This is where we’ll post third sector news and important updates that are useful for your organisation.

West Essex Community Fund for Suicide Prevention

Do you belong to a group, club or organisation in West Essex  that reaches out to men?  Can you use up to £3000 to kickstart a project that could reduce suicide? If you’re interested in finding out more  take a look here:  You can apply for the funds for your idea.
Join us for  the launch event on Zoom on April 30th 10-12 – meet  successful projects from other districts in Essex – share your ideas , get involved, save a life .

Author: Jade Bolton
Categories: News

Essex Redundancy Pack

In response to the economic pressure that has been brought about by the pandemic, The Children, Families and Mental Health Commissioning Team within ECC have recognised the need to support individuals that may be facing a redundancy situation and have been working with our partners to develop a high level, signposting digital pack that is designed to support those individuals and other organisations involved, around all the associated issues redundancy may bring.


The digital pack is full of useful local information and is designed to:

  • recognise the difficult position so many individuals and families are finding themselves in at the moment with employment being uncertain due to COVID
  • the importance at this time for people are take care of their emotional wellbeing and mental health
  • to help individuals understand what support there is locally including practical support around finances, training and finding new employment, as well as emotional wellbeing support.
  • be a ‘one stop shop’ that brings all information about all relevant local support together into one place, with the aim of making it easy to find and access support at the point it is needed.
  • be for use by anyone  – for those working with people across the job market, employers and individuals who are facing redundancy or who have been made redundant.


The Pack can be found on the Essex Opportunities Website at  and will also be shared via ECC social media pages.


Some of you have supported the development of the pack, and we would like to say thank you for valuable contributions and feedback, which has ensured that the information contained in the pack is the most appropriate and relevant in order for individuals to quickly access support if needed.


We hope that you find the pack useful within your roles and services, and as the experts, could we please ask that you forward the pack as widely as possible to any operational colleagues or partners or networks so that the pack can be shared and reached by anyone who may find it useful.  The pack will be reviewed at regular intervals to ensure the information remains as up to date as possible and the most current version will be available via the website as above.

Author: Jade Bolton
Categories: News

Interview with Simon Prestney, CEO at Age Concern Colchester & North East Essex


What is your role within the organisation you work for? 


My role is CEO of Age Concern Colchester and North East Essex. 

Last year, Age Concern Colchester and North East Essex delivered £1.6m benefit entitlements to individuals who were on the breadline. Between our befriending unit and friendship clubs we reach 4% of the region’s 10% loneliest people in later years and there are nearly 400 clients who are befriended on a weekly basis now. 

Our bereavement service has delivered over 1,400 hours of bereavement volunteering since COVID commenced and we are on target to have supported 25,000 hours of volunteering in the North East Essex community.

As we extend beyond COVID we are commencing with Compassionate Champions which is friendship for individuals who have chosen to die at home but who have no one in their life. The service is designed to ensure they are not alone as they leave this world. 


Last year was a very different experience for everyone. How did you find your organisation dealt with the pandemic? 


The start of pandemic was an interesting time both personally and professionally. Personally, my wife and I brought Levi and Malachi into the world as twins and therefore the demands on my time were mixed on reacting to the needs of my family and those of the population due to the pandemic. 

Professionally, we had just put in place a new management team, the last of whom was on-boarded remotely after their first interview. We are fortunate to have found a very talented group of individuals to lead the organisation through a time of great change and challenge. Whilst things changed on a daily basis, we found ways to adapt all but one of our mainline services to online and remote. 

We decided not to compete with our colleagues in the CVS and Foodbank who were supplying food. Instead, we listened to where the need was. One area was in setting up a support line for medication, food and care needs. This was successful in helping individuals to navigate to the right solution given our trusted provider status in the community. 

Another area was a dementia support line. The stats quickly showed a disproportionate amount of people with dementia affected by COVID and the team were able to provide expertise and guidance in this area.

Finally, we teamed up with the Alliance and St Helena Hospice to support with bereavement. Where St Helena continued to provide counselling, we wrapped this service with bereavement befriending for before or after formal counselling. This service proved to be hugely popular and has resulted in over 1,400 hours of support provided.

