supported environment, where they can work towards their goals and career development.

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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.

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They aim to bring people together of all backgrounds through performance, to break down barriers in the community, and increase well-being. They also travel around the district to different organisations, such as schools, youth clubs, and family centres.

We awarded them funding to adapt a traditional Ukrainian folktale into an interactive theatre workshop for children, young people and families. This supported community cohesion and building understanding locally of a different culture, and for the refugees taking part, it aids their learning of the English language and helped them to make friends.

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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.”

 

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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.

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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.

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Their educational and awareness sessions explain the dangers and consequences of being involved in violent crime, as well as providing support and advice  for young people. The knowledge and practical avoidance skills they share help to prevent them from becoming involved in or becoming a victim of crime.  

A grant from us funded a youth worker to run their well-being programme, which helps to build the young people’s social skills and support unit.  

Following their involvement, the young people feel more confident in their own abilities to manage conflicts, communicate to others, and express their needs in seeking support; enabling them to make healthier choices, build resilience, and have hope for future education or employment. 

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Run by local parents, Vibe delivers multimedia activity sessions to adults with learning disabilities who would like a space to express themselves through music, art, design, IT and gaming with other adults who have similar experiences as them. They also offer a sensory room, which has mood lighting, tactile equipment, and is ideal if their beneficiaries are feeling stressed.

A grant from us has supported the cost of their rent, to enable beneficiaries to have ongoing support, continue to build self-esteem, and develop their skills.

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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.

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