We currently have 4 bids that we are awaiting the outcome. Lottery, Essex Community Foundation, Sainsbury and Tesco. We could not have achieved this if it were not for the guidance and support of VAEF. They guided us through the procedures allowing us to move forward with our vision. they encouraged when we felt downhearted with bids that did not come to fruition. The team at VAEF were always positive and one did not feel inadequate with some of the questions that we asked having not prepared bids before. This team do an invaluable service to those of us that enter into this field of trying to raise money for much needed causes.

Just wanted to say thank you for making us aware of the training available. I attended and it was great!

Those boys did a really job when they did my garden.

Thank you so much for all you have done for us over the year.  So much appreciated.  D & T S

My husband and I joined the Wednesday Befriending Club after contacting Epping Forest District Council.  We asked them if there were any clubs in the area for people of our age group (65 yrs and 75 yrs) with mobility difficulties.  My husband has had a serious stroke and is a wheelchair user, I have Parkinson’s. The Epping Forest District Council put us in touch with Julie Bristow and we found what we had been searching for.  We now attend the club every week, are picked up and brought back to our home.  The volunteers assist with the wheelchair by putting it on and taking it off the bus. The club has had a positive impact on our lives.  We have made many friends of various age groups with the help and encouragement of Julie and all the wonderful volunteers. The club is extremely welcoming with first class entertainment, fun bingo, raffles and brilliantly planned day trips to a variety of venues.  The Xmas party at Hunters Meet was superb with an excellent three course meal, talented entertainers and a day full of fun and laughter.  My husband and I have benefited both mentally and physically from all the experiences and opportunities the club has provided.

The club means:                                           

C Communicating and conversing with members and the caring volunteers
L Learning and listening to other people’s life stories whilst alleviating some of the loneliness and isolation that the elderly in the local authority often experience
U Understanding that other people are experiencing similar difficulties to us
B Being among and benefiting from the friendships we have develop

The Voluntary Action Befriending Club has a positive impact on the services (GP, hospital, Mental Health Services, Care in the Community) in Epping Forest because the members are less likely to need access to them.   My husband and I appreciate all the hard work that helps the club to flourish which enables us to lead fulfilling and active lives.  This is a reminder, that behind the “financial tick boxes” or the “budget spreadsheets”, there is a club full of people like my husband and I who want to say “thank you”.  RD

Thank you so much for the gift of our Christmas lunch.  Your kindness is really very much appreciated.  We really had a lovely afternoon.  Thank you.


Thank you very much for providing our club with a wonderful Christmas lunch and super entertainment.  It makes such a difference to our lives to be able to get out and have some fun.  Thank you again, it was very much appreciated by everyone who attended.  Best wishes.  Mr and Mrs D


Dear staff and volunteers, B and I want to thank you for the lovely Christmas party at the Royal British Legion.  We really enjoyed ourselves and was a lovely start for Christmas.  The Christmas named bag was very special so thank you again. M and B


Dear Julie, thank you for another lovely year.  You and your team do wonders to keep us happy, knowing each of us and our needs, aware that so many of us have dementia in degrees.  But your sharp eyes make sure we’re catered for.  We always sit with friends so the men can talk football etc and you always know who can dance etc.  I get as much pleasure watching as if I were able again.  The carers at home must also benefit from the respite. I have breast cancer again which this time is inoperable and I look to Wednesday’s pleasurable afternoons. Please thank the kind group who gave us such a wonderful afternoon at Hunters’ Meet.  I have written about this before and once again we are treated to memories that last, thank you.  I do hope the club will be able to continue as for so many it is a bright light in the week.  I have noted people walking better, some singing who never talk and the choice of entertainers suits everyone. We are all picked up safely be Trevor, our wonderful driver, who makes sure everyone is safe and sound at home before leaving.  There would be a big hole in my week without you.  There I so much more I could say in praise of you, your great team and the generosity of those who paid for Hunters Meet but I can see well and my arm is aching, so thank you.  PC

I am writing to thank you for the fantastic attention you have given us.  From our initial phone call to Mark’s completing the task everything could not have been more friendly and efficient, thank you.  JR

I am happy to say that I have now started the weight management scheme and must say how happy and helpful the ladies are at my local centre.  Thank you for all your help in delivering a brilliant service.

We received extensive feedback from Epping Forest College regarding the Music project and below are a selection of the comments and compliments received.

One of my learners was very shy at the start of term and didn’t interact with others in the group. Since taking part in the music project he is much more social within the group.

Students are eager to return from their break on time to get to the music class.

The students taking part in the project have become more confident in their own abilities as they have got better at playing their chosen instrument.

The confidence of those taking part in the music project has grown considerably. The students all clearly enjoy it and are benefiting in so many ways.

You see him smiling in the group music session but you don’t realise how wonderful this is for all of us who work with him.  He rarely shows any expression or personality and when asked to smile he does, but it’s obviously not a natural smile but in your music group he smiles in such a lovely natural way and his personality shines through.  This is such an achievement and I wanted to say thank you as to see him respond in such a way is wonderful and a real breakthrough.

This student learnt spontaneity.  During the earlier sessions, he had to be shown how to play a given beat but in time, he was able to pick up the beat without prompting or support.

This student has extremely low self-esteem and lack of confidence.  He can often be heard to say “I can’t do it” or “I don’t get it”.  However, over the weeks, he was continuously heard to say “I did it!”.

This student doesn’t always fully participate in activities, however he fully joined in with ALL music sessions.