We have maintained weekly calls for our clients, a newsletter to clients and volunteers and sharing of good news stories internally too. Sharing and learning has been key to keeping on top of the volume of enquiries and support that has been needed. The team have coped well and would be honest in saying we have all had better and worse times across the last year.

Most of the team have now been impacted in some way by personal tragedy related to COVID from losing loved ones in the friends or family.


The Third Sector has found the global pandemic difficult across the board. Is there anything you found challenging within your job role and organisation?


We prefer the term voluntary sector as the term third sector presents an order when there is an invited position of equity, parity and equality in our approach in the ICS. The voluntary sector is resilient and has performed well to respond to need. The most challenging thing for me was the amount of time physically spent online. Prior to COVID around 50% of my time was spent at a computer screen and this moved to almost 100% of my time. 

This meant we needed to consider different welfare needs for our team. We had to think about maintaining a way of team bonding and whilst never perfect, the online meeting set in as the norm for us alongside other colleagues in the sector.


During these uncertain times, it is good for everyone to stick together and give each other a helping hand. What has been vital in supporting you in your job role and you personally during COVID-19?


COVID has been a horrific time for individuals and has devastated families. On the flipside for those in the voluntary sector I have seen a real strength and cohesiveness that wasn’t as obvious prior to COVID. 

I am lucky to have a mixture of an excellent team, a strong management team, a supportive and enabling Chair and real expertise and wisdom within our Board of Trustees across multiple specialisms. We are also hugely well supported with over 300 volunteers. When you talk about support to me I think more about what has made us work well together. It is the unique blend of people that we have in the organisation and the servant-heart that they adopt with those we support.

Like everyone I have had a hit on my mental health but we have maintained a good culture of openness as an organisation. Sharing if we are having a tough week as a vital step in understanding each other’s situation or particular highs and lows. We have also encouraged everyone to attend the mental first aid health day training so there is good internal recognition towards working through the tougher days or weeks.

Whilst this shouldn’t be any different to normal it partially is because of the extended nature of lockdown and the impact of mental health. As Christmas presents, I bought my team a box of reflective activities to do each week and several have commented how much it has helped them as things have dragged on.

Personally, I have a good network of other CEO’s and I am involved in lots of forums. ACEVO is the membership organisation for those who are in the voluntary sector and I have received some mentoring which is part of their offer. Strengthening working relationships is important but so has been keeping in touch with friends and family. Because of having the twins and a three-year-old it has also been a time of great joy in our family. This has been a challenge at a time when there is also such grief and sadness around us. We enjoy sharing our family and this has been difficult because we simply couldn’t do this, even with our closest family members.


Let’s look to the future. What are you looking forward to this year in the Voluntary Sector and within your organisation? 


Within the voluntary sector we are taking on a new piece of work to support in the mental health arena. There are individuals in later years who are presenting with serious needs and have never visited a mental health practitioner before. Through a mix of activities, we are looking to take pressure off the acute pathways in the NHS and to provide community-based support to help people to a better place.

We therefore continue to grow our services, our employees, our volunteers and of course the number of clients that we work with. Our partnerships are significantly stronger and we continue to find ways of partnering on activities in the community.


What would your advice be to other Volunteer Sector organisations while we are coming to the end of our third lockdown? 


If you are feeling alone and in a difficult situation pick up the phone and speak to other leaders in the sector. There is a huge strength and resilience in working together. If funding is tight what can you do in partnership as partnership bids are much more likely to succeed.

Approach what you do with listening ears and work to understand the true underlying need. When you find it, be bold in your approach and relentless in supporting those who have that need to become more resilient and self-sustaining in the future. 

Above all get involved in forums whether online, health service forums, CVS forums, health and wellbeing boards or if there is no setting for a forum for what you do then maybe you should set a forum up. It is together that we achieve change not in silo or isolation. Our roles in delivering the services we provide is only half of the equation. The other half is gaining momentum towards our shared goals to improve things for the people we serve.

Author: Jade Bolton
Categories: News

ACL’s apprenticeship webinar session

There are only a few days left to sign up to ACL’s apprenticeship webinar session.

If you’re a business looking to hire an apprentice this financial year, then this webinar is for you. The team will be on hand to answer all of your questions, but they’ll be sharing details about the £3000 incentive available to those who hire an apprentice.

