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This month’s guest blog post comes from Perry Norton, Head of Development at Essex Community Foundation

Perry gives examples of grassroots charitable work being done in the community and how local businesses can build voluntary work into their CSR and make a difference to small, local charities in the process.

Perry Norton

Fiducia is enormously proud to have worked with Perry and Jo Macaulay (Head of Communications) and feel sure that our clients and connections will enjoy this read and share with their family and friends.

The Coronavirus pandemic has encouraged individuals and companies alike to take a closer look at their local community and think about how they can make a difference.

Essex Community Foundation (ECF) offers an opportunity to understand local issues, consider how and where they want to make a difference, and if they want to have an impact over the long-term.

Established in 1996, ECF is an independent charitable trust with 25 years’ experience of managing charitable funds on behalf of individuals, companies, trusts and public agencies and supporting local charities and voluntary organisations with financial grants.

During the Coronavirus pandemic we have supported many projects where people have found different ways to help those in need, including collecting and delivering food parcels for neighbours, befriending phone calls to elderly people who needed to shield, volunteering in hospitals to give vaccines or provide comfort to patients, and even making a conscious effort to support their local shops and businesses to help keep them afloat.

Charitable giving is often portrayed by the media as only being possibly by the super wealthy.  The generosity of people such as Bill Gates and Elon Musk who have donated billions through their own foundations to tackle issues including the environment and poverty on a global scale are widely known and publicised.  While their generosity is amazing it can reinforce the perception that you need to be a millionaire to make a difference, and this simply is not the case.  We do not need to wait for an Essex Bill Gates to sort these issues out for us because we have the power to do it ourselves and starting local is a good place to begin making a difference.

Giving locally can have a huge impact on small, grassroots charities.  It is estimated that there are over 10,000 voluntary and community organisations in Essex, many of which are volunteer-led and probably unknown to most people.

These organisations give vital support within their communities, but they may not have the same profile or access to resources that other, well-known, organisations have.

ECF works with individuals, families, businesses and other local organisations who all share our vision; to create a long-term sustainable financial resource that can support people in local communities forever.

We work with many companies who have incorporated a long-term approach into their CSR strategies and have set up charitable funds in the name of their business.  We help them to build a greater understanding of local issues that are being tackled so they can focus their giving on issues that matter to them and their staff.  They can also engage staff in fundraising challenges or introduce a payroll giving scheme to help increase the amount of support given.

We know that companies often receive letters from charities asking for support and it can be difficult to know which ones to support and where donations will have the most impact.

Working with ECF means you do not need to say ‘no’ to any requests received, you simply send them to us.  We may be able to help them through your charitable fund or from one of the other 170 charitable funds that we manage.  We can also direct them to other appropriate funders.

For more information about how you or your business could get involved, please get in touch with me on 01245 355947.

If we all work together just imagine how powerful the impact that our collective donations can make in Essex!

Perry Norton, Head of Development at ECF

The Priest Foundation

Aron and family

Aron Priest left school without qualifications, took an apprenticeship as a printer and went on to become a self-made millionaire after selling his pioneering online printing business, but Aron’s path in life has taken him from incredible peaks to the deepest depths.  His experience inspired him to give back to the communities where he has strong business and family connections.

A cycling accident led to one of the greatest challenges of Aron’s life, dealing with post-traumatic stress syndrome. Now his experiences and determination to help others have led to the latest step in his remarkable life; setting up the Priest Foundation with ECF to help people with mental health problems so they can access the counselling they need.
Aron said, “My involvement with ECF and my motivation to help others facing mental health problems came about because of my own experiences. In 2014 I had an accident on my road bike during a race called the Tour of Dengie. Afterwards I was diagnosed PTSD and I had no idea what that was.
“I just I knew I wasn’t myself for a very long time. I struggled being around lots of people and felt very depressed, something I had never believed in before. Fortunately, I had private health insurance to get the support I needed, and I was lucky enough to see a therapist for the next year. With the support of my family and exercise I got myself back on track and I will never forget the people who helped me.
“I realised there are many people out there suffering in silence with their mental health, so in 2019 I decided I wanted to give something back and started the Priest Foundation. I set up the fund with ECF because they do all the administration which allows me and my family to enjoy fundraising and choosing which charities to support.”.