Find out more here –

Author: Jade Bolton
Categories: News

SEND Environmental Education Officer – Wilderness Foundation

Location: Chatham Green, Chelmsford, Essex, CM3 3FE
Contract Type: Self-Employed Contractor
Salary: £16 per hour
Hours: Currently 0900-1230 on Mondays and Fridays; 0900-1330 on Thursdays, but may be more as the programmes develop

Starting Date: ASAP by 15 April 2021
Closing Date: 31 March 2021
First interview: Via Zoom on the week commencing 5 April 2021
Second interview: Face-to-face on the week commencing 12 April 2021

Special Educational Needs Programmes for Chatham Green Project

The Chatham Green Project engages nearly 6,000 children a year, our aim is to inspire young minds to respect and want to care for our natural world. We currently work 3 days a week with Special Educational Needs students and have funding to expand our offer. This is an opportunity for you to work with this specials group in nature, teaching young people about the wonders of nature and biodiversity. We also have access to 400 acres of mixed woods, arable farming, meadows and water. We encourage our groups to understand food, farming and the balances needed to feed a growing population, whilst caring for the natural environment.


Apply here.

Author: Jade Bolton
Categories: News

Community Development Officer – Maldon CVS

Maldon and District CVS are looking for a full time Community Development Officer to join the team. This is a great opportunity to play a role in supporting communities across Maldon District to build on the community cohesion, partnerships and volunteering that came to the fore during the Coronavirus pandemic. The post holder will take a lead on continued support to people who are vulnerable or in crisis working with and facilitating a network of partners from a range of sectors and local people. They will build on opportunities to create new ways of connecting and promoting wellbeing, work with communities with an asset based approach and develop projects to address needs in the community.

Deadline for applications: 30th April 2021, 5pm

Apply here.

Author: Jade Bolton
Categories: News

Healthwatch Essex becomes a Hate Incident Reporting Centre

Hate Incident Reporting Centres (HIRC’s) are community venues, where individuals can report hate incidents and hate crimes; either as a victim or a witness.

A HIRC can act as an alternative place for reporting Hate Crimes/Hate Incidents rather than directly to the Police.

They now work in collaboration with Essex Police and other partner agencies to provide support and information during the reporting process.

You can contact their Information and Guidance team team through the Speak to the Team page.

Author: Jade Bolton
Categories: News

State of life survey – Active Essex

Active Essex and the University of Essex would like to find out how the current situation is making you feel.

This survey will ask questions about the current situation and how it makes you feel about your work, health, money, other people and life in general.

The survey will take no longer than 8 minutes to complete, and can help make a real difference.

Your answers will be compared to other national surveys to work out how life has changed recently, and how we’re all coping. It will help them figure out what support is needed for physical and mental health during and after lockdown.

State of Life Survey

Author: Jade Bolton
Categories: News

Futures in Mind Service Lead – Mind Mid & North Essex

Hours: 22.5 hours per week

Salary: £21,176 – £24,554 per annum pro rata

Contract: Fixed Term until 31/03/2023

Location: Colchester

The Futures in Mind partnership works with service users as active collaborators in the design, development, delivery, and improvement of our provision of integrated support, advice and mentoring in Essex. Futures in Mind deliver an outward-facing, flexible community service to enable us to support the maximum number of Service Users across the full Essex locality.

We are looking for an individual who has experience in supporting adults in the community, working as part of a wider multi-disciplinary team, with a knowledge of the local services and the support available. Experience of working within Mental Health Services is an advantage as is management experience.

Closing Date: Monday 12th April 2021

Interview Date: 21st or 23rd April 2021

Apply here.

Author: Jade Bolton
Categories: News

Disordered Eating Recovery Group – MiWE

The Mind in West Essex Disordered Eating Recovery Group is for those that have battled with any form of disordered eating, from over-eating to anorexia, who are in recovery. This group will provide a safe space to talk and a chance to share with people who understand. We plan to look at the challenges still faced day to day when the disordered eating itself is supported and no longer a direct threat.

Please note that this is not a discussion group around food or how to manage your food.

If you are actively dealing with disordered eating, then we suggest that you contact your doctor and/or a specialist group to seek professional help and guidance first.

We will meet every week on a Thursday at 4-5.15pm.

Register here.

Author: Jade Bolton
Categories: News